Album: Cassius Clay, I Am The Greatest! (Rev-Ola)

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The Independent Culture

It's clear that the producer of these spoken-word pieces, recorded in the first flush of Cassius Clay’s meteoric rise in 1963, regards the Louisville Lip more as comedy entertainer than serious pugilist.

Separated by bell rings, the individual “rounds” are presented as nightclub skits, accompanied by guffawing punters and the kind of musical punctuation that club comedians once relied upon.

It’s mostly the sort of rhyming braggadocio that made Clay stand out in the inarticulate world of boxing – droll doggerel such as “The fistic world was dull and weary/With a champ like Liston, things had to be dreary!” – which is fine as far as it goes, though the limits of his abilities become all too evident in a creakingly unfunny, pun-littered fairytale pastiche featuring the champ as dragon-slaying knight.

"Stand By Me" from I Am The Greatest! features in this month's Independent Audio Player. CLICK HERE to listen. [Used by permission of SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT (UK) LIMITED].

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