following the demise of the bonzo dog band in the early seventies viv embarked on a dazzing array of projects, including bbc radio one sessions for the john peel show. peel's producer, john walters, was unimpressed with the bizarre and sometimes ungainly songs viv presented for broadcast and reminded viv of the nine-minute 'rawlinson end' saga from that final bonzos album - 'why not do some more of that?' was his suggestion. vivian was enthusiastic, reportedly saying that this would be easier and less problematic than composing actual songs. and so, in october 1975, the first bbc sessions of 'rawlinson end' were broadcast to a puzzled but intrigued nation of rock fans. that december, the 'christmas at rawlinson end' episodes revealed, in the slurred delivery of the lines, that our hero was, like sir henry himself, not averse to a few drinks. some of the lines were later dug up again, improved and inserted into other episodes. everything here is amazing, but from 1977 onwards vivian was really getting into his stride - astounding comic characters, surrealist nightmare situations and mindbending tricks involving puns, rhyming slang and bastard latin all beautifully merge into an awesome (un)reality.
Recorded 16 October 1975, broadcast 27 October 1975 on John Peel. Including Trail of the Lonesome Pine, The Unbridled Suite / In the Final Analysis (these three were songs, not dialogue), Aunt Florrie Remembers (from Giant Whelks at Rawlinson End) Vivian Stanshall (guitar, euphonium, pipes, dum dum, talking drum, percussion), with Pete Moss (bass, piano, accordion, violin, cello), Mox (harmonica) and Bubs White (guitar, banjo, ukelele) "The story so far... Sandra still smells, and Hubert has been sick." The episode (part 21?) includes Sir Henry singing the family song and Old Scrotum's Darnin' Socks.
Recorded 2 December 1975, broadcast 22, 23, 24, 26 December 1975 on John Peel. Christmas at Rawlinson End, parts 1-4; including Aunt Florrie Recalls, Convivial Vivisectionists, The Party's Over, Uncle Otto, Roar of the End, A Half for Chuck .Vivian Stanshall, with Julian Smedley (violin, mandolin) and Andy Roberts (dulcimer) "..Henry dismissed this as malicious truth and the gathering outside the Fool & Bladder was swelled by elephantiasis and gossip. Splendid in his hunting pink, he straddled the lively strong-made turret of his tank and with a stirring blast from a recent curry, read on ...." The episode ends with the song The Party's Over.
Recorded 21 March 1977, broadcast 6 April 1977 on John Peel. An Absence of Whelks; including Aunt Florrie Recalls, Dan, Nice & Tidy. "The story so far... Loathsome Gerald has been caught observing the Sun through a telescope and his squint is now permanent." (Sir H) "Now you squids, prepare for wax!"
Recorded 11 May 1977, broadcast 23 May 1977 on John Peel. Spades, Balls and Sausage Trees; including Wheelbarrow, Aunt Florrie Recalls Vivian Stanshall, with Zoot Money (guitar, piano, vocals) and Barry Dransfield (violin, cello) This episode begins with the classic intro from the film/LP version... "English as tuppence, changing yet changeless as canal water, nestling in green nowhere, armoured and effete," (etc)
Recorded 24 August & 14 December 1977, broadcast 19 December 1977 on John Peel. The Road to Unreason; including Aunt Florrie Recalls, Three Vivisectionists, Mrs Radcliffe (The Beast Inside) Vivian Stanshall, with Zoot Money and Mox (harmonica, flute) "The story so far... Hubert is growing mustard and cress in his left ear and performs even the most intimate of office with his head inclined to one side. Sir Henry's neck has healed nicely and Mrs Radcliffe has been banished from the house. Now read on..."
Recorded 29 March 1978, broadcast 5 April 1978 on John Peel. A Fall of Felt Hats; including Florrie's Waltz, Fool & Bladder, Interlewd, Smeeton. Vivian Stanshall, with Julian Smedley and Jim Cuomo (clarinet, recorder, celeste, leg) "The story so far... The hapless and unusual Hubert, having unhappily chanced upon Sir Henry reliving the bombing of Dresden, has received a terrific thrashing and a crippling kick in the fork."
Recorded 18 July 1978, broadcast 25 July 1978 on John Peel. Cabbage Looking In Mufti; including Ginger Geezer, Socks, Stripe Me a Pinky, Fresh Faced Boys, Aunt Florrie. Vivian Stanshall, with Julian Smedley and Pete Moss. "The story so far.... After the worm chewing outrage and Philippa Portley's hysterical nausea, Hubert has been declared definitely off his chump by the Rawlinson family."
Recorded 11 December 1979, broadcast 24 December 1979 on John Peel. Gooseflesh Steps part 1; including Cracks Are Showing. Vivian Stanshall, with John Kirkpatrick (accordion, concertina, jews harp, backing vocals) and Pete Moss. "Dr Headstuffing held the winking scalpel aloft with the delicacy and firmness of a man who knows his job. The shaking had stopped and from the liver bared before the blade pulsed a ligament of concentration."
Recorded 23 February 1988, broadcast 18 April 1988 on John Peel. The Crackpot at the End of the Rainbow; including Florrie's Waltz, Under the Sea Vivian Stanshall, with Pete Moss (piano, drums, accordion), Kenny Baldock (bass) and Dave Swarbrick (violin, mandolin). Mrs E: "But when he woke up in the middle of the night screaming to tell me that David Attenborough was walking through his chest hairs, well that's how he explained the droppings.." Sir H: "Strap me to a tree and call me Brenda!"
Recorded 9 August 1988, broadcast 23 November 1988 on John Peel. The Eating at Rawlinson EndVivian Stanshall, with Pete Moss, Dave Swarbrick, Tony Roberts and Danny Thompson."In the blue wardrobe of Heaven there are many unused clothes, too tight fitting, yet too beautiful to throw away. And in that wardrobe we hang our likenesses - yellow diaries, yellowed with yesterday, thumb-smeared with tomorrow. But the now - the present, like the hollow screech of flamingoes in search of shrimps, is still vibrantly, shocking pink."
Recorded 6 April 1991, 29 May 1991 broadcast on John Peel. Cackling Gas Capers; including Octavio, Tour De Farce, Achmedillo, Peristaltic Waves. Vivian Stanshall, with Dave Swarbrick, Tony Roberts, Danny Thompson, Rodney Slater, Roger Ruskin Spear, Henry Lowther, John Megginson and Les Cirkel. The Thing at Rawlinson End Recording date unknown. personnel:
Tony Roberts on wind and reeds, Dave Swarbrick on Mandoline and fiddle,
Chris Stainton on keyboards and Bernard O'Neillon Cello and Double bass.