Viv Stanshall’s Radio Flashes

Ooh look what just popped up on my computer (thank you Get iPlayer and PVR, yes Stanshall and Radiophonic search terms are always on scan), the BBC are replaying 3 episodes of what I presume the only high-quality versions they have of Viv Stanshall’s Radio Flashes, which was when he stood in for John Peel on Top Gear. I think he originally did 4 and a Christmas special which was Rawlinson’s End themed, I think.

Sounds like they’ve remastered them, or at least replaced the music with high quality versions, so good for you Bonzos fans out there, you have 3 days to listen to the first episode, so hurry! (unless you use Get iPlayer)

Those outside the UK I suggest investing in a good VPN with UK servers.

Vivian Stanshall – English as Tuppence

We Are Normal And We Love Burt Weedon! Why Does He Have A Rabbit Head On? What Do You Think About Shirts? Craig Torso Is Wonderful!

A 3 hour documentary about Vivian Stanshall of the Bonzo Dog Band on the BBC iPlayer, presented by Neil Innes and with Adrian Edmondson. Been listening to this and so far it’s ace – but those in the UK (or with access to a UK IP *cough*) hurry up, it’s only got 3 days left. And following that is an episode of Sir Henry At Rawlinson End, again has 3 days to go. With the repeats of Hitchhikers and Doctor Who it’s like Radio 4 Extra is becoming the Tim Channel at the moment!

If you liked this, you might like the Bonzos show I did where you’ll recognise quite a few of the clips, like the Craig Torso show, and of course those wonderful songs.

Future Islands

Sometimes new music is like a splinter, you know you shouldn’t play with it, but in a grotesque fashion you do, transfixed by the mortality. The same could be said for Future Islands – that strange performance doing the rounds, not wanting to say ‘me too’ about a band that’s been around for over a decade. But as I tweeted today along the lines of ‘I have all the Wild Beasts albums but why didn’t anyone tell me about Future Islands?’. Something interestingly dark there, that voice, soaring operatic in a Wild Beasts or Associates fashion, sometimes 80’s soul croon a la Destroyer or even a little bit Blow Monkeys, but then the death metal growl which for me oddly brings up Viv Stanshall in later Bonzos or solo records, an almost spoken older gruff exposition. Not so much on this song, but on the albums, there are quite a few of those spoken-sung quieter ones.

And yes, THAT performance, which combines all of those via a man who broke into the studio a few seconds before broadcast and is about to be sectioned – certainly gives a different aspect, as this could all too well drop into 80’s King or Associates pastiche. It’s hypnotic.

Well, given my love for stuff that transcends genre or even propriety, of course I love Future Islands…the only thing unsettling about them now is the coffee-table middlebrow love for them, but given I am very late for this particular party, I can’t claim hipster mores. Certainly sonically and lyrically they could be more out there, but there is something quite eerie and dark about them I like, they have something, even if it’s quite undefinable, and as Lamacq on 6Music pointed out it will divide a lot of people. But there’s not been many performances recently that just stop you in your tracks and go ‘WTF WAS THAT?’, and this is one.

Oh! How it hurts In the wardrobe of my soul in the section labelled “shirts”

I’ve been on a Viv Stanshall kick (again) recently because a kind listener (reader? what is the collection noun for podcast and blog listeners? poggers? pistener? err..anyway thank you Julian it made it through the snow!) sent me some Viv rarities as a result of the ‘Viv and Neil’ podcast I did last year inc the excellent 2002 radio documentary ‘Canyons of His Mind‘ which of course is referring to the above track, recorded for ‘Colour Me Pop’ in 1968. Apparently they did the whole show, which I really want to see.

Also read a great piece about Viv by his second wife, Ki Longfellow about how they met…I mean I fell in love with him reading it, so in person the effect must’ve been greater :-D. She as mentioned in the text SHOULD write a book about him. If she or anyone relating to her is reading this, please give her a prod, because reading that I would buy a copy, and I have a feeling a lot of people would feel the same way…and also because of his mysterious/insane/wonderful/maddening/glorious lifestyle there are a lot of wrong rumours out there – one of which is that he set himself alight with cigarettes when he died (no, coroner said it was electrical wiring, apparently). Would be great to have a book that comes closer to the real Viv (well dunno if that’s possible actually, but closer than the people writing ones who never met him!) and fills in that gap post Bonzos in the mid-late 70s.

Also did they ever record Stinkfoot? I’ve always wanted to have a copy, either on DVD or audio – and missed hearing about the short revival on Thekla last July…bah!

Oh a few of you might not know who Viv Stanshall was, you poor petals. So here’s a good intro, a show produced by the BBC and introduced by John Peel with Viv on himself and his history in his own words and music (the original piece in 1991 was called ‘Crank’, it seems to have gained the name ‘Diamond Geezer’ somewhere?).

It explains how Viv was just Viv ‘Well I don’t do it, I’m merely being myself, as near as dammit without frightening the housing estates…and her question was absurd rather than fatuous, as if I’d decided one day to wake up and decide I’m going to be a giant squid for the weekend or that’s it I’m going to be a wardrobe for the rest of my…err..word. Well strap me to a tree and call me Brenda! I’m whatever you like just don’t expect me to join in….You see I’m not different for the sake of being different, only for the desperate sake of being myself” Great words, indeed :-D

…although I have no idea why an obit from 1995 has the roman numeral date of 1993 (I suspect it’s been edited together from Crank?) – EDIT: it is from 1993, someone added the ‘Diamond Geezer’ in 1995, seems like many layers of ‘Late’ show, I’ve got a headache.

Bonus: One Man’s Week, a 1975 film about Viv seems to have escaped from the BBC’s Gormenghast Colditz Vaults by means of 1975 quality video…such a shame Viv wasn’t let loose more often on the public with a camera, that would’ve been a great TV programme. Also in part 3 you can see him working on ‘Men Opening Umbrellas Ahead’ which was heavily African influenced and years before it’s time.


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