Firesign Theatre

Dear Friends

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This set is a distillation of the Firesign Theater's 21 hour-long weekly radio programs conceived and produced live on the air at KPFK in Los Angeles between September 9, 1971, and February 17, 1972. These tapes were then whittled down to 12 one-hour shows and syndicated under the title Dear Friends, and were subsequently broadcast throughout North America on burgeoning underground FM stations. Unlike most other Firesign Theater recordings, the emphasis here is on improvisation, with a keen ear toward the medium of radio. The Firesign Theater actually incorporate and refer to the medium throughout their impromptu sketches as if it were the fifth member of the troupe. The four human Firesigns are: Phillip Austin, Peter Bergman, David Ossman, and Philip Proctor. Their background includes several other short-lived series for radio, including Radio Free Oz and the Firesign Theater Radio Hour. For Dear Friends, scripts and other preconceived notions were dismissed in an effort for the members to explore the possibilities of congruous verbal improvisation, incorporating many of the same techniques that musicians employ when performing live. The major difference being the absence of instant audience feedback as radio, which is infinitely more insidious -- practically invading the homes and autos of willing participants. The Firesign Theater of the air deftly construct premise after premise with verbal sparring and wordplay. The freshness and spontaneity in their oft-times bewildered retorts is contagiously funny. No matter how many times you hear a routine, the impeccable timing never fails to garner a smile at the expense of the audience's expectations. Dear Friends, originally issued as a two-LP set, consists of comparatively short extracts relating to four subheadings: "A Properly Religious Opening," "The T.V. Set," "Animals, Vegetables & Minerals," and "It's Sure Realistic." Many infamous characters and bits that would exist beyond Dear Friends include: "Freezing Mr. Foster," "Deputy Dan Has No Friends," a collective glance into the "T.B. Guide," "Balliol Bros.," and "Poop's Principles." The latter features the fictitious Principal Poop from More Science High School -- a character being concurrently developed by the troupe on the Don't Crush That Dwarf Hand Me the Pliers album. Locating a copy of the 1992 CD reissue of Dear Friends on the audiophile Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab might be difficult, as it was limited in edition and likewise became an unfortunate casualty of the demise of the label in the late '90s. For enthusiasts of the Firesign Theater, it is a mandatory find.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:20
2 3:15
3 2:38
4 3:05
5 2:28
6 1:56
7 1:40
8 5:54
9 2:27
10 2:39
11 2:55
12 1:11
13 3:24
14 2:02
15 1:54
16 1:04
17 3:34
18 0:45
19 2:29
20 1:40
21 2:04
22 3:03
23 1:24
24 3:54
25 4:31
26 2:23
27 0:59
28 3:21
29 1:09
blue highlight denotes track pick