St John Karp

Ramblings of an Ornamental Hermit

The Bonzo Dog Band — Live 1968

(Bootleg, Wizardo Rekords 364)

Live 1968 cover insert

Live 1968 cover insert

You have no idea how long it’s taken me to lay hands on this bootleg! I’ve been a Bonzos collector for many years, and most of their non-album material is now easily tradeable on CD and DVD. This Live 1968 bootleg, though, has always been a bit mysterious, and very alluring. It’s been described in quite good detail on Ian Kitching’s Bonzo Dog Band website as being “a marvellous translucent pale blue with a red, black, green and white marbling”. They list the tracks as well, and although I’ve even seen photos of that marvelous marbling posted on the Internet, I’ve never seen a copy of the bootleg itself.

That was until I found the actual record on eBay. To my delight the vinyl turned out to be in pristine condition. Often these old, second-hand records have been kicked around for a long time, but this honestly looks like it’s just been sitting on a shelf for 50 years. That said, I have to warn you that the quality of the tracks themselves is not great. They’re very muffled, some suffer from pitch distortion, and “Trouser Press” even sounds like someone jostled the volume control while bootlegging it. These problems are not due to the quality of my transfer but because these tracks were recorded off the radio onto tape, and then pressed onto vinyl. Although I could attempt some amateur remastering of the recording, I’ve chosen not to edit it at all. Most of these tracks are available from other sources in better quality, so I figured I would preserve the bootleg as is and let it speak for itself. That said, there are some possibly unique recordings on this, so read on below…

I recorded it in stereo at 48,000 Hz, but I don’t know whether the content of the record is actually stereo. The label says “compatible for stereo”, which I assume means it was cut with a stereo stylus, but that doesn’t mean the songs are stereo. BBC Radio 1 transmitted in mono at the time, but often borrowed stereo transmitters from other stations. Long story short, buggered if I know. You may reduce some surface noise by mixing the stereo down to mono, but I figured I’d give it to you in stereo just in case.

For the collectors, here are zips of Live 1968 as lossless FLACs and Live 1968 as MP3s. Below is a track-by-track breakdown of the bootleg with notes on each one.

EDIT: Wooh! I hadn’t realized how many hardcore Bonzos fans were out there. I’m very grateful to the folks who have commented below and corrected me on some of the details of these tracks. I’ve updated my notes with their feedback.

EDIT 2: Mark Petty wrote to me and indicated that this release came in between a Jethro Tull concert from 1975 (Wizardo 311) and a Paul McCartney concert from 1976 (Wizardo 383), and that therefore this boot must have been released in 1975-6. This seems about right. I Googled and found another Wizardo release numbered 373 from 19761, which supports the same dating.

01 — Shirt

Recorded October 1968, broadcast on Top Gear 1968-10-202.

02 — I’m The Urban Spaceman

Recorded 1968-04-293, broadcast on Top Gear 1968-05-054.

03 — Excerpt From ‘Brain Opera’

Mr. Nzo in the comments has stated this comes from a performance at the Playhouse Theatre, 1969-03-31, and broadcast on Top Gear, 1969-04-13. If this is accurate then it dates the Live 1968 bootleg as being made in 1969 or after.

04 — Canyons Of Your Mind

Although I originally thought this must be a live performance from Top Gear because it’s introduced by a DJ, a very diligent fan in the comments pointed out this doesn’t correspond with the Top Gear version. Upon relistening I think it’s actually just the album version being played by John Peel on the radio. It suffers from the same pitch distortion as the rest of the boot.

05 — Hello Mabel

This version is incorrectly included in a collection of Top Gear recordings I have. It is actually just the album version.

06 — The Bride Stripped Bare By ‘Bachelors’

Recorded October 1968, broadcast on Top Gear 1968-10-205.

07 — Ready Mades

Recorded October 1968, broadcast on Top Gear 1968-10-206.

08 — Trouser Press

This is actually just a copy of the album version from The Doughnut in Granny’s Greenhouse.

09 — Canyons Of Your Mind

Recorded off TV from Colour Me Pop, 1968-12-217.

10 — Death Cab For Cutie

Clearly the version from the Beatles movie Magical Mystery Tour. You can hear John Lennon hooting for the strip show before the Bonzos come on stage. The first time my mother saw this part of the movie, she remarked, “What’s with all these tits? They’re blocking the view of my Bonzos.”

11 — Help!

Ah, did this one get me excited! On the face of it, it’s Neil Innes singing “Help!” in the style of Bob Dylan, and it’s a hoot. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. But then logic kicked in. I had never heard of this Bonzos track before, which meant that it was either incredibly rare, or that it was not actually the Bonzos.

A bit of Internet investigation later, and it turns out to be a 1968 single by The Family Frog, who should be commended for their great parody of Dylan’s singing. From what I’ve read this track has been included on a bunch of vinyl bootlegs, probably because the bootleggers ran out of material to fill the record and thought the parody of Dylan was a pretty good larf. While we can’t claim this as a Bonzos track, I’ve included it here anyway as it is still part of the boot.

Notes


  1. Prog/Psych New Arrivals

  2. Vince Nzo in the comments section. The transmission date matches that given on the same recording on the “Charity Shop Tapes”. 

  3. The Complete BBC Recordings (Srange Fruit, 2002). 

  4. Vince Nzo. 

  5. Vince Nzo. Matches the track on the “Charity Shop Tapes” which gives the same broadcast date. 

  6. Vince Nzo. Matches the track on the “Charity Shop Tapes” which gives the same broadcast date. 

  7. The Complete BBC Recordings

Certainly never send me any email here: gerald@fuzzjunket.com.