Album reviews:

Live From Hell


Sam Kinison

Live From Hell

Sam Kinison, aka "that screaming guy", tragically died in a car accident in 1992. (And ironically enough, it was the other guy that was driving drunk.) But a year after his passing, this live album was released, and to me, it turned out to be, in my opinion, his best work. Part of that is because a lot of the material on this 55-minute live set, recorded in his old stomping ground of Houston, is way over the line. In fact, Kinison even jokes on the album that the sound guy's saying "we're getting sued for this - we can't use any of this shit", as he breaks into the album talking about how Arnold Schwartzennegar used to suck dick and that he fucked Penny Marshall and snorted an L of coke off her tit. And maybe he'd get sued, maybe not, but it's interesting to hear him mention that on an album released after he's dead, when he's basically unprosecutable. At the very least, the guy's not going to have to worry about running into Rosanne Barr in a restaurant after slagging her, since he's six feet under.

The original pressing of this CD had one single track, containing the whole show, and they didn't break it up into individual tracks by joke or story. And that's always a pain in the ass, but it's almost necessary here, because Kinison's jokes come on so fast and flow into each other so much, it's impossible to tell where one thing begins and another ends. One minute, he's talking about how he missed the Joan Rivers show and the entertainment community gave him more of a hassle than they gave Rick James for torturing a chick in his basement, and then he immediately segues into why he thinks Pee Wee Herman should be executed for his porn theater arrest, and then launches into a huge and hilarious bit about how Captain Kangaroo never cracked, but was a huge alcoholic and berated by his wife.

Nobody remembers Sam as a political or social comic, but he had his moments. He spends a lot of time talking about the Russians, and how, in the post-Cold War era, they were truly fucked by the defeat of communism and drift to capitalism. In his best bit on this, he talks about opening a pawn shop next to the new Moscow McDonald's, so people can trade in their old heirloom jewelry for a Filet O' Fish and a small fries. He also continues by talking about how great it would have been to JFK, fucking Marilyn Monroe with a finger on the button, telling the Russians to fuck off. He continues the political stuff with talk about the Gulf War, and it's almost like the opposite of Bill Hicks and his far-left rhetoric, yet just as funny.

Most of the material on this album is fairly new, and Kinison doesn't stumble at all when tearing through it. Everything fits well, there's no time to contemplate the audience, and it's all maximum volume, total punch-to-the-gut stuff. There's no filler here, although some of the routines are a bit more typical, like a long diatribe on rap music. It's all very hilarious though, and like I said, this might be his best album yet. I think more people remember the stock gags and classics on albums like "Louder than Hell" or "Have You Seen Me?", and not that many people even remember this release. But to me, it's a good performance, and always interesting because a year after I thought he was gone forever, this appeared and made my day.

Rating: 9


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