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Roger Ruskin Spear: Electric Shocks/Unusual

Restored silliness from the early 70s by ex-Bonzo.

The riddle of an odd connection between Yes and the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band is answered in the first of these two reissues.

Former Bonzo and avowed musical loon Spear had original Yes guitarist Peter Banks among the guests on 1972’s Electric Shocks, newly restored here with its 1973 sequel Unusual with Esoteric’s customary loving care. The first now includes the Rebel Trouser four-track EP that was his first solo offering. Both albums abound with Spear’s, and the Bonzos’, two fondest specialities for spoofing: rock’n’roll and the stuffed-shirt, Light Programme-style entertainment of a bygone era. Hence the endearing silliness of Mattress Man and the crazed tea dance of I’m A Fly. The members of Thunderclap Newman are aboard for both albums, while the Flamin’ Groovies feature on the first, and it would be a hard heart that didn’t get a smile at least from such titles as proto-Python tune Make Yourself A Happiness Pie and Trouble With My Trousers. Unusual also offers a bonkers Pinball Wizard cover that sounds like Frank Sidebottom at 78rpm. A satirist ahead of his time, for sure.