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Bonzo Dog (Doo Dah) Band: Talking Pictures Redux

PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2013 12:00 am
by Garrett Gilchrist
It's often said that the rock stars of the 1960s and 70s (like The Beatles) really wanted to be comedians, and the comedians (like Monty Python) wanted to be rock stars. That is to say, the Beatles envied the Pythons, and vice versa.

The Bonzo Dog (Doo Dah) Band worked with both groups in the 60s, and were both comedians and rock stars, in their way. And that's most enviable of all.

The Bonzos' particular brand of hilarity still holds up today. There's nothing quite like it, and there's not an album of theirs that I dislike.

Some weirdo conspiracy theorist seems to have uploaded my Bonzo Dog Band Talking Pictures compilation here:

You may have seen them performing Death Cab For Cutie in a strip club at the end of the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour, or performing every week on the pre-Monty Python series Do Not Adjust Your Set. You might know Neil Innes from the Monty Python films (Brave Sir Robin, or How Sweet to Be An Idiot). You might know him from The Rutles, for which he effectively wrote two albums worth of new Beatles songs. Or from Eric Idle's Rutland Weekend Television. Or from his own series, the quite wonderful Innes Book of Records.

During the 1960s, there was a nostalgic trend to recall the hedonism of the roaring 1920s. Even the Beatles got in on the trend with songs like "Honey Pie" and "Your Mother Should Know." Bands like the Temperance Seven and Bob Kerr's Whoopee Band - and, yes, the Bonzos - happily played old 20s-style jazz, having discovered that it made great music for drunken audiences in pubs.

The Bonzos were largely art students, wanting to create something surreal, inspired by "Dada" and other unusual trends in modern art. There were many of them onstage in the early days, and rarely all playing the right notes on the right instruments at the right time. It was organized chaos, played for laughs.

They would go to thrift shops and pick out any old 78 records with silly titles, and then perform those very silly songs themselves.

But there were at least two legitimate musical geniuses in the group.

Vivian Stanshall could be one of the great poets of the 20th century, in retrospect. He made a dynamic frontman for the band, spewing out all sorts of beautiful lyrical nonsense, in either the delicate tones of an English gentleman, the bellow of an animal or a showbiz voice vaguely impersonating Elvis. In his later years, struggling with an addiction to tranquilizers, alcohol and other issues, he continued to put out eccentric, often hauntingly emotional and confessional material. Much of his later work was unreleased, or barely released, and is difficult to find. When you find it, it puts a shiver down your spine.

Neil Innes was more of a traditional musician. More and more, he wanted to create real, serious music, although often with an edge of silliness and nostalgia to it. During his distinguished solo career, he wrote hundreds of terrific songs, and clearly ranks among the most talented songwriters of his day.

He also showed a real gift for pastiche, often writing songs "in the style of" a particular performer for comedic effect, which sound just like the actual artist wrote them. "Godfrey Daniel" takes on Elton John, while "Concrete Jungle Boy" mimics The Who and Tommy. This came in handy on Eric Idle's followup to Monty Python's Flying Circus, Rutland Weekend Television, where Neil performed semi-comedic songs every week.

Neil worshipped The Beatles, and became a Beatle himself for Eric Idle's 1978 film The Rutles: All You Need is Cash, with a band featuring John Halsey, Rikki Fataar (of The Beach Boys), and Ollie Halsall (Patto). Neil's Rutle songs perfectly capture the Beatles sound, as if they were outtakes from the Beatles albums. Listening to the first Rutles album is like getting a concentrated dose of Beatlemania, as it takes us across the Fab Four's entire career.

In his 1979-1981 TV series The Innes Book of Records, Neil performed songs onscreen in a style reminiscent, perhaps, of the art films of the 1960s. The songs are either silly or serious, and often old-fashioned. There's a sense of history and nostalgia about the series, looking back to the past with a beautifully understated melancholy. It's not MTV, and it's not Top of the Pops. It's art, in a classically English way, with a bit of a Monty Python edge.

Like Michael Palin, Neil Innes has a reputation for being a "nice guy," and humble about his career and his talents. He continues to perform today.

We also can't forget about Roger Ruskin-Spear (and his Electric Wardrobe of robots and gadgetry), "Legs" Larry Smith, and Rodney Slater, among others.

