Bonzos styled take on a Donovan hit, backed with beautiful "Disney Girls" cover
Year of Release: 1976
When the irony-coated easy listening revival arrived in Britain in the nineties, there was a tendency to behave as if it was something new. In truth, knowing and faintly mocking easy listening covers have been a comedic part of pop music since at least the fifties, when rock and roll found itself fair game for all manner of inappropriately intricate cover versions.
During the seventies, session musician Graham Preskett also formed the Medium Wave Band ensemble who set about producing two delightful little singles of this ilk. The first one "Radio" has already been featured on this blog, but their cover of Donovan's "Mellow Yellow" is probably better value for money. Where the original swells over with false bonhomie, especially during the irritating studio "party" towards the end (fake recording studio parties never fail to destroy the mood of a record for me) the Medium Wave Band tighten their ties and button up their jackets for this and deliver a much more considered version. Doubtlessly indebted to Vivian Stanshall and actually admirable in its detail, like all the best comedy records this is part-joke, part careful study. To be honest, I get more plain and ordinary enjoyment out of it than I do giggles.
The B-side "Disney Girls" is actually the second seventies easy listening version of the track to be featured on "Left and to the Back", the other being the King Singers attempt. It's not hard to understand why this might have been an appealing track for bands with middle-of-the-road leanings to cover at the time, and in both cases the attempt comes across as being quite pure and heart-felt. This version has the edge for me, though, and is surprisingly moving - an emotional statement on the falseness of nostalgia with an old-time styling rather than a simple off-the-cuff parody. Do give it a listen, it didn't deserve to be tucked away on a B-side.
A lovely little 45, this one, which I'm surprised didn't sell in greater quantities. Had it been issued nearer the close of the sixties at the height of the fame of the Bonzos and The New Vaudeville Band, it would almost certainly have fared better.