Bonzo Dog Band

Band members                          Related acts

  line up 1 (1962-63)

- Trevor Brown -- banjo

- Tom Hedges -- drums

- Neil Innes -- vocals, guitar, keyboards

- Chris Jenning -- trombone

- Vernon Dudley Bohay-Nowell -- bass, banjo, sax

- Tom Parkinson -- sousaphone

- John Parry -- trombone

- Rodney Slater -- sax, clarinet, trombone

- Vivian Stanshall (RIP 1995) -- vocals, ukulele, sax, tuba,  trumpet

- Roger Wilkes -- trumpet


  line up 2 (1963-67)

- Trevor Brown -- banjo

- Neil Innes -- vocals, guitar, keyboards

- Chris Jenning -- trombone

- Big Side Nichol -- trombone (replaced John Parry)

- Venon Dudley Bohay-Nowell -- bass, banjo, sax

- Tom Parkinson -- sousaphone

- Rodney Slater -- sax, clarinet, trombone

- Sam Spoons (aka Martin Ash) -- percussion (replaced Tom Hedges)

NEW - Larry Smith -- drums, dancing

NEW - Roger Ruskin Spear -- sax, objects, robotics

- Vivian Stanshall (RIP 1995) -- vocals, ukulele, sax, tuba


  line up 3 (1967-70)

- Dave Clague -- bass

NEW - Dennis Cowan (RIP) -- bass, slide guitar (replaced

  Venon Dudley Bohay-Nowell)

-- Neil Innes -- vocals, guitar, keyboards

NEW - Bob Kerr -- trumpet, sax (replaced Roger Wilkes)

- Rodney Slater -- sax, clarinet, trombone

- Roger Ruskin Spear -- sax, objects, robotics

- Vivian Stanshall (RIP 1995) -- vocals, ukulele, sax


  line up 4 (1972)

- Dennis Cowan (RIP) -- bass, slide guitar

- Hughie Flint -- drums, percussion

- Neil Innes - vocals, guitar, keyboards

- Dick Parry -- sax, flute

- Dave Richards -- bass

- Andy Roberts -- guitar, mandolin, fiddle

- Vivian Stanshall (RIP 1995) -- vocals, ukulele, sax

- Bubs White -- guitar




- Grimms (Neil Innes)

- Neil Innes (solo efforts)

- Bob Kerr's Whoopee Band (Bob Kerr, Vernon Dudley

  Bohay-Nowell, Larry Smith, and Sam Spoons)

- The New Vaudeville Band  (Bob Kerr)

- The Rutles (Neil Innes)

- Legs Larry Smith (solo efforts)

- Roger Ruskin Spear (solo efforts)

- Vivian Stanshall (solo efforts)

- Topo D Bill





Genre: comedy

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  Keynsham

Company: Sunset

Catalog: SLS 50375

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: 1975 reissue

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5917

Price: $10.00



Produced by Neil Innes and Vivian Stanshall, 1969's "Keynsham" was the second studio set the group had released in four months.  It also served to underscore the fact they were beginning to fragment as a performing unit.  Understandable given the recording and touring schedules they'd been dealing with over the last couple of years.   Once again Innes and Stanshall were responsible for the bulk of the material, but unlike earlier efforts where they frequently collaborated bringing out the best in each, this time around it sounded like the two were going in different creative and personal directions. Only 'The Bride Stripped Bare By  Bachelors' and 'Busted' were shown as Innes-Stanshall collaborations.  Exemplified by tracks like 'You Done My Brain In' and 'Quiet Talks and Summer Walks', Innes came off the better of the two.  Stanshall had a couple of nice moments ('We Were Wrong' and the goofy 'Busted'), but his material seemed less consistent and far darker.  His personal demons would erupt during the band's second tour of the States   Yeah, it was kind of like The Bonzo's version of the Beatles' "White Album" with each member given shots at the spotlight with the rest of the band providing support.


