Customer Reviews: The History of the Bonzos
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on May 1, 2002
The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band was to music what the Firesign Theater was to the spoken word, using a bizarro sensibility to produce comedy recordings unlike anything ever done before. They used every instrument they could lay their hands on, without regard to whether they could actually PLAY it, and played anything from rock to 20s-style vaudeville music. The Bonzos toiled from 1966 to 1970 in obscurity, except for the Beatles collaboration "You Know My Name, Look Up the Number" (the B-side of the "Let It Be" single). Pianist Neil Innes later did a lot of work with Monty Python.
This two-CD set is a strong collection of their best, including a few post-Bonzo gems from individual members, like Viv Stanshall's infectious "Labio Dental Fricative." "The Intro and the Outro" introduces the band members to a repeated two-bar riff, and when they run out of band members, it's "Big hello to big John Wayne on xylophone", and on to Adolf Hitler, General de Gaulle, Brainiac, etc. "Canyons of Your Mind" is an Elvis impersonation with a purposely awful guitar solo. The 20s-style pieces include the delightful "Mickey's Son and Daughter" and "Jollity Farm". At the opposite extreme, "Slush" sets a mournful dirge to a tape loop of a laughing bag (remember those?). There's rock ("I'm the Urban Spaceman"), blues ("Can Blue Men Sing the Whites?"), teen pop (the dandruff ode "King of Scurf"), film noir ("Big Shot"), self-reverence ("Look at Me, I'm Wonderful"), and more. Instruments come and go without warning. The indescribable "My Pink Half of the Drainpipe" stops dead in the middle for Stanshall to present "Rodney's bass saxophone solo, as promised". Stanshall promotes the bodybuilding regimen of "Mr. Apollo": "Before I was a poor stone apology, today I am two separate gorillas".
If you're going to own one Bonzo album, this should be the one. It'll give you the most Bonzo for your money. The only reason I don't give this five stars is that it's SO weird that there's a limit to how much you can listen to in one sitting. It's just too much of a good thing. If you're lucky, the CD will include the liner notes and pictures that were on the LP (such as Roger "Ruskin" Spear taking a sax solo while holding a cartoon thought balloon over his head that says "Wow! I'm really expressing myself!")
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on November 1, 2004
This 1974 compilation has been eclipsed in more recent years by more in-depth CDs such as 'Cornology', so why would you want this? Because it is (I'm pretty sure) the only CD which has Vivian's singles 'Suspicion' (excellent send-up of the Elvis classic) and 'Blind Date' (in which two odd 'people' meet at Waterloo Station ...), alongside a different mix of 'Labio Dental Fractive' than you get on Cornology *and* the original version of 'Canyons of Your Mind' (with the sequins! hooray!). You also get another Neil single uncollected elsewhere and Roger Spear's version of 'Release Me'. Otherwise it is more of the same although I'll never quibble with a CD which includes 'Hunting Tigers', 'My Pink Half of the Drainpipe', 'Tent', 'Jollity Farm' and (if you must) 'Urban Spaceman'. I do miss 'Death Can for Cutie' but you can't have everything.
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on January 21, 2000
Whether you are a long time Bonzo fan,or a "new to Bonzo" fan....this is an excellant starting point. This collection features not only the members works as a group,but a sampling of some hard to find,on CD,solo efforts as well.Here are the Bonzos most well known tunes,and a number of obscure,and offbeat one's as well! (With some lovely pictures,to look at in wonderment). They're all here: VIVIAN STANSHALL! RODNEY SLATER! ROGER RUSKIN-SPEAR! LEGS LARRY SMITH! DENNIS COWAN! JOEL DRUCKMAN! SAM SPOONS! VERNON DUDLEY BOHAY~NOWELL! DAVE CLAGUE! Oh.....and Neil Innes. Hear the band,that The Beatles,once called,"Their Fave Band!" (Don't believe it? Get out your "Magical Mystery Tour" video....they are in it!)(So are The Beatles.).The Bonzo's lunacy might also have inspired Monty Python's muscial silliness,as they performed weekly with Eric Idle,Terry Jones,Michael Palin,and Terry Gilliam on "Do Not Adjust Your Set" (1967). So what more need you know? George Harrison loves 'em! Elton John loves 'em! Eric Clapton played with them! Led Zepplin loved 'em! SO WILL YOU!
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on November 21, 2005
Bonzo Dog fans may argue over whether this really is "the best" but for the rest of us it's as good an introduction to their erratically and often brilliantly bizarre world as anything else that's on offer - you want the genuinely funny tracks they're here... you want the tuneful tracks they're here as well... you want the darker, out on the edge tracks, well more money's required in the slot.

