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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hours of Bill Hicks Video Footage!
This set has 4 discs.
2 discs of audio, and more importantly 2 DVD's.

The 2 audio discs are culled from all of Bill's previous releases, with
a handful of tracks from a previously unheard tape.

Bill's material is brilliant, however it could have used some clever editing.
It seems like someone just made a 2-disc compilation at...
Published on September 30, 2010 by it's me!

versus
17 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A dumbed down collection.
I love Hicks, and remember laughing to tears when I heard him. I remember introducing him to friends and have them laughing in tears. I've listened to both CD's three times now, mostly because I was curious as to why I was not laughing.

I figured it out, I was not laughing because everything was so cut up and tracks were completely autonomous. If you have not...
Published on September 24, 2010 by Mark E. Thomas


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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hours of Bill Hicks Video Footage!, September 30, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Essential Collection (2 CD + 2 DVD) (Audio CD)
This set has 4 discs.
2 discs of audio, and more importantly 2 DVD's.

The 2 audio discs are culled from all of Bill's previous releases, with
a handful of tracks from a previously unheard tape.

Bill's material is brilliant, however it could have used some clever editing.
It seems like someone just made a 2-disc compilation at random.

These 2 audio discs are beside the point. Consider the 2 discs as extra's.

Now....

The 2 DVD's are something I've been waiting many years to see.
These are an absolute goldmine.

I'm still absorbing all that is here. It's a lot of performance footage.

First, we have a full 1981 performance from Houston.
It's amazing that this footage exists at all.
All of Bill's releases are from 1989 to 1993, so it's
nice to get some balance to these early years.

Then there's a long set from 1985. Maybe my favorite.
Bill does an amazing Tom Waits impression....I have
read that Tom Waits is a fan, so I imagine him
getting a real kick out of hearing Bill talk about him.

This is followed by more Houston performances from 1986.
Bill seems dark and weary. There is also a long poolside
interview with Bill on some of the details of the
Houston Outlaw Comics.

THEN, my friends...we have NINJA BACHELOR PARTY in excellent quality!
The audio is perfect. The video is great. The Karate action preserved.
I've had this on dubbed VHS for years, glad to have it in DVD quality.

NINJA BACHELOR PARTY is the Citizen Kane of Ninja Bachelor Party movies.
A sweeping epic. In the DVD notes, Kevin Booth mentions a future expanded
NBP release. Thank Allah! Since there is an excellent promo for the film,
tons of outtakes, a sequel that involves tennis...Can't wait.

...and we still have 4 long clips from 1991-1993 performances in Austin.
All of them filmed by Bill's brother, Steve, at the Laff Stop
where Sane Man was filmed.

I am thrilled to see these. Although they aren't full performances, they
are mostly focused on material Bill didn't use on the albums.
We finally get to see a great Elvis & Charlie Hodge routine.

I really hope there is some viable way for these full performances to
be released some day. It's hand-held camera footage. I prefer it
over expensive fixed-cam for some reason. Anyone with me on that?

you also get access to a download of an album of Bill's music,
via a cool card and the Bill HIcks website..
Here's a side of Bill we haven't heard. If you know his Arizona Bay
music, or his Marblehead Johnson music - this is different.

It's some gorgeous music. I have only had time to sample it, but
"The Moon is Smiling" will really get you all flipped inside out.

Buy this set. It's full of rare archival video.
The sales may encourage more video releases.

Please, bring on more audio and video recordings.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scraping the Barrel or Unreleased Gems?, October 5, 2010
By 
Magic Lemur (Somewhere in Madagascar) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Essential Collection (2 CD + 2 DVD) (Audio CD)
Artists who die prematurely & who have enduring fame (e.g. Bruce Lee & James Dean) tend to be followed by a spate of amazing material that seals their legacy. This is very much true of Bill Hicks as his posthumourous material IS what made him famous (with the sobriquet 'the funniest dead guy in the world').

Regrettably these releases can dilute the legacy & each subsequent release has less & less of the good, new stuff to go on. This has happened a little with Bill Hicks, as is evident by the CD release: Shock & Awe (which is the same material as Salvation, though admittedly it wasn't an official release).

So, is this a great collection or more of the same?
Well, it's a mixture. Essentially the further you progress through the collection, the better it gets, as the CD's are poor, but the MP3's are priceless.

