The Declassified Jean Shepherd by Jean Shepherd is as close to a performance art comedy CD as you can get.

Shepherd, best known for his radio work at WOR in New York City was an airwaves personality and biographical raconteur. The Declassified Jean Shepherd CD, a re-release of the original LP, features a little bit of everything and a lot of weird but original stuff. The music segues and so on will remind many of the kind of music you would hear on hip TV shows like Shaft and Starsky and Hutch. The music does get in the way sometimes though I am not sure if this is a producer’s thing or part of Shepherd’s concept.

The Declassified Jean Shepherd CD begins with a man in the street what do you think of Jean Shepherd that is kind of ironic since it seems none of these folks seem to know who Shepherd is. There is then a biographical yarn about the comic’s childhood involving his father having his breakfast beer, his burping abilities, and commenting on the White Sox and the conspiracy to keep secret the engine that runs forever on a gallon of gas and the battery that never runs out.

I am not knowledgeable enough about Jean Shepherd to really say if The Declassified Jean Shepherd is a solid release or not. I do know some of the segues between the tracks are jarring and annoying. I get the impression some of the live audience bits are incomplete but, again, who knows. I am also not convinced the mouth organ musical bit is all that fascinating.

Other tracks on this Jean Shepherd include a bit about clean underwear and the Pennsylvania Turnpike. This is followed by a little bit of head playing, definitely weird stuff. I enjoyed his bit on committees, anyone who has sat in one of those useless creatures will appreciate it. This is followed by a short divorce court bit, and a nice, long bit about his brother, the non-eater in the family, and his going through a three little pigs phase. That segue music really is annoying though.

Kopfspeilen, playing head, gets another crack. This is followed by a bit on the Reader’s Digest, and a lost to me reference to the Preparation H man on TV. Next is a studio bit about Life, a live bit on how the hell did I wind up with these idiots?, and an R rated signal corps film.

In the end though, those familiar with Jean Shepherd’s work will probably enjoy The Declassified Jean Shepherd more than I did.

The Declassified Jean Shepherd
Jean Shepherd
Stand-up comedy CD
Darn Good Records 2007
43 minutes

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