BONGOS, BASS & BOB/Penn Jillette // Never Mind Sex Pistols/ 1988 US 2LPs // NEW
BONGOS, BASS & BOB <> Never Mind The Sex Pistols, Here's Bongos, Bass & Bob <><><> <> <> <> <>
SEALED! PERFECTO! On Blue Vinyl--plus! Comes with Bonus LP:
The Broadway Bootleg...which is the Never Mind LP in a white cover unleashed when Penn & Teller hit Broadway for the first time!
With Penn Jillette, Teller and Kramer--one of the great lost LPs from 1987
Perfect for any Holiday Gift Giving for that impossible-to-shop-for Hipster you know! Or even You...
ORIGINAL 1987 US FIRST PRESSING STEREO LP on 50,000,000,000000,000,000,000 WATTS RECORDS, Catalog # 50,000,000,000,000,000,000,003Bongos, Bass, & Bob is a musical comedy trio whose members are Penn Jillette (of the comedy/magic duo Penn And Teller) (bass), Dean J. Seal (bongos), and Rob "Running" Elk (guitar). The group's sole album, Never Mind the Sex Pistols, Here's Bongos, Bass, and Bob (What on Earth Were They Thinking?), was released in 1988 on Jillette's label, 50 Skidillion Watts. ~ William Ruhlmann, All Music Guide
The bongos come courtesy of Dean J. Seal, the bass is via Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller fame), and the Bob is derived from guitarist Rob "Running" Elk on this funny, eclectic record overseen by producer Kramer. There are 16 songs on Never Mind the Sex Pistols, Here's Bongos, Bass, Bob! (What on Earth Were They Thinking?), and about as many musical styles, including punk, calypso and doo-wop; the acute and amusing lyrics target oral hygiene, Thorazine, girls with guns and thrift shopping ("Clothes of the Dead"). Much more musically competent than expected, this is a superior musical-comedy record, and one that holds up to repeated listenings. ~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide
Sixteen terribly amusing songs about oral hygiene, used duds ("Clothes of the Dead"), rent-control romance, Thorazine and girls with guns, all done to a golden-brown turn by magician-comedian-label-proprietor Penn Jillette (Bass), Dean J. Seal (Bongos) and Rob "Running" Elk (guitar), with Kramer kind of at the kontrols. Loose'n'lively in a hip, know-it-all, post-frat singalong sort of way.[Richard Gehr]
Kramer (Strings), Kramer (Accordion), Kramer (Organ (Hammond)), Kramer (Whistle (Instrument)), Kramer (Noise), Kramer (Producer), Kramer (Slide Guitar), Kramer, Kramer (Siren), Bongos, Bass & Bob (Main Performer), Robert Elk (Guitar), Robert Elk (Vocals), Robert Elk, Fred Frith (Violin), Fred Frith, Ann Magnuson (Vocals (Background)), Rudy Teller (Organ (Hammond)), Rudy Teller (Programming), Rudy Teller (Tabla), Rudy Teller (Vocals), Rudy Teller, Rudy Teller (Photography), Penn Jillette (Bass), Penn Jillette (Guitar), Penn Jillette (Harmonica), Penn Jillette (Vocals), Penn Jillette (Vocals (Background)), Penn Jillette (Hi Hat), Dean J. Seal (Bongos), Dean J. Seal (Vocals), Dean J. Seal (Vocals (Background)), Dean J. Seal (Whistle (Instrument)
A self-proclaimed "speed Mariachi" band composed of Penn Jillette (of Penn and Teller fame) on bass, Dean J. Seal on bongos, and Rob "Running" Elk (Bob) on guitar. They released one album, Never Mind the Sex Pistols, Here's Bongos, Bass and Bob! in 1988 on the 50 Skadillion Watts label. Recorded with help from Kramer and Ann Magnuson of Bongwater, Teller (on backup vocals, no less), and Fred Frith. Mistakenly included in the book Hollywood Hi-fi as one of the examples of why celebrities shouldn't release music, despite getting generally good reviews when it was released.
