This British Pathe Newsreel from the 1960s is a delightful reminder why we should cherish The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.
The Bonzos (1962-1970) musical jesters of the swinging sixties, lasted as long as The Beatles, and were, in some areas as influential; for they were, in cultural terms, the evolutionary link between the Fab Four and ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’. Indeed the Bonzo’s Neil Innes would go on to write the songs for, and star as Ron Nasty in Eric Idle’s classic mockumentary The Rutles.
The Bonzos mixed jazz, comedy, Music Hall, and rock pastiche into aural delectations. Here they perform ‘Music for the Head Ballet’ and ‘Equestrian Statue’ (the latter inspired by Innes reading of Jean-Paul Sartre’s ‘Nausea‘), from their 1967 debut album ‘Gorilla‘, shown here together with two clips from ‘Do Not Adjust Your Set‘: ‘Love is a Cylindrical Piano’ (accompanied by Eric Idle) and ‘Metaphorically Speaking’.
‘Do Not Adjust Your Set’ was a children’s TV comedy series, which starred Eric idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, David Jason and Denise Coffey, and was a favourite of my childhood’s TV schedule (along with ‘Batman’ and ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.).
If there is any truth in St Francis Xavier‘s saying, ‘Give me the child for the first seven years of his life and I will make you the man’, I wonder what affect ‘Do Not Adjust Your Set‘ had on my adulthood? I loved the show with its mix of comedy sketches from Idle, Palin, Jones & co. and musical interludes from The Bonzos. As a 5-year-old, it was the funniest, most bizarre and dangerous TV show I had ever seen -and this less to do with the embryonic Pythons, more to do with the benign madness of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.
Under the guidance of Vivian Stanshall, the Bonzos (Neil Inness, Rodney Slater, Roger Ruskin Spear and ‘Legs’ Larry Smith) offered a moment of indulgent childish joy, where anything was possible – one week a dastardly rendition of ‘Sound of Music‘ the next a classic pop hit.
Whatever the effect on my adulthood, I know the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band made my childhood happier, funnier, and more exciting. ‘Nuff said?