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Date: 21/12/15

The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band - "We Are Normal" (1968)

Look, I'm trying, OK?

I'm trying to write the intolerable, interminable end-of-year piece. I've just done the 'UK politics' bit, and am now turning my low-calibre gun on its swivel mount at the land's appalling media. Neither section has been - or will be - easy to write, if only because it's so difficult to type with clenched fists.

To fill the yawning gap until its completion and publication - and to divert from the fact that my blood-sugar readings are now back to normal (gee, thanks Novo Nordisk, for manufacturing an entire batch of duff insulin!) but that my blood pressure is now officially at such a level that my elbows may spontaneously detonate at any second - may I provide you with this respite from sanity?

The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band remain, forty-odd years after their heyday, one of my favourite bands. Prompted by my boyhood chum Roddy Williams, I got the compilation double LP The History Of The Bonzos for my thirteenth birthday, and this was one of the tracks which immediately stood out.

From their second album, The Doughnut In Granny's Greenhouse, it shows how the band had developed from purveyors of madcap trad-jazz influenced Dada-ism on to more 'heavy' treatments. We Are Normal (a line they undoubtedly took either from Weiss' Marat/Sade or from The Red Telephone on Love's glorious Forever Changes LP of the year before) features cut-up vox-pop street interviews (conducted by the band's passing American Joel Druckman) with weird sound effects, before winding up into a full-scale wig-out. As can be seen in the following clip, the whole thing pans out like Frank Zappa Meets The Banana Splits, and none the worse for that.

Just one more thing: early on in the musical section, a voice (most likely Vivian Stanshall's) is heard to say what I had always taken to be:

"You have to get up early to feel free"

Going around the various lyrics sites infesting the Net, I find that most of them have this line down as a German one (The Bonzos recorded a German version of another of their classics, Mr. Apollo the next year):

"Wir sind gewöhnen, wir sind zufrieden"

As far as I can see, that means:

"We are accustomed, we are happy"

which doesn't seem to gel somehow. I'll carry on believing the version I've had in my head for forty years, danke schön.

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