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Thread: Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band

  1. #1
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    Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band

    Have we done a Bonzo Dog Band thread before?

    I've been a big fan since 'discovering' them in 1969. In their original form they put out only four albums:
    • Gorilla (1967)
    • The Doughnut in Granny's Greenhouse (1968)
    • Tadpoles (1969)
    • Keynsham (1969)

    After which they broke up. However the inevitable "contractual obligation album," featuring just Viv Stanshall, Neil Innes and Dennis Cowan, appeared a couple years later:
    • Let's Make Up and Be Friendly (1972)

    That was it for the original set. Various "best of" and "anthology" and "history of" releases, and at least two Peel Sessions albums, kept the name active throughout the seventies.

    In 1988 most of the band reconvened to record "No Matter Who You Vote For, the Government Always Gets In (Heigh Ho)" whose lyrics are still uber-appropriate today:
    Oh great, great slumbering nation
    Awake! Set yourself free
    Oh! Smell the comforting bacon, taste the bromide tea
    And give a little chirrup as I ladle on the syrup
    Promises are cheap
    Let me bear your crosses, make me boss of bosses
    Then you go back to sleep (Ha ha ha)
    Hey-Ho!

    Don't worry! Pop your cross in the bin (Hey-Ho! Hey-Ho!)
    No matter who you vote for, the government always gets in
    Hey-Ho!
    Stanshall, of course, died tragically in a house fire in 1995 (a whole thread about HIM could be possible!)

    On January 28, 2006, in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Bonzo's first single, all the surviving members (RIP Viv, RIP Dennis Cowan) put on a concert in London's Astoria theater. It was appropriately chaotic, under-rehearsed and full of gags. It was released on DVD in June of that year, and also as an audio CD "Wrestle Poodles... And Win!" Excerpts from that concert (on DVD), along with a new album (on CD) written mostly by Neil Innes and featuring everybody, called "Pour l'amour des Chiens" (For the love of dogs) was released the following year in 2007. The new album is really pretty darn good... though of course the Bonzos without Viv are somehow lacking.

    In 2010 a collection called "Songs The Bonzo Dog Band Taught Us," featuring novelty numbers from the 1920s and 1930s that were later covered by the Bonzos, but appearing here in their original versions, was released. It's surprisingly Bonzoesque.

    I've been geeking out to all of the above this week. Would love to hear anybody else's stories of seeing / hearing the BDD-DB.

  2. #2
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    In 1977, in London, I saw the Bob Kerr Whoopie Band, which was the remnants of the original Bonzo's who jumped ship for The New Vaudeville Band in 1966 (??) + the 'abandoned' (i.e. tossed out by Viv because they weren't young enough or cool enough) Bonzo's Sam Spoons and Vernon Dudley Bohay-Nowell.

    I was a huge BDB fan at the time and I was thrilled to see all of this which was very much in the 1920s / vaudeville style of the Bonzos, minus the psychedelia and rock elements.

    I still have all my original Bonzo albums and I still really like parts of all of them and basically really like ALL of Gorilla and Doughnut to this day. Which isn't bad for 50-some years later.
    Steve F.

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  3. #3
    I only ever owned Tadpoles (the yellow one, right?), but I dug it. Not big time, but still. I think they were about as British as The Fugs were American.

    It went soiled after I stacked a rack of records onto the window sill and the concentration of sun's heat throught the glass essentially bent a number of them, rendering the lot unplayable. I remember the Canterbury Tales 2LP comp by Caravan went the same way. Boy, was I ever foolish back in those days.
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  4. #4
    I'm here for the moosic NogbadTheBad's Avatar
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    I got into them via Monty Python (Neil Innes wrote a bunch of their music) and The Innes Book Of Records, on British television in the late 70's & early 80's. Been a big fan of the Bonzo's ever since. Gotta listen to the guitar solo from Canyons Of Your Mind to cheer yourself up .

    Ian

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  5. #5
    Outraged bystander markwoll's Avatar
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    I had great fun listening to them back in the day, mostly on WGTB. I think I still have Doughnut somewhere.
    My Pink Half Of The Drainpipe, Trouser Press, The Humanoid Boogie
    or I'm The Urban Spaceman
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  6. #6
    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Back in the '70s I once made a "Wow, I'm really expressing myself!" word balloon to hold up at an improv gig.


