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When Neil Innes passed away on 29th December 2019,many wouldn't have had a clue who he was,but his passing was at least mentioned on the news and in various music mags,and he quite rightly got the plaudits he deserved.

But people of a certain age will remember him as an integral part of Monty Python,the TV series and the movies,as he wrote the vast majority off songs on that TV show and the movies.Monty Python was even imported to the states TV screens.He would hook up with members of Monty Python again,in a Beatles pastiche/spoof,but i'll cover that later.

Before this,in musical terms,the half Scottish Neil"James" Innes,was in the "novelty"group The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band,who maybe known to most on here as appearing in The Beatles film "Magical Mystery Tour"but also through their big hit "I'm The Urban Spaceman"incidentally produced by Paul McCartney under the alias Apollo C.Vermouth and Gus Dudgeon.They also had a kids UK TV show called" Do Not Adjust Your Set",a satirical show,not unlike Monty Python in some ways but aimed at children,but accidentallly proved popular with adults too.

I'm getting ahead of myself,as i really want to cover the music of Neil Innes,and the sounds i enjoy that he wrote,his career was long,but i really want to concentrate mainly on the 60s and 70s,and his contribution to the British musical menu.

The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band(later shortened to The Bonzo Dog Band thankfully)formed when they were art students,and influenced by the Dada art movement.For me they are an accquired taste as i find much of the humour featured on their albums tiring and unfunny after hearing them a few times,but this humour was rather common at this time in the uk during the mid to late 60s,and of course transferred to TV too,which proved very popular with more stoned out student and arty types,and their out there appearance and chaotic humour and behaviour certainly fitted with the burgeoning psychedelic scene, but in 2022,does very little for me.
They released 5 albums in total,one being a contractual obligation in the 70s,but i'll cover the songs i think are worthy of mentioning from those albums and single sides.

Debut album :GORILLA(1967)
Oooffttt,i find the majority off this unlistenable,its a real barrage of music hall like ditties,skits and humorous sketches,in musical form,i ONLY need to hear this album once.Out of the original 15 titles,for me not many top pickings in music,but here are the titles that i do think are worth mentioning:
THE EQUESTRIAN STATUE-(Neil Innes)Its a rather quaint marching like harpsichord laden number,manic but enjoyable.

MUSIC FOR THE HEAD BALLET-(Neil Innes)Harpsichord instrumental,which gives it a elizabethan vibe,nothing spectacular.

PIGGY BANK LOVE-(Neil Innes)This is excellent,best song for me on the album,it's a nice n light 60s pop tune,think the more musical highlights from Giles Giles and Fripps"Cheerful Insanity"album.

ALL albums after this are by BONZO DOG BAND

WE ARE NORMAL(innes/stanshall)-Love this,it's harder psych inspired lunacy of a number,no silly music hall annoyances on this.

POSTCARD(innes/stanshall)-On the whole,a lovely mellow airy pop number,but it's vibe is slightly ruined by annoying musical interludes by Stanshall,whos eccentricity wears very quick indeed,to the point of annoying
BEAUTIFUL ZELDA((Neil Innes)-A left of centre piece of pop weirdness,with a 50s doo wop style backing vocal,but it is surprisingly catchy and enjoyable.

CAN BLUE MEN SING THE WHITES(stanshall)-Yep a electric blues workout,with a too clever for its own good title,with harmonica,heavy bass,guitar,and ridiculous vocals by Viv Stanshall.Nothing great,but included as its one of very few kinda straight musical numbers by Viv Stanshall.

HUMANOID BOOGIE(neil innes)-Top notch,clever and ahead off its time piece of psychedelia,with treated vocals,snatches of mellotron,piano lines and big fuzzed guitar,along with studio effects and tricks.This actually sound like neo psych.

ROCKALISER BABY(innes/stanshall)-This has a slight 66 era Fresh Cream vibe to it,but its a piano led pop/rock number,with accentuated cockney spoken part,and that awful posh english eccentric voice of viv Stanshall making an unwelcome appearance,but the song itself is rather good.

RHINOCRATIC OATHS(innes/stanshsall)This could be an out take from Giles Giles and Fripp "Cheerful Insanity"album,in the Earnest Of Being George territory,but this has a catchy thing going on,and it ends very abruptly,making you wonder if youve sat on the cd remote control.

