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VINE VOICEon 9 September 2010
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Spike Milligan, often considered a bastion of British comedy, had such a broad range of talents that it's difficult to come up with an authoritative collection, but this 2 CD set from the always polished Beeb, does a pretty good job of showing his full range.
Often regarded as walking the fine line between comedy and insanity ( and indeed he was plagued in later life with psychological problems) Spike was a poet, artist, comedian, writer, playwright and actor, and in a career that included shaping what most consider the golden era of British comedy, he brought a dark, and often zany humour to the masses. Some of the material herein is funnier than others, the first disc in the set is mostly Spike reading poetry and clips from his work, and he sounds somewhat frail. The second disc is hilarious, although like all comedy it is of course subjective anyway, and won't be to everyones taste. Touching on his brilliant part in writing and starring in the Goon Show, up to the Q series and more, there is a real flavour for any fan, or newcomer to his material.
The episode of the Goon show on this set is almost a "lost" episode, recorded without the canned laughter of a studio audience, so it loses some of it's punch, but it's funny nonetheless.
In a career that spanned over 60 years, Spike never lost his dark humour, and was quoted as saying upon hearing the sad news of the death of friend and fellow Goon Harry Secombe "I'm glad he died before me, I didn't want him singing at my funeral"
So pop the kettle on, sit back in your favourite chair, and relive some classic comedy from someone who will be sadly missed.
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
First released in 2010 as part of the BBC's wistful `Remembering...' audiobook series, `Remembering Spike Milligan' featured a comprehensive selection of poems, songs, sketches, extracts and reminisces from the BBC radio archive.

Spread over two CD's lasting a total of 2 hours and segmented into twenty-three separate tracks; the audio book delivers an impressive overview of this British comedy genius's long and illustrious career.

Each chapter (separated into tracks) is introduced by Spike himself, recorded from many years back, but presented in this way for the very first time. The recordings have all been digitally re-mastered, making the sound quality clean and crisp throughout.

The sheer variation of recordings creates a fitting tribute to the memory of this prolific comedian, whilst also successfully painting a very vivid picture of the person behind the laughter. Spike's brief introductions at the beginning of each chapter allow for a somewhat heart warming insight into their creation, their place in Spike's life and his fondness for each step of his career.

For Spike Milligan fans, this really is something that will bring great joy and wistful memories of the man's great comic imagination. The package as a whole is something to really be treasured (as are all of the BBC's `Remembering...' series).

It is clear that the compilation has been very carefully put together so that each aspect covered seems to flow on to the next, although many of the sketches and extracts are far from similar - this simply highlights the skill of the compilation team. The brief video that accompanies this review is just an extract from one of the many tracks within the audiobook, but will give you an idea of what to expect.

The double CD presentation includes the following extracts from Spike Milligan's impressive comedy career:

The Dreaded Batter Pudding Hurler of Bexhill-on-Sea
The Sound of Goons
The Last Goon Show of All
The Mysterious Punch-up-the-Conker
Dishonoured - Again
Spike on Bentine
At Last The Go On Show
The Phantom Head Shaver of Brighton
The Pevensey Bay Disaster
The Sinking of Westminster
Q6: Good Samaritan
Q7: Chicken Keeper
The Starlings
Indian Reminiscences
Puckoon
Adolf Hitler, My Part in His Downfall
Down Your Way: Bexhill Reminiscences
Spike on Groucho
Beachcomber By the Way
Waltz from the Heart
In the Psychiatrist's Chair
You Go to My Head
Spike on Secombe
Time for Verse
Everybody Out!
Spike's Poems: Boxer / Hidden Elephants / Big Head / The Lion / The Leg / Eight and Twenty Hunters / None Today, Thank You / Deams I / Catford 1933 / Have a Nice Day / MacDrown / Journey / Growing Up II / To a Sorrowing Daughter / The Garden Fairy / Fred Fernakerpan / Polar Bear / This is a Stick Up / The Fly / Death Wish / Fleas
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VINE VOICEon 31 August 2010
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The first CD of this two disc set consists mainly of Milligan reading excerpts from his poetry and prose, e.g. 'Adolf Hitler- my Part in His Downfall'. Spike sounds very frail for much of this first disc, I wonder how old he was when this was recorded (typically, the CD insert gives only minimal information, a list of credits, and an advertisement for other BBC audio books. Surely they could have run to a couple of paragraphs; some listeners may actually be new to Milligan). Also, although much of his writing is very funny, it doesn't lend itself so successfully to being read out loud - particularly when rather self-indulgently, as here. What is rewarding on this first disc is the excerpt from Milligan's appearance on Radio 4's 'In The Psychiatrist's Chair', with Anthony Clare gently probing Spike and getting some moving replies about his experiences in World War 2, which clearly left a very deep impression.

The second disc is much more upbeat and is largely made up of excerpts from a number of Goon Shows. Also there is a complete Goon Show , the only one recorded without an audience, 'The Starlings', which frankly is not up to the best of them, and loses out by not having an audience for the Goon Show team (and the listener) to react to.

