The Congress of Wonders


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The first of the two Congress of Wonders' albums sounds a little like a more juvenile Firesign Theatre, with its well-edited, multilayered skits satirizing gauche commercials, Star Trek, the Grateful Dead, and Richard Nixon. It's very much a relic of the late-'60/early-'70s counterculture, with plenty of stoner humor and references to drug-taking and sex. For those reasons it's dated, and the shock value attached to launching into subject matter that was rarely dealt with on comedy records at the time has faded in the ensuing years. Too, while the skill involved in mimicking so many voices is commendable, it's also done in a way that now sounds campy. It is closer to Firesign Theatre than Cheech & Chong, however. "Pigeon Park" -- in which an aged Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh meet up to get stoned and ramble on about the old Grateful Dead days ("I remember playing 'Love Light' for four hours, but Big Brother never showed up") -- is probably the highlight, as there are always going to be Deadheads (and Deadhead-haters) around to appreciate it.

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