ELEVEN MUSTACHIOED DAUGHTERS(stanshall)I'l be honest,i dread when i just see Viv Stanshalls name on writing credits,but this is weird but good,very similar in parts and vibe to Twink on his Think Pink album,but the vocal parts give this a real trippy vibe,mainly an instrumental,with viv yapping nonsense low in the mix.

extra tracks on 2007 cd reisue

BANG BANG(sonny bono)Yep a cover,but done in a slight piss take style,but for some reason,i really appreciate it,seemingly an attempt for a single,as the record company where hassling them for something commercial and saleable.....and this is what they gave them....heehee,love that.

MR APOLLO(innes/stanshall)This is the German issue mix,this is a tripped out mix of psychedelia,with heavy organ and guitar,but laced with manic eccentricity,that only the English could get away with.

The following album,includes songs they used for the "Dont Adjust Your Set" TV show on Thames TV,
Album 3.TADPOLES(1969)
SHIRTS(rr.spear)-Heehee,mainly a spoken word thing with Viv accosting members off the public in Willesden Green,rather amusing,and a good historical period piece,i usually dislike stuff like this,but hearing normal peoples voices from the past resonates with me,then unexpectedly you get 90 seconds of an Elvis like parody with music.

I'M THE URBAN SPACEMAN(neil innes)-Their big international hit,produced by a Beatle,and i'm sure helped to success with their unique appearance on TV pop shows,a totally out off it looking bunch of miscreants you've ever saw,with Roger Spear swinging some pipe over his head,plus it is a totally mind numbing catchy song,that must have earned Neil Innes good royalties,as its played and shown on tv to this day.

MR APOLLO(innes/stanshall)-This is the UK mix,and it's still a good song with more of a hard psychedelic sound,with softer interludes,but its the smashing guitar and floating organ......

extra tracks on 2007 cd reissue
BOO(stanshall/innes)-An eccentric weird pop number,with shared nonsensical mostly spoken like vocals with echoed effects and quivering sounding piano,with woodwind,that lay unreleased till the cd reissue.

READYMADES(stanshall/innes) This is just lovely,totally magical number,with trumpet,a strumming acoustic guitar,plodding bass and nice vocals,man i wish they did more like this number,this was the B side to Mr Apollo 45,for me it could've been an A side.

Album number 4.KEYNSHSAM(1969)
YOU DONE MY BRAIN IN(neil innes)-A short but good number with sax,and a slight rock n roll influence,but Neil Innes is on top form on this.

KEYNSHAM(neil innes)-This is fabulous,for me one of the best numbers this bunch recorded,with its woodwind,intertwined with a jazzy rock accompaniment,but never losing it's pop sound,along with twinkling piano keys.Magic!!!

QUIET TALKS AND SUMMER WALKS(neil innes)Another top song from our man,an introspective feel with woodwind,piano and lovely vocals from Neil,it's a touch of class,and puts the more humorous shenanigans to shame,and makes you wonder what could have been if they recorded more songs like this piece of class pop music.

JOKE SHOP MAN(neil innes)-Short but sweet oddball pop number.All i've got to say.

THE BRIDE STRIPPED BARE(stanshall/innes)Cracking late 60s rock number,but with a kinda new wave vibe 8 years before new wave,with its very british vocals,and organ,but always catchy with a pop sensibility.A real highlight in their catalogue.

WHAT DO YOU DO(neil innes)Our man is showing his talented pop chops on this masterclass of late 60s magical songwriting,a very catchy and pretty jaunty number,with off beat drums,organ,piano,guitar,nice bass lines and Neils vocals are very pleasing,even straining at times.Neil Innes is head and shoulders above anyone at this time within the band,as his songwriting is immaculate.

SPORT(THE ODD BOY)(viv stanshall)-lovely number replete with electric harpsichord,elizabethan type of instrumentation,and for the last minute or so,develops into a groovy instrumentation part,replete with tubular bells,but why can't Viv sing in a normal way?

I WANT TO BE WITH YOU(neil innes)Another marvellous number by our man,again with woodwind,and again just a top class song,which really should have set alight the pop charts at the time.

NOISES FOR THE LEG(viv stanhall)-Love this instrumental,a odd mix of moog and early electronic effects mixed with a medevil sounding ditty with instruments to match.

BUSTED(stanshall/innes)-An oddball,left of field experimental pop song,with ridiculous vocalisation,but again it still has an accessable catchy pop part to it,an interesting mix of ideas in one song.
The extra tracks on this 2007 cd reissue,are not Bonzo Dog Band recordings,but samples of songs members did once the band split in 1970,but Roger Ruskin Spear has a track here,but i do recommend checking out his 2 early 70s solo albums,1972s Electric Shocks and 1973s Unususal,as you may get a surprise as there are some good moments to be had.Both have been reissued on cd by Esoteric.

