For fans of The Bonzo Dog Band, it doesn’t get much better than this outlandish performance shot live at the Jazz Bilzen festival in Belgium on August 22, 1969.
Well, actually had the cameras been pointed at the right place at the right times… Eventually, though, the cameramen do figure it out.
It starts off with an extended interview with Neil Innes.
You Done My Brain In
I’m The Urban Spaceman
Quiet Talks and Summer Walks
I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles
In The Canyons of Your Mind
I’ve been conducting an interview over email with Neil Innes about his recently released Le Duck’s Box Set collecting his Innes Book of Records-era output that will be published on Dangerous Minds soon.
In the meantime, enjoy this wild video of the Bonzos in all their glory. Imagine someone doing something like this onstage today.
Just a great photograph of Keith Moon as barman fixing drinks for Ronnie Lane, Vivian Stanshall and music journalist, Chris Welch.
DM reader dogmatique passed on the following message (via a friend of a friend, and the all-connecting power of the internet) in which Mr. Chris Welch explained some of the background to this wonderful photograph by Barrie Wentzell:
“It was a wonderful night at the Crown & Cushion where Keith was ‘mine host’ I only saw this photo by Barrie [Wentzell] fairly recently, years after the event and it brought back many memories. Sad to say I’m the only survivor of this jolly scene. Incidently Keith took his role in running the pub very seriously and was most excited about his latest purchase, a Microwave oven, the first we’d ever seen. An elderly customer demanded to see the manager to complain about the service, prompting Keith to bark ‘I AM the manager’. I now realise this was a ‘set up’ planned with Viv Stanshall for my benefit. Note we are ALL smoking. No ban in those days. Freedom man!”
Many thanks to dogmatique for passing on this info, and to Chris Welch.
Meanwhile…in a garret in the Palace…Vivian Stanshall advises us to ‘Be Realistic. Ask for the impossible,’ as he tells a surreal comic tale that preempts the mash-up and scratch video. Originally broadcast on Up Sunday circa 1972.
Paul posted this clip last year, but it’s worth another airing: After eight years with the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, in 1970 Vivian Stanshall formed the short lived BiG GrunT with fellow former Bonzos Dennis Cowan on bass and Roger Ruskin Spear on wind instruments and infernal machines, plus “Borneao” Fred Munt, the ex-Bonzo roadie, on conga drums and saxophone.
The group, seen here in this amazing performance of “11 Mustachioed Daughters” from March 30, 1970, didn’t last long as front-man Stanshall was sadly sidelined with a hospital stay for a nervous breakdown.
And believe it or not that solo was played on spoons - just like these ones, Blue Peter presenter Christopher Trace tells his audience, at the end of this wonderful, little clip of The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band performing “Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey?” on the show in February 1966.
GRIMMS was a like a collision between a busload of musicians, a van full of comics and a mobile library. As Supergroups go, GRIMMS was certainly the most original, literary and possibly hirsute, with their mix of poetry, music, comedy and theater.
“I don’t know what attracted the Scaffold to the Bonzos; we were incredibly anarchic, which was probably something shared by the Scaffold as well. Hence Grimms, this leap in the dark.”
We all know about the genius of The Bonzos, so let’s jump to The Scaffold, that strange hybrid pop band made up from John Gorman (who would go onto star in the children’s show Tiswas, and its adult counterpart OTT with Chris Tarrant and Alexei Sayle in the 1980s), Mike McGear (Paul McCartney’s brother), and poet Roger McGough, who had been one of the 3 Mersey Poets, and was a member of The Liverpool Scene. The Scaffold had chart success with their novelty records “Thank U Very Much”, “Lily the PInk” and “Liverpool Lou”, the last recorded with Paul McCartney and Wings
Liverpool Scene was the Liverpool Poets: McGough (works include Summer With Monika, After The Merrymaking), Brian Patten (works include Little Johnny’s Confession and Notes to the Hurrying Man) and Adrian Henri (The Mersey Sound), and musician Andy Roberts.
GRIMMS changed shape over the years as band members left, moved on or lost hair. These were quickly replaced by hats, wigs and some very special talents, including Keith Moon (The Who), Jon Hiseman (Colosseum), Michael Giles (King Crimson), John Megginson, Gerry Conway, David Richards, Zoot Money, and future Rutles John Halsey and Peter “Ollie” Halsall.
