What a fabulous purchase this was. For Goon Show fans like me, it has not been a case of this being a long time coming - I never thought it would come at all. The volume contains 9 shows that, to date, could not form part of PenguinRandomHouse's luscious, series-by-series compilations of all known Goon Shows (plus tons of amazing bonus material). This was because the rights to them were owned by EMI, which way back in the 1950s was prescient enough to start releasing Goon Shows on records (albeit in butchered form, minus music and heavily edited). EMI's hold over the rights led to the unfortunate outcome that when previous Goon Show Compendiums were released, these shows could only be represented in the form of a copy of the script. Happily, this situation has now been resolved and, in producing this compendium, Penguin has now released the entire known canon of Goon Shows from Series 5 to the show's culmination in 1960. If you,or anyone you know, is a fan of the show, this is a good enough reason for buying it, but there are others as well. For example, because the volume contains shows chosen by EMI over several years, it is interesting to see exactly what a contemporary audience seemingly considered were the funniest shows. In addition, the compilation comprises a smorgasbord of different Goon Shows, since they were selected from a variety of series. It is, therefore, interesting to see how the characters, stories and humour changed over time. Experiencing this is not unlike listening to a Beatles' compilation album and witnessing the dramatic changes in their musical style and philosophy. For these reasons, this would be an excellent purchase for someone looking to get into, or to get back into, the Goons.
So, many thanks to Penguin for this volume and all those published to date. These are wonderful productions, and the inclusion of the extensive bonus items, essays and technical notes add to their lustre. Finally, a massive thank you to Ted Kendall, the famed sound engineer and devotee of British radio comedy. Ted has, yet again, done an incredible job of remastering these vintage shows from the source material and, in many cases, restoring the shows to their original form by finding material from the first recordings that was subsequently lost in the editing and censoring processes over many years. Devotees will love the clean-up Ted did in Tales of Old Dartmoor of the ball and chain and cannon sequence which had been left unedited and flawed for decades. But more broadly, fans of radio comedy will appreciate both the exquisite technical skill and personal affection Ted has put into these productions. As Archivist of the Tony Hancock Appreciation Society ([...]), I am aware that much of the rare material in these volumes has been discovered by Ted himself, either through his searches of the BBC and other archives or through his dedicated acquisition and preservation of private collections. Fans of the Golden Age of radio comedy - and, therefore, of British post-war culture, owe him a great debt of gratitude.
In short: a great purchase for both die hard and casual fans; and an ideal buy for someone you know who is interested in either the Goons or the history of comedy.