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Duke of Madness Motors


2011 - Duke of Madness Motors

This is definitely a mixed bag... I have had most of this material for years, all except the pre-Zen Hijinks Marathon shows, and it was worth it just for that. But here's my two cents, take it for what it's worth...

Parts of this are delightful, parts are just unlistenable. Perhaps that's inevitable in a totally improvised and "found art" format, and nothing's clearer than 20-20 hindsight from 40 years later, but still... somtimes these just don't work. A MAJOR problem with repeated listening is the stuff that's just not funny and isn't intended to be. Proctor especially just isn't on the same plane as the rest and seems to have a completely different idea about what the show was about than the rest of them did. When he's not being brilliant, which of course he often is, he is stultifyingly boring, reading random newspaper clippings and such with a determination that makes you want to reach back through the years and shake him. It gets to the point that when you hear Proctor say "Hey, did you guys know..." you roll your eyes and reach for the fast forward.

In fact, it drove me crazy enough and was interfering with my enjoyment enough that I have been loading the episodes into ProTools and simply editing out the parts that were driving me mad. I must say that this treatment drastically shortens some shows, such as the infamous one where Proctor reads from The Greening Of America for virtually the entire show. Or the one where Austin goes on and on with his very naive political views and says silly things like, policemen obviously want someone to hurt them because that's their "therapy". Hoo boy.

I love the boys and will sit and listen to anything they do, and I really really love having these old shows, though it sounds like I don't. But let me warn those of you who only know the boys through the albums... this will pretty much destroy your idolization of them and make you realize that they aren't gods but just radio guys who could be very very funny... at times. And very, very little of this "material" is actually theirs... it's just a lot of books and wartime magazines and other stuff they brought to the studio with them. Very low entertainment value at times.

The book is nice but relies too heavily on about 3000 of Proctor's photo collages. I would far rather have seen more graphics with SOME relevance to the material.

I don't mean to rag on Proctor, but he makes you roll your eyes a LOT... such as when he calls from New York with the "Rosemary's Baby" story. So you went to a hip party in a glamorous penthouse with a lot of rich hip strangers who were doing very private things, pulled out your Minox Camera, asked "what are you afraid of" when someone asks you not to take pictures, and then are totally shocked when someone throws your camera off the roof??? I privately thought he was lucky not to get thrown off himself. But he insists on portraying himself as the victim, and everyone else at the party as paranoid New Yorkers. Eye-roll time.

The brilliance of this material is the interplay between Bergman and Austin, when Austin isn't busy being a prima donna. In one episode, he's there, but simply refuses to speak for the whole hour, leaving the others to fill in... which they do brilliantly. They can do it when pushed.

The weaknesses definitely show, however. It took me several attempts to get through the New York shows, they're so just-barely-funny. One can definitely see why the Village Voice panned them based in part on this performance. And I'm sorry, I can't get past the first couple of minutes of the one that hosted by Austin, Ossman, Tiny and Anna Lee. That one is going into ProTools just as soon as I can stand to listen to all of it.

So absolutely, yes, buy it. But it is definitely a mixed bag.

-- Dr. Dog