- Released: August 20, 2001
- Label: Emd Int'l
- 1.The Missing Number 10 Downing Street
- 2.The Red Fort
- 3.Robin Hood and His Merry Men
This album by the hilarious 1950s comedy team the Goons was produced by George Martin. Tracks include "The Missing Number 10 Downing Street," "The Red Fort," and "Robin Hood and His Merry Men."
Comedy that requires a modicum of intelligence will never go out of style, but it does require an audience that can understand what the characters are talking about. This is the only obstacle one might put in the road between any potential listener and the monument to laughter that was the Goons, and their BBC radio series "The Goon Show," from which the three sketches on this volume are selected. The wit of group members Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, and Harry Secombe seems to have no limits in this cosmos. These are not so-called comedians who lounge around an office suite in dungarees waiting for a staff of humorists to parade in with the daily smorgasbord of pre-fab jokes. These three gents were very funny people, period. Or actually, comma. They were also brilliant actors, Peter Sellers in particular, while Spike Milligan was something of an actual lunatic, which can have its advantages over mock lunacy any day of the week, or at least on the nights that these Goons held forth. Harry Secombe balanced the aforementioned prodigious talent and radical state of mind of his accomplices by simply being one of the great geniuses of comedy radio. The place to start is the final track, "Robin Hood and His Merry Men," in which one of the grand traditions of British comedy is pulled out of the oven: Take a grand souffl? of a historic legend, the more puffed up the better, and knock the wind out of it. There have been many satiric runs at Robin Hood, but none as joyously spontaneous as this one, amirth with complete nonsense, created with delightfully friendly energy and not a moment's pause, in case someone listening might have gotten left behind. These characters are the comic equivalent of a speeding train once they get going. "The Red Fort" also stands as a kind of testament to what the right sort of fools can come up with when left to their own devices. A series of compact discs of "Goon Show" material is worth celebrating, but someone should put a piece of cake in the face of whoever at EMI decided this project required so little in the way of accompanying liner notes or artwork. The name Peter Sellers appears nowhere on the booklet, for example. The assumption must have been that this is a group that will be developing no new fan base, and that all the copies of these volumes that will be sold are going to be going to people that know the group's material already. Not so. The Goons will continue developing a new audience as long as the group's material is available, so it might be a good idea to make more generous with the booklets, maybe coming up with something along the lines of the appearance of the group's old LP releases. ~ Eugene Chadbourne