Mic Conway and Captain Matchbox: One Thing Leads To Another!

HAVING revisited the Conway brothers’ Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band following my post about Max Tinkle’s forthcoming book on Australian harmonica players, I googled up some more enthralling info, including some magic footage from YouTube.

The website Milesago which aims to document Australasian music and popular culture 1964-1975 has this to say about the Captain Matchbox band:

This crazily brilliant Melbourne-based ensemble played a uniquely Aussie brand of jug-band blues, spiced with jazz, swing, popular standards, cabaret, sideshow alley schtick and vaudeville routines including slapstick, tap dancing, juggling, magic and even fire-eating.

The Conway brothers were born into a family with strong background in music and popular entertainment, particularly vaudeville theatre and opera — their grandfather was an original vaudevillean, and their Aunt Lyla was a dancer on the famed Tivoli circuit.

Here’s a clip of a young Mic Conway and band being interviewed in 1972 by a miss with a twinset and pearls sort of voice asking questions which rather bemused the interviewees, although they treated her very kindly I thought. This is followed by a moody rendition of “Mobile” with Jim Conway soloing on harmonica.

And here Mic sings the jazz standard “Nagasaki”!

And just to prove that inspired lunacy still lives, here the Captain Matchbox Reunion Band plays “Wangaratta Wahine” at Ormond Hall in June 2011.

One band which has been compared with Captain Matchbox is England’s Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band which displays something of the same endearing madness, but to my mind couldn’t be anything but British – a mixture of Monty Python and the Beatles. The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (also known as The Bonzo Dog Band) was created by a group of British art-school students of the 1960s. Like Captain Matchbox they combined elements of music hall, trad jazz, psychedelic pop with surreal humour and avant-garde art. They came to the attention of a broader British public through a 1968 ITV comedy show, “Do Not Adjust Your Set”.

Here’s a clip which will give you some idea of the Bonzo Dog style: “Canyons of Your Mind”.

And here they play their hit single of 1968, “Urban Spaceman”. Love that Neil Innes who composed and sings the song!

Gorilla was the debut album by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, originally released by Liberty Records in 1967. In 2007, EMI reissued the album on CD with seven bonus tracks. It includes “Jazz, (Delicious Hot, Disgusting Cold)” which savagely parodied their early “trad” jazz roots and featured some of the most deliberately inept jazz playing ever recorded

Click on the gorilla if you can bear to hear it.

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