Viv Stanshall

That most English of geniuses, Viv Stanshall, reviewed live in Melody Maker, 9 December, 1978.

Viv Stanshall
LSE, London

What a revolting lot they are down at Rawlinson End. Old Sir Henry is undoubtedly the most unpleasant of a bunch of feuding aristocrats who make the exploits of the Capulets and Montagues seem like an episode from The Good Life.
Vivian Stanshall is the man we have to blame for the weird tale that is the basis of his latest album “Sir Henry At Rawlinson End,” and on Friday and Saturday night he regaled packed houses at the LSE with a stream of words and music that were both clever, witty and at times utterly baffling.
His long narration, read with difficulty from an ill-lit lectern, was verbose and at times impossible to understand, but it all added to the existentialist, surreal atmosphere. And when the jokes and key lines pierced the torrent of similes and metaphors, the laughter came in free-flowing gusts from an eager, patient and attentive. Viv broke up his tales of doings down at the mythical manor house with bizarre musical interludes, furnished by an orchestra including Andy Roberts on guitar and Roger Spear on home-made percussion.
There were moments when Viv left us all behind, but that great raping, stentorian voice, capable of articulating the most profound nonsense carried us all forward through a jungle of verbal delights. And they cheered him to the echo for a most stimulating safari, climaxing with the entire cast of characters being violently sick.

Chris Welch


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