bum notes

maverick’s john blaney’s review in the august 2012 edition:

How many bands can you name that quote marcel duchamp and elvis presley in the same song? er ...one. Now on their second long player, three bonzos continue to do what they do best - write silly songs about growing old and cheese. That’s right, cheese. And broccoli.

Joined by andy roberts (liverpool scene) and Chris spedding (‘Motorbikin’) both of whom flesh out the sound to great effect. At times, (‘I’m Against everything’) they sound like a grumpy Ian Dury & The Blockheads. While other songs (‘I Find Tyres Exciting’) could be out-takes from Roger Ruskin Spear’s debut album ‘Electric Shocks’.

A switchback of an album, Bum Notes is full of beautifully realised genre parodies and has enough humorous twists and turns to keep you glued to the Dansette, or its digital equivalent. It’s laugh out loud funny and at times down right bizarre. In short, madcap musical mayhem at its best.

... and here are a couple of track-by-track reviews by esteemed reviewers:

Bum Notes a review of the new album from Three Bonzos and a Piano by Allan Fowler at The Source

18 tracks, 55 minutes, of music, mayhem and madness expressly lacking in maturity and mediocrity.

This is a superb collection of songs from 3 original Bonzos, Roger Ruskin-Spear, Rodney Slater and Sam Spoons plus Dave Glasson ex-Whoopee band. They revisit some old classics and overhaul them completely and deliver new songs with all the angst, confusion and humour that age and (im)maturity brings. This will appeal to all ages, even those who have lived as a hermit since the early 60’s and have never heard of the Bonzos. For those of more tender years it takes you gently by the hand and shows you the pleasures that await you in later life. If you are of the same generation then you are hip to their jive, meaning your hips won’t jive so it is all in the mind.

Play this album and re-live the 60’s and discover everything since then. Indulge in prog rock and experience audio experiments, discover country and western and realise it ain’t all bad, then blow your mind with electronic spoons, but most of all just enjoy – you will smile and feel better afterwards. Despite the title there is not a Bum Note on this album.

Track by Track

Er (the In-tray and the Out-tray) – the Legendary Intro Outro is revisited, taken apart and put back together in a beautifully confused manner with a great jazzy backing.

Achin’ and Shakin’ – Bus Pass Rock and roll. Great bass and guitar riffs for angry old men. It is all about Aging and Raging. Kicking out at a world that dumps on anyone over 60.

Holey Cheeses – Country and western for Cheese loving atheists. If you have any right wing Christian fundamentalist relatives over from the US then play this for them and they will consider you the spawn of the devil. Not for people with a cheese allergy. The Cheese and pickle on the communion wafers, Yee-Haa and bless you.

I’m Against Everything – Grumpy lyrics over reggae rhythms.  Ian Drury and the Blockheads would be proud of this one.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli – Country and western about loving in the veg patch. Accordion and slide guitar with gardening advice. You will dig this - it’s better than miracle grow. Veg based Viagra.

I Find Tyres Exciting – Pure Bonzo nonsense crying out for Viv’s dulcet tones but delivered with subtlety and honesty by Roger. White walled low profile and slick and that’s just Roger.

I Love Washing Up – Cutlery and utensil based track all about one man’s love of washing up.

Whistle and Spoons – exactly what the title says, short and sweet.

The Cairo Two-Step – Strictly come sand dancing, musical Imodium. This is the new dance sensation with easy to follow instructions. Walk like an Egyptian with Cairo tummy.

New Music for the Leg – Moody, weird, sanatogen-based theremin prog rock for the Horlicks generation. The Leg is back for another knees-up.

Wall of Sound – A tribute to the legendary sound pioneered by Phil Spector. He worked with everyone who was anyone except the Bonzos. They considered him too weird! But now they have mastered his technique and have created the ultimate wall of sound track. Whilst he is inside they don’t have to pay him royalties, cunning chaps.

Digital Spoons 1 – prelude for Digital Spoons 2, distorted spoons for confused hippies played by the master.

The Persistence of Memory – Late night Jazz morphs into old radio edits. Lyrics of childhood memories, recalling school-days, growing up, discovering sex. Baby-boomers having a laugh at everyone else.

Whimsical Avenue – Hop and skip through the flowers in this Donovan / Tyrannosaurus Rex folk-rock track. Dance naked at a festival and roll in the mud. This track could win Eurovision.

A, B or C – food based chemistry lesson, no added music.

Hard Luck, John – This is the Stadium Anthem track. Slow beat rock in the Ian Drury idiom. All about how the ordinary John gets screwed by the system. Great ending, not knowingly over produced.

Banned by the BBC – All about how success comes with the ultimate tribute of being banned by the Beeb. Auntie has unwittingly created some huge hits from tracks that would never have had air play without them banning them. An ironic lament as sadly the Bonzo’s have never been given this accolade. YET!

Digital Spoons 2 – more distorted spoons and whistles in this brief cutlery based prog rock. Try putting it on repeat and empty your mind just like a dish-washer finishing its cycle.

