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Album Details
Playin' With Your Head

By: George Carlin


"Good evening, Your Holiness. How hangs the hammer?"Stavro Arrgolus 
Carlin's 3rd album of his post 'Little David' era and the last of his albums to use his trademark observational style as the core of his act. Beyond this release, he descends into an angry, rant-based style in his performances which he never really recovers from.

This final album of purely observational humor eschews the 'fake news' gimmick he had used for much of his career (he seemed to visibly tire of it during the "Carlin at Carnegie" performance) and sticks mainly to moving randomly from topic to topic. However, he continues to use a complete introductory sequence, "Hello-Goodbye", and a closing sequence involving lists. His 'list gimmick', which began with "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television", the bit that made him a star, would remain with him in many different forms (Things To Watch Out For, People I Can Do Without, A Modern Man, etc.) and serve him well for the remainder of his career.

As he emerged from heavy drug dependence (in this instance of it anyway), he consciously worked on developing better timing in his material. If you listen for it, you can feel the rhythm of his delivery. The timing of the patter is palpable in this album in ways that weren't possible during his drug addled efforts of the '70s. Those albums were often just a quiet, mellow, stoned monologue. Listening to one of those albums and then this one is like night and day.
Stavro Arrgolus 


YearTypeLabelCatalog # 
1986LPEardrum90523-1(Captain Wayne)
1986CDEardrum90523-2(Captain Wayne)
2001CSAtlantic90523-4(Captain Wayne)


As suggested in the description above, this is the last great Carlin album. In the albums and cable specials that follow, his material gets quite angry and political. Although there are funny moments beyond this album, the comedy becomes 'rant-based', with the entire act revolving around hostility toward something or other. Elements of that can be heard on this album, but not often enough to do real harm to its comedy. Anyone wondering, "When did George Carlin stop being funny and observational and turn into an angry ranter?" The answer is, "Right here."

For those wishing to collect Carlin's albums and are fans of his off the wall, observational, wordsmithy style, you should collect up to this point and stop. For those who like the angry, rant-y, hostile Carlin, all albums beyond this one fit that description, but so many comedians were better ranters than Carlin was- Bill Maher, Lewis Black, Dennis Miller, Bill Hicks (to a lesser extent)- all made careers out of ranting and politics; it's what they specialized in. Carlin's specialty was goofy, observational wordsmithing and when he took up the angry rant instead of what he excelled at, he marginalized his act a great deal - at least in this editor's opinion.

Fortunately for this album, all that was still in the future.

Carlin sparkles wittily on this album as he chooses just a few premises- greetings, sports, losing things, paranoia - and hammers away at them from multiple perspectives. This long form attack on one subject had worked so well in the 'Death and Dying' sequence that began the "On The Road" album that he would continue using it from time to time for many albums to come.
Stavro Arrgolus
  • The HBO special using the material for this album began with a filmed opening done in film noir style starring Vic Tayback (from 'Alice') and comedian Rick Ducommon. (Stavro Arrgolus)
  • Lyrics complete for this album. (Stavro Arrgolus)
  • Messages about the album: "Playin' With Your Head"

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