In 1998 or so, Bonnie Rose and Laurie Weiland started a website dedicated to Neil Innes, and I helped a little. That website became Neil Innes' official website for about a decade, and we all became quite friendly with the man, seeing him play whenever he was in town.

I began to collect video from Neil Innes' career, most of which is rare and has never been issues on video in any format. I also collected material dedicated to Vivian Stanshall and the Bonzo Dog (Doo Dah) Band, which was often even rarer. Over time I built a large archive of video. The Bonzo Dog material proved most problematic, though. Video performances suffered from quality issues, and obscure, short appearances by bandmembers were spread across a hundred different VHS tapes and DVDs.

I felt that a real, comprehensive collection of Bonzo Dog Band performances on video would be an amazing thing to watch- taking all those obscure scraps of video and editing it into something watchable. In particular I took inspiration from the band's now-mostly-lost appearance on Colour Me Pop. That is one of my "holy grail" pieces of video, as the band took over the show for a full half-hour at the height of their career. Only Canyons of Your Mind and Urban Spaceman still exist today, along with a very bad copy of Mr. Apollo. All three are classic clips.

The band had a strong visual element to what they did. They always had unusual stage props, costumes and jokes. Bandmembers were always doing something unusual and funny and interesting. Actually getting to see them onscreen makes a great difference.

In 2005 or 6, I edited together The Bonzo Dog Band: Talking Pictures. This was originally one disc of material, which I later expanded to two discs, the second disc being largely dedicated to Vivian Stanshall, including a lot of rare clips shot before his death, and songs that are rarely heard.

I spent a lot of time editing together new music videos, essentially using every scrap of footage I had in some way, creating a surprisingly effective presentation out of bits and pieces.

A few years later I released a sort of third disc including a high-quality DVD of their live performance at Jazz Bilzen, their short film "Adventures of Son of Exploding Sausage," including a reedit by myself, and other material.

Re: Bonzo Dog (Doo Dah) Band: Talking Pictures Redux

PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2013 12:00 am
by Garrett Gilchrist
And now, I'm revisiting the project. Over the years, new footage has turned up, here and there. The band's performances on Beat Club have all been officially released on DVD. Several previously unseen performances have appeared on Youtube, and material we had before has turned up in better quality, often full DVD quality. Magical Mystery Tour is out on Blu-Ray, and includes a partial clip of the band performing "Urban Spaceman" (produced by Paul McCartney) on Colour Me Pop, as well as outtake footage from the film.

Also, with today's technology I can do a better job of restoring the footage than I did back then.

One thing that's been a little heartbreaking for me is that I can't find all the sources I used in 2005 anymore. They were often VHS tapes, which I recorded directly, and all these years later it seems no one else had a copy of some of this stuff. In particular, a black-and-white alternate copy of "Mr. Apollo" seems to have gone missing entirely. That would come in very handy in restoring the notoriously poor quality clip. That clip alone could take a month to restore if I did it properly. I won't, but I'll certainly spend real time on it. Tests have already been done.

When I created the original Bonzo Dog Band: Talking Pictures, I created it as NTSC (American standard) even though the Bonzos are, of course, British, and should really be running in PAL. It happened that a lot of my "best" material was on poor quality NTSC VHS tapes, and it was much easier to convert everything else to NTSC than to try to somehow convert the NTSC material back to PAL. It's so much easier to add frames rather than remove them! And 25fps PAL can also be run at 24fps for NTSC use.

That's not happening this time. It's all going to be PAL, much of it in glorious quality. But that requires a lot of work, that I don't personally know how to do.

You may know Christoph Nass (Emulgator) from his work filtering the video sources for The Thief and the Cobbler project. He did amazing work making the sources look good, and getting them ready to be edited into the film for the Recobbled Cut Mark 4. He was able to deal with unusual interlacing/pulldown patterns and generally poor quality footage and make it all look cleaner and be the right size.

I asked him to help me out with cleaning up my Bonzo Dog (Doo Dah) Band footage. In particular, we're dealing with a lot of footage which is supposed to be PAL, the British video standard, running at 25 frames per second, or sometimes 50 fields per second. A lot of this footage has instead been converted to the American NTSC video standard, running at about 60 fields per second. It's tricky work removing the extra fields and getting the footage to play as PAL again, as well as cleaning up the video quality in general, since some of the material is poor quality VHS.

