Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album

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Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album
Studio album by Monty Python
Released 1980
Genre Comedy
Length 46:23
Label Charisma / Arista
Producer Eric Idle
Monty Python chronology
Monty Python's Life of Brian
(1979)
Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album
(1980)
Monty Python's The Meaning of Life
(1983)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[1]

Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album (or simply Contractual Obligation Album) is an album released by Monty Python in 1980, a mixture of songs, new sketches and some rerecorded pre-Python work. As the title suggests, the album was put together to complete a contract with Charisma Records. At least one of the skits on the album ("Bookshop," also called "Bookshop Sketch") predates the group itself, having been performed on the ITV series At Last the 1948 Show in 1967.

Controversies[edit]

Two tracks on the album caused controversy when first released.

The lead track, "Sit on My Face" was sung to the tune of "Sing as We Go," a song made famous by Gracie Fields, and reportedly its inclusion led to legal threats against the Python team for copyright infringement over the melody.[2] Nonetheless, the song was retained on the album and was later lip-synched by the troupe as the opening of Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl. It was also performed by Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and Neil Innes at the Concert for George, the memorial concert for George Harrison, at the Royal Albert Hall in 2002. At the end of the song the four performers turned around and mooned the audience.

"Farewell to John Denver," which contained a few bars of Eric Idle impersonating John Denver singing a parody of "Annie's Song," followed by the sound of the singer being strangled, was removed from subsequent pressings of the album on legal advice (reports differ as to whether it had to do with the licensing of "Annie's Song" or the depiction of the popular singer being murdered), and was replaced by an apology spoken by Terry Jones. Later CD releases of the album reinstated the John Denver track, although the 2006 reissue reverts to Terry Jones' apology. (The original "Farewell To John Denver" track can be found on the Arista CD The Monty Python Instant Record Collection.) Original advance print advertising by Charisma Records included the tagline, "Now A Major Lawsuit."[3]

Other versions[edit]

As noted above, some pressings of Contractual Obligation Album omit the "Farewell to John Denver" track. The original UK vinyl pressing also contained an unintentionally out-of-sync mix on the song "I'm So Worried" which was subsequently corrected.

In the U.S. there was no need to clear the John Denver parody, as parodies are covered under U.S. copyright law. The U.S. version of the album contains both "Farewell To John Denver" and the corrected version of "I'm So Worried".

A CD version was later released. Two versions of the compact disc exist.

The isolated CD release contains the U.S. version of the album, but the box set The Instant Monty Python CD Collection (1994) uses the UK second edition of the album.

Two versions of "Medical Love Song" also exist; the longer version, which can be heard on the compilation CD Monty Python Sings, contains additional verses. This is also the case with the song "Henry Kissinger."

The original cassette version also has an additional track. Side 1 is several minutes shorter than side 2. At the end of Side 1 (about 0:45 after "I'm So Worried"), Michael Palin states that there will be a "tiresome gap" before the tape ends. Several minutes (about 4:52) of silence ensue, followed at the very end by Eric Idle stating that the gap was over and the tape may be turned to side 2. The amended UK cassette release (with the John Denver section removed and 'fixed' I'm So Worried) features an alternative message from Terry Jones at the end in place of the Michael Palin and Eric Idle messages.

Like all the EMI Monty Python albums Contractual Obligation gained a special edition release in 2006 with bonus tracks included. However, these tracks do not contain new material (which appears on some of the other albums) and just consists of two interviews, and demo versions of two songs.

Two bands drew their name from "Toad the Wet Sprocket," an imaginary group featured in the Eric Idle monologue "Rock Notes." The name had originally been featured in a parody of The Old Grey Whistle Test on Rutland Weekend Television in 1975. The first Toad the Wet Sprocket was a British heavy metal band of the 1970s, which released a few singles and appeared on the 1980 compilation album Metal for Muthas. The second Toad the Wet Sprocket was a longer-lived American alternative band of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Palin would later perform an impromptu rendition of "Finland" during an episode of his 1992 travelogue series Pole to Pole in which he is shown travelling across the country.

