The Bonzo Dog Band — “Humanoid Boogie”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — October 23, 2022


616) The Bonzo Dog Band — “”Humanoid Boogie”

The very same year that HAL told David Bowman to take a chill pill and sang “Daisy”, the Bonzos gave us the “Humanoid Boogie”, which “got the humanoid hip-types jumpin’ and-a jivin’”! As Harvey J. Satan tells us:

“Humanoid Boogie” is The Bonzos as Heavy Metal act! Part flower power, and part really loud! A favourite of Neil[ Innes’], he has recorded no less than three alternate versions of this song as a solo act!

As to the BDB, Richie Unterberger imparts:

Besides, perhaps, the Mothers of Invention (with whom they were sometimes compared), the Bonzo Dog Band were the most successful group to combine rock music and comedy. Starting off as the Bonzo Dog Dada Band, then becoming the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, and then finally just the Bonzo Dog Band, the group was started by British art college students in the mid-’60s. Initially they were inclined toward trad jazz and vaudevillian routines, but by the time of their 1967 debut album, they were leaning further in pop and rock directions. A brief appearance in the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour film bolstered their visibility, and Paul McCartney (under the pseudonym Apollo C. Vermouth) produced their single “I’m the Urban Spaceman,” which reached the British Top Five in 1968. The Bonzos really hit their stride with their second [from which today’s song is drawn] and third albums, which found them adding elements of psychedelia to their already-absurdist mix of pop, cabaret, and Dada. The band could be side-splitting, but their records held up well because they were also capable musicians and songwriters, paced by Neil Innes and Viv Stanshall (both of whom wrote the lion’s share of their best material).

As to the album, The Doughnut in Granny’s Greenhouse, Unterberger says:

[T]he Bonzos’ second album was probably their best. Although they were hardly a rock or pop group in the traditional sense, the Bonzos couldn’t help absorbing some of the vibes of British psychedelia, and the heady ambience of the era is reflected in the recklessly diverse and outrageous material. Almost all of the songs were penned by the two top dogs, Viv Stanshall, and Neil Innes, who deflate British blues, psychedelia, and other pop, jazz, and music hall styles with priceless wit.

And Satan adds:

After the Vaudvillian Stylings of “Gorilla”, one can only guess what fans must have thought of this album. My guess is after hearing “We Are Normal”, two thoughts would come to mind: firstly, “Oops, I’ve accidentally purchased a Frank Zappa record” or secondly, “Hello, where did all these electric instruments come from?” . . . In keeping with their excursions into surrealism, dada, humanity, and now psychedelia, The Bonzos were off and flying in fine form! [S]ome of the heavier rock sounds might have stunned the casual listener . . . . This album . . . seem[s] to set a sort of format for The Bonzos: numerous musical styles, musical experimentation, and various pieces of tomfoolery to stitch it all together. Not so much a straight forward “concept” or “story”, but rather a surreal tale in which the band isn’t always the narrator. . . . Neil Innes [later] collaborated with members of Monty Python, upon whom the Bonzos were a large influence, as well as writing the songs for and performing in the Beatles documentary spoof The Rutles.

Here, Neil does it in ’84:

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