Tuesday, July 8, 2008

It's Tough To Be White... The Wit of John Barbour (1965)

The first time I saw this LP, it was in the hands of a stranger who had just purchased it at a garage sale. I saw the title and was shocked - couldn't believe such an album existed and I was jealous I hadn't found it first. 

A couple years later I found my own copy and it became immediately obvious that it was a satirical comedy album, the title in vain. Part of me was relieved and another part of me was disappointed.

World Pacific Records did not specialize in comedy. Alternately known as World Pacific and Pacific Jazz, the label cranked out great jazz LPs by the likes of The Jazz Crusaders, Les McCann, Gerry Mulligan and many more. They pressed under the World guise The Endless Summer
soundtrack, plenty of Ravi Shankar stuff and a couple comedy albums.

Like their West Coast jazz rival Fantasy Records, they had a penchant for pressing things on lovely translucent red vinyl. Whereas Fantasy Records released comedy by hipster hero Lenny Bruce, World Pacific pressed five comedy albums by hipster hero, and Bruce's occasional rival, Lord Buckley.

Fantasy put out a rare non-Lenny Bruce comedy album, Orson Bean at the Hungry I.  Likewise, one of World Pacific's only non-Lord Buckley comedy albums is today's showcase - It's Tough To Be White... The Wit of John Barbour.

Listen to the whole album - It's Tough to Be White...The Wit of John Barbour

Dick Gregory wrote the liner notes for his album... here they are:

Dear John:

I like you. I think you're one of the brightest, sharpest young comics around. I would like to say your album is dynamite, but I wouldn't want folks in Alabama to pick it up just to throw into churches!

You think you got it tough! You were born in Canada. I'm from Chicago. If things get too tough for you, you can always go farther north. Me - I can't go in either direction.

Your stuff touches the nerve ends, but it is funny. It could be a smash best seller, which makes me happy, 'cause if folks are inside laughing their heads off, they can't be outside blowing ours off!

Best of luck!

Dick Gregory


Anonymous said...

Interesting piece. I know this comment falls in the "You're Missing the Point" category. But, you state, "He won an Emmy for his work on a That's Incredible knock-off called Real People." Actually, it was the other way around: That's Incredible was a knockoff of Real People. RP was the first series, it was a huge, suprising and somewhat inexplicable success -- an early forerunner to the reality programming of today (as dubious an achievement as that is).

greg6363 said...

Exactly. Not only was he a producer on the show, he was one of the hosts along with Sarah Purcell, Skip Stephenson and Byron Allen.

Anonymous said...

Who won an Emmy Award for emceeing
and producing Real People, NBC's hit That's Incredible rip-off featuring Sarah Purcell, Bryon Allen and a pre-Every Second Counts
Bill Rafferty?

Make no mistake... his name was the
great John Barbour!

ajm said...

John Barbour also had a minor role in the 1974 TV-movie schlock epic PRAY FOR THE WILDCATS.