A conceptual follow-up to his hit standup album Hello Dummy!, Don Rickles Speaks! features the great insult comic fielding questions from five panelists (Rosalind Ross, Dick Whittington, Pat McCormick, Don Richmond, and Joe Smith) and skewering all that was "hip" in the late '60s. Way out of print, Speaks! had to wait till 2006 to be issued on CD by Jewish Music Group, and if one had to guess why original label Warner Bros. passed and then passed on this collection after so many years, it has to be how of its time the record is. Swinging nights where the adults all dressed in suits, drank highballs, and smoked cigarettes are brought to mind in this intimate show -- along with how politically incorrect this "sophisticated" crowd could be. Rickles is good friends with Sammy Davis, Jr. because "you can't get good help like that anymore" and Mexicans do the dirty work while shouting "Zapata is alive!" As is the common excuse, every race, creed, and religion get equal beatings and Rickles is a much smarter smartass than Andrew Dice Clay. Nostalgia buffs will dig the now obscure references to Snooky Lanson, Huntz Hall, and the Electric Prunes ("…they should all go suck on a lemon and go to a fruit festival") plus the cameo from the legendary announcer Gary Owens. The Sinatra thrashing tops it all and the liner notes are wonderful, with '60s pop culture expert Hal Lifson setting the stage for this nostalgia trip. While Hello Dummy! is the more representative release, the looser Speaks! is just as fun and twice as cool.
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AllMusic Review by David Jeffries