The Bonzo Dog Band split in 1970,and Neil Innes who by that time,was certainly veering away from the constraints of the band,and the humorous side of it,to work on more serious material,which to be blunt,seemed wasted on the Bonzos albums,plus by the new decade,their arty type of humour in music,must've been grating to many,so the split was the right decision,as the good stuff was coming from the same people.But alas it was not to be the last album by The Bonzo Dog Band,as the record company took up its option for one last album the band were due them,which was to come later!!

Neil Innes,jumped straight back into recording,forming a band with ex Bonzo Dennis Cowan,Ian Wallace(who would soon join King Crimson) and Roger McKew,and called themselves The Planet.
They went into Trident Studios in August 1970,and recorded 8 titles,and Liberty Records issued them late in the year,Neil Innes has said they were basically demos which were unfinished,and he never wanted to hear the album again,as he felt he rushed too quickly into the studio to shake off the remnants of his time with the Bonzos,but for the 2004 cd reissue on Acadia records,he stated he was dreading having to listen to it again,but was pleasantly surprised that it was nowhere near as bad as his memory kept telling him.
So i'm going to give a brief description off my picks from this.

ANGELINA-A song Badfinger would be proud of,this certainly has a bit off the later Beatles about it,but is it more Macca or Lennon?I'll leave that to you,but this is a good opener,that bands like The Raspberries or even Big Star would've been happy to write.Believe it or not Slade covered this on their Play It Loud album.

NOT THE FIRST TIME(innes/cowan)-Wow!Another fabulous pop song,again with a heavy air of the likes of Badfinger or pre Badfinger The Iveys in there,just wonderful songwriting,playing and vocals,very much a sound off its time.Beautiful stuff indeed.

SAIL AWAY-This has a fair bit of Lennon about it,the writing is top class,and for me,is up there with what Lennon was recording himself after the awful avantgarde albums he did with Yoko Ono,this song would not be out of place on Plastic Ono Band or Imagine.

9-5 POLLUTION BLUES-Briliant,don't let the title off the song put you off,as it's not overly blues infused ,this time it reminds me of George Harrison "All Things Must Pass"era,but this has some nice wah wah,echoed guitar effects and it rocks baby,for me this is more enjoyable than anything on Let It Be.Neil Innes was embarassed by this,i really don't know why,i think it's superb.

LEAD US-Another topper,more mellow this time,with a slight americana touch,with the harmonies and some guitar licks,but Neil Innes is proving to be a top class songwriter,seemingly this was a fave of Eric Clapton,who offered Neil to play on this album.A guest is on this album,under the name Bubbles White on lead guitar on track 2 Come Out Into The Open,which i've not mentioned as its not amongst my favourites.Is this Eric Clapton?

THINGS I COULD HAVE SAID-More Lennonesque via Badgfinger vibes with a touch of early 70s stones thrown in,it's not a copy though,it's an influence i hear,its ALL Neil Innes,but he is certainly wearing influences on his sleeve,what a under rated writer he was,listening to this album,how is it not mentioned more?

GODZILLAS RETURN-Wow!!!You have to hear this 10 and a half minute opus,this has the kitchen sink and the bathroom included,this has remnants of psychedelia rolling about amongst the piano,drums and excellent guitar parts,honestly this is superb,and i'd put forward as among the best 1970 tracks recorded and released in the UK,it has everything including mellow parts and jazz touches and .......a drum solo,that is not annoying,but does interrupt the flow of the song a tad,though its not a long drum solo,then it dives back into the second half of the song,with a mellow ambient touch,and a slight early Man vibe,and a prog like keyboard section from nowhere,it's like Neil Innes is intentionally showing an evolution in song,of the uk sounds from the later psych 60s into the more late beatles like pop into the early prog like 70s....that's how i hear this mammoth song,terrific stuff.
I wholeheartedly recommmend this album/cd to anyone who enjoys Apple era Badfinger,early solo Harrison and Lennon or albums like Sleepy Hollow or Jade,in my opinion it's THAT good!!A little known piece of musical magic!!!!!

After this,Neil hooked up with the likes of Andy Roberts,Mike McGear,Roger Mcgough and Roger Gorman,to play live shows as GRIMM,you may recognise names from Scaffold and Liverpool Scene oufits,others who got invloved where Zoot Money(big roll band,Dantalians chariot),Michaal Giles(king crimson) and poets Adrian Henri and Brian Patten.

