The Bonzo Dog Band

The Beast of the Bonzos

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Given that the Bonzo Dog Band never had much of an American impact at all during their 1966-1970 existence, it's surprising that their U.S. label tried to excite public interest in the dada-rockers one last time with this posthumous greatest-hits compilation. However, The Beast of the Bonzos is actually a fine compilation, well-chosen and intelligently sequenced so as to show off all aspects of the Bonzos. The anarchic freakouts ("Trouser Press," "We Are Normal"), '20s trad jazz influences ("Hello Mabel," "Tubas in the Moonlight"), tongue-in-cheek paisley pop ("Piggy Bank Love," "I'm the Urban Spaceman"), proto-Monty Python surrealist monologues ("Rhinocratic Oaths," "Sport (The Odd Boy)"), and even Neil Innes' knack for penning the occasional completely straight pop song ("Quiet Talks and Summer Walks") are all present and accounted for. Wisely, the song selection tends toward their two earliest and best albums, 1967's Gorilla and The Doughnut in Granny's Greenhouse. (1968's Tadpoles is a substandard collection of songs performed on the BBC kids' show Do Not Adjust Your Set and therefore is heavy on the covers and novelty songs, and most of the songs on 1969's Keynsham don't work outside of the context of the album.) There have been many other Bonzo Dog Band compilations -- an astonishing amount for a band who released only four albums -- but few of them top Beast of the Bonzos as an introduction or as an enjoyable listen.

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