When is a Bonzo Dog album, not a Bonzo Dog album?
When it's "Tadpoles" !
Well....that's a little cryptic, is it not? Here's the
folks behind "Do Not
Adjust Your Set", suddenly took bigger notice of The Bonzos
when "I'm The Urban Spaceman" became a "hit" song. So
enthused were they, it was decided a soundtrack album for
the show should be released!
They wanted the Bonzos, of course, to record more "hits" for
their little soundtrack. The problem was, the Bonzos were
touring extensively, and not quite ready with the new
material they were working on for their own next album.
( Besides which, they had quickly released "Mr.
Apollo"/"Ready Mades" as a single in hopes of following up
"I'm The Urban Spaceman". )
material used on the show, specifically songs that were not
previously released. The Bonzos recorded many songs, usually
covers, so they could lip-sync to them on the live show. (
Quite common for the time ). So, this collection of tunes is
items from "Do Not Adjust Your Set" + the "I'm The Urban
Spaceman" single + the most recent Bonzo single "Mr. Apollo"
and one old Bonzo song found hiding in a box of tapes
form of the album
itself, is Bonzo-like, but it is missing the usually thread,
which may be why the Bonzos themselves never considered
album an actual Bonzo album.
ONE:We start our
journey with "Hunting Tigers Out In INDIAH"....a rippingly
silly salute to England and the days of the Raj....with a
slight bit of psychedelia. ( Featuring silly hunters Roger
Ruskin Spear and Vivian Stanshall ). Next up....Vivian
interviews people about shirts, and Roger let's loose with
his own composition ,coincidentally titled: "Shirt" ! (
featuring a solo by Roger on the electric shirt collar ! ).
"Tubas In The Moonlight" is another piece penned by
Roger....which sounds very reminiscent of the original tunes
that inspired the Bonzos. With a really good Tuba solo! How
many songs can claim that? "Dr.Jazz"- follows, an
instrumental, very much in the vein of the early Bonzo
recordings. An amazing array of instruments are used
throughout this piece! Next, rising from the shadows is the
"Monster Mash". This cover version may be the closest the
Bonzo's got to covering a "recent" song! ( The original was
recorded in the 1950's by Bobby "Boris" Pickett ). Vivian
Stanshall cannot help but alter the lyrics a little, and the
original television version featured Sam Spoons as "The
Creature", playing the electric spoons! This side closes out
with "I'm The Urban Spaceman"....The Bonzo's big hit....blab
blab blab.... ( Alright, it IS a good song, but I believe
I've discussed it into the ground by this point. )
TWO: Meanwhile, back
at the desert....we venture off with "Ali Baba's Camel",
another foul creature indeed! But a wonderfully silly and
comical song....you can almost see the Bonzo's visual
performance.( And you can almost hear Vivian as Sir Henry
Rawlinson! ). The next piece.... "Laughing Blues", is indeed
a Bonzo "oldie", originally recorded during their 1966
Parlophone sessions, and obviously not very well preserved,
it does offer insight into the original Bonzo sound. "By A
Waterfall", a hit for Jeannette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy,
is hereforth lampooned by Vivian. ( Not dressed in a
Canadian Mountie costume.). This song was a favourite on "Do
Not Adjust Your Set", and the audience did all the response
lyrics, much to the band's amusement! At this point, the
Bonzo's plug in, and locate their heavy metal songbooks, to
bring forth "Mr. Apollo"! An absolutely hilarious salute to
body building! It should've been as big as "I'm The Urban
Spaceman"...but alas, it wasn't! An amazing Glam-Rock sound!
Closing out our festivities, is perennial B-side favourite
"Canyons Of Your Mind"....Vivian gives us another salute to
Elvis! A very popular piece, that the Bonzo's performed on
several shows. The extremely painful guitar solo is all
Neil...and his screaming fan is Roger!
FOOTNOTE: Although this album was never
seriously considered a Bonzo album, by the band, it is a
well gathered overall look at the band. It features their
earliest work, their hit song, their jazz sound, their rock
sound, and their silly use of sketches. Not too bad for a
mish-mash of tunes just lying about!
The score so far: Riding high on a hit single, the Bonzo's
continue touring with 2 visits to the USA ( unfortunately
not very prosperous, due to poor marketing - their albums
were not yet available in most cities they toured! ),
various television and radio appearances, and finished their
tenure with "Do Not Adjust Your Set", while also having time
to write their next album.
>From here, the journey took a strange turn, down a
narrow road.....at the sign
post ahead, only one word could be seen as the lightning
August 1969 as
Bonzo Dog Band.
(Included Die-cut outer
sleeve & one sided inner sleeve.)
Records (UK) - LBS-83257
August 1969 as
Bonzo Dog Band.
