Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Charity Shop Gem of the Week - 9 - The Bonzo Dog Band - Keynsham

As a rule I try to steer clear of these sort of knowingly 'wacky' records that seemed so abundant in the 60's and 70's, and as such never paid too much attention to the Bonzo Dog Band. Having recently stumbled across a Keynsham however, I found myself drawn by it's title - a small and not particularly cool civil parish near where I grew up. Musically the album is pretty adept, with some quite lovely arrangements spread across guitars, drums, horns, flutes and basses, all held together by lyrics than oscillate from the overwrought prog fare one might expect, and the intensely silly. The album harbours a penchant for sudden changes in style and various spoken word/comedy segments, akin to Monty Python, and manages to be (nearly) as funny. Gems such as Tent offer up passages such as 'my love is so inscrutable / in a stoic sort of way / my baby is as beautiful / as a tourniquet' in a charged, almost punkish manner, whilst the operatic Sport has a wonderfully overblown chorus, ostensibly about the wonders of P.E.
Lyrics aside, there is actually some surprisingly contemporary aspects at play - whilst many of the tracks sound a bit like The Beatles (or perhaps more suitably, The Rutles), tracks like Noises for my leg sound like an early incarnation of Add N to X, and there are even a few dashes of what might be considered Musique Concrete, were it in any other context.

Were this an entirely serious late 60's pop/rock album, it would be a very, very good one. I fear the addition of humour relegates it to 'oddity' rather than 'classic', perhaps explaining it's lack of commercial success, especially given it comes not long after the bands fairly popular television show.

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