Shel Silverstein

Freakin' at the Freakers Ball

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Multimedia satirist Shel Silverstein had been perfecting his craft since the mid-'50s, releasing seven long-players since his debut, Hairy Jazz (1959). Some 13 years later, Silverstein made his way on to the album charts with Freakin' at the Freakers Ball (1972). Accompanied by the relatively unknown Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show, Silverstein turns his scatological mind toward the hippie counterculture. Their espousal of free love, copious drug use, and general antisocial promiscuity are rendered flaccid and otherwise ineffective throughout the dozen story-song fables. "I Got Stoned and I Missed It" takes a few fairly obvious digs at the futility inherent in substance abuse, while the ambiguity of "Thumbsucker" is awash in an undercurrent of sexual implications and understated humor. Similarly, "Don't Give a Dose to the One You Love Most" almost jovially references communicably transmitted diseases. The title cut "Freakin' at the Freakers Ball" pokes fun at "love-in" type assemblies, even inspiring annual events, that would devolve into free-for-alls held in the name of hedonism. The self-absorption and intemperance of the so-called Me Generation is brought to bear on both "All About You" and the slightly more gynocentric "Liberated Lady 1999," a track best described as an ode to the feminist movement. Less confrontational is the whimsical "Sahra Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out," a bit of poetry that could have easily fit into his one of his numerous children's books. Below the surface lies clever alliteration of a tale decrying the laissez faire attitudes of an entire generation. [When the platter was issued on CD in 1999, three bonus selections were added, the single-only sides "A Front Row Seat to Hear Ole Johnny Sing" and "26 Second Song," as well as Silverstein's own version of "Everybody's Makin' It Big But Me," notably covered by Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show on their Bankrupt (1975) LP.]

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