Liner Note Authors: "Legs" Larry Smith; Richard Allen .
It's often said that "they don't write songs like they used to," a lament that is usually accompanied by much gnashing of the teeth, and a disparaging glance at the top pop confectionaries of the day. But it's not so frequent that a compilation comes along to prove that contention once and for all and, simultaneously, transport us back to a time when they did. Songs the Bonzo Dog Band Taught Us comprises no less than 27 largely pre-World War II jazz and dance band numbers that inspired, influenced, and, in many cases, entered the repertoire of the Bonzos, during that band's 1966-1967 prime. Fans know that songs like "Jollity Farm" "Mickey's Son and Daughter," "Hunting Tigers Out in India," "Little Sir Echo" and "I'm Gonna Bring a Watermelon to My Girl Tonight" were anarchic stuff in the Bonzos' hands. This collection proves that they weren't exactly conventional in the '20s either, and Legs Larry Smith's liner notes capture the sheer joy and amazement with which the Bonzos themselves regarded these songs, as they trawled the second-hand stores in search of forgotten 78s, then rushed back to the rehearsal studio bearing a worn-out copy of "Lift Up My Finger and I Say 'Tweet Tweet'," or "My Brother Makes the Noises for the Talkies." Considering the age of the songs, and the fragile shellac medium on which they were preserved, the sound quality here is spectacular. Collectors are, after all, painfully accustomed to having the crackles, hiss and clicks preserved, along with (and sometimes instead of) the music. But Songs is hauntingly blemish free, and the end result, should you have even the remotest interest in the music that made your grandparents smirk, is one of the most delightful compilations you'll hear in years. ~ Dave Thompson