Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Bonzo Dog Band

  • Urban Spaceman [Imperial, 1969] B
  • The History of the Bonzos [United Artists, 1973] B-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Urban Spaceman [Imperial, 1969]
Over a year ago these people, who then called themselves Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, released their first album, Gorilla. It was weird and annoying and I sold it. Since then they have put in a guest appearance in Magical Mystery Tour and hit small with the title song of this LP. They are still weird and annoying but I'm beginning to believe--sort of an English equivalent of the Mothers, eccentric rather than freaky, without Zappa's musical ambition or (hence) his pretensions and much superior to the other English-eccentric groups (the Deviants, the Scaffold). Not good rock, God knows. But good something. B

The History of the Bonzos [United Artists, 1973]
I didn't like them initially because I was under the impression they were a "group"--a musical aggregation--when in fact they're a comedy troupe who play instruments. Explaining why I don't like (i.e., laugh at) them in retrospect is harder--responses to comedy are even more personal than responses to music. Just say that what they do strikes me as boarding-school humor--covertly classbound escapist silliness without Monty Python's moral underpinnings. This generous two-disc compilation, an hour and forty minutes of entertainment in all, is intelligent and imaginative. But it's also narrow for the worst reasons. B-