Stories from the Vinyl Cafe
Stuart McLean
CBC Records
2 CDs

Vinyl Cafe Stories is the first comic story CD set but second collection of live performances by Stuart McLean, genial host of The Vinyl Cafe and funny story teller. Even this early collection shows Stuart McLean in full form as he tells stories about Dave, the owner of the Vinyl Cafe used record store, his wife Morley, his kids, and the people in the neighborhood. For those unfamiliar with The Vinyl Cafe, suffice to say it is the sort of the  Canadian version of Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion without the preachy or repetitive bits.

Vinyl Cafe Stories are live recordings of Stuart McLean telling his funny stories about the people in and around the Vinyl Cafe. This two comedy CD set has something from everyone in the family and, unlike some of Garrison Keillor’s News From Lake Woebegone, there is nothing that might offend even the most sensitive soul, be it politically or socially. The first track is a Vinyl Cafe classic titled “The Jock Strap” and is the story of Morley having to buy her son a jock strap so he can play hockey. Now, Morley is a good mother and, because of that, when she had read the list of athletic equipment had naturally thought that “Athletic supporter” meant her or her husband attending the games.

Holland, the second story on the first CD is a very sweet and sometimes funny story about the early days of Dave and Morley’s relationship. Track three, Driving Lessons, is about a very independent man learning the hard but somewhat harmless way that perhaps his driving days are behind him. This is probably the best of the funny stories on the first cd. School Days is track four on cd 1 and is about the efforts Morley and then Dave go through to make their son’s first days at school in a new school year memorable. You have to listen to this funny story to believe it but this involves about 25 dollars worth of change and 6 dozen frogs. The Bird is one a sweet, funny story about a small bird the family finds.

CD two of Vinyl Cafe Stories opens with another Vinyl Cafe classic funny story called Cat in the Car, which is about a vacation trip that goes seriously wrong when the family cat is found in the car. Track two, Emil, is something Garrison Keillor could not pull off in Lake Wobegon or on A Prairie Home Companion, as it tells a funny story about a homeless man without any preaching or soul-saving moment and, in the Vinyl Cafe tradition, tells it straight and lets the homeless man be himself. Track three of comedy CD two is A Day Off or what happens when you lie to your mother-in-law about being sick at home. The last funny story on this album is Polly Anderson’s Christmas Party where Morley’s social nemesis, Polly Anderson, throws a Christmas party and things go wrong.

Vinyl Cafe Stories is a wonderful introduction to the wonderful and funny world of Stuart McLean and of the Vinyl Cafe.

Other Vinyl Cafe CDs:

Vinyl Cafe On Tour

Vinyl Cafe Odd Jobs


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