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Stan Freberg Presents The United States Of America, Vol. 1, The Early Years, And Vol. 2, The Middle Years

Audio CD | Box Set

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Stan Freberg Presents The United States Of America, Vol. 1, The Early Years, And Vol. 2, The Middle Years

Amazon.com

When Stan Freberg released The United States of America in 1961, it was one of the first comedy concept albums ... and perhaps the funniest musical comedy never performed onstage. With a cast that included Jesse White and June Foray (as well as a dead-on Orson Welles impression by voice-over master Paul Frees), Freberg presented a madcap version of history that began with Christopher Columbus's insistence that "It's a Round, Round World." His crew, however, was unconvinced:

Crazy kind of scheme
It's a cockamamie dream
If we don't sight land we're gonna scream.

Later, a cautious Ben Franklin would express suspicion of the declaration Thomas Jefferson brought by for him to sign: "You go to a few harmless meetings, sign a few harmless petitions, and forget all about it.... Ten years later you get called up before a committee. No thank you! I'm not going to spend the rest of my life writing in Europe!"

For decades, fans were frustrated by the lack of sequels that would carry the story beyond the Revolutionary War. (After attempts to turn the material into a real Broadway musical were ruined by heavy-handed producer David Merrick, Freberg went on to a lucrative career in advertising.) Finally, in 1996, Freberg went into the studio with the surviving members of his original cast--as well as stars David Ogden Stiers, Sherman Hemsley, Tyne Daly, Lorenzo Music, and John Goodman--with a new batch of songs and skits that covered the period from the founding of the United States government in 1789 to the end of World War I.

Volume 2 is not quite as strong as volume 1, but that's like saying that Babe Ruth didn't hit as many home runs as Hank Aaron. There's still plenty of great material in "The Middle Years," like Francis Scott Key's first draft of his most famous composition: "Rumplemeyer's horseshoes are the best you can use, what so proudly he's nailed onto all kinds of horses." Or Ulysses S. Grant demanding a drink so he can keep on...

Pursuing the South
Over the hills
Fearless and brave, minus a shave
And crocked to the gills.

The two-CD set includes the original liner notes from the 1961 release; a 1989 CD reissue of the first volume; and the notes by Freberg, Dr. Demento, and Ray Bradbury for the sequel. It also contains a complete lyric sheet. Although some of the jokes on the first CD may be too arcane for younger listeners, The United States of America can still be called, without overstatement, a work of genius. --Ron Hogan

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Vol. 1, The Early Years: Overture
  2. Vol. 1, The Early Years: Columbus Discovers America 'It's A Round, Round World'
  3. Vol. 1, The Early Years: Pilgrim's Progress 'Take An Indian To Lunch'
  4. Vol. 1, The Early Years: The Thanksgiving Story (Under The Double Turkey)
  5. Vol. 1, The Early Years: The Sale Of Manhattan 'Top Hat, White Feathers, And Tails'
  6. Vol. 1, The Early Years: The Boston Tea Party
  7. Vol. 1, The Early Years: Declaration Of Independence 'A Man Can't Be Too Careful What He Signs...
  8. Vol. 1, The Early Years: The Midnight Ride Of Paul Revere
  9. Vol. 1, The Early Years: Betsy Ross And The Flag 'Everybody Wants To Be An Art Director'
  10. Vol. 1, The Early Years: The Discovery Of Electricity
  11. Vol. 1, The Early Years: Washington Crosses The Delaware (Command Decision)
  12. Vol. 1, The Early Years: Yankee Doodle Go Home (Spirit Of '76)
  13. Vol. 1, The Early Years: The Battle Of Yorktown
  14. Vol. 1, The Early Years: Finale 'So Long, Friend...'

Disc: 2

  1. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: Intro And Overture
  2. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: Madison, Jefferson, Franklin & Osbourne: The First Advertising Agency...
  3. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: 'Madison, Jefferson, Franklin & Osbourne'
  4. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: Madison, Jefferson, Franklin & Osbourne (Part 2)
  5. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: America! America!
  6. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: Madison, Jefferson, Franklin & Osbourne (Part 3)
  7. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: Rumplemeyer's Horseshoes: The Francis Scott Key Story
  8. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: 'Rumplemeyer's Horseshoes'
  9. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: Stephen Foster, Beloved Songwriter
  10. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: Samuel F.B. Morse Sends The First Telegram
  11. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: Abe Lincoln In Analysis
  12. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: 'Show Folk'
  13. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: Abe Lincoln At Home In The White House
  14. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: Barbara Freitchie, Martyr Of The Year
  15. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: 'Shoot If You Must'
  16. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: Lincoln At Shiloh, With General Grant
  17. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: 'As Long As You're Up'/'A Sober Life's A Hard Life'
  18. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: The Appomattox Courthouse Bar & Grill
  19. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: 'There'll Never Be Another War'
  20. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: Custer's Last Stand
  21. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: Alexander Graham Bell And The First Phone Call
  22. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: Thomas Edison Invents The Light Bulb! The Phonograph! (Part 1)
  23. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: 'Perserverance'
  24. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: Thomas Edison Invents The Light Bulb! The Phonograph! (Part 2)
  25. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: 'Planned Obsolescence'
  26. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: The Wright Brothers At Kitty Hawk
  27. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: Henry Ford Invents Detroit
  28. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: 'Perserverance' (Reprise)
  29. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: The Sinking Of The Lusitania
  30. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: Two Tin Pan Alley Songwriters
  31. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: 'U-Boat'/'The Guns Of August'
  32. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: 'Hello, Peace, Hello'
  33. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: 'There'll Never Be Another War' (Reprise)
  34. Vol. 2, The Middle Years: Finale 'America! America!' (Reprise)


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