All in all, I think you would be much better spending your money on Milligan's books, and the best of the complete Goon Show recordings.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 August 2010
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a two disc collection covering a wide range of Spike's work, an "Audio Portrait" as it says on the disc cover. The overall listening time is 2 hours with 10 extracts on the first disc and 13 on the second disc with the shortest lasting 2:43 and the longest lasting 11:05. The audio clips range from Spike reminiscing about things in his past, poems, reading from his books, songs and range from 1954 onwards, all from the BBC archives. Spike introduces each of the clips, often giving interesting or amusing additional information. The sound quality is largely excellent and much has been digitally re-mastered.

Examples of some of the extracts on the disc:
The Dreaded Batter Pudding Hurler of Bexhill-on-Sea
The Sound of Goons
The Last Goon Show of All
At Last The Go On Show
The Phantom Head Shaver of Brighton
In the Psychiatrist's Chair
Puckoon
Adolf Hitler, My Part in His Downfall
The Starlings
Waltz from the Heart

The only downside is that the contents of each track are not listed so you can't pick and choose what extracts you want to listen to unless you listen to it all first and make a note of what each track includes.

Recommended for the Spike fan!
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
First of all, this is a reissue of Spike Milligan at the Beeb (BBC Radio Collection), released in 1998. That's why Spike himself can be heard giving some very short introductions to some of the excerpts- for example for the In The Psychiatrist's Chair clip, he simply says- "in the psychiatrist's chair? It wasn't his chair. It was mine."

It is not a full or comprehensive biography or anthology of Spike's work, but a broad cross-section of clips from his work from the 1950s to the 1990s, covering his radio shows, some of his 'Q' TV shows (which don't work so well just as audio), his poetry, and recitals from his novels.

On the plus side, Spike's talent is undoubtable and there are plenty of laughs here, across all the clips. He was the first truly brilliant and successful 'alternative' comic, incorporating surreal flights of fancy in with satire and not afraid of good old jokes either. Unless you're a Milligan completist already you'll be laughing out loud at at least something in this collection that you've not heard before, or not heard for a long time. There are also very serious themes here, some especially solemn moments, especially during Spike's memories of the war and also his bitterness at being sidelined by the BBC. It's a broad selection and it's not all intended to be funny.

On the negative side, it is a strange and almost random-seeming selection of clips. The length of the clips is too inconsistent and the ordering of them neither chronological nor thematic nor apparently planned in any other way either. As is sadly usual with BBC Audio there's not nearly enough information in the sleevenotes- there's not even a tracklist, and the 'list of included clips' is not even in the order the clips appear on the disc, which is frankly just lazy packaging.

Whilst this is part of a wider series of "Remembering..." releases rather than solely a tribute to Milligan, a bit more effort could have been put into packaging the material together. However despite being a cheap re-issue, it is nevertheless a great and variety-packed selection of classic Milligan moments.
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This might not be the best introduction to Spike's work for someone who has not previously experienced him. Although it contains plenty of varied material for fans, it doesn't really explain why he is so revered as a comedian.

The first disk feels very long, much of it is material recorded by Spike when he was elderly and the books need to be read in full, rather than listened to in extracts. The highlight of the first disk for me were two personal poems, read by Spike, especially the one about the death of his father. The "in the psychiatrists chair" extract would not be that interesting to a novice and is old ground for long term fans.

The second disk is better - plenty of Goons and Q - and a lot more fun.

What this set is missing is the sense of maniac, surrealist fun and danger. When Spike appeared you never knew what might happen, most famously the comedy awards ceremony when he called Prince Charles (who revered the Goons) "a little grovelling bastard". (followed next day by a telegram to HRH saying "I suppose a knighthood is out of the question?") I can remember a Parkinson appearance when my sides ached from laughing because of his offbeat comments and deadpan delivery. I still can't decide if he was brave or just said what came into his mind before weighing the consequences.

Either way a very very funny man and all on his own a major development in the history of comedy. A better tribute would be for the BBC to release any archive footage they have of "Q" and any interviews like Parkinson.
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I am a lifelong Milligan lover, so this audio-set really had my name on. The first CD consists mainly of Spike relating his memories - recorded towards the end of his life - and treating us to several terrific excerpts from 'Puckoon' and 'Adolf Hitler, My Part in his Downfall'. Spike reads us several poems, some sad and sentimental and others childlike and very funny. In fact, Spike was a great versifier but some pieces really read better from the page rather than being recited. Various ex-Goon participants speak (on both CDs) about how certain features of the much-loved show were invented, some things funnier than others. CD-1 also features Spike 'In the Psychiatrist's Chair', speaking about his battle with mental illness and the damage it dealt to his family. Much of this feature is deeply sad: the listener needs patience.