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    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Triscuits View Post
    Back in the '70s I once made a "Wow, I'm really expressing myself!" word balloon to hold up at an improv gig.
    You dared to do something I only dreamed of.....
    Steve F.

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  8. #8
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    I also saw Neil solo in the early 80s. He was extremely entertaining. Told some good jokes, played some good songs and he introduced "I'm The Urban Spaceman" as his "golden medley of hit".

    Wouldn't do any of the Ruttles John Lennon piss-take songs because he said it was too soon after John had died and he didn't feel good about it.
    Steve F.

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    This space for rent: Well established location. Perfect opportunity for an up and coming smart-ass to benefit from our years of provocation!

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    "Death to false 'support the scene' prog!"

    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

  9. #9
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    That guitar solo is... EPIC.

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    In more recent years, 3 Bonzos and a Piano kept the old songs going. Here's a gig I enjoyed back in 2012:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJHJf8hqDxE


    Alas, Sam Spoons is no longer with us.

    For those who are looking for a prog connection, I believe that Dave Glasson (the "Piano") is the father of Charlotte Glasson, who plays with Three Friends.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve F. View Post
    In 1977, in London, I saw the Bob Kerr Whoopie Band, which was the remnants of the original Bonzo's who jumped ship for The New Vaudeville Band in 1966
    According to my memory -- and backed up by Wikipedia -- Kerr was the only Bonzo who "jumped ship" for the touring version of NVB. The rest declined at the time.

    Though later, in 1971 when the Bonzos went kaput, several of them joined Bob in his Whoopee Band.
    Last edited by rcarlberg; 10-17-2019 at 05:00 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by groon View Post
    In more recent years, 3 Bonzos and a Piano kept the old songs going. Here's a gig I enjoyed back in 2012:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJHJf8hqDxE


    Alas, Sam Spoons is no longer with us.

    For those who are looking for a prog connection, I believe that Dave Glasson (the "Piano") is the father of Charlotte Glasson, who plays with Three Friends.
    She appears in that video, wearing a porkpie hat and playing tenor sax.

  13. #13
    Their first album was passed around at school and seemed to be universally liked. A group of us from my school went to see them when we were 14 and they were the first live band I'd seen. I saw them again about a year later supported by the Scaffold. On this occasion it was snowing hard and we struggled to get to the gig. The Bonzos turned up, but Roger Spear had to come by train and so couldn't bring all his robots with him. They were excellent both times and there was so much going on, on stage -it wasn't just a matter of watching Stanshall, the others would be hurling rubber chickens across the stage or making faces and trying to interrupt each other. Each member took centre stage at some point - Legs Larry Smith would come out from behind the drums and do a tap dance for example, or Rodney Slater take a mad sax solo. I saw them for a final time at the Plumpton festival in 1969. I've never seen another band like them.
    A couple of years later myself and a group of friends performed their 'Music for the Head Ballet' at the school talent show. We didn't win.
    Last edited by alanterrill; 10-17-2019 at 06:18 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alanterrill View Post
    I've never seen another band like them.
    There's a reason for that.

  15. #15
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alanterrill View Post
    The Bonzos turned up, but Roger Spear had to come by train and so couldn't bring all his robots with him.
    Has a sadder sentence than this ever been written??

    P.S - Alan! Thank you for your memories of seeing them!
    Steve F.

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  16. #16
    I'm here for the moosic NogbadTheBad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alanterrill View Post
    Their first album was passed around at school and seemed to be universally liked. A group of us from my school went to see them when we were 14 and they were the first live band I'd seen. I saw them again about a year later supported by the Scaffold. On this occasion it was snowing hard and we struggled to get to the gig. The Bonzos turned up, but Roger Spear had to come by train and so couldn't bring all his robots with him. They were excellent both times and there was so much going on, on stage -it wasn't just a matter of watching Stanshall, the others would be hurling rubber chickens across the stage or making faces and trying to interrupt each other. Each member took centre stage at some point - Legs Larry Smith would come out from behind the drums and do a tap dance for example, or Rodney Slater take a mad sax solo. I saw them for a final time at the Plumpton festival in 1969. I've never seen another band like them.
    A couple of years later myself and a group of friends performed their 'Music for the Head Ballet' at the school talent show. We didn't win.
    Great story, thanks!
    Ian

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  17. #17
    I was watching a repeat of a Morecambe and Wise Show (I think) and one of the guest acts was Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen (I think). I don't know how if the show dated from before or after the 'Gorilla' album but their piece was so similar to 'Jazz: Delicious Hot, Disgusting Cold' that I almost burst out laughing.

