Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
The Berkeley Concert
Genres: Special Interest, Pop
Similarly Requested CDs
Lenny Bruce is not afraid!
A. Gyurisin | Wet, Wild, Wonderful Virginia | 01/13/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Until last month, I had no clue who Lenny Bruce was. I remember his name from a R.E.M song, but that was it. Then, last month, I had the chance to see Dustin Hoffman portray him in the film Lenny and I was hooked. I wanted to get my hands around as much of this cultural icon as possible, so to start my journey I bought this album. Maybe it was the wrong place to start, or that Hoffman created a better character than he was, but Lenny didn't make me laugh. His jokes in this concert are dated and longwinded (I know that was his style, but without the visual it just didn't work). While there are some bits that had me thinking of the parallels between this time and his era, most of the 78 minutes were left listening to his ramblings that never really went anywhere. I think to fully appreciate Bruce, you needed to be a liberal living in that generation. He was truly speaking to them about their lives, and I think that is why the translation is not as good today. I would recommend seeing the film Lenny, but skipping this album. It isn't his best.
Grade: *** out of *****"
Don't Start Here to Understand the Evolution of Lenny Bruce
Barry P. Silber | Lutz, Fl. United States | 07/17/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The Berkeley Concert, complete and unabridged, provides insight into the brilliance of Lenny Bruce. Please understand that this concert took place less than a year before Lenny died, and most of the material is NOT funny. What the listener gets is a diatribe by a man so beaten down by the legal system, that he waxes on about the hypocrisy of the legal system. It is laughable and absurd to realize that Lenny was busted for language that is so tame by today's standards. Regular cable stations, such as FX, expose viewers to objectionable language that it is almost surreal to imagine that Lenny's transgressions took place a little over 40 years ago! This not to excuse the fact that Lenny was a drug addict, and this too, led to his demise.
Now, on to the CD: As I stated previously, the first half, Lenny is self indulgent about the law. Then, toward the latter part of the concert he returns to his time-tested comedy: the horniness of men, race issues, Catholicism, Judaism, women (he always mentions women), and the laughs emerge. Interestingly, he mentions Bela Lugosi's drug habit. Was he "projecting" here? Despite being a complete concert, the ending is rather abrupt.
If you want to explore Lenny Bruce, do not begin with this CD, but listen to his work chronologically. What you will witness with the Berkeley Concert,is the deterioration of a brilliant mind. It has been said many times before: There would be no Richard Pryor, Robin Williams, Lewis Black, Chris Rock, et.al, if Lenny Bruce had not paved the way."
Everybody's A** is Up for Grabs
J. Merritt | 02/10/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not a fan of revisionist history unless history gets it wrong. In this case, I believe history definitely got it wrong. The long-time rep on this recording has been that it's sub-par Lenny; that at this point in his career (December of '65) his legal travails had rendered him not only broke but bitter, and that too much of this concert is given over to aggrieved ramblings. I'd be far more inclined to plaster that label on the "Lenny Bruce Performance Film" shot at the Fillmore in San Francisco in June of '66, even though I still value that film as history. For this show, no. Absolutely wrong. But appreciation of this recording requires a fundamental change in perspective.
If you come to this album looking for 'laughs' in the way that we customarily listen to stand-up comics, there's a good chance you'll be disappointed. Not that it isn't funny; it often is, sometimes uproariously so, but `laughs' are not the point. I think it's well past time to relinquish this categorization of Bruce. As he said himself on more than one occasion, he was not a comic. He may have started out as one, and vestiges of comedy may have remained in his act up to a point, but by 1965 what you are getting is something much more valuable: You are getting an undiluted commentary from inside the rising tide of 60's cultural shift.
What Lenny provides here is not 'bits,' but 79 minutes of what it was like to be caught in the middle of a legal tempest over obscenity that would change our social fabric. It's 79 minutes of where we stood in 1965, with American life about to come undone. It's the church and state, it's Kennedy and Johnson, it's drugs and sex, it's what we were supposed to stand for in this country and a fervent belief in law and the system even though that system was undoing Bruce. More to the point, it's the curve, because Lenny was not ahead of the curve. Lenny was the curve, and he died in that curve before it later become a straight road for others to drive on, and what we have in this recording is his testimony from inside the turn before it carried him off the road. It's not comedy, it's a lecture. An amusing lecture, to be sure, but far more significantly an educational lecture. These aren't just words that make you laugh. They're words that make you think.
Trust me, I'm no sycophant (to borrow one of Bruce's favorite words). I'm not a blind disciple who thinks every word that dripped from Lenny's lips was pure wisdom and that he could do no wrong. Far from it, but I do recognize him for what he was: An inherently funny man, unrelentingly allied to truth, unintentionally but defiantly caught in the crucible of socio-cultural change. I'd give anything to find someone who was actually at this show. If you were there, I hope you'll e-mail me. I have a thousand questions I'd like to ask. With or without an inside report, however, I can recognize this recording for what it is: History, as it was happening. Its preservation is essential, and a thing for which to be thankful."