Podcast – Bigger Than Rod

Robert and Ben celebrate the pre-fab four and the genius of the late Neil Innes with a look at Innes and Eric Idle’s classic film The Rutles, via Monty Python, The Beatles, The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, The Goons, mockumentaries and the grim reality of the music business.

Sleeve notes are below.

With Robert JE Simpson and Ben Simpson.
Produced by Ben Simpson

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Episode URL: https://player.whooshkaa.com/episode?id=544033

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We’re trying out a few variations to the podcast this run, partly for creative reasons, but also through necessity. We’ve found that with each of us working outside of CinePunked, it can prove incredibly difficult to assemble us all at the same time. We’ve had a few two-handers already – Rachael and I frequently deliver live events and workshops as a twosome, and the interview pods are always two-handers, but this marks the first time its just been Ben and me. In fact, this is the most you’ll have ever heard from Ben on the show.

I’d been making plans for this year’s content from early 2019, and on my list all along has been The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash – a 1970s comedy from Eric Idle and Neil Innes that affectionately spoofs the legend of The Beatles. I figured it could make for an interesting discussion, and I’d made tentative looks into running a live event around it. Indeed, in mid 2019 I went to Edinburgh to see The Rutles live, and met Neil in person, and had sent the first tentative message with a view to trying to coax him over to Belfast. His sudden, unexpected death on 29 December put an end to that plan. It also hit hard, not just with me, but for many of my friends, who were either fans and/or friends of Neil in real life. I thought then that we should bring forward our plans for a Rutles pod.

Ben isn’t just our engineer/producer, but he’s also a musician, and has performed in a number of bands, so I figured he’d probably have quite a bit to say for this. With Rachael unable to commit to the quick turnover, rather than not do the show, we’ve left it as an open conversation. Ostensibly the focus is on The Rutles, but there’s also a lot about Neil’s other work, both with Monty Python and the Bonzos. There’s less about Eric’s contribution, and that’s not to belittle Eric (I’ve long been a fan of Idle, and we’ll be returning to him in due course), but this is in many respects a tribute to Neil. Hopefully it isn’t too lecture-like, but it is rather personal too, and the listener might be getting a little more insight into our upbringing than we intend. There’s a side-track into the struggles with the arts and the music business too that is worth staying with, because its utterly relevant to The Rutles story.

Once again, a number of short audio clips are used to colour and illustrate the discussion, and these are used within the parameters of criticism and fair use. The opening bars are from Shangrila, off The Rutles’ Archaeology album – it seemed appropriate, as they incorporate Neil’s iconic anthem ‘How Sweet To Be An Idiot’. There’s other extracts from the All You Need Is Cash soundtrack, a little Peter Sellers, the Bonzo’s Jazz, Delicious Hot, Disgusting Cold (Ben couldn’t recall the title during the record), the unlikely Dirk and Stig track ‘Ging Gang Goolie’ and a certain Quality Magic Moment from the 80s. We’re restricted so we can’t use whole songs, but I hope what’s there whets your appetite to digging out more of Neil’s music, it repays repeated listening.

Recorded in Comber on 4 January 2020. Engineered and mixed by Ben in studio. Final edit by me and uploaded on 8 January 2020.


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