George Carlin's post-hippie standup boils down to two formulas: Either he is providing biting cynicism about sociopolitical demagoguery or he is making urbane, possibly even mundane observations about everyday life and pointing out the bizarre inconsistencies of it all. On Complaints and Grievances, the audio version of Carlin's HBO special of November 2001, he is hitting on all cylinders on both counts. Some might wonder why Carlin, as a native of the area and performing in New York City so soon after the World Trade Center attacks, didn't do more than a couple of cursory minutes about it, but that is his MO. Even when being topical, the comedian always seems to realize that good comedy needs to be timeless, and even the few remarks about the ridiculousness of statements like "Don't let the terrorists win" can be listened to years later without needing a sense of nostalgia to appreciate it. Some of the routine gets a bit too silly, such as "You & Me (Things That Come off of Your Body)," which is Carlin's way to root out the squeamish, a ploy of his going back to the Class Clown days. However, like any good George Carlin performance, it contains one certifiable classic where he manages to roll all of his best observations into an irreverent, yet thoughtful monologue, and that would be disc-closer "Why We Don't Need the Ten Commandments," seven minutes of Carlin at his caustic best.
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AllMusic Review by Brian O'Neill