Monday, 29 September 2014

"Unusual" by ROGER RUSKIN SPEAR [of The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band] - A Review Of His 2nd Album From 1973 - Now Reissued & Remastered by Esoteric Of The UK onto CD in 2014...

“…Trouble With My Trousers And A Struggle With My Shirt…” 

Following on from his daft-as-a-brush “Electric Shocks” album from October 1972 – one year later and the ex BONZO DOG DOO DAH BAND main man was at it again. “Unusual” is a another cocktail of wonderfully eccentric send-up - Monty Python type lunacy where men struggle with submersible trousers and go bumpity bump in roadsters made for two as vaudeville songs played on Tubas waft out of a wireless hidden by Billy Bunter in Felsham hedgerows… As you can imagine it’s very funny and very, very silly. Here are the Mad Dogs and their certifiable Englishman…

UK released on CD September 2014 - "Unusual" by ROGER RUSKIN SPEAR is on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2464 (Barcode 5013929456440) and breaks down as follows (34:23 minutes):

1. Pinball Wizard
2. On Her Doorstep Last Night
3. Trouble With My Trousers
4. Shove-Off Shostakovich
5. I Love To Go Bumpity Bump (On A Bumpy Road With You)
6. When Yuba Plays The Tuba Down In Cuba
7. Frank The Ripper
8. Morecombe And Wise
9. Heartbreak Hotel
10. My Goodness (Or The Revolutionary New Concrete Mixer Show)

Tracks 1 to 11 are his second solo album "Unusual" - originally released on vinyl LP October 1973 in the UK on United Artists UAG 29508

Quite apart from the sheer craziness of the proceedings - the first thing that hits you is the great remaster carried out to perfection by BEN WISEMAN at Audio Archiving. The dense multi-tracked original tapes have been given a right polish and all the instrument antics, funny voices and animal noises are here in fabulous sound quality.

The 16-page colour booklet features photos of our Roger with his boggle-eyes, white lab coat and massive Tuba - looking like a doctor who shouldn’t be let loose in any ward. He shares his typically brill reminiscences of each song and how they came to be (the band HELP YOURSELF guest on “Bumpity Bump” while THUNDERCLAP “Something In The Air” NEWMAN plays the piano on his fabulous send up of The Who’s classic “Pinball Wizard”). And as with the preceding “Electric Shocks” issue – there are superb further liner notes from noted writer MALCOLM DOME. It’s very classily done.

Carrying on in much the same tradition as the Bonzo albums on Liberty - the songs are full of madcap rhythms and old timey melodies (like he’s on the set of Boardwalk Empire). You’ll find yourself giggling a lot and his brilliantly deadpan cover of Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel” will have you wanting to You Tube it immediately (telling the world of your fab new find). Spear in fact felt that “Unusual” and its comedy suffered unfairly against the more popular “Electric Shocks” album from 1972 (see my review) - and that now in 2014 - it genuinely deserves reappraisal. He’s right because there’s songwriting/comedic genius amidst all of the tomfoolery (check out “Trouble With My Trousers”).

No one but no one does bonkers quite like the British – and well done to all the good people in Cherry Red and Esoteric for getting this forgotten piece of stark-raving mad back out there...

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