It's funny how things work sometimes. When I was a child, my favourite band name ever was 'The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band'. My dad liked them and used the name as a punchline and such every now and then. It sounded like the name of a really madcap, awesome group.
It took me awhile to learn it wasn't just a thing my dad had made up to make me laugh, and "I'm The Urban Spaceman" was a favourite song from early on – the 'I don't exist" always got me, half-hilarious, half-profound. Some years later, hearing the Bonzos more, I understood that the name of the band is exactly what they sound like: madness on a record. A mixture of music hall (vaudeville, if you will), jazz, rock and roll, sixties psychedelic pop and whatever it is that Viv Stanshall's brain was made of.
So anyway, I posted a Craig Ferguson cold open yesterday and in reply, a friend said he liked the cold open which introduced Geoff, which was a lipsync to "Look Out, There's A Monster Coming" by the Bonzos. I saw it at the time and was bowled over a little at how two of my fandoms (not quite the right word) collided. I loved the idea that CF was a Bonzos fan as well, and it makes perfect sense that he might like such a weird group of eccentrics. And you know, he most probably saw Do Not Adjust Your Set as a kid.
Anyway, today's video is not "I'm The Urban Spaceman" though I love that song, nor even "Death Cab for Cutie". Today's video is the Bonzos covering someone else:
The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band – "Monster Mash" – appearance on Do Not Adjust Your Set, 1968
Probably most of you reading have heard "Monster Mash" somewhere along the way. The original was a 1962 novelty record by Bobby "Boris" Pickett. It is itself a parody of the dance crazes which had been sweeping popular culture – The Twist, The Mashed Potato, etc.
I don't recall seeing this particular video before, not even during that strange fevered winter night a few years back when I stayed up all night watching nowt but Bonzos… you can imagine how frazzled my brain was after that.
I love the details – the bones for drumsticks, the Reaper with Ray-Bans, Viv's graceful, effeminate prancing in some contrast to his resonantly eerie vocals, the cut to a picture of Liberace during the line "Dracula, and his son"; changes to the lyrics to make them even funnier and more gruesome.
Most hilariously: The Bonzo Dr Frankenstein has brought his monster to life, and for why? Well, to play the spoons. How delightfully, brilliantly, barmily English. And of course it goes wrong.
I'm not going to say much more about the Bonzos, because I know they'll come up later in the challenge. But this is a great video and an insight into children's TV of the late sixties – no wonder Craig Ferguson is the way he is…