George Starostin's Reviews



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Alex Veness <> (06.01.2006)

The comparison between the Bonzos and Zappa is tempting, but miscued, as Freak Out! contains songs that display an overtly politicised aspect to Zappa, e.g. 'Trouble Every Day' and 'It Can't Happen Here', while the Bonzos never engaged with political issues. Bonzo records evoke an attitude of mythic middle class Englishness, where life's primary objective is to have a whimsical and childish good time and to ignore those who cannot, or will not, join you. The Bonzo's schtick was to behave like aristocrats who had been traumatised in their nurseries and, according to popular psychology, were thereby condemned as adults to view the world through a child's eyes. This is characteristic of a lot of British (especially English) popular culture of this period. While Frank Zappa had his weaknesses, particularly where humour was concerned, he could never be accused of the Bonzo's kind of airy whimsy.

If this sounds unfair on the Bonzos as artists, there is great quality in their songs that avoid being twee; 'Death Cab For Cutie' and later songs such as 'Canyons of Your Mind' and 'Mr. Apollo'. I have no idea what Frank Zappa thought of the Bonzos, but I imagine that, as he deplored less than virtuosic musicianship, it might have been 'a bunch of amusing Brits whose playing is a bit lame'.

John DeMagus <> (21.02.2006)

Actually this album had everything to do with "drugs, psychedelia, the Summer of Love and all the hippie fashion of the era" or the peculiarly English take on it; it was a product ot that era and simply couldn't have been conceived or released at any other time. As for the Bonzos not being political, well, no, they weren't overtly so in the manner of - for example - the Deviants or the Edgar Broughton Band, but they deliberately positioned themselves as the main humorous/satirical musical expression of the British counter-culture and its values, and that in itself was a political act. Gorilla really shows the Bonzos in transition from their origins as a Temperance Seven clone and it wasn't until 'The Doughnut in Granny's Greenhouse' was released in 1968 that they showed their true colours:

"*if you're normal, I intend to be a freak for the rest of my life, and I shall baffle you with cabbages and rhinoceroses in the kitchen, incessant quotations from "Now We Are Six" through the mouthpiece of Lord Snooty's giant poisoned electric head. So theeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrre!" 'My Pink Half ot the Drainpipe' (Viv Stanshall - 'The Doughnut in Granny's Greenhouse')


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