This two-fer CD contains "Brother" Dave Gardner's debut (Rejoice, Dear Hearts!) and follow-up (Kick Thy Own Self) long-players for RCA Records. Gardner's impact as a social and political humorist has been largely obscured by time as well as the reality that a majority of his seminal recordings remained out of print for over 30 years. Although considered "regional humor," the impact of these recordings is confirmed, as each disc attained an unprecedented number five on the Billboard album charts during the months of June and August of 1960, respectively. Gardner's Southern drawl and common-sense tales and fables first garnered him several appearances on the Jack Paar Tonight Show beginning in 1957. So by the time that Chet Atkins -- then RCA's head of A&R in Nashville, TN -- commissioned these discs, "Brother" Dave Gardner was a nationally known figure. Both albums are structured to mirror Gardner's live sets as well as television appearances. So in addition to the various yarns and fables, there are also a few musical numbers -- most notably a percussion and vocal piece that Gardner calls "space music." This particular bit of improvisation had an incalculably profound influence on a young Andy Kaufman, according to Kaufman himself. In fact, his initial forays into standup comedy incorporated variations of this silly shtick. Although Gardner's more traditional comedy (i.e., jokes, fables, and stories) has been considered within the same subgenre as Andy Griffith and Jerry Clower, Gardner's tales are actually more cerebral. His unique retelling of William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and the Biblical epic of David and Goliath are punctuated with anachronisms such as rock & roll and motorcycles, as well as a few sly references to social drug use -- all while keeping true to the story from his own inimitable perspective. There are quite a few of Gardner's classic yarns spread throughout these two LPs. Among them are: "The Motorcycle Story," "L.C. and the Governor's Car," "Hainted House" (aka, "Is you gonna be here when John gets here?"), and "The Northern Cat and the Southern Cat." As was the nature of his early performances, the two albums are accented with brief musical interludes. This two-fer also features his only Top 40 hit, "White Silver Sands."
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer