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.
last night saw the first gig of the year for the rick jensen trio as we trundled into southampton. playing outside london somehow always seems more rewarding - you certainly get to see places you're unlikely (or possibly unwilling) to see otherwise. some you may never wish to see again. however, the hobbit in southampton is one place i would like to see again. we shared the bill with four other acts, all of whom were interesting and on occasion, fab. the trio has evolved into quite an unpredictable beast; it's often been the case that we've finished playing something and all been quite surprised by it. this is a good thing. last night (thanks to electric bass, loud p.a. and a full kit) we were in power trio mode and found we were quite good at it. i'd decided to tune in fifths (with the two lowest strings a semitone apart) to shake myself up a bit, and it worked. mr paul may was in fine form, both behind the kit and at the pool table. i have no pictorial record of the former, but here's one of the latter. i think this was the first of the tournament, which paul won 5 or maybe 6-0. rick was good on stage though....
i have always hated deep purple, who are a band without (as far as i can work out) any redeeming features. but this clip is just beautiful. i love blackmore's slightly bored (and even camp) approach to demolishing a series of perfectly good guitars, amps etc and even a tv camera. and then there's the malfunctioning pyrotechnics setting fire to the stage...the whole thing is faintly pathetic, but somehow the utter joylessness of it makes it sort of compelling. i don't think ritchie was into gustav metzger somehow, but you never know...
allegedly the band left hastily by helicopter after their set in order to escape the displeasure of the festival organisers, the tv company and presumably anyone who'd been hit by any fragments of blackmore's stratocaster(s). and as if the crowd hadn't suffered enough, emerson lake and palmer were on next...
took this from a train, where luckily i was able to lay hands on a copy of the cloudspotter's guide to identify the species that were out there (thankyou lucy). i like what the tinted windows and slightly too slow shutter speed have done to it. go away with your photoshop innit.