- True, The Bonzos were a comedy act, but people tend to forget that Innes and Stanshall were also gifted pop writers and every member of the group (including Sprear) were accomplished musicians.  The Bonzos were more than capable of writing a killer pop song and kicked along by a jaunty pop melody and some funky saxes, 'You Done My Brain In' was a great example of those talents.  Easy to see why this one was tapped as a single.   rating: **** stars   

- The title track (apparently inspired by a Radio Luxemburg commercial peddling a program that would allow the purchaser to pick winners in professional soccer games), started out as one of Innes' most engaging melodies, before morphing into a strange blues segment that actually mentioned the word 'Keynsham'.   rating: **** stars        

- Described in the liner notes as 'All the romance of the novel', that was in fact a pretty good take on 'Quiet Talks and Summer Walks'.  Propelled by a pretty flute solo, it was one of Innes' prettiest ballads and if you didn't know it was a send-up, you could have easily mistaken it for a real heart-tugger.   rating: **** stars  

- I remember hearing 'Tent' the day after I had a crown put on a tooth (broke the tooth eating a Lays potato chip).  The opening sound of a dental drill was excruciating to me.  Luckily the rest of the song was a bit better, showcasing Stanshall's affection for '50s-styled rock.  Don't ask me what it was about as I don't have a clue and the liner notes were of little help - 'A penetrating inquiry and some recreation'.   rating: ** stars    

- Played fairly straight, 'We Were Wrong' was a breezy pop song that served as an affectionate nod to American '50s pop songs.  Loved Innes' organ solo ....   rating: ** stars    

- With a very English lyric and feel, 'Joke Shop Man' didn't make much of an impression on my American ears.  That's not to say it wasn't good, rather I just didn't get it.  Of course, the song took a very strange turn into jungle percussion and sound effects.  rating: ** stars    

- 'The Bride Stripped Bare By ' Bachelors' started out sounding like a Monty Python sketch and then turned into a pop song with another set of indecipherable English lyrics.  I've listened to it dozens of times and still don't have a clue.  'Bout the only thing I can make out is they refer to each member during the song.  The brief fuzz guitar solo was nice.   rating: ** stars  

- The hyper lounge act 'Look At Me, I'm Wonderful' served as Larry Smith's moment in the spotlight.  A brief, but forgettable snippet to end side one.   rating: * star

- Innes' standout contribution and my favorite performance on the LP, 'What Do You Do?' was a killer slice of psych-influenced pop.  Great melody with some fantastic mid-Eastern flavored horns in the background.   rating: ***** stars  

- I just don't get it when it comes to British Vaudevillian numbers, so 'Mr. Slater's Parrot' is wasted on me and the start and stop structure just irritated me.  Sounded like another bad Monty Python sketch ...  rating: ** stars  

- With an English folk feel, 'Sport' was modestly funny - especially the 'give him a nice cold shower' blurb.  The second half of the song featured a killer Dennis Cowan bass line and the hand bells were also cool.  rating: ** stars  

- Another glistening Innes-penned pop melody, 'I Want To Be with You' had plenty of commercial top-40 appeal and may have been one of the few tracks that wasn't tongue-in-cheek, rather seemed to have been inspired by the band's hectic recording and touring schedule.  rating: ***** stars    

- The instrumental 'Noises for the Leg' was mainly notable for listening to Roger Ruskin Spear trying to play a Theramin (not very successfully judging by the results).  The title was derived from the fact that during concert performances the Theramin was stored in a fake leg.  Guess you had to be there.   rating: ** stars

- 'Busted' took awhile to grow on me, but it was a nice summary of the whole Bonzo phenomenon.   rating: ** stars


A pair of UK singles were pulled from the LP:


- 1969's 'I Want To Be with You' b/w 'We Were Wrong' (Liberty catalog number LBF 15273)

- 1970's 'You Done My Brain In' b/w 'Mr. Slater's Parrot' (Liberty catalog number LBF 15314)


Summary - underrated by critics and fans alike and worth picking up.