Track listing[edit]

Side One[edit]

  1. "Sit on My Face" (Eric Idle & Harry Parr-Davies) – 0:44
  2. "Announcement" (Eric Idle & Steve James) – 0:21
  3. "Henry Kissinger" (John Cleese, Eric Idle, André Jacquemin & Neil Innes) – 0:48
  4. "String" (John Cleese & Eric Idle) – 2:19
  5. "Never Be Rude to an Arab" (Terry Jones & André Jacquemin) – 1:00
  6. "I Like Chinese" (Eric Idle & André Jacquemin) – 3:10
  7. "Bishop" (Terry Jones & Graham Chapman) – 2:33
  8. "Medical Love Song" (Graham Chapman, Eric Idle & André Jacquemin) – 2:09
  9. "Farewell to John Denver" (Graham Chapman, John Denver & Terry Gilliam) – 0:15 (omitted on some releases and replaced by an Apology by Terry Jones)
  10. "Finland" (Michael Palin & André Jacquemin) – 2:18
  11. "I'm So Worried" (Terry Jones & André Jacquemin) – 3:18
  12. "End of Side 1 Announcement" (Michael Palin & Terry Jones) – 5:29 (cassette version only)

Side Two[edit]

  1. "I Bet You They Won't Play This Song on the Radio" (Eric Idle) – 0:54
  2. "Martyrdom of St. Victor" (Terry Jones & Michael Palin) – 1:41
  3. "Here Comes Another One" (Terry Jones, Michael Palin, André Jacquemin & David Howman) – 1:58
  4. "Bookshop" (Graham Chapman & John Cleese) – 4:22
  5. "Do What John?" (Eric Idle & André Jacquemin) – 0:34
  6. "Rock Notes" (Eric Idle) – 2:11
  7. "Muddy Knees" (Terry Jones & André Jacquemin) – 2:10
  8. "Crocodile" (Terry Jones & Michael Palin) – 2:34
  9. "Decomposing Composers" (Michael Palin) – 2:43
  10. "Bells" (John Cleese & Graham Chapman) – 2:22
  11. "Traffic Lights" (Michael Palin, Terry Jones, André Jacquemin & David Howman) – 1:55
  12. "All Things Dull and Ugly" (Graham Chapman, John Cleese, André Jacquemin, David Howman & Cecil Frances Alexander) – 1:28
  13. "A Scottish Farewell" (Terry Jones, Michael Palin, André Jacquemin & David Howman arr. Terry Gilliam) – 0:23

2006 bonus tracks[edit]

  • "Contractual Obligation" - Terry Jones And Graham Chapman Promotional Interview
  • "Radio Ad Obligation Promo"
  • "Medical Love Song" [Alternate Demo Version]
  • "I'm So Worried" [Demo Version]

Performers[edit]

Additional performers[edit]

Credits[edit]

  • Eric Idle—producer
  • André Jacquemin—assistant producer and chief engineer
  • Rob Briancourt—assistant engineer
  • John Du Prez [credited under his real name, Trevor Jones]—musical production and arrangements
  • Basil Pao—sleeve design
  • Fred Tomlinson—musical director of backing vocals
  • Kevin Hodge—mastering engineer

Jim Beach is credited as "the lawyer the Pythons wronged"

John Cleese and Marty Feldman performed the original version of "Bookshop" for At Last the 1948 Show (episode airing 1 March 1967 on ITV). Another version of the sketch was later performed by Bob Hope on one of his mid-1980s TV specials for NBC.

"Sit on My Face" and "Never Be Rude to an Arab" were performed as part of the film Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl. Years later, Michael Palin was filmed singing a verse from "Finland" during an episode of his 1992 travelogue series Pole to Pole during a segment in which he is shown traveling across that country. A heavily edited version of "Finland" is used as the opening song of the stage musical Spamalot (ending with a historian exasperatedly yelling "I said England!")

Awards[edit]

Grammy Awards

Year Award Result
1981 Best Comedy Album Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ Allmusic review
  2. ^ "Monty Python - the Records". h2g2. BBC. August 15, 2002. Retrieved 2011-03-17. 
  3. ^ Monty Python: The Case Against by Robert Hewison, published 1989 by Heinemann.