I Will Not Buy This Record, It Is Scratched: The Monty Python Albums - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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I Will Not Buy This Record, It Is Scratched: The Monty Python Albums

Chris Morley never expects the Spanish inquisition.

Last week, Monty Python star Terry Jones sadly passed away at the age of 77. Among the many tributes paid, fellow Python star Sir Michael Palin described Jones as...
"one of the funniest writer-performers of his generation."
Eric Idle recalled the...
"many laughs [and] moments of total hilarity [shared].
It's too sad if you knew him, but if you didn't you will always smile at the many wonderfully funny moments he gave us."
 John Cleese would add that Jones was...
"a man of so many talents and such endless enthusiasm".
One of those many talents became apparent off-screen. As well as stepping in to direct Life Of Brian & The Meaning Of Life off his own back, having co-directed Monty Python & The Holy Grail with Terry Gilliam on the big screen, Terry Jones turned co-producer with Michael Palin on record, specifically 1971's Another Monty Python Record!

His influence extended right down to the packaging, having Terry Gilliam deface the cover of a recording of Beethoven's Symphony No. 2 in D Major for starters.

The recording process proved somewhat problematic. Terry J would recall that
"We had this horrendous time because we were recording in this rather hippy recording studio.

We were very keen to use the stereo and everything, but what we hadn't realised was that the guy who was doing the recording, who I think was out of his head most of the time, had not been making any notes.

We'd end up with tapes and tapes of material with no idea of where anything was on the tapes. That was a bitter experience."
What was on the tapes was almost without exception re-recordings of previous sketches (as was also the case with the first Monty Python album). Essentially a compilation of sketches from the first series recorded live at the Camden Theatre on May 2,1970 in front of an audience whom Eric Idle would, in retrospect, call particularly dead!

That, though, was not their only criticism. They didn't know it had been recorded in mono, which actually meant they lost out on the ability to demonstrate what they could do in stereo. One track features Graham Chapman walking from one speaker to another to demonstrate an effect now lost due to the BBC's failure to communicate during the recording process, one contributing factor to the eventual decision to pen a six-album deal with Charisma Records.

A key Python collaborator arrived in 1972 with the release of Monty Python's Previous Record. Sound engineer Andre Jacquemin came on board & co-produced with Palin & Jones. The Following year he mixed their next album in his father's garden shed when the time came for The Monty Python Matching Tie & Handkerchief.

Jacquemin would later admit that it all came about by...
“Accident. I met Mike Palin while I was working at Studio G and did a voice-over demo for a friend of his – dialogue, FX, library music. I remember it was very funny material, but I didn’t know who he was.

[It] turned out to be extracts from Python scripts!

In the end, the voice demo took about a year to do, as Michael was always out filming whenever I wanted to play the sketches back for him to listen to.

During this year, in my spare time I would work on the sketches by adding sound effects, putting music on and so on. At the end Michael said... André, this is amazing work you have done here...

I didn’t have much time to watch TV in those days; I was always working! The penny dropped later when John Cleese walked into a meeting – I thought, “Shit, these are Oxbridge graduates!”, and I was lucky to get out of school with a swimming certificate… But Mike was impressed with the demo, gave me a pile of scripts and I began planning the second album.”
Before all that, though, similar trickery was at work in the creation of the famous Flying Circus theme tune, a section of John Philip Sousa's The Liberty Bell repurposed as part of the introduction to the television series.

The version used is by the Band of the Grenadier Guards, the bell strike sampled from the third section with the volume turned up then followed by samples from the opening two sections before the giant foot & a “splat” sound effect.

Palin would later give Andre the money to build a studio of his very own during the recording of Monty Python's Previous Record, and he indeed remains a director of Redwood Studios even now.
“Mike overheard me discussing the idea of getting my own place with my writing partner, Dave Howman – later to co-write Every Sperm is Sacred and Brian Song with me.

A few days later, Mike invited me to dinner, wrote me a cheque and said: “Build your studio.” He’s been a director ever since, and has always taken a particular interest in the recording business and the recording process. “
A first film soundtrack came with the 1975 release of The Album Of The Soundtrack Of The Trailer Of The Film Of Monty Python And The Holy Grail, Palin & Jones once more co-producing with Jacquemin.

The Life Of Brian's soundtrack would generate as much controversy as its parent film, even finding itself banned in Ireland!

As Father Brian D'Arcy put it...
“Anybody who buys the record and finds it funny must have something wrong with their mentality"
With the dawning of the Eighties came the final Python record. Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album serving, as the title perhaps implies, as the last of the six albums of their deal with Charisma.

Several sketches included here actually predate Python itself, though there is a sort of link back to Beethoven with Decomposing Composers featuring a sort of mini-symphony based on first Pachelbel's Canon then snippets of Bach, Tchaikovsky & Mozart.
Beethoven's gone, but his music lives on
And Mozart don't go shopping no more
You'll never meet Liszt or Brahms again
And Elgar doesn't answer the door.
Schubert and Chopin used to chuckle and laugh
Whilst composing a long symphony
But one hundred and fifty years later
There's very little of them left to see.
And while the same may now be sadly true of Terry J at least the albums remain in print. Hopefully minus scratches!

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