as english as twopence

there's never been anyone quite like the bonzo dog band. although their association with both the beatles and the monty python crowd made them popular as a novelty act it was ok to play in 6th form common rooms in the 1970s, there was something quite dark going on too (not to mention some slight political incorrectness on occasion) they were all dadaists of course (with even a song named after a marcel duchamp piece) but particularly in viv stanshall's own work there was something even richer and stranger going on. here's a gem from viv post bonzos.

the glorious sir henry at rawlinson end is surreal english gothic, a bizarre mix of dylan thomas and edward gorey...god knows how they got the money to make it.

later on as viv got more into the booze his musical output got predictably looser, more erratic. sometimes it was great, and if he was still around today, who knows. maybe he'd have got together with captain beefheart (they were phone buddies apparently).

i've been listening to the bonzos again a lot of late. it says a lot that the swannee whistle solo on dr jazz still makes me grin like a moron every time i hear it after gawd knows how many years, but i'm still discovering gems - stuff i'd skipped in the past. in particular, i'm now convinced of neil innes' greatness. he could clearly do a very good pastiche of pretty much anything, but when you get to the later bonzos albums, he's writing these little instrumental things that sound like a less hyperactive version of some of zappa's uncle meat or even henry cow. if he's done more stuff like that, i need to hear it.

coincidentally i had a cup of tea with a gentleman called JT a couple of nights back. he'd done sound for the bonzos on occasion, and remembered an occasion in burnley where the band (unable find a pub open) had amused themselves in the hours before the soundcheck by sawing off the legs of all the tables and chairs in their dressing room and carefully rebalancing them all. by that time the pub were open and they'd left, leaving the room boobytrapped for any unsuspecting visitor.

what larks!, you can almost hear viv saying. we shall not see their like again.

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