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Flying Saucer Tour Volume 1, Pittsburgh 6/20/91
Bill Hicks
Released by Rykodisc in 2002

Flying Saucer Tour Volume 1 is (as the title suggests) the first in a series. Bill performed up to 300 live shows a year and compared the schedule to a never-ending tour that only took place in small southern towns. Bill, like many comedians, recorded most of his shows. He left a vast archive of these recordings when he moved on in 1994.
- Jeff Rougvie, excerpted from liner notes

Flying Saucer Tour Volume 1 is an album that consists of an almost entirely unedited1 show that Bill Hicks performed at The Funny Bone in Pittsburgh on June 20th, 1991. It includes variations on many of his more famous routines on smoking, George Bush, the Gulf War, drugs, pornography and promises of dick jokes. Unlike the more heavily edited albums, it also includes crowd interactions, tangents that go nowhere and bits that fizzle out.

Listen folks, the audience participation part of the show is limited to this and this only: direct yes and no answers to my questions, laughter, applause and a blowjob from all the women afterwards.
- Bill Hicks, "Trying to Quit"

In my opinion, this is an amazing album. There's something very endearing about listening to Bill Hicks performing, complete with all of the rough edges and little mistakes, in front of an audience that is less than ideal. In fact, to me the thing that really made the album as a whole was listening to the crowd. I'd never heard him perform in front of an audience that wasn't either thoroughly warmed up or fans of his material. It gave me a new respect for exactly how amazing it was for him to do some of the material he did. In the course of the album, the difficulty of doing serious political humor in front of random audiences is made patently obvious. What's more, he makes it very plain that he's well aware that he'd have an easier time if he fell back on contentless crass humor.

We can call anyone? Well, how about my agent? "Pittsburgh, you bastard! Good crowds? They stared at me like a dog that's just been shown a card trick."
- Bill Hicks, "Are You Guys Drug Dealers?"

That being said, I realize that this is not an album for everyone. I even know Bill Hicks fans that aren't terribly fond of the album. When he starts to lose the audience, it drags on a bit. I can understand not being nearly as fond of this album as, say, Rant in E-Minor or Relentless. In terms of raw political and social commentary, it really doesn't have much material that hasn't been featured on previously released albums. The main advantage of Flying Saucer Tour is not material that's never been heard before, but rather performances that haven't been available before. If listening to material you've heard before being performed again sounds kind of pointless, I wouldn't recommend this album to you.

Track listing

  1. Intro
  2. Summertime
  3. The F Word
  4. Smoking
  5. Yul Brynner
  6. Trying To Quit
  7. The News
  8. The War
  9. Worst Audience Ever
  10. More War
  11. Are You Guys Drug Dealers?
  12. Praying For Nuclear Holocaust
  13. Girl Of Your Dreams
  14. Young Lady
  15. Vs. The Audience 1
  16. What's Wrong?
  17. Vs. The Audience 2
  18. School Days
  19. Vs. The Audience 3
  20. Working
  21. Great Times On Drugs
  22. Mandatory Marijuana
  23. Penthouse Letters
  24. Talking Car
  25. Summer Trip
  26. Drugs Have Done Good Things
  27. Menu?
  28. Beelzebozo
  29. Cause Of Sexual Thought
  30. Mechanics Of Pornography
  31. Goodnight

Naturally, no review of a Bill Hicks album would be complete without the author mourning Hick's premature demise. I believe I'm also required to mention how releveant his material is, even today and mention some aspect of modern society that annoys me that I wish Bill Hicks were here to comment on.

1. Apparently the tape ran out near the end of the show, so they excised the bit that was interrupted and added a closing bit from another show that he had done at the same venue.

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