Personnel: Bill Cosby (spoken vocals); Judy Collins (vocals).
After signing with Uni Records in 1970 and issuing several albums' worth of material dealing in primarily adult themes, Bill Cosby triumphantly returns to weaving yarns about his youth and childhood acquaintances: Fat Albert, Dumb Donald, and of course, his brother Russell. This would also become the basis for his Fat Albert & the Cosby Kids animated series that became mandatory viewing for millions on Saturday mornings between 1972 and 1985. The continuity of story lines featuring his family which commenced with I Started out As a Child (1964) are virtually seamless with those told on this disc. This is evident in "My Father" and "My Brother Russell," highlighting the silly nature of kids and the often too-serious nature of adults. If anything, the intervening years seem to have given Cosby a degree of empathy conspicuously absent from his earlier monologues. Undoubtedly, this can be traced to the birth of Cosby's own children and the correlation between being a kid and having one. With his off-the-cuff delivery style, Cosby retains a freshness when verbally retracing incidence such as "My Hernia." "Buck Jones" hearkens back to the familiar "9th Street Bridge" saga from Revenge (1967), recalling "the gang" at the movies. The shorter observational pieces on "Snakes and Alligators" as well as "Dogs" and "Frogs" are less about children and sound like extensions of tracks such as "Dogs and Cats" from 200 M.P.H. (1968). The success of reviving this timeless cast of characters spawned the LP Fat Albert (1973). Sadly, though, Cosby very rarely incorporated these timeless and ageless characters into his latter-era standup. ~ Lindsay Planer