Emulgator works in AviSynth through VirtualDub, which are Windows programs. I am running Macintosh OSX, so sadly this sort of work is not an option for me (although VirtualDub actually works via Wine). It's also fiddly, script-based work and I'm hugely grateful for anything he does.

Today he turned in a whole bunch of completed clips.

Nine existing episodes from the first series of Do Not Adjust Your Set were released on DVD in August 2005. The sole surviving episode from series 2 and the Christmas special Do Not Adjust Your Stocking were not included.

The DVD was only released in NTSC format, although the quality is otherwise good. It's taken from film prints of what was originally 50i PAL video. The film is intended to run as 25p PAL video.

The DVD runs as 60i NTSC video.

Or, at least, it did until now. Christoph has done the cleanup work, and these performances are now running as clean 25p PAL, without interlacing. He also cleaned up several advertisements from poor-quality VHS, including one by Tony White for Richard Williams Studio and The Guardian. Some noise/grain reduction and resizing has also occurred.

x264 V10 Bonzos 5 - Monster Mash + The Sound of Music + Out In India RePAL.mkv (339.9 MB)!RBVACYyC!AXrbpQ3T8 ... uPGwUy43B8

x264 V10 Bonzos 3 - Cylindrical Piano + Highschool Hermit.mkv (257.3 MB)!QUk3ASLL!VJsfkj04U ... 1T08EKx0QQ

Bonzos DeathCab+Statue RePAL.mkv (401.3 MB)!IUtUnKCK!JXk_q3_XJ ... OjwIauhRMA

x264 V10 Bonzos 4 - Mabel RePAL.mkv (130.6 MB)!sQEl1DRK!KrxM0jw78 ... d_8-5p69OY

x264 V10 Bonzos 6 - Tubas in the Moonlight + Lookout there's a Monster coming RePAL.mkv (255.9 MB)!kR9hSZ4Q!Sw53Bn67B ... LpvNzsTaXc

Here's a bonus track of Eric Idle singing "Captain Fantastic."

Bonzos1-CaptainFantasticRePALB.mkv (140.5 MB)!ZItxgbrJ!FOB5onuKW ... 52oiPYMFv8

Here's a clip I just found a copy of - Max Headroom introduces an old promotional film for "Urban Spaceman." The last shot is missing but quality is good.

Bonzos Spaceman Headroom.VOB (330.4 MB)!4EdWRbyD!KwUsIzyDf ... BHAHo8K164

Quality is not so good on these two performances. Yeah. Here's the sort of uncleaned-up footage we're dealing with .... at times ....

bonzos apollo better rip.mpeg (125.5 MB)!9IMk2SxQ!TkJHWDVBm ... BZR7y4ss-Q

bonzos cadbury zelda.mpeg (118.6 MB)!RZtE3azS!EpTZPSmAG ... PagRrWtyF4

Re: Bonzo Dog (Doo Dah) Band: Talking Pictures Redux

PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2013 2:12 am
by Garrett Gilchrist
Here's a few clips in quite glorious quality.

Bonzos Canyons CMP So6.vob (94.6 MB)!sdcmiCKB!CVZ4lHat4 ... WvXzHWUfMg

Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band - Equestrian Statue Little Sir Echo-December 30, 1967.mpg (204.1 MB)!NA9ngLRB!GLsQR0gC0 ... 8fGL8Kiux8

Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band - I'm the Urban Spaceman-Dec 31, 1968.mpg (88.7 MB)!QZkHBRwI!Zr3o7Dp6f ... vUVJ-cOHb8

Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band - Canyons Of Your Mind-February 22, 1969.mpg (131.1 MB)!RV9wyAgb!eiK2vXpuQ ... dEAMEsq3eE

Bonzo Pathe Rushes2.vob (134.6 MB)!xY8xgL4S!IkYEWEEcf ... I9ZNS631SU

Here's Vivian Stanshall's "Crank," a rather amazing little playlet about his largely-unhappy childhood, as repeated after his death as "Diamond Geezer."

crank.mpeg (736.4 MB)!0FVVEY7I!IWO4dA9ZQ ... YDaVfneoTU

And here are some more random clips for fans of the band.

