What does it sound like?:
HOW SWEET TO BE AN IDIOT was Neil’s debut solo album, first issued on United Artists in 1973, its title and cover design reflecting Neil’s eccentric sense of humour.
‘Despite the poor sales and lack of chart activity How Sweet To Be An Idiot serves as yet another reminder of what a remarkable talent Neil Innes was. Reflecting on the album in 2013 Neil told the blog Transatlantic Modern “I am one of the shrinking violets in this business because I’ve never been that keen on being famous. I like to share observations and feelings and things like that, but I can’t stand the idea of being popular.”
A couple of confessions, I planned to review this relaxing on my holiday unfortunately this enforced ‘ holiday’ scuppered those plans. I also planned to listen to this with a duck on my head, alas that plan also went awry.
Plus I have had to listen monaurally as due to build up of cerumen in one ear and I have no hope of having it cleared at the moment.
(You didn’t get this with the Melody Maker).
Neil left this planet in December last year but left this his first solo album which is now rereleased by Cherry Red records. Cherry Red were working with Neil on this project prior to his tragic death.
The CD does feel like two albums the HSTBAI proper and a collection of either unreleased singles or singles proper and b sides. I confess to playing ‘What Noise Annoys a Noisy Oyster’ with astonishing frequency in the students’ common room at Leeds Poly back in the seventies.
HSTBAI being Neil’s outlet for his ‘proper songs’ after what he called ‘the albatross of comedy’ some of these would not sound out of place on a contemporary Elton John album, (in the Innes Book of Records he spoofed EJ with the song Godfrey Daniels) the song ‘Feel No Shame’ sounds like something by solo McCartney and L’Amour Perdu has some wonderful French (or more probably Franglais) puns ‘ Je t’adore .. and windows too’.
Neil was a master of pastiche (non of it corny either).
Of course the title track gained additional fame when Oasis borrowed the opening for ‘Whatever’ Neil received a writing credit, in 96 Oasis were due to appear in the Rutles video for ‘Shangri-La’ (which references ‘Whatever’). Unfortunately an in-band disagreement by Oasis (unsurprisingly) put paid to that idea.
Some of the songs that appear would later return in The Innes Book of Records a follow on from Rutland Weekend Television that Neil appeared in with Eric Idle with whom he would form the Prefab Four; the fabulous Rutles. One of the highlights of the last few years was seeing the Rutles live and a deep sadness that we shall not look upon their like again or hear Neil perform solo again.
It would be interesting to hear Neil’s take on the strange times we are living through now..
What does it all *mean*?
Dada, Ducks and Duchamp
Goes well with…
Ducks on the head,
I believe it’s today
Might suit people who like…