***

From the beginning then - the CD's. Both CD's lack any form of structure and are a lazy mixture of the best material from all his other CD's. Those who've heard Philosophy: The Best of Bill Hicks will recognise most of the material, and all that seems to have been done here is to blend unreleased tracks that are mostly worse versions of already released routines (e.g. 'Elvis', 'Beelzebozo' and 'Drugs have done good things').
There are 5 truly unreleased tracks (of 50 on both CD's), but these are either very short (e.g. 'Audience member/ Dental Assistant') or familiar (e.g. Handguns UK vs USA).
To be fair, there is some content from the excellent Love, Laughter and Truth, but a lot of potential good stuff (e.g. 'Australia' and 'Family Trip') is absent.

Scraping the barrel? With the CD's, sadly Yes.

Watching the DVD's makes you feel you haven't wasted your money.
On the first, there are 5 early routines (1982-1986) showing whole shows of copious unfamiliar material, and later routines in embryonic form. The best routine (IMHO) is the 3rd one (Indianapolis), where Bill is dressed like some English country yokel (with Farmer's flatcap on) and appears eerily mellow in his delivery (I wonder why...!)
Also on this DVD is a routine of Bill compering an 'Outlaws' gig and then an interview with him about the 'Outlaw Comics' of Houston (including an interesting Jackanory-song about them).
Lastly, there is a gallery of photos and 'Outlaws' posters.

And this is just one DVD!

DVD 2 has the entire B-movie Ninja Bachelor Party. Like the Outlaws section, this includes notes on each bit of the DVD, with Kevin Booth writing about 'Ninja Bachelor Party' and his elder brother (Steve Hicks) writing about the Austin performances.
Ninja Bachelor Party is good, consisting of a grainy filmed pastiche of Kung Fu cliche (i.e. Bullied-kid-learns-karate-&-beats-bully).
Bill himself takes the role of the Guru / Bruce Lee figure (Dr Death), which must have proven an interesting Alter-ego!
Second on DVD 2, there are 4 more bootleg performances (with more notes), but this time they are all from Austin, Texas and towards the end of his career (1991-1993).
The first thing you may notice about these is that Bill is far better as a comedian in these performances than in the early ones - his confidence is immense, he seems more at ease and he seems really on top of his material, with not a second of it wasted.
The other thing is that there is new material (e.g. a long routine about Elvis' assistant who brought his 'cigars & water' and a truly hilarious extended piece about 'Pro-Life Pictionary').
Although some of the material repeats stuff on the CD's and the shows overlap, it is worth persevering to see previously unreleased video versions of much of his best material (e.g. 'Hooligans', 'Pussywhipped Satan' and a whole load of material from Rant in E Minor and Arizona Bay)

Both DVD's don't disappoint in the sheer volume & quality of material.

But the best part (which will be totally unfamiliar to all but the most zealously die-hard fans) is the MP3 album 'Lo-Fi Troubadour'.
Not only does this album contain NO material that has been previously released (except 'Moon is Smiling'), it also introduces you to a totally new side of Bill: the soulful musician.

Big-time fans might be familiar with Bill's guitar playing (on 'Arizona Bay', 'Rant in E-Minor' and may even recall the song 'Chicks dig Jerks' (off Relentless (CD)). These, however will ill-prepare you for the awe-inspiring beauty of songs like 'She's a Woman' or the trippy (soon to be classic) 'Moon Is Smiling'.
Most moving of all was track 10 ('I Never Really Cried for You'), which seems to be about Bill's ex Girlfriend and first love (subject of his routine 'I'm not Bitter') & the sheer pain wrought in the song is palpable.
So touching & poignant were the songs that I felt like the guy out of that 'taste that bring you back' advert. It was like the songs took you back to 1990 & you were there in the studio with him!
I thoroughly recommend tracks 2, 6, 8, 9 & 10, all of which display an untapped ability in an already famed comedian.

***

Overall then, I would recommend this collection, but only for the DVD's and MP3's. There are some liner notes & a small poster with it but, aside from Clive Anderson's memorable comments about Bill's thirst for comedic knowledge, they are fairly standard.
Do buy this collection, especially if you are new to Bill, but also buy Philosophy and Totally [DVD] (if you haven't already) and prepare to be amazed by the World's greatest comedian, but also one of it's least saluted musicians...

