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1974 - Everything you know is Wrong!: Columbia KC 33141 (Quadrophonic)

 Perhaps the most accessible work of the Firesign Theatre, "EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG" represents the guys at the peak of their powers. For some reason, it's not generally regarded as one of the "classic" recordings, yet it has all the ingredients of great audio theatre.

"EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG" draws the listener in at the very outset: " are now embarked upon a journey that must certainly lead you to change your life forever! If you were never a special person, you are a special person now!" (Yeah! I want to change my life! I want to be a special person!) The listener is immediately hooked.

"Hello seekers, here we go again..."

Where are we going? We're going to the "New Age" where, "...if you dig a hole deep enough, everybody will want to jump into it." (The 4 or 5 crazee guys predicted the "New Age" movement! A hell of a lot of people jumped into the hole. I like to think that the Firesign Theatre coined the term "New Age..." but everything I know is probably wrong.)

It's interesting to note that the guys used "EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG" as the theme for the '96 NPR Piece and their own website. A film was made as well, available from LODESTONE MEDIA .

Presented with precision and flawless timing, "EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG" overflows with the multi-layered obscure references that fans have come to know and love, yet the story is very linear and allows even the casual listener to follow along without having to work too hard.

The only disappointing moment on the recording comes when Happy Harry Cox says: ", it's the end." This is the hallmark of a "classic" work of any stripe - leaving the audience wanting more.

M. Crane

The FST may or may not have invented the term "New Age," but I tell you what... this album foretold the coming of the "X-Files" phenomenon in a big way! Harry Cox as a Fox Mulderian truth-seeker, and the whole treatment of consiracy theories, all those long "lost" government training films about UFO's that theorists have wet dreams about, even Gary the Seeker vs. th Lone Gunmen... all pretty prophetic, if you ask me. A big enough whole has finally been dug and everybody seems to be jumping in though, at the bottom, they don't find blue moss, they find a Roswell Alien Head(tm) T-shirt to call their own and a copy of the "Book of the Subgenius." Scary, isn't it?

Chris Sienko

This is perhaps the Firesign Theatre's most accessible album. It takes a swipe at New Age beliefs and our fascination with UFOs & conspiracy theories, which has only increased with time (and "The X Files"). Though still conceived on a large scale, it manages several moments of intimacy chiefly because of a smaller number of characters (each member essays no more than a handful of roles, many of which re-appear throughout the album) and the device of having the lead (Austin as Dr. Happy Harry Cox) address the audience directly (this is the closest the Guys have come to an interactive or instructional record, an idea they'd toyed with since "I Think We're All Bozos On This Bus").
Like many a great Firesign record, it gives the impression of going on a journey. "How Can You" takes us on a surreal car ride, "Dwarf" carries us through a televisual odyssey, and "Everything You Know" whooshes us from deep in the past to the (possible) future. Much of the first half of the album is a collection of revisionist history ("Our forefathers took drugs!"), climaxing with a mock-rare tape of an old medicine show.
The center of the album takes a look at where we are now (or, rather, where we were in 1975), presenting a gallery of characters desperately searching for greater meaning in their lives. Dr. Cox chases after any piece of found "evidence" in his quest to support his bizarre New Age theories, daredevil Reebus Cannibus hunts down any dangerous challenge in his quest for his (and the TV audience's) greatest thrill, and a goofy kid, Gary the Seeker (Bergman), follows Cox blindly around in his quest for something to amuse himself and his friends. After several hilarious examples and instances which illustrate that, indeed, everything we know is wrong, the album poses the question of what lies ahead for us all. The answer seems to be that true enlightenment lies in looking toward the future - represented by the huge meteor hole that Cannibus plans to throw himself into. The question is, can we conquer our fears of uncertainty and all around trepidation long enough to acheive this? The Firesign seem to be clinging to their early optimism. >From "Waiting For the Electrician..." to "I Think We're All...," one gets the feeling that, despite whatever else was going on at the time, everything was (to quote "Dwarf") "going to be alright!"
On this mid-'70s effort, they don't seem quite as sure, but are still hoding onto the belief that a spiritual redemption is right around the corner (the '80s?). By the time they put out "In the Next World...," the four seem to have become disillusioned. The "system" had by that time co-opted and perverted many of the '60s hippie ideals, causing the albums produced after "In the Next..." and through the '80s to have a "everything is all screwy now, let's make fun of it" feeling with no hope of redemption.
Curiously enough, the Firesign's outlook has become sunnier as of late with "Give Me Immortality..." Perhaps because they're a little older and a lot wiser, they've taken on the roles of bemused, armchair commentators who clearly see the never-ending cycle of popular culture as just another fashion - sooner or later, it'll come back in style, while much of what makes us tick is essentially never changes.
All this aside, the REAL reason this album succeeds as wildly as it does is because it's so damn funny. Every joke lands right on target and no concept outstays it's welcome. Along with the first four albums and "In the Next World," it is the greatest of the Firesign Theatre's records!

Phil Buchbinder