The Vivian Stanshall Preservation Society
VSPS Newsletter Issue 1
By the way, VSPS would also be glad of any press clippings, snippets of news etc which you can send in, as we are not omniscient and often miss things. Do let us know if you have read, heard or seen anything which you think might be of interest to other VSPS members.
HAVE YOUR SAY
Most people who enjoy Vivian's work also enjoy talking about it. So why not put your thoughts down on paper, and contribute to the VSPS Newsletter? We can use any of the following:
- reviews (eg of books, albums, gigs, interviews) - reminiscences (eg the day you went to your first Bonzes gig)
- articles (about any topic related to Vivian or the Bonzos)
Remember: you don't have to be an 'expert' to write for
VSPS, and you don't have to write a lot: in fact, short pieces are often
more entertaining and effective. You may just want to write about how
you first became interested in Vivian or the Bonzos, for example. It's
entirely up to you. But, before setting rollerball to paper, remember
the golden rules:
By devious means, VSPS has acquired two gleaming new copies of Bonzo, edited by Mary Cadogan - a full-colour hardback packed with cartoon strips and facsimiles of Bonzo Dog postcards of the '20s and '30s. This slim but desirable volume usually retails at £6.99, but we are giving our copies away!
Yes! All you have to do is enter our easy VSPS competition, and the first two correct answers drawn out of the postbag on 6 April will win a copy of the book.
The clues below relate to the gaps in the grid. When you have filled in all the answers, you will find that the letters In the shaded squares spell out a word which relates to one of Vivian's albums. Write this word only on a postcard, and send it to the new VSPS address.
THAT'S ALL FOR NOW, FOLKS!
PS Many thanks to: Louise Marriott, Vivian Stanshall, Neil Innes, Rodney Slater and Adrian at China Records.
MORE JAM TOMORROW
As you know. Neil Innes's show More Jam Tomorrow has been playing at the Arts Theatre in London's West End from 2 to 14 March. Hopefully some of you will have been able to get to the show; but for those who couldn't make it, here's a review of the show written by Dmytro Bojaniwskyj, who co-edits this newsletter.
MORE JAM TOMORROW
Time. Tick tock, swish of the clock; seconds chasing minutes, chasing hours, meeting in applause - applause of the hours. Hours of applause? Well actually yes: I've seen this show twice now ("I've suffered for my music, and now it's your turn", as Neil says) - and no-one seemed to have any problems enjoying themselves.
More Jam Tomorrow! The show that, like a spearmint-centred gobstopper, seems to go on forever before ending in a refreshing and delightful surprise! Yes - a first act that lasts too long, and a second that lasts not long enough.
Neil tries to do too much in the first act, wrapping an explanation of the show's themes around a biography of writing the show, which in itself contains copious flashbacks to a mythical concert wherein Neil conceived the central idea of More Jam Tomorrow - what Alice (of Wonderland fame) would make of today's confused world.
Does it work? Well... not yet, not completely. But it's getting there.
By the end of the run Neil's performance was much more polished, and he lost fewer people in the time-shifting folds of the plot, but his choice of music in the first act remains uneven - apart from an excellent three-song set towards the end where, were it not for his face-pulling, he could have put a cruel boot into middle-class suburbia (as it is, it's simply a pompommed slipper).
And in many ways it's largely the music that keeps the first act afloat. With its lack of memorable characters and relentless zipping back and forth between past, dim past and present, the first half needs a strong visual device to avoid the audience becoming lost or confused. Unfortunately, the otherwise excellent lighting fails to differentiate suffidently between the different "time zones" of the narrative. It'll take something inventive from the technicians to clear up this problem. Either that or more costume changes.
The introduction of Andy Roberts slows the act down uncomfortably though it picks up again with a little golfing scene that literally brings the show right into your lap. And Andy does get to show us a pleasant time on the guitar, whilst Neil proves he is a real virtuoso on the piano.
And if you find yourself yearning for the interval, fear not: for this is where the fun begins.
Act Two is altogether more cohesive, faster, cleverer and, well, just plain fun - and how much of that do you get nowadays? More than that, it has costume changes. Yes! Andy Roberts as a modern Alice in Terminator 2 in T-shirt and lycra tights, and Neil as everything from the White Rabbit to the Working-Class Heron.
Did I say it was fun? No, it was FUN - I positively wet myself (and the person in front of me - Sue was so embarrassed...). The songs are witty and inventive, the costume changes furious and the audience participation loud and messy. All of a sudden, Neil and Andy's performances gel with their material, and the theatre roof begins to lift with laughter.
And finally there are real highlights worthy of the name: from the ear, nose and throat-twisting For the benefit of mankind, through an enthusiastic version of Heigh Ho! to the wicked Eine Kleine Middleclasse Musik, which slyly slits the wrists of Lennon's Imagine. Joe Public is a musical treat, and it all ends (kind of) on We are the slaves of freedom - the song that, interestingly, the audience seemed happiest to sing along to.
And what are you left with after the show? What have you learned? Not what you might have expected to - it isn't really: about time, nor Alice. More, it's about pointing the finger at the artificial and nonsensical barriers and cliches we all live with.
If that feels too uncomfortable, don't worry: because More Jam Tomorrow is fun. Take my word for it. (Take "incidentally", if you like: I've never been fond of that one. . . ) .
To join I.N.N.E.S., simply send a cheque or money order (in pounds sterling), made payable to I.N.N.E.S., to:Louise Marriott
And don 't forget: Neil will be touring shortly in More Jam Tomorrow - so watch out for him at a theatre near you!