Special Report: BILLVILLE!
I just returned from the
19th annual Midwest Radio Theatre Workshop in
Missouri. While there, I had the classically memorable experience of
sitting with David Ossman and a bunch of others in an archetypical dorm
room (cinderblock walls, linoleum-tile floor, dented metal bedframes,
stained mattresses, inadequate closets and graffiti decorations)
listening to some of the NEW Firesign Theatre album. (David brought a
very rough mix of the first seven minutes on a cassette.)
The setting brought back memories -- and so did the tracks, because the listening was an electric experience. Or something like it.
It reduced me to helpless laughter in seven seconds, and kept it up all the way through. What I heard was fast, dense, wonderful and very, very, very, very VERY funny! The group has shifted gears and put the pedal to the metal. I managed to be around for three listenings and found myself discovering whole new vistas on the third when my laugh-amplitude abated slightly and I could hear them.
Disclaimer: the tape was just a very rough mix of the tracks laid down so far, a quick dump to cassette, really. As an engineer, I could hear some of the unrealized possibilities. But that didn't matter. What we could get were the characters, ideas, lines, and jokes, and they were so good that all the technical caveats are insignificant.
The album is being designed for DVD 5.1 Surround Sound, but there will also of course be a stereo CD mixed. Manufacturers ought to give a copy away with every surround system.
Now -- for anyone who can't wait, I'll give some specifics down below. If you want to be surprised, don't look.
The album concerns the events in Billville, a midwestern town, on July 4, 2001. It's a midwestern album in a big way, but the humor is not regional in an exclusive sense. (E.G., Butch D'Ambrosio, a Mad Magazine contributor from New York who was David's Assistant Director this year, thought it was hilarious.) I was convinced it was written about the town I live in, but agree with David that EVERYBODY in the midwest will think that.
The first line of the album is, "If it's not life-threatening, I'm not interested!" Amazing how the Four or Five always understand the youthful outlook.
So far we heard only new characters, including:
Mayor Penisnose (Penn - ISS - nose) (Peter) Doc Inferno (Phil A) Coach Swat (? not sure -- David or Phil P, I think) Developer Sprawl (Phil P) Mister Twister (David)
At the same time, it's more than just a heartland headtrip, it's America at the Turn. The crowd outside the window chants, "The Mayor Is The Problem! The Flagpole Is The Answer!"
IF the rest of the album is as good as the first seven minutes, it will blow people away.
My head is spinning.