David Frye

Radio Free Nixon

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After the success of David Frye's first comedy album built around his uncanny impression of Richard M. Nixon, the comic came back with a more ambitious follow-up, 1971's Radio Free Nixon. Radio Free Nixon imagines a typical broadcast day at WNIX, a radio station where the president and his cronies are allowed to give free reign to their opinions, and along with Frye's usual impressions of the likes of Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Lyndon Johnson, William F. Buckley, and Billy Graham, the disc features deadly accurate parodies of AM radio choral "bumpers" ("WNIX, 110 percent American! Are youuuuu?" "Respect the majesty of the presidency!") and production music from the early '70s. Radio Free Nixon also ups the ante on the political satire of Frye's I Am the President, which was already more pungent than what the average standup comic was willing to deliver in the pre-Watergate period of Nixon's career, and on "The Richard Nixon Show," "Soap Opera," and "Foreign Affairs" takes obvious (and amusing) pleasure to pointing out the then-president's failings and foibles. Frye is in equally fine fettle as he tears into Lyndon Johnson, Howard Cosell, and Al Capp (the "Li'l Abner" cartoonist then in the news for his sharp swing to the political right and legal problems related to groping young women). The album closes with a relatively straight version of Frye as Nixon singing "My Way," and for better or worse it sounds like how Tricky Dick would probably have wanted to go out when he left office three years later. Radio Free Nixon's most glaring flaw is the artificial sounding laugh track that appears in the place of a live audience, and it certainly isn't needed -- more than 30 years later, this album's satire still cuts, even if current political circumstances are wildly different.

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