Their first album Grimms was a lucky bag of comedy, poetry and music released in 1973, which included Innes’ songs “Humanoid Boogie”, “Short Blues” and “Twyfords Vitromant”, which was followed later the same year with Rockin’ Duck and in 1975 their final album the 5 star Sleepers.
Unlike most list documentaries today (which miss out on such diamonds as GRIMMS), the seventies was an incredible time of experimentation and risk-taking. In 1975, around the release of Sleepers, the BBC (gawd bless her and all who fail in her) produced a strange series called The Camera and The Song. It was like a collection of early pop promos, with a film-maker interpreting songs by different artists - some good, some bloody awful. Into this mix came GRIMMS, and here are 2 clips from the show (opening titles and songs) featuring the genius talents of Neil Innes and co. Lovely!
More from GRIMMS plus bonus track ‘Backbreaker’, after the jump…
For Bonzo Dog fans, this is the equivalent of finding the Holy Grail. The original edit and soundtrack of The Adventures of the Son of Exploding Sausage - the rarely seen Bonzo Dog Band film from 1969. It’s the Bonzo’s own Magical Mystery Tour (yes, I know they were in that), a film with no real story, just a day-in-the-countryside, with some children and a farm. You’d probably get arrested for trying something like that now… Here’s how the BFI database describes it:
The Bonzo Dog Band drive into the country in a truck, unload their equipment in some woods only to find some of it taken away by some children. They eat and play at a party, and the Bonzos play a number of instrumentals in a stable yard, including `Rockaliser Baby’, `We are Normal’ and `Quiet Walks and Summer Talks’. At the end they are driven away in a white car. Note: No words are sung. Featured alongside the Bonzo Dog Band are the children Amanda, Jennifer and Ashley Lees, Edward Roebuck, and Olivia Smith.
Clips from this film have been on YouTube over the years, usually with “words sung”, but this original instrumental soundtrack is fantastic, which as one comment on YouTube says:
‘Not just a funky old time jazz band. They give early Pink Floyd a run for their money here.’
Ah, tis true. So, if you like Vivian, Neil and co. (and why not?), do make yourself some tea and scones, and settle down and enjoy this lovely trip to the delightful world of The Bonzo Dog Band.
Not going out tonight? Then stay in and enjoy over 2 hours worth of compilation footage of the Blizen Jazz Festival, from 1969. The concert includes performances by Deep Purple, The Move, Humble Pie, Shocking Blue, The Moody Blues, Soft Machine, Marsha Hunt, leading up to a joyous set by The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.
Here’s the listing as posted on YouTube in no particular order:
Shocking Blue - August 22, 1969
“Venus” + interview
Deep Purple - August 22 1969
“Wring That Neck”
Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band - August 22, 1969
“You Done My Brain In”
“Quiet Talks And Summer Walks”
“I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”
“Canyons Of Your Mind”
Taste - August 22, 1969
“Blister On The Moon”
Moody Blues - August 22, 1969
“Have You Heard” (Part 1)
“Have You Heard” (Part 2)
Soft Machine - August 22, 1969
“Moon In June” + interview
Marsha Hunt & White Trash - August 22, 1969
“My World Is Empty Without You Babe”
Brian Auger & The Trinity - August 22, 1969
“I Just Got Some”
Steve Shorter & Tilly Set - August 22 1969
“Move On Up”
Humble Pie - August 24 1969
“The Sad Bag Of Shaky Jake” /” I Walk On Gilded Splinters”
Life - August 24 1969
“Baby Please Don’t Go”
Blossom Toes - August 24 1969
The Move - August 24 1968
“Sunshine Help Me”
Roland and The Bluesworkshop - August 23 1968
Belgian TV - BRT
Various clips from this concert have appeared on the web over the years, but when placed altogether like this, it is a fab 2 hours. Enjoy!
Ian Dury looked like he could have been your Dad. Well, that is if your Dad was cool enough to front a band, and write songs that stuck in the head like a needle in the groove. I suppose it was because he looked like an old geezer and sounded like a cab driver that made him look like your Dad, but in truth Ian Dury was the Poet Laureate of Rock ‘n’ Roll. The Cor-Blimey Bard of Pop Poetry, whose exuberant lyrical dexterity at writing short memorable couplets, made him one of music’s best loved and most respected writers and performers.
In 1977, it seemed everyone had or had heard a copy of New Boots and Panties!!, the album that gave Punk and New Wave its very own T S Eliot, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Edward Lear or W H Auden. We went in-and-out of class rooms reciting “Clevor Trever”:
“Just cos I ain’t never ad, no, nothing worth having
Never ever, never ever
You ain’t got no call not to think I wouldnt fall
Into thinking that I ain’t too clever
And it aint not having one thing nor another
Neither, either is it anything, whatever
And its not not knowing that there ain’t nothing showing
And I answer to the name of Trever, however.”
Or, singing “Billericay Dickie”:
“I had a love affair with Nina
In the back of my Cortina
A seasoned up hyena
could not have been more obscener.”
It made a change from singing “Sha-na-na-na-sha-na-na-bop-de-diddle-de-bop, baby.” And if there had been an O’Level in the lyrics of Ian Dury, then we all would have passed ‘A’ band one. It wasn’t just that The Blockheads’ songs were the bollocks, it was Dury, who was the most literary thing that had happened to music since Ron and Russell told us about “Khaki-colored bombardiers…” over Hiroshima, or, Vivian sang “Sport, Sport, masculine sport. Equips a young man for society.”
Here is Ian Dury and The Blockheads with ex-Dr. Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson in the line-up giving it their all and then some in Paris 1981.
01. “Wake Up (And Make Love To Me)”
02. “Sink My Boats”
03 “Delusions of Grandeur”
04. “Dance of the Crackpots”
05. “What a Waste”
06. “Hey! Hey! Take Me Away”
07. “Hit Me (With Your Rhythm Stick)”
08. “Sweet Gene Vincent’
Heresy, I suppose, but I was more pissed off at the demise of the Bonzo Dog Band than I was by the splitting of The Beatles, the retirement of Ziggy Stardust, or the return of Take That. The Mop Tops were grown-up music and a different generation, and after Stardust there was always Aladdin Sane, but neither could have inspired me to run home from school as I did for Vivian Stanshall, Neil Innes and co. when they shared billing with the proto-Pythons, Palin, Jones, Idle and Gilliam on Do Not Adjust Your Set. Now that’s the kind of thoughtful anarchy parents should encourage their children to watch, not Glee or High School Musical, but something with wit and humor that leans towards culture and art and thinking about life, with all its wrinkly absurdities.
It was always Vivian, of course, that rather scary looking Ginger Geezer, who was the Peter Cook of Pop, a chummy Evelyn Waugh, a more interesting Stephen Fry, the missing link between The Beatles and Monty Python.
I saw Vivian Stanshall’s Week when it first went out in 1975, then or thereabouts, and was mesmerized by the great ginger god’s wit, surreal humor and seemingly boundless energy, who, I knew (as did everyone else, surely?), made life that little bit more fun.
The print of this documentary is water-color cloudy, but honestly it does somehow underline the unreality that such a superb human should have ever visited this blue marble planet and in our life time to boot. Well, dearhearts, how lucky are we?
Now here’s what the blurb says:
‘In this film shot in 1975 (after the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and before the Sir Henry movie) Viv articulates his interests and obsessions with his usual surreal humour and some intoxication by the river.
“If I had all the money I’ve spent on drink — I’d spend it on drink.”
Last night when I stumbled across the Bob Dylan/Bette Midler bootleg on Vimeo, I saw that the poster, dagb (that’s all I know about him and I suspect he would like to keep it that way) had also uploaded One Man’s Week, the 1975 documentary about the late great British eccentric and Bonzo Dog Doo Dah band singer, Vivian Stanshall. Erudite—and alcoholic—Vivian is interviewed and seen working on his African-influenced album Men Opening Umbrellas Ahead.
If you’re a Bonzos fan, this is a little bit of heaven, I promise you.
For a quick overview of who Stanshall was and why you should care, I suggest watching this, first: