I just finished listening to all 22 George Carlin albums in chronological order

Or, at least the 22 non-compilation albums that are on Spotify. I think that’s all of them.

My thoughts? The very early stuff (Killer Carlin, bits of Take Offs & Put Ons) was so bad it was uncomfortable to listen to.

The hippie freak Carlin period (Class Clown, Toledo Window Box, Occupation Foole) is where he hit his stride, and brought back very fond and familiar memories of my youth.

He did well as an old man, too (sorry, George; old fuck). For several albums - before he got extremely cranky - he continued to entertain in a smart and admirable way.

I had never before heard I Kinda Like It When a Lot of People Die, which is the bit he was working on and was going to perform just before 9/11 hit. Even now it’s a little uncomfortable to listen to.

There is also a very interesting interview (George Carlin on Comedy) that I hadn’t heard. It really illustrates Carlin’s intelligence and gives a peek at his creative process.

I’m far from a prude, but there was one bit (can’t even remember which album it was from) that was over the line, IMO. It involved harvesting certain body parts after death, much as we harvest eyes, kidneys, and livers. It felt like ol’ Georgie was straining to offend.

Anyway, thought I’d share.

I’ve never heard any but the most well-known of his work. I’m curious about the earliest stuff - would it be fair to say he was always exploring the boundary between offending and entertaining, and that for the large chunk in the middle of his career he was quite successful in navigating it, while the very beginning and the very end were kind of cringe-inducing? Or were things quite different at the beginning?

I used to listen to his late 80’s-the end material a lot. I obviously focused on his tv specials they released on CD.

I think he peaked around 1992-2001.

Back in Town (1996) and You Are All Diseased (1998) are two amazing comedy albums.

Life is Worth Losing was a bad performance of pretty good material. It’s Bad For Ya’ was a very solid ending, kind of a redemption for Life Worth Losing.

He’s my favorite comedian and I miss him.

He went through 3 phases in his career supposedly.

Straight comedian
Vulgar and offensive hippie
Angry old man

Personally I like the third phase the best. The second phase was ok, but nothing special. I haven’t heard much of his first phase. IMO his golden age was the 90s.

Also I didn’t know Carlin had 22 albums. I have probably only heard 10-15.

I also have not heard his posthumous release, though I know he changed his routine after 9/11.

I’ll have to check it out.

Heh. Everyone’s career seems to have three phases. Even people who suddenly die at a young age get three, not one and a quarter phases. :slight_smile:

Maybe our mental picture of what “career” means has three slots to fill. :slight_smile:

I agree with this, except in Carlin’s case all 3 phases are very distinct.

As for his early stuff, I bought (and still own) his first solo LP, ‘Take Offs and Put-Ons’. It’s not horrible, but compared to his later stuff it pales. This album includes the Hippy Dippy Weatherman (“tonight’s forecast: dark. Continued dark throughout the night, with steadily appearing periods of light appearing near daybreak…”) and Wonderful WINO radio. Also stuff about daytime TV. This came out in 1967.

Before going solo, Carlin was part of a comedy duo. His partner was Jack Burns. You may know him as the deputy who replaced Barney Fife. He also later partnered in an act with Avery Schreiber (and I think they even had a TV show together, if memory serves).

Burns and Carlin recorded an album in 1960 that was released many years later. It is on Spotify as “Killer Carlin”. It is mostly political humor, and simply not funny.

The most painful part of my Carlin journey, though, was the first cut from the album I Kinda Like It When a Lotta People Die. It’s called ‘Boston Rant 1957’ and was recorded by Carlin, alone, speaking into a tape recorder 61 years ago. It is basically a rant about how he hates all policemen and firemen, with zero funny contained within. Maybe he was drunk when he recorded it; it is unfocused, repetitive, and hateful. The opposite of entertaining.

If you have Spotify, give Boston Rant a listen if you dare. I’d love to hear another opinion.

Carlin made a conscious decision very early to go hippie. In fact, his 2nd solo album - FM & AM - was split between the AM side (stuff he performed on Merv Griffin and Mike Douglas) and the FM side (sex, drugs, shit).

