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Cheech and Chong
Where There's Smoke There's ... (Rhino)

Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong brought the smoke-two-joints-before-I-smoke-two-joints school of humor to the suburban masses in the early '70s, and they were funny enough (and so many people smoked so much dope) that they achieved a status previously reserved for rock stars. C&C had a pair of top 10 albums that were as familiar a part of '70s record collections as LPs by Bowie or Led Zeppelin – and their 1978 movie Up in Smoke (they made five films) gave legs to fame that lasted well beyond the period that spawned their humor.

The Rhino collection has a few brilliant bits, none as good as the opener, "Dave," in which the paranoid Marin is trying to get a stoned Chong to let him through the front door. ("Who is it?" "It's me Dave, open up man, I got the stuff." ... "Who?" "It's Dave. Open up, I think the cops saw me come in here." "Who?" "Dave." "Who?" "Dave." [Pause.] "Dave's not here.")

The two-CD set, which has material from their eight albums, a few singles, and several previously unreleased tracks, includes fine bits such as "Santa Claus and His Old Lady," "Basketball Jones," and "The Continuing Adventures of Pedro and Man." Marin was the more clever and versatile of the pair – his 1987 movie, Born in East L.A. (inspired by his parody of Bruce Springsteen's hit song) – is funny and pointed. The perpetually stoned Chong, on the other hand, was the '70s equivalent of Dean Martin's alcoholic persona of the '50s and '60s – funny at the time but without much shelf life. The same can probably be said of most of the duo's work; still, they brought some laughs to audiences back in the day, and what more can you say, except maybe, far out? (J.H. Tompkins)