    I've always though the intro to 'Rhinocratic Oaths' resembles the intro to 'A Passion Play'.

  18. #18
    Rhinocratic Oaths is one of my favourite tunes by anyone, I always felt the ‘hook’ inspired the wonderful end section of They Might Be Giants’s Where Your Eyes Don’t Go.

    Eleven Moustachioed Daughters is another favourite.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kavus Torabi View Post
    "Rhinocratic Oaths" is one of my favourite tunes by anyone
    Their songwriting isn't recognized as much as I believe it should be. Yes, a lot of it involved comic impersonations of other styles - particularly music-hall - but when Innes and Stanshall just let themselves be themselves, the results were the equal of almost anybody from the psych era.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kavus Torabi View Post
    I always felt the ‘hook’ inspired the wonderful end section of They Might Be Giants’s "Where Your Eyes Don’t Go."
    The end of "Where Your Eyes Don’t Go" sounds more to me like a slightly rewritten version of "Park Avenue Beat" by Fred Steiner - known to most Americans as "the Perry Mason theme". But I'll agree it's also reminiscent of "Rhinocratic Oaths".


  20. #20
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    Been a gargantuan fan of the band since 1971 when I first heard "The Intro and the Outro." I had homemade buttons that read, "Princess Anne, Sousaphone" and put ping pong ball halves over my eyes. When I went to grad school in 1976, I had a professor who was from England. I had him tell me who all the British folks were who were, like Max Jappert, mentioned in that number. A old girlfriend saw them at the Boston Tea Party in 1969. Said the performance was nuts with band members doing all sort of things on stage (as mentioned above). What impressed her was that Legs Larry Smith's drum stool was a toilet bowl.
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    Going on ten years ago I was very lucky to get hold of Cornology for £1. This set is close to complete in that it includes all their 1966-72 albums and non-album singles, although I believe there are a few errors and single mixes not there. Perhaps the omission of single mixes couldn't be helped with regard to disc length though, I guess.

    I particularly like the more psych-leaning tracks such as 'Equestrian Statue', 'Mr Apollo', 'We Are Normal', 'Humanoid Boogie', 'Busted' etc. And of course the better known tracks like 'The Intro And The Outro', 'Death Cab For Cutie', '...Urban Spaceman' and 'Canyons Of Your Mind'. I have a soft spot for the delightful mock-vox-pop silliness of 'Shirt'.

    Didn't know anything about that 90s single!
    Last edited by JJ88; 10-18-2019 at 08:43 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Halmyre View Post
    I was watching a repeat of a Morecambe and Wise Show (I think) and one of the guest acts was Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen (I think). I don't know how if the show dated from before or after the 'Gorilla' album but their piece was so similar to 'Jazz: Delicious Hot, Disgusting Cold' that I almost burst out laughing.
    There was a 'trad jazz' strain to them, particularly on those earliest Parlophone singles. 'Jollity Farm' is another one in that vein.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Lopez View Post
    Been a gargantuan fan of the band since 1971 when I first heard "The Intro and the Outro." I had homemade buttons that read, "Princess Anne, Sousaphone" and put ping pong ball halves over my eyes. When I went to grad school in 1976, I had a professor who was from England. I had him tell me who all the British folks were who were, like Max Jappert, mentioned in that number. A old girlfriend saw them at the Boston Tea Party in 1969. Said the performance was nuts with band members doing all sort of things on stage (as mentioned above). What impressed her was that Legs Larry Smith's drum stool was a toilet bowl.
    Max Jaffa, not Jappart