Over the course of the next several albums, his material got edgier and his hair got longer. I remember reading somewhere that his mother had a hard time with the transition.

His mother was a huge part of his life. She left down the fire escape with him and his brother because his father was such a bad drinker. He never knew his dad.

She was his supporter, but also oppressively controlling. I’m not sure if she was just a strict Catholic and hated his stuff or what it was. She was on his back all the time.

I saw a video of some of his stuff from when he was young, and it was like someone trying to do a poor impersonation of Jim Carey - funny faces, weird body positions, just plain ol’ being silly.

NOT what I was expecting.

I’m not sure if that’s 1st or 2nd phase.

Eh, it sounded like just an anti-authority rant. It really wasn’t even that bad. However I don’t get his disdain for firemen, I’ve never really heard anyone say firemen, as a class of people, are bad.

He also sounded pretty drunk.

His talk about anti-authority, and his talk about planning life, his cynicism, his use of the word ‘dirty’ all back in 1957 just seem to predict his career, even though he was only 20 at the time.

Its actually a pretty good track when viewed in that light. Carlin is basically outlining his future career and personality while he was drunk one night when he was 20 years old.

I’ve never heard the concept that a career has 3 phases. Either way, Carlin’s career did have 3 phases and they seem to mimic Carlin’s changes as a person.

He was the straight laced comedian. Then he became the anti-authority, vulgar hippy comedian. Then he became the angry, cynical old man.

I think as he got more comfortable in his career he let more and more of his real personality show in his comedy.


When I was a young teen I gobbled up Carlin’s albums. I thought he was the greatest thing since potato chips (still do, actually). This was around the time of his emerging freak personality. Because of the vulgarity I had to sneak-listen, lest my parents overhear.

One day I came home from school and mom was pretty upset. It seems that she came across a cassette tape of mine, noted it was George Carlin, and listened to it. She recognized his name because she had seen him on Merv Griffin or some similar show.

Well, the album was Class Clown, including the bit Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television. She was appalled, offended, and angry that I would listen to such garbage, especially at my tender age.

Many years later, she confessed that there was more to the story.

Pretty much every day, mom’s neighbor came over for a cup or two of coffee. They were ‘housewives’, early 1970s. As it turned out, she and neighbor lady listened to the tape together and laughed their asses off. She wouldn’t admit this to me at the time, of course.

It amuses me to visualize two middle-aged suburban housewives, drinking instant Maxwell House and puffing on Chesterfields (Mom) and Pall Malls (neighbor), cackling over a routine that centers around ‘shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits’.

(and why do I remember which brand cigarettes they smoked?)

In the late '60s, firemen were authority figures on par with the police, because they were being sent into places like the inner city of Detroit to deal with the arson committed during race riots. At one point they were even being sniped from rooftops, and there was talk about arming them so they could defend themselves and return fire.

It was definitely another time. :frowning:

For the most part, I think they were also blue-collar anti-hippie, anti-protestor, patriotic types, along with cops, construction workers, and the like. In other words, guys who might enjoy beating up people like George.

I’m not a fan of his angry old man phase. It was just a rant with almost no humor. But damn he was great when I heard him for the first time in high school in the 80’s. My friends and I listened to his stuff every chance we got.

I saw him get nabbed offstage by the cops for saying The Seven Words. They were polite enough to wait til he got done with his set.

Reading the article, I learned that, knowing “the pigs” were there, he dragged his material out an extra half hour. And managed to ditch a baggie of cocaine before they arrested him. And I learned that the judge in the case (“the swingin’ judge from up north”) laughed at the material in court when he heard it.

Would you listen to old Cosby records? Not comparing the two…just wondering.

I saw him in a live performance in his later years and it was killer material. I had trouble breathing because I was laughing so hard and so did the people around me.

Carlin was the best, his Hippy Dippy weatherman is very dated but still can put a smile on my face and his stuff from the mid-70s to the early 90s was awesome. I love his comparison of Baseball & Football. He was great in Dogma also.

Clearly any and all respect I ever had for Cosby is gone but his stuff was funny. That doesn’t change. I would listen to his Noah bit at very least as it was so funny.