Freakers Ball

Shel Silverstein

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Freakers Ball Review

by Lindsay Planer

Although he had already recorded half-a-dozen LPs, Freakers Ball was to be the first 'hit' for Shel Silverstein, who was already recognized as one of America's premier satiric voices with his essays, lampooning cartoons, poems and stories. This title actually (OK, barely) cracked the Top 200 album chart, coming in at number 155 and remaining on the survey for over a month in 1973. It was also the disc that helped establish a long-standing relationship with the New Jersey-based Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show, who -- for all intents and purposes -- became an outlet for Silverstein's musical leanings. While many considered his choice of subject matter as an endorsement of the ultra-liberal counter culture, a closer examination reveals that his viewpoints are not only swaddled in satire, he allows humor to deal the often uncomfortable truth about sexual promiscuity, drugs and other activities for what he invariably views as an apathetic generation. Standout performances include his rather poignant observations regarding substance use and abuse on "I Got Stoned and I Missed It." The clever "Don't Give a Dose to the One You Love Most" recalls the pitfalls of STD-related practices long before the term 'safe sex' was coined. "Polly in a Porny" turns an impervious eye to the world of explicit cinema. Both "All About You" and the slightly more gynocentric "Liberated Lady 1999" evoking similar gender-specific opining from the likes of Frank Zappa. While a majority of the platter consists of adult-oriented titles, "Sahra [sic] Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out" is a fable about laziness, and could have been a prime candidate for one of Silverstein's best-selling children's books. Collectors' Choice Music issued Freakers Ball on CD under the name Freakin' at the Freakers Ball (1972), with the supplemental single-only sides "A Front Row Seat to Hear Ole Johnny Sing" and "26 Second Song," as well as the author's version of "Everybody's Makin' It Big but Me," a selection that is best-known from Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show's Bankrupt (1975) LP.

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