    Peoples mentioned in the song , starting with the band members:
    'Legs' Larry Smith
    Sam Spoons
    Vernon Dudley Bohay-Nowell
    Neil Innes
    Rodney Slater
    Roger Ruskin Spear
    Vivian Stanshall

    John Wayne - actor
    Robert Morley - UK character actor
    Billy Butlin - founder a chain of UK holiday camps
    Adolf Hitler - former German leader
    Princess Anne - member of the UK royal family, daughter of Queen Elizabeth
    Liberace - flamboyant US entertainer
    Garner "Ted" Armstrong - US evangelist
    Lord Snooty and his pals - characters from the UK comic paper 'The Beano'.
    Harold Wilson - former leader of the Labour party and Prime Minister of the UK
    Franklin McCormack - US radio presenter and performer
    Eric Clapton - guitarist
    Sir Kenneth Clark - UK art historian and broadcaster
    the session's gorilla - a replacement for UK politician Quintin Hogg, who objected to being made fun of
    Incredible Shrinking Man - film character
    Peter Scott - UK naturalist/ornithologist and 'wildlife impersonator'
    Casanova - 18th century Italian author and womaniser
    General de Gaulle - former President of France
    Roy Rogers on Trigger - film stars
    Wild Man of Borneo - any suitably crazy person of colour or outrageous appearance
    Count Basie Orchestra - jazz musicians
    the Rawlinsons - fictional characters created by Viv Stanshall
    Dan Druff - joke name
    Quasimodo - eponymous character from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
    Brainiac - villain from the Superman mythos
    Val Doonican - Irish MOR singer and entertainer
    Max Jaffa - UK bandeader and musician
    Zebra Kid - professional wrestler
    Horace Batchelor - UK gambling pundit
    J. Arthur Rank - founder of the UK entertainment business Rank Organisation, and rhyming slang for another bit of personal entertainment

    Some sources say that Eric Clapton is the actual Ukulele player on the song.

  24. #24
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Halmyre View Post
    Some sources say that Eric Clapton is the actual Ukulele player on the song.
    "Hi, Eric!"
    Steve F.

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    This space for rent: Well established location. Perfect opportunity for an up and coming smart-ass to benefit from our years of provocation!

    "You run a great label, but sometimes you go out of your way to be a jerk." - Jed Levin

    "Death to false 'support the scene' prog!"

    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Halmyre View Post
    Max Jaffa, not Jappart

    John Wayne - actor
    Robert Morley - UK character actor
    Billy Butlin - founder a chain of UK holiday camps
    Adolf Hitler - former German leader
    Princess Anne - member of the UK royal family, daughter of Queen Elizabeth
    Liberace - flamboyant US entertainer
    Garner "Ted" Armstrong - US evangelist
    Lord Snooty and his pals - characters from the UK comic paper 'The Beano'.
    Harold Wilson - former leader of the Labour party and Prime Minister of the UK
    Franklin McCormack - US radio presenter and performer
    Eric Clapton - guitarist
    Sir Kenneth Clark - UK art historian and broadcaster
    the session's gorilla - a replacement for UK politician Quintin Hogg, who objected to being made fun of
    Incredible Shrinking Man - film character
    Peter Scott - UK naturalist/ornithologist and 'wildlife impersonator'
    Casanova - 18th century Italian author and womaniser
    General de Gaulle - former President of France
    Roy Rogers on Trigger - film stars
    Wild Man of Borneo - any suitably crazy person of colour or outrageous appearance
    Count Basie Orchestra - jazz musicians
    the Rawlinsons - fictional characters created by Viv Stanshall
    Dan Druff - joke name
    Quasimodo - eponymous character from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
    Brainiac - villain from the Superman mythos
    Val Doonican - Irish MOR singer and entertainer
    Max Jaffa - UK bandeader and musician
    Zebra Kid - professional wrestler
    Horace Batchelor - UK gambling pundit
    J. Arthur Rank - founder of the UK entertainment business Rank Organisation, and rhyming slang for another bit of personal entertainment

    Some sources say that Eric Clapton is the actual Ukulele player on the song.
    Thanks for that -I knew most of them but I had no idea who Zebra KId or Garner Ted Armstrong were so know I do. Lord Snooty seesm to have been recently reincarnated as politician Jacob Rees Mogg.

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