P.S. Oh, and for the fanboys: if you haven't seen it, you really should watch American - The Bill Hicks Story - a truly underrated film (released on Amazon.co.uk (Region 2) but not yet in USA (see comments)).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for the Hardcore Bill Hicks fans, October 19, 2010
By 
J-Dubs (Washington DC) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Essential Collection (2 CD + 2 DVD) (Audio CD)
I have been a Bill Hicks fan for years and was excited when i heard this "essential collection" was coming out.
The first two cds are somewhat of a "Best of" collection with a lot of his old material re-packaged but there are a few unreleased tracks on there. The main point of this set is the DVDs. Us longtime Hicks fans love finding unreleased footage of Hicks even if we know the lines by heart. Whats interesting is you get you see a very young Hicks whos about 19 or 20 getting his feet wet starting his stand up career. Over the course of the DVDs you see his act progress from regular stand up comedian to the funny social critic he would later become.
The DVD also includes Kevin Booths silly short film Ninja Bachelor Party, and while the film is low budget and silly the picture quality on the DVD is much better than the majority of Ninja Bachelor Party bootlegs out there.
All in all i give it four stars as its not perfect, but if you love Hicks and his work its refreshing to see more footage of the legendary comedian.

Word of advice=
If you are new to Bill Hicks you probably dont want to start with this collection, you should first pick up the DVD "Bill Hicks Live-Satirist, Social Critic, Stand Up Comedian".
Or if you want to get a good CD of his pick up "Philosophy" or "Rant in E Minor"
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars please come back...somehow...., September 22, 2010
By 
J. Forst "fatesfan" (Farmington Hills, Michigan United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Essential Collection (2 CD + 2 DVD) (Audio CD)
This is a 4 disc (2 cd 2 dvd) set in a square jewelcase not a long boxset.
The dvd material is pretty rare from '81 - '86 on the first dvd. First clip he is straight out of graduating highschool and his material reflects it (school, parents, classmates, etc). Lots of the same material gets repeated but he is a joy to watch him hone his craft through the years.2nd dvd visibly shows Bill as he is getting sicker. the addition of the 'ninja party' home movie is such a waste of time. the scathing chicago '91 show would of been brilliant in it's place. The cd's have a handful of unreleased stuff but if you already own the entire BH collection already from Ryko then chances are that you've heard 93% already.
can someone answer me why the Hicks family is not releasing anything? They put of "Flying Saucer tour V1" a decade ago! How long does it take for a volume 2 ? BitTorrents have a better BH selection than his own family makes avilable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very intimate look at one of comedy's unsung heroes., February 19, 2011
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This review is from: The Essential Collection (2 CD + 2 DVD) (Audio CD)
A very intimate look at one of comedy's unsung heroes. Ninja Bachelor party reminds me of my day trippin' on acid in the Faulkner dorms.

This set is sort of a 'best of' combined with a rare + unreleased collection. The audio is a good place for new Hicks fans to start, and the DVD offers some rare glimpses into Bill's personal escapades. Also, it comes with a ticket to download some rare Bill Hicks composed music tracks from BillHicks.com entitled 'Lo-Fi Troubadour'. The tracks are sort of Dylan-esque.

RIP Bill, you are missed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bill Hicks, October 18, 2010
This review is from: The Essential Collection (2 CD + 2 DVD) (Audio CD)
I just watched the most recent documentary made about Bill Hicks and I continue to be so impressed by his genius as a comedian and I don't use that word lightly. I listen to his stand-ups religiously on my ipod and I am frustrated that he was taken at such an early age. Sometimes I wonder what he would be speaking about today if he was still alive.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must-have for Bill Hicks completists, October 13, 2010
By 
family dogg (athens, GA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Essential Collection (2 CD + 2 DVD) (Audio CD)
If you're like me, you've owned the initial four Ryko releases for years and hesitate to purchase any "best of" compilation because you already have everything on it. "The Essential Collection" does have a few previously unreleased tracks, but the real attraction here are the DVDs that come with it. There are 10 (yes, 10) "bootleg" performance videos in their entirety. They're called this because they are shot on video and aren't of the slickest quality, but you can see and hear Bill quite clearly. If you're a true fan, you've probably heard worse in terms of bootleg audio quality. And the videos, while recorded in the '80s and early '90s, are still better than most of what you see on YouTube. It's fascinating to see his face performing bits you're familiar with, as his Body language was very much an essential part of Bill's delivery, but you also get to witness his evolution. The performances here date back to 1981 when Bill was just starting out, and he couldn't have been more than 18 or 19 years old! It's wild to see how good he was even then. Don't skip this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great collection, for both the casual fans and die-hard completists, January 21, 2011
This review is from: The Essential Collection (2 CD + 2 DVD) (Audio CD)
I've been a fan of Bill Hicks ever since I first caught him on TV back around 1990, when there was admittedly no shortage of stand-up shows on cable. I've since bought every release of his that came out, most of them being posthumous releases of course. Hicks has also been one of the most requested acts for the comedy radio show I've been hosting for over 10 years.

