And so we come to the final entry in the 10 Albums, 10 Days series. And I’m going to cap it with the beginning of a lifelong love.
I have two musical loves that prompt scratches of the head and bemused horror from the majority of those I encounter: I could have gone with Tom Lehrer’s magnificent An Evening Wasted With… here, but he only recorded three albums, and while I love him (much to Luscious’ chagrin, I can now perform an a capella version of Poisoning Pigoens in the Park with no less than three sons), my love for him is an ordinary one, without the element of weird that comes with loving the Bonzo the Dog Doo-Dah Band.
The Bonzos are something special… and something special.
I was first exposed, unknowingly, via Neil Innes’ performance as part of the Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl concert film. How Sweet to Be an Idiot and I’m The Urban Spaceman are classic Bonzo tracks, and my ongoing Pythonmania sent me in search of more information on this gentle he’s-not-one-of-the-six performer who had taken up stage time in a way that sat inside my skull and resonated, and resonated, and resonated.
And I found the Bonzos. I found their absurd and mesmerising performances on Do Not Adjust Your Set. I found a second-hand record store, and I found Gorilla. And fascination become love.
Make no mistake. This is an odd album. The musical style covers more ground than a mid-career Alice Cooper album. The lyrics are, by turn, sardonic, naive, and just outright eccentric. Vivian Stanshall sounds like they’ve just woken him up seconds before hitting the record button. The whole effect is so unabashedly English and weird, it is a genuine struggle to explain it to you. You either get the Bonzos, or you don’t. I’m not sure I always do, but I love them. There is no other band– none, despite the inevitable comparisons to Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, and Marmalade– who approach music the ways the Bonzos do. The tracks lurch from upbeat ditties about talking farm animals to a never-ending introductory sequence (Princess Anne on sousaphone…) in which every musician plays an instrument they’ve never touched before, to animated statues, to killer taxi cabs, to birth notices for Mickey and Minnie Mouse’s children…… see what I mean?
The Bonzo the Dog Doo-Dah Band fills a hole in my psyche alongside the Pythons, the Goons, Tom Lehrer, Richard Dadd, Rene Magritte, and William Blake. The world is a nonsensical, absurd, apocalypse, and the Bonzos are its prophet. You either get them, or you don’t. I do, and I don’t, and I love them dearly.