Careering through the late 60's like an uncontrollable pinball between the inspired, the endearingly quaint, the weirdly avant-garde and the manically deranged the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band were a completely "English" one off. Totally left-field but underpinned by superb comic perception and (thanks to Neil Innes & Viv Stanshall in particular) excellent song-writing skills they were disarmingly "nuts" and seriously "cool" at the same time. But, like all such things, best not to analyse it too much... suffice to say that this excellent compilation contains around 10 tracks that are timelessly funny, another 10 or so that will raise a smile, and around 10 that will leave you totally bemused. Which ones will depend, of course, on your particular predilections, but unless you've had some form of comic bypass operation enough will hit the mark to make the cost worthwhile. You just roll back the sheets and there you are... as they say.
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on January 9, 2004
With a taste for both ancient radio music and classic British music hall pastiche bent to an absurdist contemporary pop sensibility, this troupe of music satirists soundtracked the bridge between Peter Sellers' legendary Goon Squad routines and the freewheeling, hydradimensional Monty Python (in more ways than one; co-founding pianist/guitarist Neil Innes would be a Python adjunct/support player for most of that troupe's prime existence). Unlike most pop and rock satirists, however, the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (they shortened it to the Bonzo Dog Band after their first two albums) were sensible enough to know the limits of both topical humour and private in-joking (Frank Zappa, with and without the Mothers of Invention, never did quite get it, which explains why most of the Mothers' music post 1967 seemed dated within a week of its issue). And the fact that they were unashamed to let show their genuine affection for the sources of their zany attack somehow makes the Bonzos accessible in ways their actual and would-be contemporaries (as few as there were) could never have been. (Which may explain why, when Geoff Stephens and John Carter - the brains behind the New Vaudeville Band's surprise 1966 hit, "Winchester Cathederal" - needed a touring band fast to ride the wave of that shocker, having cut the song with studio regulars only, the pair first approached the Bonzos to be that band; the Bonzos as a band turned them down, but original sax/trombonist Bob Kerr threw in with the New Vaudeville Band for its brief touring life.)
This 1974 anthology is still the best way to introduce yourself to this troupe of the cheerfully insane, led as always by the sensitive Vivian Stanshall and his nucleus - saxophonists Rodney Slater and Roger Ruskin Spear (who also became renowned for his sound and visual devices, especially his exploding devices and his cartoon speech balloons); drummer Legs Larry Smith; bassist Vernon Dudley Bohay; Innes (vocals, guitar and keyboards). The odd hits (they had a few, mostly in England, especially "I'm The Urban Spaceman") and cult favourites (the clever "The Intro and the Outro," the charming pop of "King of Scurf," the Cream-parodying "9 to 5 Pollution Blues," the needling of British blues in "Can The Blue Men Sing The Whites," among others) blend neatly into a package that, contrary to others' alarm, actually doesn't drive you out of your mind to hear it through in a single sitting.
And if this set does strike a craving for more, hunt down copies of (especially) such classic albums as "Gorilla" and "Tadpoles." Even now, thirty years after the group called it a day, the Bonzos - who were well enough ahead of their own time - seem quite beyond the reach of much now passing for genuine humour.
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on December 4, 2012
This 30-song double CD contains almost all of the highlights of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, later just Bonzo Dog Band. This is a must for British humor aficionados, and for anyone who likes the Beatles or Kinks-esque fusion of Tin Pan Alley and rock 'n' roll. The Bonzos never made a lot of money, but they were highly influential and omnipresent in their day. I am lucky enough to have lived in England when the children's afternoon show "Do Not Adjust Your Set", featuring the Bonzos and some members of what was to become Monty Python, aired. The album kicks off with "The Intro and the Outro", a very funny take-off on jazz band riffing as the band is introduced; in this case the introductions are interminable as they get sillier and sillier, most memorably "and looking very relaxed, Adolf Hitler on vibes" and "Count Basie Orchestra on triangle *Ding!*" "Sport" takes on the classic theme of the sensitive boy who's no good at sports, mocking the jock aesthetic, as does "Mr. Apollo". Cartoony 20s & 30s music is represented with the delightful tracks "Hello Mabel", "Jollity Farm", "Mr. Slater's Parrot" and "Mickey's Son and Daughter". "My Pink Half of the Drainpipe" lampoons insufferably boring neighbors. "Hunting Tigers Out in Indiah" is a novelty song mocking Kipling-esque celebrations of British colonialism. "They bite. They scratch. They make an awful fuss. It's no use stroking them and saying puss puss puss." "I'm the Urban Spaceman" is the Bonzos' one hit, produced by Paul McCartney under a pseudonym, a buoyant pop critique of modern hyper-cool. Occasionally the Bonzos rock out to great effect, as with "Tent", which has almost a proto-Ramones sound combined with 50s-era wailing sax; "We Are Normal", one of the most compelling and driving rock themes of all time, once it gets going, though it's slow to start and quick to peter out, which is just as well--it's a quick intense trip with the rallying cry "We are normal and we want our freedom!"; and "Trouser Press". I have found that it is great fun to be in a bar and discover an Englishman who knows "Trouser Press" and sing it with him, culminating with "Do it all you can; it's much better than A PRE-FABRICATED CONCRETE COAL BUNKER!" at the top of your lungs. "Big Shot" is a wonderful send-up of 50s noir film narration. "Bad Blood" does the same with a Western theme. And "Rhinocratic Oaths" features a monologue with a few short whimsical tales backed with one of the most haunting, catchy, memorable instrumental themes ever written. Now.....BUY IT!
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on August 28, 2008
If you are one of those people that enjoy the music of England's, Bonzo Dog Band, there is no way that you CAN be normal. You are a special, special person...A right nutter, no doubt.

