Neil Innes

The Innes Book of Records

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As with some other Neil Innes projects that have been done outside of his two most renowned bands (the Bonzo Dog Band and the Rutles), some fans of those groups might be a little disappointed, or at least taken aback, by this 1979 solo release. That's because the humor is less obvious (though certainly present), the material more mainstream, and the results less memorable than his best work in the aforementioned bands. For those prepared to listen with a little patience and adjusted expectations, however, The Innes Book of Records has plenty of small pleasures to offer. For one thing, it's imbued with the characteristic droll, wry wit and knack for pastiche of all manners of pop music that typify Innes' work. Here you get affectionate, if low-key, knock-ups of late-'60s John Lennon-penned Beatles songs ("Montana Cafe" will find favor with Rutles admirers), lightly disco-fied '70s British pop ("Here We Go Again"), actual disco ("Amoeba Boogie," one of the least effective tracks), British music hall, reggae ("Human Race"), Tin Pan Alley ("Spontaneous"), and Latin-lite easy listening ("Etcetera"). The tunes emphasize off-kilter nostalgia, character sketches, and inner musings -- something that pushes it more to Ray Davies territory than comedy rock, though Innes isn't at all imitative of the Kinks. And there's still room for some pretty funny lyrics, à la "You're so spontaneous, please don't ever change." If there's a major fault to be found, it's not in the songwriting or Innes' suitably near-deadpan vocals, but in the production, which sometimes has an AOR-ish late-'70s feel that makes it sound far more dated than, say, the Bonzos. [In 2004, Book of Records was reissued on a CD that also included his previous solo album, 1977's Taking Off.]