Passport to Absurdity:
The Bonzo Dog Band's The Intro and the Outro
Hi there, nice to be with you, happy you could stick around, like to introduce Legs Larry Smith, drums!

So begins "The Intro and the Outro," to my mind the quintessential Bonzo Dog Band record. After naming the seven Bonzos over a vamp that bears a more than passing resemblance to Duke Ellington’s "C-Jam Blues," Viv Stanshall introduces "Big John Wayne, xylophone" and the proceedings veer into hilariously ludicrous territory.

The British blues-rock craze is deftly emasculated with the line "Over there, Eric Clapton, ukulele" followed by a bar of anemic plinking -- a daring move given the era’s worship of guitar-gods; but the bit that still cracks me up is "And looking very relaxed, Adolf Hitler on vibes... Nnnnice!"

"Intro," from the Bonzos’ debut album, Gorilla, is sort of an audio analogue to the cover photo of the Beatles’ "Sgt. Pepper" (coincidentally released the same year, 1967), with the "actual" band members surrounded by contemporary and historical figures of varying degrees of fame. In contrast to the wax museum feel of the "Pepper" photo, "Intro" is hyperkinetic.

I first heard it in the mid-70s, on the double LP "History of the Bonzos," and was so knocked out that I played it several times in succession before listening to the rest of the album.

"Intro" is a powerful and beautiful work, made by enthusiastic young maniacs fresh out of art school, which still sounds original and continues to reveal new joys three decades after its creation.