PLAYBOY MAGAZINE JUNE 1996
A lot of unfortunate recordings have been made. The ouvre of Vanilla Ice comes to mind. But we have George Gimarc and Pat Reeder to thank for "Hollywood Hi-Fi" (St. Martins Griffin), a book that surveys the ill-conceived platters that have polluted music and killed vinyl over the years. The authors point to the obvious: Rock Sings "Pillow Talk," Mae West's "Great Balls Of Fire," "The Ethel Merman Disco Album," and Hugh O'Brian's "TV's Wyatt Earp Sings" -- which includes a narrative encomium to his extra-long pistol (he calls it his "portable posse" and his "one-eyed jury"). But the book also includes harder-to-find gems such as Sebastian Cabot's dramatic reading of Bob Dylan lyrics, and "You're My Girl: Romantic Reflections by Jack Webb." In case you think only vintage efforts are ridiculed, Crispin Glover's CD, "The Big Problem," with its rap song about masturbation, "Auto-Manipulator," and his disturbed cover of "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'," is also here. The book's one misstep is including Penn and Teller's "Never Mind The Sex Pistols, Here's Bongos, Bass and Bob," which was meant to be everything it is.
Obscure and Addictive Whackiness, August 3, 2000 It's a shame that this LP is so supremely unavailable because it is one of the most engaging and entertaining garage efforts ever made. Magician Penn Jillette on bass, (his partner Teller contributes a few sound effects) and a couple of other guys screw around in the studio to create a mess of offbeat and highly unique original songs, from the hilarious "Thorazine Shuffle" to the darkly snide "Got my Gun in My Hand (and I'm Waitin' for My Woman)". Penn is a pretty good bass player, but the musicianship ends about there, and who cares? With the brain-damaged ambience of "Mr. Lemke" and the vengeance anthem "What's Your Name, Babe?", not to mention the straight-ahead rocker, "Die Tryin' To Escape" there is no need to quibble about technique-the fun is in the songs. So find it if you can and spread the news-Bongos, Bass and Bob may rise again.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful: I love you so much, it's clearly unhealthy., March 6, 2006This album features Magician Penn Jillette on bass, and his friends Dean Seal on bongos and Rob Elk on guitar. Some of their other friends contribute an occasional part, most notably Penn's magician partner Teller. The songs are fun and humorous. A few of then have been played on the Dr. Demento Show. If you enjoy novelty songs, you will probably enjoy this album.
Bongos, Bass, and Bob / Never Mind the Sex Pistols, Here's Bongos, Bass, and Bob! (What on Earth were they thinking?) / 50,000,000,000,000,000,000 Watts (1987)
Like most avid record collectors, I have a "most wanted" list. And like most avid and happy record collectors, I occasionally stumble across the records that appear on my "most wanted" list. To make a long story short, the last couple of years have been good to my record collection (and not so good to my wallet), and I've scored almost all of the upper echelon of hard-to-find titles, which left me free to pursue some of the really improbable items.
Never Mind the Sex Pistols... was one of the more obscure goodies on my list; indeed, I'd only ever seen one copy of this 1987 novelty-oddity, and that was at my college radio station back in -- predictably -- 1987. I'm fairly certain I'm the only one who ever played it. I probably should've swiped it while I had the chance; I'm sure it came to a far more ignominious end -- though as our copy was pressed on translucent blue vinyl, it may have been spared the indignity of "record frisbee".