Whether you're just getting into Bill Hicks or just can't get enough of him, "The Essential Collection" is well worth picking up. The set contains two audio CDs, two DVDs, and code to download your own copy of Hicks's personal musical project, "Lo-Fi Troubadour".

Obviously, you can't cram every routine of his on to two CDs. But they do manage to pack a lot of his best routines in here. This includes about 16 minutes of previously unreleased material, though admittedly most of that is just some variations on routines that were recorded from other nights ("Please Do Not Disturb", renting porno, etc.). Still, infinitely better than most of what passes for stand-up comedy today.

The two DVDs alone are, in my opinion, well worth the cost of this set. There are LOTS of previously unseen performances here, going all the way back to 1981! Most of these are just single-camera shots from somebody in the audience with camcorder, but still gems none the less. Plus there's the hilariously demented home movie, "Ninja Bachelor Party".

The music of "Lo-Fi Troubadour" was mixed together at the famous Abbey Road Studios. These are Hicks's multi-track recordings of his own compositions. No comedy; just music. If you've heard the albums "Arizona Bay" or "Rant in E-Minor", then you've heard some samples of this in between those comedy tracks. Granted, "Lo-Fi Tourbadour" isn't a would-be platinum album that will change your life. But like everything else in this collection, it's still something honest and heart-felt.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Master, As Relevant Today As Ever, September 6, 2013
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This review is from: The Essential Collection (2 CD + 2 DVD) (Audio CD)
This collection, masterfully compiled by Bill's friends and family, is stunning. I have all of Bill's original CD releases, but this collection is in heavy rotation on my playlist today. It is a tremendous overview of his career. The two CD's offer a start-to-finish compilation of his funniest material. And the DVD's...where do I start? It is fascinating to see a very young Bill starting out his career in comedy in the never-before-seen footage of a complete Bill performance from 1981. Amazing to see how he evolved from then to later in his career. Worth the price of admission alone. And the Origins of the Outlaw Comics provides a great insight into Bill's "inner circle" of comedic minds.

Then we move on to the second DVD and Ninja Bachelor Party. What a great film. I'd seen this once, years ago, on VHS, and the quality of the transfer to DVD is pretty good. Follow that up with the Austin Bootleg Series of performances, and you have the icing on the Hicks cake. Finally, the music downloads present another side of Bill Hicks. The songs are so touching. I highly recommend this set, pair it with American: The Bill Hicks Story and you have the perfect starter kit for introducing someone else to Bill Hicks' amazing career and legacy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for the Hicks Fan., May 29, 2013
By 
DoctorJoeE (North Caldwell, NJ) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Essential Collection (2 CD + 2 DVD) (Audio CD)
This is marvelous, archival stuff -- but I would echo the advice of another reviewer: If you are new to Bill Hicks, start with "Philosophy", "Rant in E Minor", or "Flying Saucer Tour". This collection is for the hardcore devotee, and Hicks is not everyone's cup of tea. He's a bit like the Grateful Dead -- or licorice: Many people don't like licorice, but those who like licorice REALLY like licorice. So don't pop for the expensive collections until you know which category you are in. If you find that you are a fan, though, you will definitely want this set for your collection.
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The Essential Collection (2 CD + 2 DVD)
The Essential Collection (2 CD + 2 DVD) by Bill Hicks (Audio CD - 2010)
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