Stan Freberg

Presents the United States of America, Vol. 2: The Middle Years

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This follow-up to Stan Freberg's Presents the United States of America, Vol. 1 (1961) came 35 revolutions of the earth after the original. Under the parenthetical title "The Middle Years," the satirist has once again gathered an all-star cast of luminaries to lend their multifaceted talents, including Peter Leeds, June Foray, and Jesse White from the first installment. They are joined by Freberg's children Donovan Freberg and Donna Freberg Ebsen, as well as Tyne Daly, John Goodman, Sherman Helmsley, Lorenzo Music, Harry Shearer, David Ogden Stiers, and last but certainly not least, Freberg's longtime musical director, the illustrious Billy May. Following the same format as its predecessor, resembling that of a staged presentation, United States of America, Vol. 2 (1996) lampoons several crucial periods from American history, bringing them to life for listeners by incorporating tactics and techniques from his conceptual "theater of the mind." Every story is firmly based on unequivocal facts and figures taken right out of any given U.S. history book, commencing with the formation of an ad company -- something the artist knew intimately about -- by none other than the country's founding fathers. The story of "Madison, Jefferson, Franklin & Osbourne: The First Advertising Agency" is broken into several spoken dramatizations, separated by the original songs "Madison, Jefferson, Franklin & Osbourne" as well as "America! America!" Other embellished incidents chronicled within include the reprise of Freberg in the role of Stephen Foster. He is joined by Shearer and Stiers on "Stephen Foster, Beloved Songwriter," recalling "Rock Around Stephen Foster" from the classic albeit short-lived Stan Freberg Show. While the entire project is well conceived and even more adeptly executed, the Civil War entries "Lincoln at Shiloh, With General Grant," the ensuing "As Long As You're Up/A Sober Life's a Good Life" medley, and "Custer's Last Stand," featuring Foray as Mrs. Custer and the elder Freberg as the General, are simply golden. The disc concludes with "Two Tin Pan Alley Songwriters" -- Freberg and Goodman -- coming up with the new patriotic selection "Hello, Peace, Hello" as the country enters the post-World War I industrial age. [In addition to being available separately, Rhino Records also combined both volumes into a double-disc package.]

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 4:52
2
0:19
3
0:35
4
5:29
5 1:27
6
0:48
7 1:20
8 1:47
9
3:27
10 1:22
11 3:40
12 3:22
13 5:27
14 2:55
15 2:21
16 3:36
17
1:39
18
1:56
19 0:36
20 1:36
21 2:13
22
1:13
23 1:35
24
2:55
25 2:09
26
1:01
27 1:40
28 0:55
29 1:13
30 0:14
31
1:27
32 1:08
33 0:44
34
1:45
blue highlight denotes track pick