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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bonzo Dog Band - Keynsham

Name: Bonzo Dog Band
Album: Keynsham
Year: 1969
Style: Theatrical Pop
Similar Bands: Kinks (concepts albums), 10cc, Monty Python, Rutles, Beatles, Bee Gees, Musical Soundtracks
"One-Word" Review: Jokey-nonsensical dry humored show tunes
Based Out Of: London, England
Label: Imperial Records, Liberty, United Artists
Keynsham - Cover & Back
Keynsham - Liner Notes & Lyrics
Keynsham - Record

Keynsham (1969)
  1. You Done My Brain In 1:40
  2. Keynsham 2:20
  3. Quiet Talks & Summer Walks 3:15
  4. Tent 3:20
  5. We Were Wrong 2:30
  6. Joke Shop Man 1:23
  7. The Bride Stripped Bare (By The Bachelors) 2:35
  8. Look At Me, I'm Wonderful 1:45
  9. What Do You Do? 3:15
  10. Mr. Slater's Parrot 2:18
  11. Sport 3:20
  12. I Want To Be With You 2:15
  13. Noises For the Leg 2:15
  14. Busted 5:40
Album Rating (1-10): 8.5

Members & Other Bands:
Vivian Stanshall - Cover Art, Producer, Story, Narration (Mike Oldfield, The Sean Head Showband, Bonzo Dog Freaks, BiG GrunT, Rawlinson End, Grimms, Rutles, Alberts, Temperance Seven)
Neil Innes - Producer (Rutles, Monty Python, The World, GRIMMS)
Barry Sheffield - Advise & Assistance, Engineer
Mrs. Slater - Hysterics
Fred Mundt - Aggro, Trucking & Handling
Chalky Chalkey - Aggro, Trucking & Handling
Dennis Cowan - Narration
Roger Ruskin Spear - Theremin Leg
"Legs" Larry Smith - Perfumed Parlour Snake
Maison Poov - Hairstyles
R Slater - Functions of the Body Arrangement
Gerry Salisbury - Jazz Cornets & Fish n' Chips

Unknown-ness: I had never heard of this band. But I found the record amongst a pretty good pile of records donated to the thrift store I work at. Not knowing them at all besides the wacky cartoons on the cover and the silly band name, I decided to give them a try. I was hoping for something wacky like Beefheart or Zappa, but since I had never heard of them, I did not know what to expect. The songs were fairly short in length, so I wondered what they were like. The interior gate fold described the whole album as a series of events, so I was into the concept album idea.

Album Review: As I've figured out from a bit of research, these guys worked with Eric Idle, and Paul McCartney and were even in the film for Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band briefly. So it should be no surprise to find that their music was good, if at all, a bit cartoony. I should like this!
“You Done My Brain In” starts with iron works, steel slamming. Then the funky groove begins with horns and a deep bass drum. An organ fills in the background. It sounds like it would fit onto the Beatles White Album.
“Keynsham” continues the funkyness with a soulful flute and repetitive rhythm guitar, which together sound very psychedelic. They lyrics are 60’s hippie nonsensical rhyming jabber and repeat twice before the song ends.
“Quiet Talks & Summer Walks” begins like it says quietly, like a breezy walk through the Bee Gee’s catalogue with a flute, strings and slow waves of piano. The horns begin to become more prominent as well as the rest of the instruments, and it morphs into a Belle & Sebastian song. But when it returns to lyrics, it goes back to the ballad format, and that is where it ends with the piano
“Tent” starts with what sounds like a dentist drill and a patient gargling in pain for 11 seconds. But the choppy music and vocals begin, sounding like Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa, but more melodic and theatrical. In the first instrumental section, the guitar plays at it’s own pace, off beat to the bass and drums. It reminds me of something that would come from Rocky Horror Picture Show. The horn begins again, introducing the instrumental section that ends the song, followed with the same drum/bass beat. Throughout the song, the horn is the most important part, really drawing out the musical hook, like a good bluesy pub song.
“We Were Wrong” begins like an oldies doo-wop song, this time reminding me of “Suddenly Seymour” from Little Shop Of Horrors. It has a slow bass and organ heavy pace with deep vocals, and the chorus changes up slightly each utterance, but it happens enough to sound repetitive. Just as the song seems to end, the bass and drums pick up the doo-wop melody and it continues for an extra 30 seconds.
“Joke Shop Man” is a short song where the dual vocals of high nasally and deep bass sing over each other with the same lyrics basically acapella, accompanied slightly by a piano. After the vocals are done, odd “joke shop” squeak and twirl sound effects are composed together to continue the tribal drum rhythm for another minute with a fade out.
“The Bride Stripped Bare (By The Bachelors)” is introduced with some comedic dialogue. Then the guitar begins and the song sounds just like They Might Be Giants song “Wicked Little Critta,” but only in the chorus. It is theatrical with odd sounds and tempo changes everywhere and different vocals spoken and sung, perhaps fitting better into the musical Tommy. The song is pushed along with the organ and bass guiding it with the most changes and the tempo relies on them the most. The song finishes up with spoken vocals over top of the music, and a fade out.
“Look At Me, I'm Wonderful” is a with crooning deep vocals singing without music accompaniment. The singing ends, and the dialogue begins to buy the record, and a knock at the door saying to open up. After a fair bit of silence, jazzy vaudeville music brings the vocals back on for a brief fade in and fade out, and the record finishes side A.

“What Do You Do?” begins side B with rhythm guitars continuous drums and horns. The song feels like it will be one dimensional with no changes for the first minute until it reveals the chorus, which is a catchy little segment that builds up but returns to the plain hypnotic verse again. The song ends with guitar meandering, feeling senseless and drawn out.
“Mr. Slater's Parrot” is a goofy song that begins with an alarm clock going off. It possesses a jolly, purely British, gay rag time tempo, with the “parrot” squawking “hello” and other noises all over the place. This does go on for a while.
“Sport” starts with a psychedelic spoken instruction to go back to childhood. A Victorian harpsichord fades up, which is transposed with a medieval merriment of a jester’s tune. The chorus of vocals swaying and beer drinkingly declare “sport!” And a “father’ reads aloud a note that his child should not partake in physical education for doctor’s reasons. The song tempo changes like the Conchords spoof on David Bowie, and finishes out with a catchy guitar hook and a chorus of bells.
“I Want To Be With You” brings the majestic flute back to a Bee Gees folk song tempo.
“Noises For the Leg” is an instrumental that begins with shouting and wolf howls. Then more medieval music in the form of woodwinds come on, as well does a Theremin. The music kind of takes a turn toward sea shanty before it goes back to the medieval + Theremin concoction.
“Busted” begins with a quiet hum, and vocals come on with a children’s play yard sing-song melody. The chorus is a very theatrical and catchy bit saying how the singer got busted. Then a deep bass voice adds “by the law.” After a bit of music, a deep judgely voice sings another verse up to a revisit of the catchy chorus. The album ends with a see-saw two note bass line, a train passing a station is added, then the bass decides to become groovy and it interacts with a trumpet playing familiar samples and the guitar. But it is the trumpet that finishes out the album and fades out as it ends.

Stand Out Track: Tent


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