"Let's Make Up and Be Friendly" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) You Done My Brain In   (Neil Innes) - 1:40

2.) Keynsham   (Neil Innes) - 2:20

3.) Quiet Talks and Summer Walks   (Neil Innes) - 3:15

4.) Tent   (Vivian Stanshall) - 3:20

5.) We Were Wrong   (Vivian Stanshall) - 2:30

6.) Joke Shop Man   (Neil Innes) - 1:23

7.) The Bride Stripped Bare By ' Bachelors"    (Neil Innes - Vivian Stanshall) - 2:35

7.) Look At Me, I'm Wonderful   (Vivian Stanshall)


(side 2)
1.) What Do You Do?   (Neil Innes) - 3:15

2.) Mr. Slater's Parrot   (Vivian Stanshall) - 2:18

3.) Sport   (Vivian Stanshall) - 3:20

4.) I Want To Be with You   (Neil Innes) - 2:15

5.) Noises for the Leg (instrumental)   (Vivian Stanshall) - 2:15

6.) "Busted"    (Neil Innes - Vivian Stanshall) - 5:40


The band undertook their second US tour, but things didn't go as well this time around, in large part due to the fact Stanshall had begun to suffer from severe stage fright. To combat it he began to drink increasing amounts of alcohol.   They made it back to the UK and after a final March 1970 performance at Loughborough University, called it quits.


For anyone interested the official Bonzo Dog Band is found at:




Genre: comedy

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Beast of the Bonzos

Company: United Artists

Catalog: UAS 5517

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve; minor ring wear; top seam split and tape repaired

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 5918

Price: $9.00


With the group having previously announcing they were calling it quits, parent label United Artists didn't waste a great deal of time pulling together a Bonzo Dog Band retrospective.  A 15 track compilation that emphasized the first two studio sets, 1971's "Beast of the Bonzos" covered most of the band's highlights including their isolated brushes with American success ('I'm the Urban Spaceman' and 'Mr. Apollo').  You could certainly argue with the track listing, but the set served a purpose and was the best retrospective until United got around to releasing 1974's two record set "The History of the Bonzos".  Given United Artists had never bothered to promote the original studio albums it was also somewhat ironic they bothered with this posthumous release; not that they spent much effort promoting it either.  Anyhow, for a casual fan, or anyone curious to hear what all the excitement was about, this was a good place to start.


"Beast of the Bonzos" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) The Intro and the Outro - 3:06

2.) We Are Normal - 4:50

3.) I Left My Heart In San Francisco - 1:02

4.) Tubas In the Moonlight - 2:20

5.) Rockalister Baby - 3:27

6.) Piggy Bank Love - 2:58

7.) Hello Mabel - 2:48

8.) I'm the Urban Spaceman - 2:23


(side 2)
1.) Mr. Apollo - 4:18

2.) Sport, The Odd Boy - 3:32

3.) Trouser Press - 2:17

4.) Rhinocraftic Oaths - 3:23

5.) Look At Me, I'm Wonderful - 1:50

6.) Quiet Talk and Simmer Walks  (Neil Innes) - 3:32

7.) Canyons of Your Mind - 3:01



Genre: comedy

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  Let's Make Up and Be Friendly

Company: United Artists

Catalog: UAS 5584
Year: 1972

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: original cover

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5915

Price: $20.00


In the interests of truth-in-advertising, 1972's ironically titled "Let's Make Up and Be Friendly" was a contractual obligation album.  The group had actually called it quits in 1969 at the end of their second US tour and only reluctantly agreed to a 'reunion' in the face of threatened legal action by United Artists.  To be honest, it really wasn't a group effort, rather was more accurately described as a housekeeping collaboration between Neil Innes and Vivian Stanshall.  For anyone keeping score Roger Ruskin Spear contributed one track 'Waiting for the Wardrobe' while Larry Smith appeared on two songs.  Given the ugly circumstances surrounding the set, the fact anything here was worth hearing was in itself a minor miracle.


