Stanley Freberg, the All-American Dog

Stan Freberg, The Tip of the Freberg – My wife Beth recently picked up this 1999 boxed set of Stan’s most famous recordings, in four compact discs and a video tape. I think my own interest in Freberg’s work derived from my love of Weird Al, who listed Stan among his own influences (along with Spike Jones, Allan Sherman, and Tom Lehrer), and had him play both television producer J.B. Toppersmith and discontented puppet sidekick Papa Boolie on The Weird Al Show. I’d heard some of his recordings on compilations or through other fans, but this was my first time hearing some of it. The first disc is mostly a collection of his early singles, most of them mocking particular aspects of popular songs of the time: the unintelligible vocals in “Sh-Boom” (the target here obviously being the Chords’ version rather than the Crew-Cuts’), the repetitive piano part in “The Great Pretender,” the overly long spoken-word introduction on “Rock Island Line,” and the loud vocals on “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song).” The second disc focuses more on longer comedy pieces, including his three Dragnet parodies, his Lone Ranger Spoof “The Lone Psychiatrist,” and Joe McCarthy’s interrogation of Baa Baa Black Sheep in “Point of Order.” Selections from Stan’s two-part comedy album The United States of America (with a gap of about thirty-five years dividing the two parts) make up much of the third disc, and the fourth is mostly commercials. I have to say I find it interesting how someone who skewered advertising in much of his work was also such a presence in the industry, but there’s probably a moral in there. Not only is Stan quite adept at voice work, but his work also features contributions from other famous voice actors like Daws Butler and June Foray, as well as Lorenzo Music (the late voice of Garfield, whom I recognized right away) on the more recent USA songs. I have to wonder why there hasn’t been another Freberg collection in the past decade, or at least a reissue of Tip. Does the record-buying public not appreciate pioneers in the field of auditory comedy?

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2 Responses to Stanley Freberg, the All-American Dog

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