Neil Innes and Cheese and Onions

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Rutles Highway Revisited

Earlier this week the lovely and brilliant Neil Innes passed away. Now, I understand that his relevance to A Head Full of Wishes may be rather slight but nevertheless I felt that even that warranted celebrating.

In case you were unaware Neil wrote all the perfect Beatles pastiches recorded by The Rutles including Cheese and Onions that Galaxie 500 covered on the Shimmy Disc tribute album Rutles Highway Revisited. Neil did a lot more than just that - read the many obits to see just how prolific he was - and don’t imagine that because The Rutles (and The Bonzos) might have been considered comedy acts that what he wrote was comedy songs. Neil wrote great songs that happened to often be funny too.

Neil Innes was a musical genius (and by all the many accounts a nice guy too) and will be sorely missed.

The Rutles - Cheese and Onions

Back in 1974/5 my dad upgraded to a swanky new “Music Centre” - a large record/tape/radio amalgam that was briefly popular back then. To celebrate our entry into high-fidelity he brought a few new LPs - one was The History of The Bonzos, a recently released compilation. From that moment on and through Rutland Weekend Television, The Rutles, and The Innes Book of Records my love of Neil just grew.

When Galaxie 500’s cover of Cheese and Onions appeared it was like a divine collision of things I loved.

I’m not sure that Galaxie 500 ever played the track live but Dean has taken a couple of pops at it, usually in response to shouts from the audience - here in Australia in 2011:

Dean Wareham - Cheese and Onions

and here in Japan:

Dean Wareham - Cheese and Onions

I only saw Neil play once, with Yo La Tengo back in 2000 - I always meant to see him more but for various reasons it never happened - and now I can’t and for that I’m rather sad. RIP Neil, you’ll be missed.

The Rutles - Cheese and Onions (London 2013)

Originals: Cheese and Onions by The Rutles (covered by Galaxie 500)

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On Fire 30 CD sleeve (design: John Conley)
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