Below the words: ‘Strange Tongues’ by Vivian Stanshall. From the 1974 album Men Opening Umbrellas Ahead (re-released on vinyl last year – one of my better purchases). A record full of favours, perhaps; that’s Steve Winwood on bass. Former Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band cohort Neil Innes also makes an appearance.
I’ve been plotting a Viv Stanshall piece since before this blog first staggered toward the daylight – only I’ve never been sure where to begin. The chiselled beauty behind this particular track is, I’d suggest, self-evident – something statuesque, demanding pause for thought – yet beyond that, I doubt I have the suitable words available in my arsenal. The territory is complex, defined by false leads and counter-intuitive notions. Even keeping things strictly music-related isn’t straight-forward; each rhythm resplendently riddled with dark detail and an unnerving, iridescent humour. Cultural baggage, you could call it – I struggle to think of another artist whose personality is so ingrained in the material.
Instead: better to sit back; to encourage this track’s foggy, maudlin quality to creep forward.
Vivian Stanshall / Strange Tongues