Finally. The BBC has decided to take its crown jewels and give them the treatment they deserve. Following from the excellent series of collectors editions of `Round The Horne' and `Navy Lark', the show we have all been waiting for is, at last, being restored, given some interesting extras and released in a definitive, comprehensive edition. Ladies and Gentlemen, it's the highly esteemed Goon Show!
The BBC only holds recordings from the beginning of series 5 onwards. Some series 4 episodes exist (and are finally being released in a separate edition here: The Goon Show: Series 4, Pt. 1 (Golden Age of BBC Radio Comedy)
). Series 1-3 are, sadly, totally lost to us. Hence, this definitive collection began with series five, and aims to release all extant recordings the BBC still hold from all subsequent series.
If you're looking here you don't need to be told how good the humour is, so I will just review the release itself. Volume 7 collects the 14 of the first 15 episodes (Episode 7, The Red Fort is sadly missing due to the now infamous rights issues with EMI. It is a pity, these occasionally missing episodes are a real mar for an otherwise excellent set of releases. The script, for the missing episode, in PDF form on previous releases, can be found at a website listed in the liner notes) from series 8 across 7 discs, with some usual fascinating extras on the seventh disc. The remastering is worthy of especial praise. In the main these episodes sound much better than they have in any other release. Much material has been restored, unfortunately this often comes from poor quality sources, so these restored sections are sometimes not of the same audio quality of the rest of the program. The restored snippets add much to the shows though. I'm very impressed with the overall quality. This really will be the definitive collection when finished.
This release contains 7 CDs, with two episodes per disc and extras on the seventh disc. These are collected into two 4 CD jewel cases, encased in a flimsy cardboard outer. There are two booklets, one in each case, with essays, details for each episode and original Radio Times listings.
The Junk Affair
The Burning Embassy
The Great Regent's Park Swim
Treasure in the Tower (AKA The Treasure in the Tower)
The Space Age
The Missing Battleship
King Solomon's Mines
The Stolen Postman
The Great British Revolution
The Plasticine Man
The Thing On The Mountain
Extras are pre-recordings from the sessions for the Stolen Postman and Plasticine man.
This really is as good as it gets. 5 stars for the episodes, and 5 for the quality of the release.
It seems the Goon Show releases are a bit like buses - you wait for ages (over a year for this one) and then two come at once. I see that Compendium 8 is already listed on Amazon for release in November 2012, though I note with a sinking heart that it is prominently listed as being published by AudioGo, and I have fears for the quality of the packaging of future releases, as when they took over the ongoing Navy Lark releases the packaging format changed to something very different that did not match all the previous releases in the set.
Having said all that, well done BBC, keep them coming! And any chance of a proper release for Men From The Ministry or I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again?