Stan Freberg turns 81 today. Happy birthday, Stan! When I was a youngster digging through the record album bins at the local Woolworths on my lunch hour from school, I would always see Stan's albums mixed in with Bobbie Gentry, the Beatles and Steam but I never heard any songs by him on the radio. Then one day, I recognized him on a MONKEES rerun. Then I saw him in an old movie from the 1950's. Then I discovered DOCTOR DEMENTO and found out that he was a comedian! Well, in a way. A satirist. Satire doesn't always have to be funny. Anyway, throughout the 1980's I collected Freberg's classic radio series (the replacement for JACK BENNY!) and finally got STAN FREBERG PRESENTS THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (VOL.1 THE EARLY YEARS), one of the funniest recordings ever in my opinion. With a cast that includes such now legendary voices as Paul Frees, Jesse White, Peter Leeds, June Foray and Marvin Miller, it's intelligent, hilarious sketches and songs resonate long after the initial playing of it.
In 1996, some 35 years after the original's release, VOL. 2--THE MIDDLE YEARS appeared from Rhino on CD. It's hard to tell that any time has passed at all as Stan's many voices sound marvelously young and many of the cast of the original show up again. Corey Burton does a dead-on impersonation of the late Paul Frees as narrator and a number of celebrity guests appear in bits of stunt-casting that don't always work. (Bob Hope failed miserably with this same formula on his overproduced and not particularly amusing Bicentennial comedy album two decades earlier). Stan, to his credit, has promised we won't have to wait 35 years for VOL. 3. I have no doubt that he'll be here that long, though.