From 1966-1970 this crazy band of musical pirates released a few records that gained a lot of praise from the music critics, and reasonable sales in the UK. Here in America The Bonzo's are fondly remembered by a scant few of us. A good buddy played me the "Tadpoles" LP and he reeled me right into this new world of great music and humor. The only way to describe The Bonzo's would be to say that if Monty Python were a rock band instead of comedy players, THIS is what they would sound like.

This is the best of what The Bonzo Dog Band, was all about. Led by Vivian Stanshall and Neil Innes, this: "Bonzo World" is unique. When your group includes Adolph Hitler & John Wayne as members {The Intro and the Outro} you are indeed in strange company! When Micky Mouse seems to be having a bad acid trip {Mickey's Son & Daughter} and you can hear Pluto sniffing butt, all in one song, strange may be the word that enters one's mind.

Perverted takes on: "I Left My Heart In San Francisco" & "The Sound Of Music" that will scare both Tony Bennet and Julie Andrews back under their rocks, cannot be missed! "Noises from the Leg" and that old west classic: "Bad Blood" are now themselves classics. The Bonzo's take on the British blues era of the 1960's is unleashed as: "Can Blue Men Sing The Whites?" And heavy metal is attacked as: "We Are Normal" {watch your woofers here!}

The Bonzo's can sound like a traditional jazz combo one moment and a wild heavy metal act shortly there after. There are crazy costumes & gorrilla suits employed and more than a few explosions. The drummer was chained to his kit, lest he get loose and attack the audience. Paul McCartney was so taken with this band that he had the boys featured in The Beatles 1967 movie: "Magical Mystery Tour", and rightly so, as the Bonzo's were tailor-made for such an event as that.

This is very much rock and theater, years ahead of Alice Cooper, David Bowie or KISS. This act was so ahead of it's time that many audiences of the 1960's couldn't even deal with these performances, let a lone understand just what the Bonzo's were up to. This is wild & wacky stuff and it is great entertainment.
Does humor belong in music?
Yes, it does when it is done by the masters of this art form...The Bonzo Dog Band.
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on July 25, 2001
What a pleasure to find Bonzo Dog Band music on line, after years of idle (sorry, Eric) searching in the record stores. I ordered this collection last week, and am thoroughly enjoying it in my car (the wife doesn't care to hear it in the bedroom -- though I am subjecting her to "Hello Mabel" at the moment). If you know what I'm talking about, skip this collection and order "Cornology". If you are looking for a Bonzo intro, but are not YET a Bonzo-head, this is a good choice for you. Seriously, Bonzo-heads, the drawback to this collection is that many of your personal favorite cuts will undoubtedly be missing. It is also a bit disconcerting that the cuts are out of order from what you are familiar with (assuming your memories are still reasonably intact). So, deduct 1 star. Bonzo-novices, you are in for a treat, though if your budget is really tight, I would recommend a single album ("Keynsham" is awesome) to start.
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on September 17, 2014
If you like dry British humor with some old time rock and roll and weird sound effects get this great collection by The Bonzo Dog Band. The Bonzo's were, Neil Innes (Monty Python,The Rutles), Rodney Slater, Sam Spoons, Roger Spear, Larry Smith and the late great Vivian Stanshall.

Of the 35 tracks you get on this album, you get these great skits in, "Rockaliser Baby", "Hello Mabel", the classic "Jolility Farm", "You Done My Brain In", love "Hunting Tigers Out In Indiah", the great "Suspicion", "I'm The Urban Spaceman", with Paul McCartney, the cowboy "Bad Blood", supreme! The passion of the blues in "9-5 Pollution Blues", the film noir tune "Big Shot", the insane "Rhinocratic Oaths", "I think i'll become an alcoholic" and the funny Roger Spear skit "Shirts".

Just a great album when your in the mood for something different.
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on May 31, 2000
This is one of the greatest sing-along albums in the world. Buy this album and learn the words. Neil Innes, Bonzo pianist and lyricist later went on to work with Monty Python, and it shows. If you're a fan of zany British humour and can appreciate Python or Peter Sellers' 60's and 70's ouvre, you need to listen to the Bonzos!
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