Picture of a judge's wigThe Judge RAVES!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 14/01/18


When The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band broke up in late 1969, the two main songwriters went off into their own projects. Neil Innes formed The World and released the Lucky Planet LP, whilst Vivian Stanshall - appropriately for someone of his wayward genius - tried to go off in a number of directions at once.

One of these extraordinary excursions was the cunningly-punningly-named Sean Head Showband ('Shorn head', geddit? Well I did, albeit years later. Stanshall had at that point shaved all his hair off in an act of incipient mania). The only audible fruit of this enterprise - which included the ex-Bonzos bassist Dennis Cowan (a very under-rated musician, I've always thought), Nigerian percussionist Remi Kabaka and some obscure art-school chum of Vivian's called Eric Clapton - was a single released in 1970.

The A-side, bearing the mellifluous if obscure title Labio Dental Fricative, got nowhere chart-wise, and I only became aware of it when it featured on the 1974 compilation The History Of The Bonzos, appearing in a version which Stanshall himself had remixed for that release. A remix which, unfortunately, isn't to be found on YouTube; which is a shame, because I think it sounds a lot stronger than the original, beefing up the bass and removing the echo from the middle eight.

But, oh! That middle eight! The song itself is cleverly silly overall - in the way that you would expect from the Dadaist jester of sixties pop - but the central section reminds us that Viv was capable of writing the most achingly beautiful melodies along with some very poetic lyrics.

And the title? It's the phonological term for the sound represented in English by the letter 'f'. Hence the title of this piece.

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