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Sir Henry At Ndidi's Kraal

Vivian Stanshall

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Album Review

Former Bonzo Dog leader Stanshall continued his Sir Henry "epic" with Sir Henry at Ndidi's Kraal, a record that probably raised hackles on its release in 1983, and maybe even more so now, with its portrayal of the white Englishmen and his superior attitude toward the black South Africans working for him — at one point, he even paints letters of the alphabet on them (in white gloss) because he can't pronounce their names. But the thing to be remembered is that it's meant to be funny, a parody of those colonials who trampled unwittingly all over native customs in the name of Empire and civilization. On that level, it certainly succeeds, although following the narrative (assuming that's actually possible) is like finding your way out of the labyrinth; after so many twists and turns, it becomes almost impossible. Apart from one song, it's all spoken word, a vehicle for Stanshall's remarkable stream-of-consciousness wit and wordplay, while the musicians (including future Mekon Suzi Honeymoon) remain generally unobtrusive — which is just as well, since the tale and its telling are quite mesmerizing without any accompaniment. So long as you don't ask what it's about, and take it as a gleeful exercise in the surrealism of the English language, you'll love this disc by the late Stanshall.

Biography

Born: 21 March 1943 in Shillingford, Oxfordshire, Englan

Genre: Spoken Word

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Dubbed "the court jester of the underground rock scene in the 1960s" by influential DJ John Peel, Vivian Stanshall earned his greatest notoriety as the original tenor in the absurdist Bonzo Dog Band, although he was also a noted artist and comedian. Stanshall was born on March 21, 1943, in East London, England, before World War II forced him and his mother to evacuate to Oxfordshire. While attending art school under the well-known pop artist Peter Blake (the designer of...
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Sir Henry At Ndidi's Kraal, Vivian Stanshall
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