What can you really say about comedy’s one and only true super-group? From 1969 onwards, the six members (or One Down, Five To Go if you go by the genius title of their current reunion) of Monty Python shaped the face of comedy as we know it. Often cited as the primary influence for comedic behemoths like Spinal Tap and South Park, the Pythons’ legacy is undeniable and on the eve of what has confirmed as their last joint venture, the collection of their musical output has been reissued (with three previously unreleased songs) in the form of Monty Python Sings (Again).
There’s a pretty big chance some part of your youth was in part underscored by one of the songs on this; one of the most beloved comedy albums of all time. All the hits from each of the timeless Python movies (The Holy Grail, Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life) are present from opening up with the whimsically morbid Always Look on the Bright Side of Life – about which Eric Idle spoke candidly on a recent episode of Inside Comedy with David Steinberg – to closing with one of Flying Circus’ finest moments, the Lumberjack Song.
Whether you’re a fan of the edgier, more existential musings of The Meaning of Life’s closing theme or the philosophical name-dropping of a bunch of boozed up Aussies all named Bruce, the Pythons have always blurred the line between sophistication and crassness in a way that has undeniably stood the test of time. (Indeed Terry Jones, it is “frightfully good to have a dong” as you say on the ever-subtly titled Penis Song).
The original Monty Python Sings record was released in 1989 as a tribute to the late Graham Chapman and tied together classics like Sit On My Face, Knights of the Round Table and the Silly Walk Song with lesser-known gems like Finland, Medical Love Song and Money. 25 years on though, the songs are as fresh and hilarious as ever. The fact that the last official Python record release was called The Hastily Cobbled Together For A Fast Buck Album in 2006 is all the more endearing in the age of major-label reissue mania.
The three new additions The Naval Medley (which revisits Penis Song in true Royal Marching Band style), the almost-too-‘90s sounding Nudge Rap/Blackmail gives Idle’s immortal “Nudge nudge, wink wink” sketch the remix treatment and the pseudo-vaudevillian-sideshow vibe of Rainy Day in Berlin are all great, but kind of unnecessary when they exist in the shadows of all the true legacy songs on this collection.
If you were unfortunate enough to have been brought up in a house where Monty Python was not reverently considered the pinnacle of humour, then an album like this is a good starting point. If however, like a lot of the western world, you were sat down at a young age and wondered why your parents permitted nudity and dick-jokes (in context, of course), then Monty Python Sings (Again) will remind you of the true, perennial genius of six incredibly intelligent men pushing the boundaries of comedy for decades in their wake.