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Time to Kill / Stoned on Rock - Neil Innes


The other musician to depart over yuletide was Neil Innes, famous, along with the legendary Vivian Stanshall, as lead singer of the sixties comic group, the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, who released a string of anarchic albums amongst which were "Gorilla"and "The Doughnut in Granny's Greenhouse" and who had a hit with the Innes composition "I'm the Urban Spaceman". Later, he was better known for his work with members of the Monty Python team including Eric Idle in the Beatles spoof group the Rutles.

I saw him twice: the first time was in 1975 with the magical ensemble Grimms, a madcap mix of the Bonzos and Scaffold (famous for the hit "Lily the Pink") plus an assortment of Liverpool poets; the second was with his backing band Fatso, consisting of four overweight musicians. I remember the whole audience literally writhing around on the floor, helpless with laughter as the they performed "Apache" complete with the Shadows' smoothie side-on lounge moves. Innes himself, while always gently hilarious, projected good-natured kindness like a contagious virus.

Innes mainly made his living through his musical parodies of rock stars and could turn his hand to any kind of musical genre. I always think that if he'd taken himself a little more seriously he would have been known as a great songwriter in his own right, rather than just a great musical satirist, as the poignant and gently bitter "Time to Kill" amply demonstrates, with its ironic wordplay.

Both this and "Stoned on Rock" are from his 1982 album "Off the Record", which, coincidentally features drummer Bob Wackett who co-wrote yesterday's post.

A spoof of seventies West Coast music, "Stoned on Rock" is astonishingly prescient in that it uncannily anticipates the sound of the Traveling Wilburys, the oldies supergroup comprising George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, proving that if they keep going for long enough, most rock legends end up becoming parodies of themselves.

At least Neil Innes was doing it on purpose.

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