CD-2 is where the real comedic gems reside. Part of Spike's genius lies in his ability to invent and then subvert seemingly ill-fitting components into wholly cohesive, sometimes painfully funny sketches. We're given two 'Q' masterpieces: A church sermon given by a PC Plod and an interview with the custodian of the Royal Chickens. Both pieces had me helpless, in tears of laughter and are worth the price of the CDs alone.

The set ends with a rare Goon show recorded without the studio audience. To be honest, it really is nowhere near as funny as the classics - I'm sure we all have our personal favourites. All in all, this is a valuable addition to any Milligan-lover's collection. Don't forget: You should've used rice pudding fired from catapults!
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VINE VOICEon 29 August 2010
Just the name Spike Milligan on a product is usually enough to give it five stars. The man was an absolute genius. However, it's often said that the dividing line between genius and madness is a thin one and this area of his life is covered in these CDs as well as his comic genius.

Clips from his autobiographies and "In the psyhchiatrists chair" are included which cover the incident whch set off his mental health problems (a bomb exploding near him during the war)but he acknowledges that without this, his comic abilities would not be the same.

There is plenty of humour with clips from The Goon Show, the Q series and some of his poems. There is also a complete Goon Show episode, The Starlings. Not one of the best but interesting in that it was the only one to be recorded outside of London and without a studio audience. Also, unusually, there are no musical interruptions. It's not one of the most common episodes heard so well done for including this as many people will not have heard it. There are classic clips as well such as the one with Eccles and Bluebottle where Eccles has the time written down on a piece of paper. It always makes me laugh no matter how many times I hear it.

Spike's songwriting abilities are showcased on the CD with "A Waltz from the Heart", written for his mother.

One gripe is that, although the excerpts are listed on the inside cover, these are not in the order that they are on the discs. I'm not going to deduct any stars for this as the qulity of the material included alone merit 5 stars.
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on 24 August 2010
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Firstly; this double CD is a reissue of one called "Best Sellers: Spike Milligan at the Beeb" I mention that, not that it will deter completionists, but you MIGHT just have it already. It forms part of a series also celebrating Peter Sellers, Kenneth Williams, Willie Rushton, Kenny Everett and Bob Monkhouse. Common factor, all being pivotal in their particular field of comedy, and all being dead.
The CDs suffer from not having a clear list if contents: there is a list of extracts included (and Track 9 of Disc 2 has a complete recording of the Goon Show "The Starlings" noted for raising a ruckus because of the portrayal of Winston Churchill, the then Prime Minister, and of The Duchess Boil De Spudswell, who sounds not unlike someone even higher than a mere P.M)
The editing is good, the Programme flows between aspects of Spikes talent linked by extracts of Spike himself and is very smoothly done. Goon Show Fundamentalists may note when hearing extracts that these seem to have been edited further.... this is for modern ears, as evinced by the warning on the sleeve
"Some of the humour reflects the era in which it was first broadcast".
No S*** (explodable bird...mixture) Sherlock? Don't worry, the racial stuff that Spike (born in India of Irish descent) threw in occasionally (put it in the curry) won't be found here to offend overly sensitive ears, neither are (as the BBC Library has it) "our old friends Lalkaka and Banerjee". Spike comes across as the sensitive and (I believe) caring man he was.
The first CD has Spike reflecting on his early life, referencing his novel (the great Irish novel) "Puckoon" which I would commend to readers everywhere (it's one of the few that makes me laugh out loud), and declaiming some of his poems....
The second CD is the one for Goon and "Q" enthusiasts, and as I said, Track 9 is "The Starlings" from 1954.
There is an alternative explanation for the genesis of Bluebottle (Ernie Splutmuscle) to the one that was given to Michael Parkinson on TV....
With a talent as varied and broad as that of Spike Milligan it's possible that not all aspects of his work will appeal equally; for that reason I feel that the greatest failing of this recording is the lack of a proper index in the inlay. But that is the one failing; I'll still award 5 stars.
Buy! Buy! If we can persuade the Beeb that there is money to be made who knows? perhaps the Q series will be issued for re-view. Albeit probably with a warning that the humour, for some strange reason, reflects the era when it was first broadcast rather than 40 years on.....
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VINE VOICEon 2 September 2010
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This comes on 2 CDs and is about 2 hours of material. I think Milligan was quite tied in to the BBC so there must have been a lot of archive material available to them, consequently in general the quality of the material was pretty good.

I would say there are three main things here. First, there is Milligan reading some of his poetry. Not really my cup of tea.

Second, there is lots and lots of interview material, spanning several decades. As someone who is way too young for most of his work, I found these interviews pretty informative. For example, I hear snippets of the Goons and I think "so what? just a bunch of silly noises and voices", but this CD gives an insight into just how groundbreaking (and hard-working) they were at the time.

Third, there is material from the shows themselves. Obviously Goon shows feature but there is other material as well. Any fan of Milligan will love this, and even as a "neutral" I thought it was pretty good.

To summarise, I liked this more than I thought I would.
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