Upon discovering former Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band mainman Vivian Stanshall’s left-field masterpiece Sir Henry At Rawlinson End, Michael Livesley was so appalled to find it was no longer being performed that he elected to stage it himself. Admirable? Yes. Foolhardy? Arguably. After all, to embark upon the reanimation of a work so linked with its late author can surely only invite unfavourable comparison.
Livesley also elected to try to replicate Viv’s rich and fruity delivery of his ornate Stanshallian prose himself. On hearing of Livesley’s courageous plan, one would have to be a pretty ripe old cheese to wish him any ill. Who wouldn’t want to see a stage production of Henry wherein Auntie Florrie, the wider Rawlinson clan and, of course, Old Scrotum were made hideously mottled flesh? But an album?
Surely the existing article with Stanshall, Steve Winwood et al is enough for anyone. But Rick Wakeman would beg to differ: he not only bunged it out on his own Rraw label, but he also played on it. Like fish and house guests, comedy never improves with time, and while Livesley’s Henry could have done with a shade more brandy, this ain’t at all bad.