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Roger Ruskin Spear: Reissues

Barking mad, star-studded gentility from former Bonzo.

Soldering the ‘mental’ on to ‘multi-instru’, post-Bonzo Dog Band Roger Ruskin Spear was bursting with mad-scientist creativity. Not that he could place it; in spite of popularity with The Who, Kinks and Beatles he remained a commercial wild card.

Then his old label United Artists relented and two albums were let loose. 1972’s Electric Shocks is Bonzos revisited with a crew encompassing Thunderclap Newman, the Flamin’ Groovies and BJ Cole in a winsome mix of roaring 20s ragtime, eccentric doo-wop and some Fairportsish folk rock (mixed with My Pink Half Of The Drainpipe). Most interesting is his version of Living Doll – lovingly pilfered by pioneers The Young Ones for their anarchic charity hit of 1986.

Unusual, from ’73, is affectionately tended by Pete Townshend, and even starts with what sounds like the Laughing Gnome covering Pinball Wizard. The numbers are gentle and Jollity Farm-flavoured, returning to familiar clothing-based tropes typified on the Bonzos track Shirt (Trouble With My Trousers). On My Goodness How Spear swaps clarinet, trumpet and tuba fetish for spacey synths and almost invents acid house in the process.

Ear-bleeding rock bludgeoning this isn’t; if you don’t find the title I Love To Bumpity Bump (On A Bumpy Road With You) amusing, turn back now. Otherwise it’s a house-trained 610 for both and Bonios all round.

Embracing weird, wild and wonderful sounds, Prog's Associate Editor Jo's also a Classic Rock columnist, an avid tea-drinker and cupcake fancier.