Anybody need a yuk or two?
The Bonzos, A.K.A. the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, were an oddball group of former art students who happened to be quite talented musicians, a comedy troupe of a sort who hung around with the Monty Python crew and participated with Python alumni in various side projects, including the proto-Python series Do Not Adjust Your Set. Formed initially by Vivian Stanshall, who played tuba (!) and Rodney Slater, the outfit came to include a whole host of multi-talented members, among them the great Neil Innes, who can be seen playing Sir Robin the Chicken Heart’s travelling minstrel in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (for which he wrote the immortal songs Robin the Brave and Knights of the Round Table), and was one of the members of Eric Idle’s satirical take on Beatlemania, The Rutles.
The Bonzos, steeped in the traditions of the English music hall, which they fused into a bizarre but effective combination of rock, jazz, and oom-pah music, put out a number of albums that enjoy cult status today, and gave us such charming, quirky numbers as Mr. Slater’s Parrot, My Brother Makes the Noises for the Talkies, Tubas in the Moonlight, and the hilarious The Intro and the Outro. Their truncated version of I Left My Heart in San Francisco belongs in the Smithsonian, or some sort of hall of fame. They weren’t huge, exactly, but they’ve always had a devoted following, and even had a top 5 hit in England with I’m the Urban Spaceman, a record produced by some guy named Paul McCartney.
Death Cab for Cutie, the title of which was pilfered for the name of late-nineties alt-rock band, is a not-so-gently mocking slice of faux Elvis, with the singer sneering and Southern-drawling his way through the tale of a shameless two-timing girl who steps out on her boyfriend, but winds up getting hers. You can practically see Stanshall’s hips wriggling as the teen tragedy à la Teen Angel, The Last Kiss and Tell Laura I Love Her plays out to its gruesome car crash conclusion. She’s such a hottie, you see, that the cab driver can’t take his eyes off her in the rearview mirror – and, well, baby don’t you know that curves can kill?