- I have to admit that 'The Strain' was actually kind of funny, if only in a smutty, sophomoric fashion.  Yeah, Stanshall's heavy accent was probably challenge for some folks, but it didn't take a PHD to figure out the I'm-constipated plotline.    rating: *** stars

- Penned by Innes, 'Turkeys' was an atonal slice of hard jazz.  Not particularly melodic, memorable, or funny for that matter.  Who knew what it meant, but the liner notes described this one as 'Music to cross London Bridge by.  In documentaries: they disappear down their own Oxford circus."   rating: * star

- Set to a bubblegum pop melody with Innes trying to get through the track employing an uncomfortable falsetto (he sounded like his balls were caught in an oven) 'King of Scruf' had a pretty dumb lyric - basically life's tough with dandruff .  And the liner notes described the track as:  "My scalp is squamous and ... I sport a beard to hide my spots, I s'pose.  Although, sometimes when the sounds grab me: I jump right up & ... Pose & mime before a glass gold-edged & flecked with age,  But for these trifling imperfections ... hey ... I look ... pretty good.  Uh huh ..."    rating: ** stars

- Musically 'Waiting for the Wardrobe' was a nice rocker with some tasty lead guitar, but it sounded like it was being sung by a cranky parrot repeating the title track over and over and over.   rating: ** stars

- Ah 'Straight from my Heart' found the Bonzos deciding to go country-meets-an-English-soccer club ...  The song was a rather conventional country number with a vocal that sounded like Johnny Cash gagging on sandpiper.  The highlights came in the form of the soccer club chorus ...  yeah you probably had to hear this one.   rating: *** stars

- I guess 'Rusty (Champion Trust)' was too English for me to get it ...  about the only thing I could get out of it is that it had something to do with a gay relationship.  The first couple of minutes of the song were nothing more than a sound collage with conversation snippets.  The plotline didn't get much clearer when the track actually morphed into a Larry Smith spoken work romp.  The liner notes described it as "Two chaps of like persuasion, outlawed by society, in my pompous swelling opinion carry out their clandestine correspondence, in public before an audience of dissenting adults.  I Don't care what they do as long as they don't frighten the horses.  True romance.  A weepie."   rating: * star

- To my uninitiated ears ''Rawlinson End' sounded like England's dullest soap opera.  Clocking in at over nine minutes, it seemed even longer than that.   rating: ** stars

- Penned by Innes and Stanshall, at least on the surface 'Don't Get Me Wrong' was the most mainstream effort on the album.  The track actually sounded like a Beatles effort with John Lennon and David Bowie sharing the lead vocals. Great wah wah guitar from Bubs White.  Totally winning effort.   rating: **** stars

- With a distinctive  '60s pop feel, 'Fresh Wound' was almost as attracting.  Had you heard this one on top-40 radio, you probably never would have figured out it was intended as a spoof.  Another album highlight.   rating: **** stars

- Hum, judging by 'Bad Blood' Stanshall's career didn't hold much promise in the country arena.  rating: ** stars  

- The instrumental 'Slush' ended the album on a bizarre and ominous note.  The track sounded like something written for a film clip, but the laughing tape loop was jarring and kind of frightening.   rating: ** stars  


United actually tapped the album for an instantly obscure single:


- 1972's 'King of Scruf'  b/w 'Slush' (United Artists catalog number 50943)


Far from the best effort, but not nearly as bad as the critics would have you believe.  Peaking at # 199 the album also provided the band with their first US charting release, 


"Let's Make Up and Be Friendly" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) The Strain   (Viv Stanshall) - 3:15

2.) Turkeys   (Neil Innes) - 2:10

3.) King of Scruff   (Neil Innes) - 4:40

4.) Waiting for the Wardrobe   (Roger Spear) - 3:10

5.) Straight from My Heart   (Viv Stanshall - Neil Innes) - 3:00

6.) Rusty (Champion Trust)   (Smith - Kaye) - 7:50


(side 2)
1.) Rawlinson End   (Viv Stanshall - Neil Innes) - 9:31

2.) Don't Get Me Wrong   (Viv Stanshall - Neil Innes) - 4:51

3.) Fresh Wound   (Neil Innes) - 4:25

4.) Bad Blood   (Viv Stanshall) - 5:10

5.) Slush (instrumental) - 2:20


 through the motions" could have been coined specifically for this album