When counterculture vintage radio show fans Phil Proctor, Peter Bergman, Phil Austin, and David Ossman -- aka the Firesign Theater -- introduced the amazing and charming wiseacre detective Nick Danger, Third Eye on their 1969 album How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All, they had no idea that they were creating a mythical institution. (Garrison Keillor's Guy Noir character would not exist if it weren't for the whacked-out adventures of Nick Danger -- and he's nowhere near as funny because of his reliance on the upper middle class for his bread and butter.) But that first episode, "The Further Adventures of Nick Danger (Cut 'Em Off at the Past)," was as well loved in those heady days of weed, acid, antiwar demonstrations, and Eastern mysticism as the subversive Firesigns themselves. Since that time there have been three entire albums devoted to this character, he's made countless appearances with the Firesigns on the radio and with Austin on the Daily Feed radio program, and he even starred in a film -- Nick Danger and the Case of the Missing Yolks, produced by former Monkees guitarist Mike Nesmith. In other words, he's a hero, not just from the 1960s, but an authentic mythical presence in the folklore of America itself from the last third of the 20th century. Box of Danger: The Complete Nick Danger Casebook, compiled by the Firesigns and released with brilliant artwork and annotation by Shout Factory, is the definitive document thus far. It contains 29 episodes of varying lengths recorded between 1969 and June of 2008 -- three months before this box set was released. The comedy and radio theater here cannot be described except that it is far from the obviousness of The National Lampoon Radio Hour, and is sometimes so subtle that one can hear these skits and sketches many times before being able to get all the jokes. Nick Danger may be inept as a Third Eye detective, but he's one hell of a humorist. Shout Factory has done a superb job in offering this material with very clean sound and an excellent presentation with intro essays by the various characters associated with Danger in one form or another, including Danger himself, Rocky Rococo, and others. If you are heretofore unacquainted with Nick Danger and interested in humor, in particular classy subversive humor that spoofs everything associated with American culture, you have no idea how much this is for you. Those well versed in both the Firesigns and Danger are already smiling at the thought of such a document. ~ Thom Jurek
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