Charles de Gaulle on accordion? Vivian Stanshall took introducing the band to ridiculous extremes in 1967
[The Guardian 11/29/12] “On the bass: Derek Smalls … He wrote this!” Thus David St Hubbins put the credit, or shifted the blame, on to his hapless bandmate as Spinal Tap blundered their way through Jazz Odyssey at the Themeland Amusement Park in Stockton, California.
Miles Davis wrote the names of his band on boards that he held up, back turned, to the audience. John Stewart thrillingly devoted a track, Never Goin’ Back, to namecheck the sensational Nashville musicians who played on his California Bloodlines album. Fairport Convention did it on Come All Ye (“the man who plays the bass does make those low notes that you hear”). And some rappers have shared their bands’ entire life history with us.
There’s a whole sub-category of music covering the ways artists have found to introduce their fellow musicians and band members – an easy target for this 1967 spoof from Gorilla, the first album by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, who parodied, pastiched, subverted and perverted just about every musical genre in their 1960s heyday.
The late Vivian Stanshall, in his distinctive posh-deadpan style, introduces his fellow Bonzos before moving on to an increasingly unlikely lineup of musicians that includes Princess Anne, Eric Clapton and Val Doonican as well as “Adolf Hitler on vibes – nice!” and “General De Gaulle on accordion – really wild, general!” It becomes increasingly Pythonesque and surreal (“Back from his recent operation: Dan Druff, harp!”) before “J Arthur Rank on gong” brings the track to a close.
The song may have dated – it feels a bit like listening to, say, Round the Horne on Radio 4 Extra – but after 45 years it remains funny. The Bonzos are still touring today, as Three Bonzos and a Piano, with Roger Ruskin Spear, Rodney Slater and Sam Spoons of the original lineup. They have also spawned a tribute act, the Gonzo “Dog-Do” Bar Band, and an animated version of The Intro and the Outro