Like Steve Martin, Bill Cosby has always had strong opinions when it comes to comedy. Martin was famous for saying that "comedy is serious business," and Cosby would no doubt agree. In one interview, Cosby was quoted as being critical of Saturday Night Live because he seemed to feel that some of the parodies could be mean-spirited. (Yes, they can, but SNL at its best can be insanely funny). In a nutshell, the one-time jazz drummer turned actor/comedian was saying that comedians have a responsibility not to be hurtful. So it isn't surprising that his 1976 R&B album Bill Cosby Is Not Himself These Days -- which contains parodies of major soul singers of the 1970s -- offers a disclaimer stating that the parodies are "all in good fun, of course, with no harm meant to any of these fine artists whom Bill greatly admires." But then, the disclaimer wasn't really necessary because none of the parodies come across as condescending -- quite the contrary. When Cosby parodies James Brown on "I Luv Myself Better Than I Luv Myself," the Pointer Sisters on "Chick on the Side," or Barry White on the hit "Yes, Yes, Yes," he gives the impression that he genuinely respects their contributions to Afro-American culture. And having been a musician himself, Cosby played with his share of jazz greats before leaving Philadelphia for Los Angeles, he knows how much sweat and hard work can go into a person's music. Not everything on this vinyl LP is great; some of it is only mildly amusing. But the best parts of the album are flat-out hilarious.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson