Friday, December 07, 2007
One of my guilty pleasures is a fondness for the odd or the unpopular, especially if it has genuine quality in it. Well, I can't think of a more odd, unpopular or genuinely excellent musical group than the Bonzo Dog Doo-dah Band. I've been a fan of these patently insane British "musicians" for many a year. Unfortunately, I was not a fan early enough to have actually seen the band, but a friend of mine claims he saw them at the Michigan State Fair in the late sixties. They disbanded in 1970 but did produce one more album in 1971. I became infatuated with their music in the early seventies. Their comic genius-typically British, typically subdued and typically sarcastic-puts one in mind of the Monty Python group. Actually, Eric Idle was a regular "member", as were Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton and many many other famous musicians and comedians in Britain at the time.
The band began with a group of Art College students who loved traditional jazz and dixieland music and formed a band to play it. Their creativity moved them into comical revisions of the genres in which they were originally interested and some very interesting results were obtained. Over the course of their development they became the "house band" on a weekly children's television show called Do Not Adjust Your Set, which featured Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam of Monty Python fame. Later, they began writing and recording some more mainstream (Ha!) Rock music cuts, some of which actually made it on the "charts", in England. Even during this period, they kept tongue planted firmly in cheek, rest assured! If I could suggest one album to listen to it would be Gorrilla, from 1967, but, really, it is impossible to choose and there's no reason to do so. Take a few hours and listen to them all! They run the spectrum in genres from Dixieland Jazz, to Spike Jones, to British Blues, to Psychedelic Rock to Elvis and even some Country Western! Something for everyone, so to speak.
So what brings such a topic up for discussion some thirty-six years after the band's demise? They have re-united again and produced their first new album since 1971! Now, I have bored and amazed my friends for decades by making them listen to the fantastic works of this band at parties and during long travels in the car. Some actually listen and they get it, while others simply get bored because it doesn't match the latest musical trends and they lose interest quickly. They know me as the guy who likes weird music. If it's unusual, quirky or just plain weird, I probably know something about it. The thing is, though, this band is different! They're not only weird and comical (and they are freaking hilarious!) but they have true musical talent and songwriting abilities, as well. Think of them as Monty Python with instruments and much, much more. Supposedly, their stage presence was frenetic and wildly entertaining, often involving skits, costumes, acting and the lot. They were multi-media, then!
Of course no written article can impart the rich, comic and musical genius of the Bonzos to the public without benefit of actually hearing the music, itself. And that would violate many copyright laws and such, so it isn't possible, here. You'll have to search them out and listen to them on your own. They are certainly worth the trouble. One of my Christmas presents will be the new album available here both in downloadable format and for ready-made purchase. Of course, their other albums are still for sale as well.