Neil Innes

How Sweet to Be an Idiot

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Neil Innes' first solo album is split between tongue-in-cheek parody and straight pop songs akin to the sort of things he did with his first post-Bonzos project, the World. Sometimes the line between the two is imperceptible, as in the Roy Wood-like '50s pastiche "Momma B." However, as in Innes' best Bonzo Dog Band material, even the sillest songs on How Sweet to Be an Idiot, "Topless-A-Go-Go" and the title track, which later became a standard of Innes' stage performances with Monty Python, are solidly melodic Beatlesque pop. Recorded in between albums by Innes' primary project at the time, the rock and poetry supergroup GRIMMS, the album features that group's Andy Roberts, as well as Ollie Halsall, who would become Innes' musical partner in the Rutles half of a decade later, playing bass and singing the Dirk McQuickly parts that Eric Idle would mime to in the All You Need Is Cash film. The playing, as expected, is terrific, but as with many albums of the mid-'70s, there's an unfortunate sterility to Innes' self-production. Everything is just slightly too clean and precise. There are times when this is effective, especially on straight pop songs like "Dream," "Song for Yvonne," and especially the Wings-like "This Love of Ours," but a little of the anarchist spirit of the Bonzos would go a long way.

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