Louder Than Hell

Sam Kinison

Warner Brothers Records, 1990


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


He was loud. He was obnoxious. He was offensive. He was downright scary at times. And, through most of it, Sam Kinison was as funny as hell.

You had to check your sensitivities at the door when you listened to Kinison's combination rant/performance style, and possibly no release captured it best than his debut comedy album Louder Than Hellmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 . No subject was safe from Kinison's venom, from Jesus to the plight of African starvation. And while Kinison might have rubbed on some people's nerves like a piece of sandpaper, he did know how to hit the funny bone - hard.

Within two minutes of the start of this album, he leaves no doubt that this is not a release for the kiddies, as evidenced in the routine "Blind". And, once the floodgates were opened, there was no stopping the torrent coming from Kinison's mouth. If this is the first time you've ever been exposed to Kinison, keep your nitroglycerine pills handy, and grab onto the arms of the chair. If you're more well-schooled in all things Kinison, keep a box of tissue handy for when you laugh so hard you cry.

Oh, sure, I can understand where people would be offended by comments Kinison directs at homosexuals ("Big Menu"), African starvation ("World Hunger"), God ("Jesus," "Devil") and married life ("Relationships"), but in a sense, you have to be blind not to realize that much of what Kinison spews onstage is meant to shock his audience. Once you get past that (and if you know a little about Kinison's background, it helps as well), it's easier to see the humor for the jokes.

And it's hard not to see the humor in such subjects at times. Case in point: when Kinison talks about famine relief and the commercials asking for help feeding the typical young waif, Kinison yells, "Why don't you feed him? You're only five feet away!"

Kinison certainly faced more than his share of personal demons in his life, and his death in an auto accident came apparently as he was finally getting his life back together. But Louder Than Hell is a fascinating, funny portrait of a man who may have been one of the more misunderstood comics of that generation. If you can still find this tape anywhere, snag a copy, hide it from the kids... and listen to it with headphones at full volume.

Rating: A-

User Rating: A-



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