This is the second album from Three Bonzos and a Piano and just the latest album in a glorious musical chain going back to the dawn of Radio One and before. Get the whole collection and listen to history.

Another review from Arnold levine - dj on kows radio, ca, usa:

Bum Notes: Track Review by Arnold Levine, KOWS 107.3fm Occidental CA, USA

  1. 1)Er (the In-tray and the Out-tray) - Spear

How can you spoof one of your own most infamous songs and get away with it with trivial ease? By adding on the years and seeing how it would go in 2012 down at the pub with yer mates grasping for names…

  1. 2)Achin’ & Shakin’ – Slater

How does Rodney channel Ian Dury and give us an essay on getting’ old and not going quietly. Very well in fact. Gratuitous Val Doonican sighting.

  1. 3)Holey Cheeses – Glasson & Gribbin

I can’t stop laughing. A sure-fire, cross-and CD-burnin’ hit in the Bible Belt. Gruyeresome!

  1. 4)I’m Against Everything – Slater

Das Kapital! Rodney gives a piquant, left-on-the-nose reggae-flavoured, social commentary on today’s wasteful consumerist society.

  1. 5)Purple Sprouting Broccoli – Ash

Priapic gardening “tips” with a twangy country backing, and steamy frolics in the  vegetable beds! Kama Sutra has nothing on this!

  1. 6)I Find Tyres Exciting – Spear

Yes, you’ve all been at a boring 1920’s party when someone said something like that to you. Insecurity? Safety in numbers? Who knows why they say it, but Roger gets it.

  1. 7)I Love Washing Up – Glasson

Aah! My own dirty secret! Thank you Dave, at last it’s out of the closet, and at the sink where it belongs. Who else but Sam Spoons to do a solo on this track! Excuse me, I have a plate to wash.

  1. 8)Whistle & Spoons – Ash

With Eno-like sparsity, Sam creates a ghostly echo-drenched duet with spoons and breathy whistling, which proves it can be done at the same time.

  1. 9)Cairo 2-Step – Slater

Fancy footwork is sometimes required when you partake of spicy exotic foods at home or abroad. Set in a Gypsy café, Rodney offers his sympathies. Where is “Legs” Larry when you need him?

  1. 10) New Music For the Leg – Spear

Talking of Legs…at last the sequel! I always wondered when the other one was going to be pulled! Vincent Price was seen smiling with the wonderful over-the-top Theremin. Lovely!

  1. 11) Wall of Sound – Glasson & Gribbin

A paean, warts and all, to the de-frocked and be-jailed sound legend Phil Spector. The Wall is still good in G&G’s hands! When does he get out? He’ll want some royalties!

  1. 12)  Digital Spoons – Ash

Wow! Me Mum’s silver-plated cutlery never sounded like that! A renaissance for the instrument! Bravo!

13) The Persistence of Memory    - Slater

The Baby Boomers have a lot to remember (or forget), from their youth. Rodney takes us for a ride to those far-away, but still so real, memories.

   14) Whimsical Avenue – Glasson & Gribbin

A whimsical, funnily enough, dreamy vision of unrequited love and what-could-be, that builds to symphonic heights.

   15)  A, B, or C – Ash

We’ve all been there…gazing at two or three packages and trying to find some common basis to judge their relative merit. Sam has been there too, and still is!

  16)  Hard Luck, John – Slater

Yes, set in a smoke-filled Jazz club, in a Lenny Bruce-style rant against the big-money system, and to bestirring the sleeping masses, Rodney foreshadows and encourages the Occupy movement.

   17)  Banned By The BBC - Glasson/Gribbin/Ash

Brilliant satire on the arbitrary censoring of songs by the Beeb since the 1930’s from “Angels in the Sky” to “You’ll Get Yours”, and mashing it with teen-angst car crash songs to show some things never change.

  18)  Digital Spoons 2 – Ash

I thought playing spoons in a gentlemen’s lavatory was prohibited? Will Sam be out in time for the next CD?

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Three Bonzos and a Piano




The Three Bonzos—Sam Spoons, Rodney Slater and Roger Ruskin Spear—are all original members of the famous Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, which first delighted UK audiences when they burst on to the scene 50 years ago. Dave Glasson, the pianist and an original member of the Whoopee Band, joins the three to complete the current line-up. Described as the missing link between the Goons and Monty Python, the Bonzos’ anarchic on-stage antics incorporate the lunacy of maniacal robots, washboards, trouser presses, plus a huge mechanical hand which reaches across the stage, controlled by percussionist, Spoons. But lurking behind the humour, there is also some real musical ability, though the Three Bonzos might try to deny this.The 18 tracks on BUM NOTES include some quite clever parodies of traditional jazz, blues, reggae, country, many versions of rock and more—each with a unique twist. Long-time Bonzos fans will love this album and those new to Three Bonzos and a Piano—who now have a growing following amongst the younger generation of today’s students—will find a refreshing take here on much that they hold sacred.

Nick Dent-Robinson


the latest ‘bum notes’ review from ‘god is in the tv’ by stephen bray. click the link: