Vivian Stanshall - Men Opening Umbrellas Ahead (1974)

Posted by Amelia Swhizzagers On 6:00 AM

When The Bonzo Dog Band went their separate ways in 1972 co-frontman Vivian Stanshall was enticed to Warner Bros, who believed they could harness the crackpot mastermind behind that deranged band’s most outrĂ© excursions. Warners had to wait two years before Stanshall’s keen brain could cut through the booze-sodden axminster of his own self-doubt and finally craft an album’s worth of lyrics. Recorded at The Manor, Trident and Apple Studios with ex-Bonzos Neil Innes and ‘Bubs’ White and the top Traffic line-up of Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Ric Grech, Gaspar Lawal and Rebop Kwaku Baah, MOUA was finally delivered to Warners in April 1974. It was not the album they were looking for. Opening track Afoju Ti Ole Riran (Dead Eyes), trucks in like some fuzzed Afro-funk supercurse against the record label itself, with Stanshall grimly intoning “Tomorrow’s children will be sold/and unwittingly enrolled/In the night-soil of your selfishness”. And so it continues, subaqeous grooves and breakbeats submarine ‘neath oily waves of whisky, fag tar and fear-sweat, as Stanshall dives and surfaces, like some arseholed Ahab, strapped to the white whale of his own hubris. Yelp, Bellow, Rasp Etc is a leering, befuddled blues riff, damp with the fleck-spittle of wailing defeat while Bout Of Sobriety is a crapulous boogie-woogie interspersed with foul gargling and burped leers. It is an album without peer, features three odes to Stanshall’s penis (Sample lyric: “Gotta strap him to me leg to go shopping”) and ends with the terrifying Strange Tongues, a Victorian mandrake plucked from suburban Sunday, that ends with Stanshall screeeeeching “I’ve finished the back dear/now I’ll make a start on the front!”; Munch’s Skrik relocated to a freshly mowed front lawn in Walthamstow. Interested? Your options are limited. Warners only pressed five thousand copies. In retaliation Stanshall destroyed one of their boardrooms, and secreted a bag of bluebottle maggots behind the radiator of the label president. Until they forgive him and reissue the thing you’ll have to make do with illegal downloads. Go here to sign the petition for Warner Bros to release it on CD and here to read Stanshall’s widow Ki Longfellow’s detailed breakdown of the album’s, erm, breakdown
Tracks
01 Afoju Ti Ole Rain
02 Truck-Track
03 Yelp, Below, Rasp Et Cetera
04 Prong
05 Redeye
06 How The Zebra Got His Spots
07 Dwarf Succulents
08 Bout Of Sobriety
09 Prong & Toots Go Steady
10 Strange Tongues
Listen

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