(Included Die-cut outer
sleeve & one sided inner sleeve. Cover does not
include reference to "Do Not Adjust Your
Records (U.S.) LP-12445
Urban Spaceman" by The Bonzo Dog
Sunset Records (UK)
(With Alternate cover: photo of the
Bonzo's sitting in a crosswalk....somewhere in
Outer Space! )
Bonzo Dog Band.
( Original sleeve photo,
not die-cut, and no inner sleeve )
Records (U.K.) - XED186
Bonzo Dog Band. (no extras)
Records (U.S.) S21-17431
SINGLE: "Mr. Apollo" /
"Ready Mades" - 1969
- Liberty Records LBF-15201
The A-Side being a wonderfully silly attack on Charles
Atlas/Body Builder types.
The B-Side being a surrealistically wonderful look at
Britain's art scene of the late 60's.
"Mr. Apollo" was later recorded as a single in German, which
seems to suit Vivian's shouting!
"Ready Mades", has been said by many, to be a parody of
"Eleanor Rigby", I would tend to disagree, it's simply
Neil's offbeat look at life and a really good song.
CREDITED BAND MEMBERS: NONE
UNCREDITED MUSICIANS: Vivian Stanshall, Neil Innes, "Legs"
Larry Smith, Roger Ruskin-Spear, Rodney Slater,
Dennis Cowan, Joel Druckman, Dave Clague, Sam Spoons and
Vernon Dudley-Bohay Nowell
( and unknown
Bonzo's on "Laughing Blues" )
NO MUSICIAN CREDITS? : Simply because no-one was quite sure
who performed on which tracks. Some of the songs were done
in such a hurry, to meet the schedule of "Do Not Adjust Your
Set", and the constant change of personnel made it hard to
pin down who is playing on which songs. The primmest example
is "Monster Mash", Vernon Dudley-Bohay Nowell is clearly
seen playing bass on the broadcast version, but there was
also a version recorded for John Peel's radio show, and
adding to that: the version on this album is neither of
versions, and to make things even more confusing, both Dave
Clague & Joel Druckman remember playing bass on a
version of the song. Confused yet? Another problem is
"Laughing Blues" which was recorded at a time when there
were more Bonzo members, then even the band can
DIS-AVOWED MUSICIANS: This was the last original Bonzo
release to include contributions by Joel Druckman and Dave
THE NEW BOY: This
album features the first contributions by Dennis Cowan on
Bass Guitar ( The last of the Bonzo Bass-men! ). Dennis came to the
Bonzo's fresh from the band "The Devil's Disciples", whom
also featured Peter Banks, future guitarist for "Yes".
SLEEVE! : If you
were lucky enough to get this album on original vinyl, you
were treated to a silly thing indeed: The front of the
holes punched out, so that when the inner sleeve is
removed,( the inner sleeve was printed on one side ), you
see the band members eyes move, and little images pass
through the slots.
On the front of the sleeve are: ( left to right ): "Legs"
Larry, Vivian, and Neil.
On the back of the sleeve are: ( left to right ): Dennis,
Roger, and Rodney.
THAT DIDN'T MAKE IT ON THE ALBUM: Among the songs the Bonzo's were
performing in concert and other live appearances: "We're
Going To Bring It On Home", "Tent", "Sofa Head", "Give Booze
A Chance", "Busted", "National Beer" ( this song would later
become "King of Scurf" ), "Joke Shop Man", "Boiled Ham
Rhumba" ( this song would later become "The Cat Meat Conga",
for Neil's "Innes Book of Records"), "What Do You Do?","
Quiet Talks", "On A Wonderful Day", and "Look At Me I'm
AMERICANS! : Yes,
again America's jaded tastes were too good to simply have
the UK version.....they had already heard "I'm The Urban
Spaceman", dear boy.... and so it was replaced with "Ready
Mades", ( Which our UK viewers were buying as a single ), on
the US album release.
BEATLES! : It was
during this time "Give Booze A Chance" cropped up on radio
broadcasts, ( A parody of John Lennon's "Give Peace A
Chance".), it was a segment of the song "Sofa Head" at
first. It's difficult to say who is John and who is
Yoko.....it sounds like Vivian is John, and Neil is Yoko.
Either way, it's Neil's first dabbling in Beatle parody.
EXCUSE US, MAY WE BORROW YOUR
The Bonzo's did
some extensive touring between 1968 and 1969.....including
two U.S. tours....so chaotic had the live sets gotten, that
"Legs" tended to roam around on stage, instead of staying
behind his drum kit, and the Bonzo's borrowed several
drummers to "fill in". ( Included among them: Jim Capaldi
and Aynsley Dunbar. )
CRACKS ARE SHOWING:
At one point, the rigors of touring were becoming so hectic,
that Vivian Stanshall was oft quoted as saying he felt at
this rate of physical exhaustion the Bonzo's would soon
WHAT'S IN A NAME?: Although I have never heard an
explanation for the title "Tadpoles", I believe one is
readily found: being that a tadpole is not a fully realized
frog, perhaps these are "tadpoles" because they were not
fully realized songs?