The cast

Oral histories



- the making of 'The Funky Gibbon'

Bill Oddie:
You won't believe the musical pretensions that went on in my head. I listened to a lot of jazz and a lot of funk, and that period of the '70s for me was fantastic - it was really the era when fusion started. The people I liked were Sly Stone and early Parliament, and I listened to what was happening in jazz at the time, when Miles Davis was coming up with some very interesting hybrid music. With 'Funky Gibbon', I started off - it's almost unbelievable considering how stupid the song is - trying to get the feel of a Miles Davis track, I can't remember which, probably just after Bitches Brew and that sort of era: some really choppy Miles Davis-type rhythm, again with a Sly Stone influence.
We had marvellous musicians on those sessions, but they couldn't get it. They knew what I was sort of trying to do, but I probably listened to that sort of thing more than they did, and it was driving us nuts, so we sent the drummer and the bass-player and the guitarist home. And I had a keyboard player called Dave Macrae, who'd played with Matching Mole and Robert Wyatt and people like that - governor player - and he started playing some clavinet, very Stevie Wonder-type feel to it, and I said, 'That's fine; could you do a synth-bass on it?'
And then I literally started whacking the top of the grand piano. So the actual rhythm-track of 'The Funky Gibbon' has only got me and Dave on it - he plays clavinet and synth-bass and we miked up the top of the piano. Then we got the horn section of Gonzales playing a Memphis Horns-type thing. It was lovely for me to be able to use musicians I liked and try to reproduce sounds which I also listened to. And then put the stupid song over the top of it. The idea that all that effort went into 'The Funky Gibbon'!
It sounds like Parliament on a bad day, or something like that [laughs], that kind of thing. I think subconsciously people feel it - this was always my theory about it, I thought: I want the music to sound good or authentic, whatever style it happens to be in.

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these words were brought to you by
Bill Oddie

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