Lewis Black made his first Daily Show appearance in the mid ‘90s, and his popularity began building along with the show. His popular “Back in Black” segments encouraged people to seek out his comedy, which was consistently strong across a number of CDs over the years, from the “White Album” to 2008’s “Anticipation,” which was reviewed here.
Black has returned, this time with a CD entitled “Stark Raving Black.” There are moments that are satisfyingly Black, but like some of his more recent efforts there tend to be a few overarching themes throughout the CD, as opposed to smaller, more compartmentalized pieces. “Anticipation” kept revisiting the them of being let down after being so excited for something. This time around, he has a few themes he keeps going.
The first is his age: at 60, he’s one of the older comedians on the scene, but he’s very much one of the sharpest. He manages to discuss the topic with grace and humor. He delves into the fact that he’s become a more mainstream comedian, despite his gratuitous use of language, and revisits political themes including the economy and George W. Bush, always fertile ground for the untrusting Black. He has a lengthy bit on his parents, which is incredibly entertaining and ranks among his more humorous bits, just because he captures some of the absurdity of family and offers a glimmer into his personal life.
Black still yells to add some punctuation to some of his jokes, but he also holds back at times, and much more prominently than in previous albums. He seems to have discovered this other level, because even when he’s subdued, he builds his points just as beautifully. This is a man who has mastered the ebb and flow of comedy, and builds to great laughs consistently.
Anyone who’s ever enjoyed his pieces on Comedy Central or his previous albums will find plenty to like here, and for those who are fans of comedy in general, Lewis Black remains among the top comedians. It’s another winning disc for Black, and with any luck, one of many more to come.
In this space a couple of months ago I mentioned that Robyn was back with a few new songs and an ambitious album release schedule. Well, the first of three albums this year, “Body Talk, Pt. 1,” has arrived.
When the three preview songs from the album were released, I noted they were slow builders and not as immediate as some of her previous work. Thankfully, that has been remedied by lead single “Dancing On My Own,” which ranks among her best tracks to date. “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do” is a little less so, but is also a strong track.
At eight tracks, it’s on the small side for an album, but it’s also priced accordingly, making it a worthwhile purchase. Part 2 of the Body Talk series streets in August; Part 3 will hit by the end of the year.