If you've heard of the album at all, it's probably because the best-known member of the BB&B trio is Penn Jillette, the verbal half of Penn and Teller. Penn, who released the album on his now-defunct 50 Skidillion Watts imprint, handles bass and a lot of the vocals, though his collaborators Dean J. Seal (bongos) and Rob "Running" Elk (guitars) score plenty of mic time of their own. (Dr. Demento listeners may recognize Elk and Seal as Mr. Elk and Mr. Seal, or perhaps even as members of Modern Entertainment; all three acts have scored Demento airplay, and Never Mind recycles some Modern Entertainment material.) The trio is aided by a few notables -- Fred Frith on violin, the divine Ann Magnuson (Bongwater, not to mention numerous, seemingly less-than-well-chosen movie roles) on backing vocals, Shimmy Disc impresario (and future Captain Howdy partner) Kramer providing various noises, and some guy named Rudy Teller picking up the vocal and instrumental slack. Hook this batch of goofballs up with some of the most inspired humorous/satirical/New York hipster weirdo lyrics ever written, and damn! Watch the fur fly.
I remembered Never Mind the Sex Pistols... as being absolutely brilliant -- but hey, the memory cheats, right? I wanted to know. I hunted for the album for years, often encountering record store clerks who knew of it -- even a few who claimed their stores had once held a copy -- but I never caught a glimpse of one. It was never a really energetic search, but I checked a lot of record stores. There's probably a huge stack of copies sitting in a warehouse in Florida, but if so, nobody I spoke to knew about it.
Then, one day, it hit me -- I'd never tried looking for Never Mind the Sex Pistols... online. Lo and behold, someone had one.
But there was no need to get excited just yet. The dealer in question, based in Holland, had previously claimed to have other titles from my "most wanted" list, only to respond to my enthusiastic orders with apologetic tales of back-ordered titles and, eventually, reluctant cancellations. Still, I had nothing to lose, right? I ordered it. What the hell.
Imagine my surprise, then, to learn, a few days later, that the album had shipped. And imagine my delight, the following week, to receive a pristine copy of Never Mind the Sex Pistols..., still in the shrinkwrap. Yes, I know it's easy to re-shrinkwrap records, but as those UFO posters say, I want to believe. As far as I'm concerned, I'm the first guy to touch this album since 1987. The fingerprint on -- yes! -- the clear blue vinyl runoff groove has been there, preserved, for fifteen years. The record even smelled like 1987 -- assuming you spent most of 1987 in vaguely damp record shops where people routinely ignored the "no smoking" signs.
"Cut to the chase," you're probably thinking. "Was it as good as you remembered?"
Nope. It was better. Much better. There's barely a dud on the record. To put it floridly, skewed brilliance oozes from this sucker like sweat from Penn's expansive brow.
The music itself is spartan stuff -- the titular bongos and bass, plus occasional guitars and "phony" instruments (don't ask me). The lyrics are the real draw. Do you know of another album for adults that opens with a highly festive, calypso-style song about dental care ("Oral Hygiene")? Or how about the classic "Clothes of the Dead", which highlights the rarely-mentioned morbid side of the second-hand clothing trade and its devotees? For instance,I shop-uh Salvation Army, or if your uncle just died,
sprint to the closet, check out the size.
You see these sneakers? They fit me real well.
Well, the guy that bought them is barefoot in hell. And it only gets more maudlin from there, accented by a suitably heavy-handed bongo rhythm.
"Walking in the Park" is a repetitive bit of noir weirdness involving a seater, a schnauzer, some dog food and some milk and some Woolite -- it all comes together, again and again, until you're singing along in spite of yourself, waiting for the next conjunction of schnauzer and sweater. Yes, the piece sounds suspiciously like an improv bit preserved for posterity, but it's still amusing.
"Temporarily Like Bob Dylan" is a deeply detailed fantasy narrative that must be heard to be understood; the chorus, "Everything is going so smoothly in my dreams," sums it up nicely. The rather dated "Hey Shirley" skewers actress/target-of-the-moment Shirley MacLaine, who in the late eighties was spouting her reincarnation rubbish on every late night talk show. The doo-wop lead-in and coda are sharply contrasted by Jillette's punk-as-fuck, fervently nostril-flaring indictment of MacLaine's fact-free "past-lives" spiel. Sadly, given MacLaine's low media profile circa 2002, it's almost totally irrelevant today.
