Sunday, December 2, 2007

Flip Wilson: Cowboys & Colored People

Atlantic Recording Corporation

Side 1
  1. Cowboys & Colored People (5:43).
  2. Midget (1:07).
  3. Riot Suit (1:41).
  4. David and Goliath (5:29).
  5. Ugly People (2:18).
  6. Staying On Too Long (1:25).

Side 2
  1. Christopher Columbus (6:50).
  2. Kids (1:40).
  3. Cheap Hotel (4:25)
  4. Church On Sunday (2:00)
  5. Big Hand (2:05)
  6. Confidential Survey (:50)

Considering how popular he was, it's a little surprising his records were never converted to CD and that there is so little information available about him. Here's three sources:

Some middleclass, well-educated blacks are offended by the updated Amos 'n' Andy quality of Flip's material. Wilson's way of playing with the stereotypes, however, unselfconsciously holds them up to ridicule. Not even Archie Bunker could find much ammunition for bigotry in Flip's presentation of Geraldine (see box, page 59). If Flip is Amos 'n' Andy, he is Amos 'n' Andy in reverse shuffle—with 30 years of civil rights battles behind him.

Most blacks, uneducated as well as sophisticated, seem to realize this. Last year when he appeared at Black Expo '71, a trade and cultural fair in the International Amphitheater in Chicago, the audience was screaming for Geraldine even before Flip came on. "There was such a massive outpouring of love and appreciation that it overwhelmed the cat and broke him down," remembers the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who helped organize the affair.

No Color. To those who say that he should do more to advance the "cause," Flip has a ready reply: "I have feelings about these things, but I'm selling professional entertainment. Politics is for politicians. Each man has his own style; mine is that 'the funny' has no color. I do these characters because they're what I know. But people are just people to me. The way I see it, I don't have to think black—or not think black. I just have to entertain. I'm just a comic."

....His off-the-cuff comments about his craft are more revealing. "Generally," he says, "it only takes one thing that's different to be great. I don't think there's anything that can compare with Charlie Chaplin's walk and remarkable use of the body. With Bob Hope, it's timing; with W.C. Fields it's complete effortlessness. A long time ago, I decided what my thing was and I eliminated everything else. I used to work with a partner, but he'd get drunk and forget his lines. No partner. I eliminated the orchestra because I didn't sing or dance. I used to wear a ratty old coat and a funny hat. I threw those away. No props. Just me. Flip Wilson."

Back Cover: Liner Notes 1
Flip Wilson belongs to the new wave of comics, stand-up monologists like Bill Cosby, Dick Gregory, Woody Allen and Godfrey Cambridge. He is a satirist who knows how to use humor to show the foibles of the society in which we live.

The first national exposure for Flip Wilson came with a guest shot on the Johnny Carson "Tonight" show. He scored so solidly that he was quickly booked by Carson for five more appearances. Those shows brought Flip Wilson to the attention of millions. Wilson had been trying for many years to break into the big time. He admits to being the schoolhouse ham who made his debut at the age of nine, playing Clara Barton in the school play because he learned his lines by "hanging around" and the leading lady didn't show up opening night because of stage fright. There are also those who remember Mr. Wilson as the leader of the daily Pledge of Allegiance at the age of six, when he constantly found new and interesting songs and poems to recite while waiting for the pledge.

Flip's professional career began after a four-year stint in the Air Force. As he says, "It is a lot easier than parking cars." After 10 years of playing scores of small clubs throughout the country Flip Wilson became an "in" comic a few years ago. Since the "Tonight" show he has guested on the Ed Sullivan show and other top-rated TV shows, has moved up from the small clubs to the big-time nighteries, and has become a hot act on the college campus circuit. His hilarious comedy routines on this recording indicate that Flip Wilson will remain in the big-time for many years to come.

Bob Rolontz

Back Cover Liner Notes 2
There's also a review from Variety:
Flip Wilson
Paul's Mall Boston

Flip Wilson, around for some time working in concerts, jazz rooms, onenighters and tv guesting, not yet documented in Variety, is a social satirist and his recounting of historical events in which one or more of the important figures always speak with a southern Negro drawl is devastating. His Biblical figures come to life related to present day showbiz personalities. "Little David was the Ray Charles of his time." His chronicling of ancient Rome could aptly be title "Flip Wilson's Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire."

He repeats, explains, and always with a new clever twist that hits hippie audiences [I'm always in favor of hitting hippie audiences -- Bill] right where they live for continuous rounds of applause and laughter.

Wilson seques from Rome to a hilarious account of Columbus discovering America, with Columbus a small boy, who always keeps saying "when I grow up, I'm gonna discover America." From this he goes into a far out and funny Indian premise in which he relates the Indians to social prejudices: "Do you want to build a $50,000 split-level and have some Indian put up a wigwam next to?" Wilson builds an Indian Jeremiah, detailing, "I tried to be nice to them, but...Thing is the Indians aren't ready yet." He's got a plentitude of routines, writes his own material and is constantly researching for comic satire premises. His material is sharp and clever, in tune with the times, and he wisely refrains from the politico situations preferring to use his comic talents in wild premises that are fun, relating social mores of the past to the present and vice versa.

All material written by Flip Wilson
Licensed for broadcast by BMI
Recording engineer: Phil Lehle
Cover photo: George Rosenblatt
Album design: Loring Eutemey
Introductory voice: Jack Walker
Supervision: Nesyhi Ertegun & Monte Kay

This is a high fidelity recording. For best results observe the R.I.A.A. high fidelity roll-off characteristic with a 500 cycle crossover.

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