The Tale of the Giant Rat of Sumatra The Tale of the Giant Rat of Sumatra

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Category: Audio
Channeling Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Jules Verne (with a dash of Mark Twain among others), the Firesign Theatre spin a tail of action, intrigue and duplicity involving a sought-after new technology, a large furry rodent, a corporate patriarchy, corrupt politicians, inept lawmen, nefarious reprobates, buxom beauties and a seven percent solution. Will Hemlock Stones solve the mystery? The answer is elementary, my dear Flotsom!

The Tale Of The Giant Rat Of Sumatra (1974)

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Reviewer: A music fan from Los Angeles, CA USA

"Giant Rat" is the Firesign's Sherlock Holmes parody, originally relased in 1974. At the time, it was viewed as a sort of a "comeback" album as it came shortly after the group had disbanded briefly to pursue solo projects. It didn't make the splash it could've (the following release, "Everything You Know Is Wrong" would fare better) but is still a very funny title. If you know what the Firesign Theatre is all about, then grab without hesitation. For you neophytes, the Firesign Theatre dragged the comedy album into the '60s psychedelic era and beyond, peppering their albums with lofty literary references, drug jokes, bad puns, and a tip of the hat to classic radio. They took full advantage of studio capabilities and multi-tracking, creating a surreal comic landscape that could take you anywhere (from the Academy Awards to War to Indian Reservations to Eastern Europe...). "Rat" is one of their fastest paced entries and owes a lot to the Goon Show. The theme here is power and corruption as famed detective and cokehead Hemlock Stones (Philip Proctor) and his trusty companion Dr. John Flotsam (David Ossman) help filthy rich magnate Jonas Acme (Peter Bergman) recover the stolen "Zeppo Tube" (a powerful invention) from the hands of the maniacal Electrician (Phil Austin). Like a Python film or Kids in the Hall episode, the four members of the troupe essay dozens of roles each, all unique and hilarious. It may be a hair below their greatest work ("How Can You Be In Two Places...," "Don't Crush That Dwarf..."), as it is somewhat less surreal and ambitious, but even their weakest material (and this is NOT their weakest) is better than most everything else that passes for comedy today. Long live the Firesign Theatre!

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