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“Let us deprive you of all your knowledge. Let us do this, please,” beseeches Jim Coyle during a discussion of his plan to eliminate all native tongues and replace them with a nonsense language he has devised with partner Mal Sharpe. “What would you gain by that?” the curiously curious subject asks. “Confusion, to a degree,” is Coyle’s instant reply. There is much confusion—and much hilarity—on this disc of early ’60s C&S “man-on-the-street” encounters. Modern listeners may be confused that people would stand still for such obvious bunk. But in a less media-savvy world, it wasn’t as obvious. Two pranksters could put on suits and earnest faces and confront unsuspecting passers-by with bizarre notions—Will you help us rob this bank? May we operate on your brain? Would you like a rat for a pet?—and be taken seriously. Coyle and Sharpe were successful in part because they never cracked the slightest smile, even after hooking someone into buying the concept of herding fruit that has grown feet and must migrate in order to ripen. Invariably, there is a darker undercurrent to these conversations, a distressing—if amusing—willingness of people to bow to authority, as when C&S get a woman to agree that torturing animals for the sake of the beautiful music they would produce might be worthwhile. It is this hint of a deeper madness beneath the insanity that elevates Coyle and Sharpe’s work from mere comedy to social comment. It should be no surprise that this volume was produced by Henry Rollins, a huge fan, with Sharpe’s daughter Jennifer. It is available from Rollins’ 213CD label, P.O. Box 1910, Los Angeles, CA 90078.

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