Dear Friends was Firesign Theatre’s fifth album, and by pure coincidence, it was also the fifth album of theirs that I procured. Instead of the surreal “theatre of the mind” approaches they had taken with their first four albums, this was a compilation of sketches from their short-lived nationally syndicated radio program, which was produced from September 1970 to February 1971. The album was released in January 1972, a double set of mostly short pieces. While the absurdity is still there, this is just fundamentally different than the thoroughly engaging plays from the previous albums, and honestly, I never quite took to it.
I bought this used in 1979, and played it enough that some key lines did work their way into my vocabulary — references to “bear hating” as opposed to “bear baiting,” and the song “Toad Away.” It is more like people talking at you over the radio than an adventure in your mind, and people talking at you over the radio was not unique or that interesting to me. It has several good commercial parodies, and the introduction of Mark Time, who will be back in a “solo” album by David Ossman. But rather than being an essential piece of my personality, like the previous four albums, this is just an album I own. Hey, they can’t all be world-changers.