The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. That’s Spear on the left.
Most biographies of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band seem to champion the two most well-known alumni of this groundbreaking British ensemble (you can’t really call them a rock group) of the 1960s. Neil Innes went on to fame and fortune for his work with Monty Python and for his role in the Rutles mockumentary and records. Vivian Stanshall produced a few notable albums post-Bonzos, and since he was the lead vocalist and a prolific songwriter, he grabbed much of the spotlight when the band was in its heyday. The Bonzos appeared in the Beatles’ Yellow SubmarineMagical Mystery Tour film performing their song “Death Cab For Cutie,” which is where most people first heard of them.
Roger Ruskin Spear is all but forgotten, even by many of those who count themselves fans of the Bonzos, but he wrote and produced two notable solo albums and has been involved in countless musical projects up to the present day.
Spear is best known as a former member of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah band. He wrote some of their wittiest songs such as ‘Shirt’, ‘Tubas in the Moonlight’ and ‘Trouser Press’.He is also well known for his robot creations,that graced the stage with the Bonzos, creating much hilarity and havoc. He is also famed for his virtuosity on the theremin leg – in ‘Noises for the Leg’, amongst other tunes. Many of his songs have clothing/wardrobe related themes, such as ‘Trouser Freak’, ‘Trouble with my Trousers’ and ‘Waiting for the ‘Wardrobe’, as well as the aforementioned ‘Shirt’ and ‘Trouser Press’. It is not known why. Roger was once quoted as saying, “Trousers. Trousers. It’s such a stumbling word. In America they have pants and jeans, but in England we still have trousers”.
I have recently digitized my vinyl copy of Spear’s 1972 Electric Shocks album in its entirety. Here is a track called “Patrick Moore,” which seems fairly standard until near the end, when aliens make a sudden appearance, which makes me happy.
As if you couldn’t already tell, I was a big fan of the Dr. Demento (AKA Barry Hansen) show that was broadcast out of Los Angeles and syndicated elsewhere in the 1970s and ’80s.
One of the artists the good Doctor “discovered” (along with Weird Al obviously) was someone known only as “Damaskas” to his fans (real name Tim P. Ryan.)
In 1977, his song “Making Love In A Subaru” was apparently requested quite a lot, as I remember it well. It’s decently funny, and the heavy influence of Tom Lehrer is readily apparent.
The other side of the single features a collaboration with Barnes and Barnes (of “(Roly Poly) Fish Heads” fame) dueting on a sort of mash-up of the Beatles with the Green Acres theme song. Similar to the “Stairway to Gilligan’s Island” thing from Little Roger and the Goosebumps, which it predates by about a year. No trace of this single anywhere online (not an mp3 anyway) so here you go. The record was probably the only one released on Asinine Records.
James Archer (from his friend Ralph Carney) hipped me to this on Facebook. Don’t read the description until you watch the video! Elements of Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band here as well, although I’m sure these Czech guys never heard of them.
Jožin z bažin (originally 1978) is a song by Czech musician and comedian Ivan Mládek, and is one of his best known songs. He even called it the “National Anthem” of his Countryshows. In January 2008, the song became popular in Poland and Hungary, winning several radio hitlists. It is also popular in Austria and Russia, sporting a cult following in blogs and several versions of translations. The song is a surreal tale of a mysterious man-eating (especially those coming from Prague) monster (Jožin z bažin, Joe from the swamps) living in the swamps. He could be defeated only with the use of a cropduster. A Polish cabaret called Kabaret pod Wyrwigroszem (‘Cabaret under a torn out grosz’) created a parody of “Jožin z bažin,” entitled “Donald marzy” (‘Donald dreams’), about the Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk. The Ivan Mládek Banjo Band has created Polish version of “Jožin z bažin.”
My favorite comment from youtube: “When I was a kid I wondered what life was like on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Now I know.”
Still trying to figure out how to activate my FTP again to post more audio, but here is a link to a 1959 appearance by singer Linda Laurie on To Tell The Truth. Laurie recorded some very strange music, including my personal favorites “Ambrose Pt. 5” and “Jose, He Say,” both of which I own on vinyl 45s. Check out her scary “Ambrose” voice at 6:10! Kind of makes you wonder about “possessed” voices, doesn’t it?
Fun Fact: Laurie shared writing credit with amazing exotica composer/ bandleader JimmieHaskell for the theme song to Land of the Lost!