"What's Your Name Babe?" -- in which Mr. Seal dresses down an airline employee who tries to enforce an archaic dress code -- is a dead-end concept song that moves forward on the strength of outlandish, proto-rap lyrics ("When I'm in your face I'm like Darth Vader / Back in court, I'm another Ralph Nader."), and the side-closing "Rent Control (Our Life Together)" deals with what happens when the end of a romantic relationship also means the loss of a rent-controlled apartment ("Our love has come and gone, but our life together can still go on! I don't want to go to Brooklyn!").
"Clearly Unhealthy" opens the second B-side (did I mention both sides are labeled "Side B"? Oh, the cleverness!) with Penn's inspired tale of a love so powerful that it inspires him to take ludicrous risks:I'm going to take the subway out to Hoboken --
got to tell all those people Sinatra's a fag.
Then I'm going to Asbury Park and say, "The new five record set by the Boss is a drag." There are other death-defying feats -- from drano under the eyelids to some knife-in-the-toaster shenanigans -- that'll make your skin crawl, but I guess there's a comparatively nice love story at the heart of the piece.
"Cain't Grow A Beard" is a self explanatory mock-country lament that invokes the hirsute members of ZZ Top. Neither it nor the subsequent "Payday" are particular high points, but be patient: the album's best song is coming.
"Thorazine Shuffle" is a Modern Entertainment piece, but BB&B's rendition is particularly brilliant; the bass and bongo arrangement is ultra-spartan jazz-via-Velvet Underground, the vocals quiet and businesslike (except for the freakout choruses, where Penn goes a bit nuts himself). The story -- of a mentally disturbed kid named Johnny, his similarly-afflicted girlfriend Frankie Lane, and their heavily tranked romance -- seems more chillingly real in the "we've got a pill for everything" days of 2002 than ever. There's something about this insular version of the song that perfectly conjures the drugged-out bliss it describes -- particularly the bit that actually describes the Thorazine Shuffle:Well now, you take your right arm
and you shake it all around.
And then you open up your mouth
and you drool on the ground.
And then you try to speak
but you just mumble a lot,
And so you hold onto your head,
'cause it's the only one you got. The album remains strong to its end. "Die Trying to Escape" brings punk rock attitude to WWII prison-camp movies (the title makes a surprisingly apt skate-punk-style chorus), "Girls With Guns" is high-caliber surf-rock with Penn at his lustful best, and "Gun in My Hand and I'm Waitin' on My Woman" is a psychotic relationship meltdown prefaced by a rambling, nutso monologue from Jillette. It's a creepy, creepy ending, largely because Penn does too good a job of tapping into the whole gun-wielding psychotic wacko mindset. It's a powerful piece, but certainly not an upbeat ending!
Is Never Mind the Sex Pistols... hysterically, pants-wettingly funny? Well, no, not really, though it has some marvelous moments -- and to its credit, all but its most topical humor remains pertinent and amusing today. As celebrity punk rock novelty records go, it's a respectable piece, made all the more respectable by the fact that it hasn't been reissued to capitalize on Penn and Teller's growing fame. Will a Reggie and the Full Effect album be this funny in fifteen years? I doubt it.
(Never Mind is also unique for being, near as I can tell, the first album to advertise a BBS on its jacket, years before anyone knew what the hell the 'Net was. I had high hopes that the number would still be live today, and that I might find my way onto P&T's ultra-exclusive BBS, the Jungle, but nothing picked up when I dialed in. Oh well.)
It's not for everyone, but if you dig slightly dated New York weirdo hipster novelty humor, are a rabid Penn and Teller fan or just a colored vinyl lover, Never Mind the Sex Pistols...Here's Bongos, Bass and Bob is worth tracking down. And thanks to the magic of the internet, you won't have to travel halfway around the globe to find a copy of your own. Yes, that takes some of the fun out of it, but hey, the dotcom boom is over; spur of the moment record-buying trips to Holland are a thing of the past.
-- G Zahora
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