Too often dismissed as a novelty act, the Bonzos (the full name varies) were actually one of the most ground-breaking bands of the late 60s. Like a very British answer to America’s Mothers Of Invention or The Fugs, late comedy genius Vivian Stanshall, classic pop songwriter Neil Innes and chums scathingly torpedoed their targets in contemporary musical genres they expertly sent up.
They were revered by the likes of John Peel, The Who and Paul McCartney, the latter inviting them to perform on The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour and producing their 1968 hit I’m The Urban Spaceman.
While concurrently appearing on weekly pre-Monty Python kids’ show Do Not Adjust Your Set, the Bonzos released five albums, starting with 1967’s Gorilla, whose Cool Britannia later provided an unfortunate 90s media tag but included provocative gems such as Death-Cab For Cutie.
1968’s The Doughnut In Granny’s Greenhouse savaged suburban drudgery with missives such as My Pink Half Of The Drainpipe, and demolished pretentious blues revivalists on Can Blue Men Sing The Whites. Tadpoles, in ’69, featured ditties from the TV series, and the gloriously deranged Keynsham.
The Bonzos split the following year, but were contractually required to make another album, resulting in 1972’s towering Let’s Make Up And Be Friendly. It was Stanshall’s finest hour as he unleashed his roaring Sir Henry at Rawlinson End character, invented toilet dance craze Do The Strain and parodied Johnny Cash on Bad Blood.
Rarely, if ever, has the Original Album Series franchise entertained such trailblazing fun and rib-tickling anarchy./o:p