Few American satirists have been as prolific or multimedia savvy as Stan Freberg. Before getting his own CBS Radio program, he was among the best-sellers on the Capitol Records roster. This long-player gathers eight of his most revered sides, all of which were previously available on 78 or 45 rpm singles. Poking fun at pop music trends was always a great source of inspiration for Freberg and his core ensemble of top-shelf voice-over talent including Daws Butler, June Foray, and Peter Leeds, not to mention musical accompaniment by Billy May. Kicking off With the Original Cast (1959) is one of Freberg's most revered parodies, his take-off of Harry Belafonte's "Banana Boat Song (Day-O)." Since there are no sacred cows, he duly sends up Lawrence Welk's champagne music with side-splitting accuracy on the sudsy "Wun'erful, Wun'erful." With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Freberg proves himself just as worthy of consideration as a serious vocalist on his "straight" reading of "Trouble" from the play The Music Man. The other side (quite literally) of the proceedings begins with a scathing yet all-too-accurate account of modern society under the influence of "Tele-Vee-Shun." Freberg and company created several spoofs of the popular cop show Dragnet. Freberg's take of the by-the-book, square-jaw delivery of Dragnet's star and creator, Jack "Just the Facts Ma'am" Webb is utterly brilliant as heard on the update of the fairy tale "Little Blue Riding Hood" -- where "the color has been changed to protect the innocent," according to the narrator. Rounding out the platter is a lengthy "theater of the mind" sketch that mulls the over-commercialization of a "Green Chri$tma$." And remember -- the track was first issued in 1958! Folks wishing to find the contents of With the Original Cast on CD are encouraged to locate a copy of the erroneously titled Live Recordings (2004) compilation as it has all the best from this LP and plenty more of his key Capitol-era sides.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer