Early George (1960-1973)

"I dreamed a path that was traditional: disc jockey, comedian, actor, big success. A mainstream dream. Meanwhile what I really was, was an outlaw and a rebel, because I had lived that kind of a life. [...] The musicians I knew in the late '50s had gone through that [1960s counter-culture] transition. Suddenly they looked different, and their music changed. And I'm listening to people like Buffalo Springfield, I'm listening to Bob Dylan, I'm listening to these people and realize: These artists are using their talent to project feelings and ideas, not just please people."

- George Carlin, Archive of American Television. December 17, 2007


Burns and Carlin at the Playboy Club Tonight (1963) [33:22]:

  1. Mothers Club [5:41]
  2. Killer Carlin [3:00]
  3. Captain Jack & Jolly George [4:17]
  4. War Pictures [4:39]
  5. Herb Coolhouse [5:54]
  6. Edward R. Murrow [4:05]
  7. Lenny Bruce/Mort Sahl [5:46] (missing on some releases)

The Original George Carlin (1972) [28:31]:

  1. Mother's Club [4:35]
  2. Herb Coolhouse [4:23]
  3. The Original "Person to Person" [3:50]
  4. Captain Jack and Jolly George [2:34]
  5. Lenny Bruce [2:05]
  6. Mort Sahl [3:31]
  7. Killer Carlin [3:00]
  8. War Pictures [4:33]

Killer Carlin (1981) / Early Comedy Daze (2008) [25:53]:

  1. Mothers Club [4:39]
  2. Killer Carlin [2:47]
  3. Capt. Jack and Jolly George [4:01]
  4. War Pictures [3:42]
  5. The Cool World [5:16]
  6. Person to Person [3:34]
  7. The Sickest [1:54]

Burns and Carlin at the Playboy Club Tonight (1963)

Recorded 1960, first released 1963

Also re-released as:

  • The Original George Carlin (1972)
  • Killer Carlin (1981)
  • Early Comedy Daze (2008)

Carlin's start in show business was in 1956, as a radio disc jockey. Eventually he hooked up with Jack Burns to form a comedy duo. This is the first and only album recorded and released by the duo. It was recorded at the Hollywood club Cosmo Alley in May, 1960. Carlin had turned 23 that month.

The duo split up in 1962 under friendly terms, and each went off down different chosen career paths. Carlin went on to make many television appearances throughout the 60s. This recording wasn't released until 1963, as "Burns and Carlin at the Playboy Club Tonight" even though it wasn't even recorded at the Playboy Club. It has since been re-released under several different titles, each with slightly different track listings and track times. See the lists on the right for details.

It may seem that the different versions are significantly different from each other, but they're mostly the same. The time differences made me initially suspect that some routines were edited down, but once I compared them side by side I immediately noticed that the later versions were remastered at a faster speed! So this is what seems to account for the different track lengths across the different versions.

As for the tracks themselves, all releases contain "Mothers Club", "Killer Carlin", "Captain Jack & Jolly George", "War Pictures", "Herb Coolhouse" (called "The Cool World" on the '81 release), "Edward R. Murrow" (later called "Person to Person"), and "Lenny Bruce" (combined with the "Mort Sahl" track in the first release, and renamed "The Sickest" on Killer Carlin). Killer Carlin is missing the "Mort Sahl" track.

######### #########
  1. Wonderful WINO [5:43]
  2. Commercials [8:21]
  3. Daytime Television [9:34]
  4. The Newscast [7:29]
  5. The Indian Sergeant [5:08]
Take-Offs and Put-Ons (1967)

Recorded November 1966, released 1967.

RCA Victor LSP-3772. Released as both mono and stereo.

When I was in high school, my friend Frank had found this in his parents' house, either in his attic or his garage. Knowing that I was a Carlin fan, he showed it to me. I had never seen it or heard of it up until that time. (Keep in mind that these were the days long before the internet had become a house-hold thing. Also the days when vinyl had already been replaced by cassette tapes, and the album had yet to be released in any other medium).

This album is the best example we have of Carlin's late 1960s material, being a more straight-forward "safe" comedian. Still funny, though. Some of the routines here later showed up revised on "FM & AM". Carlin also revamped "The Indian Sergeant" as a routine about cavemen in his book Brain Droppings.

Take-Offs and Put-Ons was nominated for a Grammy, but lost that year to Bill Cosby's album Wonderfulness


"FM" side:

  1. Shoot [5:55]
  2. The Hair Piece [2:53]
  3. Sex in Commercials [5:20]
  4. Drugs [4:23]
  5. Birth Control [5:10]

"AM" side:

  1. Son of WINO [6:31]
  2. Divorce Game [4:29]
  3. Ed Sullivan Self-Taught [3:26]
  4. Let's Make a Deal [4:48]
  5. The 11 O'Clock News [7:10]
FM & AM (1972)

Little David #7214. Produced by Marty Kay & Jack Lewis.
Recorded June 25-26, 1971 at Cellar Door, Washington DC
Released January, 1972

FM & AM was Carlin's first album release on the Little David label, a subsidiary of Atlantic Records which released the rest of Carlin's albums of the 1970s. It won the 1973 Grammy award for Best Comedy Album, Carlin's first of five Grammy awards he'd end up receiving.

The title FM & AM refers to the evolution of Carlin's stand-up style at that point in time. AM radio is often associated with more commercial, "safer" music and the like, and here the album's "AM" side contains Carlin's earlier, less personal, more commercial routines. FM stereo on the other hand is where one would have normally found the newer, edgier music, and likewise the "FM" side of the album contains Carlin's newer, edgier material at the time that he was transitioning to.

Although I personally enjoy all of the tracks, the opening track "Shoot" is worth keeping in mind for historical reasons. It was Carlin's exploration into the curious nature of "bad words", which would eventually evolve into his routine "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television".

  1. Class Clown: (a) Bi-Labial Fricative (b) Attracting Attention (c) Squeamish [16:06]
  2. Wasted Time -- Sharing a Swallow [2:27]
  3. Values (How Much Is That Dog Crap in the Window?) [5:16]
  4. I Used to Be Irish Catholic [2:57]
  5. The Confessional [4:12]
  6. Special Dispensation - Heaven, Hell, Purgatory and Limbo [3:41]
  7. Heavy Mysteries [1:59]
  8. Muhammad Ali - America the Beautiful [4:35]
  9. Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television [7:03]
Class Clown (1972)

Little David #1004. Produced by Marty Kay & Jack Lewis.
Recorded May 27, 1972 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.
Released September, 1972.

This album is perhaps most famous for the routine "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television". Contrary to popular belief (including numerous obituaries about Carlin), it was not this "Seven Words..." track that got Carlin in trouble with the FCC. Rather, it was a later variation called "Filthy Words" on the next album which did.

Class Clown has a warning label which read "Warning: this record contains 'Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.' Hearing it could affect your mind, curve your spine and lose the war for the allies." Only a few weeks after recording the album, Carlin was busted on June 21st at the Summerfest in Milwaukee for "indecent language". The inside record sleeve shows black and white photos of the same album covers, except that written on the chalkboards is the poem "The Hair Piece" from FM & AM.

As the title suggests, many of the album's other routines are Carlin's reflections of his time in school. "Corpus Christi School[,] New York City" is mentioned in the liner notes, though Carlin also attended Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx. This also marked the first time Carlin started to address the topic of religion.

  1. Welcome to My Job [3:02]
  2. Occupation: Foole [3:41]
  3. White Harlem [4:45]
  4. The Hallway Groups [2:07]
  5. Black Consciousness [2:38]
  6. New York Voices [7:06]
  7. Grass Swept the Neighborhood [1:25]
  8. Childhood Clichés [4:04]
  9. Cute Little Farts [5:10]
  10. Raisin Rhetoric [2:06]
  11. Filthy Words [11:30]
Occupation: Foole (1973)

Little David #1005. Produced by Marty Kay & Jack Lewis.
Recorded March 2-3, 1973 at the Circle Star Theater in San Carlos, CA.
Released October 1973.

Every time I've shown this album to somebody, I always get the same reaction: "Who is that on the front? That's George Carlin? Really?!?" According to the box set liner notes, Carlin said that "a lot of cocaine went into the photographs on that one, though."

As with Class Clown, Carlin shares more stories about his youth in New York. Though this time instead of talking about religion, he talks about race and ethnicity, as well as drugs. Regarding the album, he's said, "There was more autobiographical stuff ... trying to describe the neighborhood and the black/white dynamic, and beginning to get into some other things like childhood clichés, which later would be very useful for me."

This album is perhaps most notorious though for the closing track, "Filthy Words". It's similar to "Seven Words You Can't Say On Television", with some further elaborations. Carlin's performance of "Filthy Words" is interrupted by somebody handing him a note on stage. You can hear Carlin pause and say "Thank You" as he takes the note, then reads it. Carlin then shares the happy news with the audience: that he had just won the Grammy that night for Best Comedy Album (for FM & AM)! Unfortunately, on October 30, 1973 somebody heard the piece on the radio, objected to it, and long story short, all the shit went down with Carlin and the FCC. I'm not going to bother to repeat the whole story here; you can easily look it up.

The album was nominated for a Grammy in 1974 for Best Comedy Album, but lost to Cheech & Chong's Los Cochinos.

######### #########

Disc One:

  1. Shoot
  2. The Hair Piece
  3. Sex in Commercials
  4. Drugs
  5. Birth Control
  6. Son of Wino
  7. Divorce Game
  8. Ed Sullivan Self Taught
  9. Let's Make a Deal
  10. The 11 O'Clock News
  11. Class Clown
  12. Wasted Time - Sharing a Swallow
  13. Values (How Much Is That Dog Crap in the Window?)

Disc Two:

  1. I Used to Be Irish Catholic
  2. The Confessional
  3. Special Dispensation: Heaven, Hell. Purgatory and Limbo
  4. Heavy Mysteries
  5. Muhammad Ali-America the Beautiful
  6. Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television
  7. Welcome to My Job
  8. Occupation: Foole
  9. White Harlem
  10. The Hallway Groups
  11. Black Consciousness
  12. New York Voices
  13. Grass Swept the Neighborhood
  14. Childhood Clichés
  15. Cute Little Farts
  16. Raisin Rhetoric
  17. Filthy Words
Classic Gold   (Compilation)

Released 1992
Compilation of all tracks from FM & AM, Class Clown, and Occupation: Foole.

I stumbled across Classic Gold in the store shortly after its release. I immediately bought the 2-tape set. It was my first time hearing any of Carlin's 1970s material. Only later did I find out that Classic Gold is simply a compilation of Carlin's first three albums of the 1970s, so named because all three albums had gone RIAA certified gold. Disc/tape #1 contained all of FM & AM followed by the first side of Class Clown, and disc/tape #2 started with the second half of Class Clown followed by all of Occupation: Foole.

If you're looking for some 1970s material from George Carlin, but are reluctant to buy the Little David Years box set, then I highly recommend getting Classic Gold.

Click here to continue browsing the Carlin discography...