September 04, 2002

The Screamer "The Screamer's Greatest Hits"

My god, do you like to laugh? Do you like to laugh at the stupidity of others? Do you like to laugh at the stupidity of others when those others are bested by someone who appears to be nothing more than a total ass, or who get angered when someone exposes them for the idiot as they are? Then, by god, go and buy The Screamer's Greatest Hits right now!

See, when I was younger, I really got into Teenbeat Records. I bought everything that had the label, be it CD's or seven inch singles or posters or box sets or rock glasses or coffee mugs or combs! Anyway, the label released a lot of weird tapes, and one of these tapes was called The Tube Bar. It was a guy crank calling a place called Tube Bar. What did it sound like? It's what Bart Simpson does to Moe every week. Exactly the same thing. In fact, several of the calls are exactly the same, except it's ten years prior to the show.

On the expanded CD version, there were three other tracks. One was a track of a guy musing about life and society, and it wasn't very interesting. Another track was called "Julie Gang Debs" and was an audio letter sent to Don and Erin Smith from a teenage girl who sounded cute and a little bit lonely after she read about their zine Teenage Gang Debs in Sassy. Interesting listening, to say the least.

The track that made this CD a little more than a curious novelty was a track called "The Screamer." It was poorly recorded, and the first time I listened to it, I didn't get it. The fidelity on the recording was terribly low, and I had to turn my CD player's volume to painful levels in order to hear it. It was worth it though, for those sixteen and a half minutes were funny as hell.

Well, I'm happy to say that Teenbeat has rescued this odd little collection of prank calls from the den of obscurity. And I'm happy to say that instead of sixteen minutes of lo-fidelity recordings, the label has remixed the recordings and loaded a CD full of more recordings. It's brilliant, I tell you. It's 72 minutes full of funny-as-hell and all-real calls made to talk radio programs. There are 85 calls on this CD, and I'll be honest, 85 calls is far from enough to satisfy MY desire to hear the Screamer.

The funniest thing about these calls is that many of these DJ's take things WAY too seriously. There's one guy who constantly talks about the FBI going after him. Some of the DJ's take the Screamer in with a good sense of humor; others take him very, very seriously and treat him as some sort of threat. I think these people didn't realize that if you treat him like he's bad, he's not going to go away. Fuelling the fire, ya know. Two hosts, Sally Jesse Rafael (the one about the 3 month old baby on birth control) and Beverly LeHay (about why gays should not be in the military, due to the fact that when he was in 'nam, his tentmate refused to fight because he was too busy listening to the soundtrack to the Broadway show Oklahoma!) are so dense as to not realize that they've just been pranked.

There are way, way too many calls to discuss in detail here, but I'm just going to say that the best calls are the ones that don't sound funny from the beginning, such as the carjacking call, the Jerry Springer call, and the Battlestar Galactica guy call. Really, you have got to hear this record. Unlike Roy T. Mercer and the Jerky Boys, these calls are REAL and they strike in such a stealthy manner, that you literally sit on edge listening to this record, simply because you really CANNOT guess what's going to come out of the guy's mouth.

The fact that the Screamer did this sort of thing for fourteen years really makes me hopefull that there will be a "Volume Two" of The Screamer's Greatest Hits some time soon. This is really one of the funniest records you will EVER hear. Laughter is the best medicine, and The Screamer's Greatest Hits is like a bottle of cough syrup for your soul. Not a moment is lost on a bum call, either. Get this and laugh!

--Joseph Kyle

No comments: