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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quintessential English Eccentricity at its best,
This review is from: Sir Henry At Rawlinson End (Audio CD)I came across this album in the early 80s, after hearing some of Viv's eccentric musings on the John Peel show, and having been a Bonzos fan for years.
His masterfully precise use of the English language evokes the pompous, gout-ridden world of faded landed gentry, personified by Sir Henry ("Afterlife, Afterbirth, don't hold with any of it") Rawlinson. Viv gets more mileage out of a seemingly ordinary phrase than a theatre full of double entendres.
Worth listening to very closely, again and again (especially when stoned ... apparently). Especially when Sir Henry's imbecile brother "offers his seat to a lady in a public lavatory. There is considerable confusion."
In my opinion (obviously!) there is not a weak moment on the whole album.
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awkward beasts, winkles,
This review is from: Sir Henry At Rawlinson End (Audio CD)Born out of short interludes in Bonzo Dog albums and Peel Show contributions in the late Seventies, this recording contains, quite possibly, the most entertaining 50 minutes you are ever likely to enjoy. The scene is set in the faded grandeur of dust-shrouded aristocratic manor Rawlinson End where the terrifying Sir Henry and a cast of larger than life grotesques, of League of Gentlemen proportions, go about their daily excursions under Stanshall's relentless microscope.
His use of language is extraordinary, and he can move from the bawdily asinine (the downtrodden manservant is called Scrotum: the wrinkled retainer) to space-cadet surreal in the course of a single sentence.
The piece is crammed to the gills with throwaway one-liners... for example when some of the characters are playing cards, one remarks to Sir Henry "why, if filthy fingers were trumps, what a marvellous hand you'd have."
All is narrated with his plummy, rounded, and hugely expressive voice morphing wonderfully into each perfectly realised character. The scenes are intersperced with musical interludes, which the idiosyncratic but canny Stanshall made timelessly gauche (echoes of the Bonzo's here).
Viv Stanshall's exquisitely sharp, savage and witty descriptions paint some of the most vivid and side splittingly laugh-out-loud funny scenes this writer has ever heard. The rich density of the descriptions and narrative will bring the listener back time and again to find nuances and meanings that elude first listens. Without doubt, the album is an undeniable work of genius from the finest hour of this sadly missed English eccentric ... Indispensible.
61 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes me glad to be English,
This review is from: Sir Henry At Rawlinson End (Audio CD)The original version of the late Mr Stanshall's magnum opus, it is the story of a deranged English squire, and his manor house full of grotesques.
Stealing a line from it, "English as tuppence, changing yet changeless as canal water, Rawlinson End sat armoured and effete." This is true, electric soup poetry. It parodies, and laments the end of an England that never really existed.
Warm, english surrealism, as comforting as strong tea and hot toast. Buy it, it will improve your life.
39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, fascinating and beautifully strange.,
This review is from: Sir Henry At Rawlinson End (Audio CD)Perhaps Viv's finest hour. On this CD you will find a segment of the gorgeous and brutal story of Sir Henry at Rawlinson End. I have listened to this album many, many times over the years and it still gives me the greatest pleasure. His reading of the text is superb and the songs are rich, ridiculous and marvellous. Along with Milligan and the Pythons, Stanshall remains one of the most original comic writers and performers of the last century.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic of English eccentricity,
By A Customer
This review is from: Sir Henry At Rawlinson End (Audio CD)Viv Stanshall was an unusual man. Having become famous as one of the leads with the Bonzo Dog (Dada) Band in the 1960's, he became a(n ir)regular on the John Peel show over the next decade and beyond.
Here he developed a concept originally included in the Final Bonzo Album - 'lets make up and be friendly', and Rawlinson End appeared in 10 minute slots on the Peel Show.
Released in 1978, the album was recorded as a monologue of many parts. The gruff, port soaken Sir Henry, Scrotum - the 'wrinkled retainer' (his staff) and many more diverse characters are all played by Stanshall, as he demonstrates his genius for comic prose, and aided in various musical diversions by Neil Innes - a compatriot from the Bonzos.
The story was released as a film in 1980 starring Trevor Howard and Patrick Magee with a small but well cast part for Stanshall.
The sequel album - Sir Henry at Ndidis Krall bears no comparison to genius of the original and Stanshall claimed to have not remembered recording it.
Vivian Stanshall made several other albums including the hugely entertaining and musically excellent Teddy Boys Don't Knit (available on CD). He also continued to work on radio and provided voice-overs and material for several commercials including the memorable Ruddles Beer ads.
Viv died suddenly during a fire in March 1995. John Peel presented a tribute on BBC TV a month later.
His like will, most certainly, not be seen again...
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vivian Stanshall's poetic & witty masterpiece,
This review is from: Sir Henry At Rawlinson End (Audio CD)This is Vivian Stanshall's crowning achievement - a poetic and brilliantly witty epic tale delivered in Viv's wonderful rich baritone voice with musical interludes. It features the decadent eccentric aristocrat, Sir Henry Rawlinson, along with his grotesque relatives and acquaintances inhabiting Rawlinson End, a stately pile "nestling in green nowhere" in the English countryside.
John Peel believed that Viv Stanshall was "on his day,the funniest man in Britain" and along with producer John Walters encouraged Viv to develop the Sir Henry character on his Radio 1 show which led to this marvellous album.
Viv Stanshall's influences included Marcel Duchamp, Dada and Oscar Wilde and all are evident on this bizarre, hilarious and literate masterpiece.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mad prose poetry to make you laugh and laugh,
This review is from: Sir Henry At Rawlinson End (Audio CD)One of the most perfect things in existence. Pure poetry read by the perfect voice. Extremely funny, but also beautifully written prose as well. With surreal lines such as "his face was a crumpled tissue on which a lobster might well have wiped it's bottom," you kind of get the idea. I grew up with this album and have spent my life bemusing people quoting from it. "I don't know what I want, but I want it now!" "Do you know what a palmist once said to me? She said WILL YOU LET GO!" Rawlinson End exists in it's own wonderfully preserved corner of British eccentricity and I would recommend anyone to listen to it. It will enrich your life I promise.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterwork from a true English eccentric,
This review is from: Sir Henry At Rawlinson End (Audio CD)I jus readded this to my cd collection after first having the vinyl album many years ago in a galaxy far, far away.
Vivian Stanshall's loquacious monologue demonstrates his intellectual abilities often hidden through the vehicle of the Bonzo Dog Do Dah Band. This group were often written off as a comedy group along the lines of the New Temperance Seven whereas in fact they had more affinity with Frank Zappa in their pithy social commentary.
Stanshall was the epitomy of the band and yet was clearly something much, much, more. I encountered him in 1968 on the stage of the Empire Theatre in Sunderland following a performance where they topped the Bill made up of Mad Dog, Yes, Roy Harper and the Bonzo's. The maestro was sat in a chair on the stage overlooking the empty theatre and sipped champagne with his two great Dane sentries on each flank. Clearly no ordinary rock star he.
There are many similarities between himself and Kevin Ayers which demonstrate themselves in ways other than music. Although not generally seen as such, Vivian was the quintissential English gentleman, articulate and free thinking.
It is my earnest belief that inspiration for this piece of exquisite art came from two major sources. As I listened to this for the first time for years I realised that there are references therein about the previous owner of George Harrison's house Friar Park, Sir Frankie Crisp, who was renowned as a great eccentric himself. Vivian's portrayal of Sir Henry melds together the image of Sir Frankie Crisp within the overall gothic novels of Mervyn PeakeThe Gormenghast Novels
to depict a world in it's own way as weird and wonderful as Alice in Wonderland.
Sir Henry at Rawlinson's End is a great work of art and deserves to be treated as such.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Road To Unreason...,
This review is from: Sir Henry At Rawlinson End (Audio CD)Not as some have said, the original version of 'Sir Henry at Rawlinson End' but by far and away the most concise. It's all you really wanted to know about Henry Rawlinson in an easy to swallow, beautifully performed hour.
And I've enjoyed this hour for what must amount to weeks in repeated plays. Even now, a word or phrase can suddenly shine out as a meaning or reference becomes clear. The narrative and songs are examples of Vivian at his very best and it comes as no surprise that this album continues to enthrall listeners decades after it's first release.
It's actually a condensed version or fragment of a much bigger series of recorded works which were performed in an equally erudite and mellifluous fashion for radio. Not that this album contains any part of the actual radio transmissions themselves.
One day perhaps, with enough encoragement, the BBC may release the original recordings. Until then the avid listener can only imagine the content of episodes such as 'Spades, Balls and Sausage Trees', 'Cabbage Looking In Mufti', 'Crackpot At The End Of The Rainbow' and 'The Road To Unreason'.
Utterly unique and extraordinary, this single hour of Stanshall opens up a world of astonishing beauty and invention like no other.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime,
This review is from: Sir Henry At Rawlinson End (Audio CD)Does it get any better? If you like the Bonzos or Stanshall in general then this is a must. I dont think I have ever heard such exquisite wordplay, fine diction and off the wall humour in one place before.
My only question - When is the film going to be available on DVD?
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