4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This,
This review is from: Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers! (Audio CD)
I sorta can't believe that I haven't reviewed this already.
I frankly am not too sure what it would be like to experience this album as someone born after about 1970. Some reviewers have said that it has too many 1960s "in jokes," but that's not really it.
"Dwarf" is a complex set of interlocking narratives constructed around the metaphor of changing channels on a television. These narratives ultimately reach back to the early part of the 20th century and are centered on the 1940s and 50s, when the Firesign Theatre guys were growing up glued to the radio and watching goofy formulaic Hollywood movies.
The over-arching themes are authority and selling out. Our hero, George Tyrebiter, is an old man in the (then) distant future, watching his own life on TV - reflected through the various shards of his career as a child actor and has-been quasi celebrity.
And that weird sound you keep hearing? That's what changing the channels sounded like before there were remotes.
So, is it funny? Absolutely not - not in the same sense as Benny Hill, Monty Python, or Richard Pryor. Dwarf explores the essential weirdness of America in a way that's supposed to amuse your mind and serve as a tonic to cultural self-deception. You may chuckle, but you won't be rolling on the floor.
Also, there's no way to get around saying that it was assumed that the listener would be high on pot. Reliable informants have told me that being in such a state makes biting absurdism considerably more amusing.
So, is it any good? Absolutely. I actually have a degree in American Studies, believe it or not. This is a work that nails the American 20th century in all of its complexity and absurdity. I think it's at least the equal of many of the finest novels of the period and in many ways their superior. It's amusing, poignant, and in some ways tragic, and it's packed with some of the most intricate wordplay ever devised with your mind in mind.
As you'll see if you read my other reviews, I don't throw the word "genius" around too loosely, but this album is a work of genius. The Firesign Theatre have made many other fine albums, including some of their more recent work. But this one is really something else.