Adverts and Playing the Leg.mpeg (94.5 MB)!cY1HCBbI!YnWWcluc9 ... QmaqUpK3dY

ruddles.vob (43.5 MB)!BFNG3RAb!Y1bgOWWQI ... eTKvSDBAaI
(Lots of video errors in this one, but I also have a clean, if smaller, AVI of this.)

Bonzos-Christmas.mpeg (233.2 MB)!pdlGRCya!MdvmGzpGB ... yYoJ1J1Jlk

CadburyParrot.mpeg (20.1 MB)!INl01CgL!AT8_d254c ... 5tqTnx1YJw

DNAYS Zelda clip.vob (15.1 MB)!BJUBVTYT!Y2HIbzvda ... cvrwHeddAo

Neil Innes Buzzcocks.mpeg (10.0 MB)!IRt2VIiI!cJzVy3_s6 ... 6tKO4DDtlE

Neil Innes Cheese & Onions.mpeg (55.3 MB)!McMAjISD!LVwwEy4PX ... 03kBFrOWLU

Neil Innes ShangriLa 2.mpeg (195.0 MB)!YdF0GKbT!Etn0lAPvA ... 1A5odhm-9c

NeilQualityStreet.mpeg (21.9 MB)!oIdhlaBK!DUdvvy5Dv ... vkGHSzWIh0

Full shows:

Do not adjust your set.avi (348.2 MB)!dMlGjKKT!b7g71XloX ... ZTqggOIrLU

Do not adjust your stocking.avi (272.2 MB)!MBcQCCoR!X_Ds_idmm ... DMyr9fd02E

Marty Amok (1970).avi (439.0 MB)!URUVBJZY!alJaJTJg4 ... D8_DQCgyHk

And here's other stuff we're still working on converting.

Bonzos-EquestrianEchoPsych.vob (122.4 MB)!lFEhQBLT!NKS1ehGR8 ... 0TyEe4MQxQ (953.0 MB)!tdkBACIT!Tp8KD1ejr ... ouEcYra2A8

VTS_04_1.VOB (901.4 MB)!BJsgiIKS!caMpECqWt ... qTx_V_xKRQ (37.1 MB)!FJ8FjChJ!YxP6PFJRn ... 7tOWymiO3k (377.3 MB)!UAF0XT6A!FajiThrKJ ... xzBvq4_Yz4 (5.1 MB)!VMl1jAzY!QWcaH1QU- ... q4FMYnH6kU (17.9 MB)!YcMG0JIZ!J7nnsCN9u ... kj7yqOJU6E

EndofShowEchoWide.mpeg (242.8 MB)!lMN0iLTT!W_qcp2guX ... KCHYE3GqPY

QuietTalks-EastofMoon.mpeg (146.0 MB)!9VUF1LgZ!Yv2fhBpo9 ... QU72Ra98eg

Bonzos Monster Etc.vob (304.4 MB)!JR1VgaQD!aWJk3DIgC ... PkdLKAmoUE

Bonzos tubas lookout.vob (257.9 MB)!MIVj1Spa!PbXNv0fbO ... hR1TySvT64

bonzos2 statue.vob (101.3 MB)!gEdAiSjB!C1NfTmPJj ... 5TW7dziNyM

Re: Bonzo Dog (Doo Dah) Band: Talking Pictures Redux

PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2013 10:13 am
by Oliver Judd
Ahhhh! So much amazing stuff - as soon as my computer bucks its ideas up I'll get downloading. Best of luck with the new project.

Re: Bonzo Dog (Doo Dah) Band: Talking Pictures Redux

PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2013 3:54 pm
by Garrett Gilchrist
"I’ve got at least 20 songs that no one’s ever heard before, so they might come out in the meantime. You know a lot of people think I’ve died. [Laughter] I probably have!" ... eil-innes/

And more stuff, with Neil Innes: (219.2 MB)!sElFGBxQ!G4WmNCT6V ... T_bQmxER8M (604.7 MB)!Qdcx2IiI!EQnevlA0j ... -FfYLY06Yk (240.9 MB)!5MEXBQya!LsCfGlxoj ... kQhkJuHM1E

Re: Bonzo Dog (Doo Dah) Band: Talking Pictures Redux

PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2013 5:16 am
by Garrett Gilchrist

Re: Bonzo Dog (Doo Dah) Band: Talking Pictures Redux

PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2013 6:35 pm
by Garrett Gilchrist
Christoph Nass has now restored Tubas in the Moonlight, Look Out There's a Monster Coming, and Captain Fantastic.

I've added the links above, but here they are again:

x264 V10 Bonzos 6 - Tubas in the Moonlight + Lookout there's a Monster coming RePAL.mkv (255.9 MB)!kR9hSZ4Q!Sw53Bn67B ... LpvNzsTaXc

Bonzos1-CaptainFantasticRePALB.mkv (140.5 MB)!ZItxgbrJ!FOB5onuKW ... 52oiPYMFv8

Re: Bonzo Dog (Doo Dah) Band: Talking Pictures Redux

PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 5:55 am
by Garrett Gilchrist
There's about six minutes of footage of the Bonzos performing Blue Suede Shoes and other material which we don't have, which was very briefly excerpted (without sound) in the Canyons of His Mind documentary - shot from a distance. They didn't use sound so I'm assuming the footage isn't great.

Bonzo Dog Band Blue Suede Shoes 1968-03-14 1:05 5:54
Bonzo Dog Band Canyons On Your Mind 1968-03-14 1:47 5:54
Bonzo Dog Band Cool Brittania 1968-03-14 :30 5:54
Bonzo Dog Band Swanee 1968-03-14 1:19 5:54
Bonzo Dog Band Unknown Title 1968-03-14 3:34 5:54

Re: Bonzo Dog (Doo Dah) Band: Talking Pictures Redux

PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2013 8:54 pm
by Garrett Gilchrist
Adrian Edmondson writes:

The Bonzos were the heroes of my youth. The album 'Gorilla' kept me sane as a schoolboy. The fact that Rik and I had a shared love of The Bonzos brought us together. Imagine how I felt when they invited me to perform with them at a reunion gig in 2006. Viv Stanshall had sadly passed away in 1995, and in an attempt to conjure up a small part of his genius they invited me, Phill Jupitus, Stephen Fry, Bill Bailey and Paul Merton to sing some of his songs. I did 'I'm Bored' and 'The Strain'. 'I'm Bored' was, is, and ever shall be, my favourite song.

The reunion show went down so well that a tour was organised, though on the tour the 'Viv impersonators' were reduced to myself and Phill Jupitus, plus new recruit David Catlin-Birch. It was brilliant tour. I was on a tour bus with my heroes. I've never been on a tour bus like it - once, as we approached 'The Angel of the North' on the M1 they all stood up and applauded. I also became close to Phill Jupitus, who I'd frankly always found slightly frightening, but who turned out to be a very soft-hearted man. One of the highlight of the tour was 'Jazz, Delicious Hot, Disgusting Cold' - a masterpiece of comic music, invented in true dadaist style by the band all swapping instruments in the recording studio and doing one blistering bad take of a trad jazz number. It was the first time Viv had ever played the trumpet, and I followed in his footsteps. I bought a cheap second hand trumpet in Bristol, and that night, without ever having played a note on a trumpet before, I was given the trumpet solo - it is the highlight of my career to date.

In 2007 we recorded an album Pour L'Amour des Chiens. Me! On a Bonzos album!!! They even let me write and record one of my own numbers Let's Kill All The Beautiful People. My favourite track though is Wire People - a collaboration between Sam Spoons, Neil and myself (though I was uncredited on the album sleeve...). The album isn't a classic, there are too many tracks of dubious quality, but there are some nuggets.

A new tour to promote the album was scheduled for 2008. We did a one-off at The Astoria in 2008 first. And it's a good job we did, because it transpired that things had changed. The previous reunion tour had been just that - a joyful reunion. The rehearsals for this new tour were fraught with acrimony and jostling for power. Neil, who'd orchestrated the reunion tour, was asked to step down as leader of the band, and he did so with grace, but the vacuum he left was filled with such a huge collision of egos and disorganisation that the propsed tour was called off. A shame.

SInce then, Phill Neil and I have formed The Idiot Bastard Band with Raw Sex (Simon Brint and Rowland Rivron).

Re: Bonzo Dog (Doo Dah) Band: Talking Pictures Redux

PostPosted: Sat Sep 21, 2013 1:08 am
by Garrett Gilchrist