Full title - Tale Of The Giant Rat of Sumatra. Reckoned byFire aficionados to be one of their best, as Rarebus Cannebus attempts to put out the sun, aliens attack and the lights go out all over the world. Collector's Choic... more »e. 2001.« less
Full title - Tale Of The Giant Rat of Sumatra. Reckoned byFire aficionados to be one of their best, as Rarebus Cannebus attempts to put out the sun, aliens attack and the lights go out all over the world. Collector's Choice. 2001.
I'm not really a fan of Firesign Theatre, having picked this up for the Sherlock Holmes reference. It was pretty disappointing as a pastiche, and also as comedy (much too juvenile for me, and lacking coherence). I don't go for jokes about bodily functions, ribald plays on words and phrases, or other 15-year-old boy humour, but if you enjoy those things, this may be for you.
There was not enough silence on this disc to allow the jokes to be effective; the creators simply piled pun after pun on top of each other in an endless stream of noise and irritating voice-acting, with no opportunity to let punchlines sink in before expecting the listener to move on to the next bit. Some of it could have been clever, but the delivery was a good imitation of a raving coke-fiend. Too bad.
A fine Firesign title, though a hair below their best.
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Giant Rat" is the Firesign's Sherlock Holmes parody, originally relased in 1974. At the time, it was viewed as a sort of a "comeback" album as it came shortly after the group had disbanded briefly to pursue solo projects. It didn't make the splash it could've (the following release, "Everything You Know Is Wrong" would fare better) but is still a very funny title. If you know what the Firesign Theatre is all about, then grab without hesitation. For you neophytes, the Firesign Theatre dragged the comedy album into the '60s psychedelic era and beyond, peppering their albums with lofty literary references, drug jokes, bad puns, and a tip of the hat to classic radio. They took full advantage of studio capabilities and multi-tracking, creating a surreal comic landscape that could take you anywhere (from the Academy Awards to War to Indian Reservations to Eastern Europe...). "Rat" is one of their fastest paced entries and owes a lot to the Goon Show. The theme here is power and corruption as famed detective and cokehead Hemlock Stones (Philip Proctor) and his trusty companion Dr. John Flotsam (David Ossman) help filthy rich magnate Jonas Acme (Peter Bergman) recover the stolen "Zeppo Tube" (a powerful invention) from the hands of the maniacal Electrician (Phil Austin). Like a Python film or Kids in the Hall episode, the four members of the troupe essay dozens of roles each, all unique and hilarious. It may be a hair below their greatest work ("How Can You Be In Two Places...," "Don't Crush That Dwarf..."), as it is somewhat less surreal and ambitious, but even their weakest material (and this is NOT their weakest) is better than most everything else that passes for comedy today. Long live the Firesign Theatre!"
Some of the FST's best work
steampunk1881 | Louisiana | 07/26/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Usually this album is omitted in FST discussions, but it ranks with their best. As usual, listen over and over again through headphones; you won't be disappointed. So follow Hemlock Stones the Great Defective as he chases after the Electrician from Ampere Watt, through early 20th century America as it might have been."
Keep rolling Stones it's just a shot away!
John Tabacco | Stony Brook, NY United States | 06/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is not the most complex FST piece. It's not the most surrealistic or sociological. It is however one of their funniest efforts. What really makes it work is the timing and unique intonations between all four members. The performances are flawless. So smooth and confident - it's like listening to a great jazz quartet trading off each other. This is the first FST album I heard as kid back in 1974 and I was instantly hooked on their brand of radio theater. It still sounds fresh today and like most FST pieces with each listen there is always a new esoteric reference you'll pick up or discover some interesting dialog going on underneath the forefront. You'll be quoting this one for years to come. "Where there's smoke - there's work!"
This CD smokes. Great work. Worth every penny.
Low Humor, Not Firesign's Best
Robert Szarka | Norwich, CT USA | 08/14/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I've heard nearly all of Firesign Theatre's recorded work, and this album doesn't compare favorably to their best. As with Anythynge You Want To: Shakespeare's Lost Comedie, the humor here is pitched directly at the groundlings. There's nothing wrong with that kind of humor--some of the puns here are hilarious--but imagine how tiring Hamlet would be if the entire play focused on the gravediggers...
I'd recommend this album mainly to hard-core Fireheads. Those new to their work would be better off starting with Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him, Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers!, How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You're Not Anywhere At All?, or I Think We're All Bozos on This Bus."