Sam Kinison

Louder Than Hell

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The late Sam Kinison was a stand-up comedy supernova, and the former Pentecostal preacher quickly established bitter screaming and high-pitched cackles as trademarks. Kinison was flat-out funny, but bubbling underneath the usual R-rated and X-rated sex/religion/politics jokes was a sense of his personal struggle to reconcile an attraction to both the sacred and the profane. He intertwined these opposites on Louder than Hell, his extraordinary debut album. Kinison really starts rolling on "Relationships." He rants about his failed marriage and jokes how men should consciously abuse alcohol and drugs to numb their feelings and push oppressive wives and girlfriends away. Sexual technique is the focus of "Alphabet." On "Manson," the murder commandant Charles -- and his Beatles obsession -- is used for comic fodder. Many people would consider "Jesus" to be blasphemous, but it's definitely funny. (Kinison argues that Jesus couldn't have been married because no wife would ever believe that he died and was resurrected -- the joke being that a husband taking off with 12 friends on a Friday and disappearing for the weekend seems awfully suspicious.) "Jesus" also includes a poignant, yet comical look at history's martyrs. On "Devil," Kinison surmises that Satan is disappointed when married men end up in hell because nothing there could be scarier than marriage. "World Hunger" is Kinison's most brilliant piece ever; he begs people to stop sending money to world-hunger organizations because they don' t tell desert dwellers to move where food can grow -- send 'em U-Hauls and luggage instead! [For some reason, Louder than Hell hasn't been reissued on CD. As of 1999, the cassette was still in print.]

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