Unfortunately this was interrupted as Liberty after being taken over by United Artists, told him and Viv Stanshall they where due them a contract obligated Bonzo Dog Band album,so that they did,but since the band had broke up they brought in Andy Roberts,Dennis Cowan,Dave Richards and Hugh Flint to play on what would be the album Let's Make Up and be Friendly,and released in 1972 under The Bonzo Dog Band.

THE STRAIN(stanshall)Those bloody vocals again,cant this man not sing in a proper voice?As the music on this is not great but ok,sorta hard rocking rock n roll influenced number.

RUSTY(tkaye,llsmith)Over 8 minutes long,a quarter of it taken up by nonsensical chatting,the music itself is organ dominated,with sax,and beach boys vocals and a sorta mix of doo wop and surf sounds,along with a nice guitar section including wah wah low in the mix,and a final section of manic undecipharable treated vocals with sax accompaniment.very interesting,but the chatting part just sounds like filler to me,to eat a few minutes.

DON'T GET ME WRONG(innes/stanshall)Nice Beatleasue sound with excellent guitar parts,this sounds more Innes written than Stanshall,as he bloody ruins it with his crappy vocals,he is just annoying,how to ruin what would be an excellent song,the music is superb,featuring umpteen magical guitar parts......take Viv off,this would be great!!!What a waste.

FRESH WOUND(innes)This is the Beatles circa 65,its certainly influenced by that time,sorta help,rubber soul vibe.Until Viv comes in,he sounds more a hindrance on this album than a help.Again a good song musically,but why the awful voices and vocals?

SLUSH(innes)A song with repeated sampled laughter,on top of a classical influenced synth on orchestral mode,which is rather nice actually.

extra tracks on 2007 cd reisssue
JAM BY TOPO D BILL(te cross)Liking this,which was a single,it has that late 60s manic psych vibe,with a bad trip section,while the rest is piano led pop nugget with repeated lines.

LIE DOWN AND BE COUNTED(innes)Hey its Neil Young,this reeks of Neil Young,Neil Innes seems to great at taking his influences and putting his stamp on them,with british references,but i get the feeling this is like a pastiche,not to be taken too seriously.Tongue in cheek me thinks.

THE BRIDE STRIPPED BARE(stanshall/innes)This is an early version of the track that featured on the Keynsham album,but this is not as good as it features silly noises like farting ,horrible squaking sax and Viv again being a hindrence,but it features a great scuzzy guitar section,very reminiscent of 68.

NO MATTER WHO YOU VOTE FOR,THE GOVERNMENT ALWAYS GETS IN(innes/stanshall)Cod reggae,that is actually pretty good,mostly all keyboard,with the reggae beat,and clever lyrics,very much could be about now,and no fake jamican dialect thank goodness,this was actually a demo.
In summary this album stinks of a contractually obligated album,with bits n pieces put together,not much in real quality,and mustve been a pain and a step back for Neil Innes,after his fabulous Lucky Planet album,he certainly wasnt going to give them his best material at this time,as for Viv Stanshall,what was his talent again?He is just plain annoying on this album,and thats possibly on purpose to stick it up United Artists,this was probably like it was to make it hard for united artists to make money on it.A definite CONTRACTUALLY OBLIGATED project,full of filler to my ears.Ho hum!!!

With that out the way,Neil managed to write an album for a comedy album titled Funny Game,Football,for The Group,in reality an amalgamation of Palin,Jones,Bill Tidy and Arthur Mullard.
Then he also wrote with Roger Mcgough the song Mommy Wont Be Home for Christmas for the group Help Yourself,and then got involved with GRIMMS again,and did their first tour,resulting in GRIMMS debut album,released in 1973 on Island records,unfortunately i don't have any GRIMMS in my collection,so i can't really offer comment on this album.So i need to investigate their recordings,but this post in longer than i imagined,so its just as well i've no Grimms to comment on.

He begins work on his next solo album,in early 1973,with assistance from Andy Roberts,Peter"Ollie"Halsall,Mike Kellie,Dave Richards and Gerry Conway,he was looking forward to this album,as he was fed up with comedy and wanted to make this album,an album with his serious songs,and indeed it is,but at times you feel he can't help but put his humour on it,just look at the album cover when it was released,in October 1973.So i'll pick my favourites from this album,but to me this is an essential purchase anyone with interest in Neil Innes,this time it's not as Beatle sounding or as influenced by any individual ex Beatle,to my ears it has a bit of early 70s Dylan in there along with some southern rock influence and gospel inspired influences,and a soulful vibe.

PROLOGUE-A minute long little lovely piano and possibly mellotron or synth led song.

IMMORTAL INVISIBLE-Heavy hammond,soulful country vibe,maybe similar to Humble Pie in parts,but certainly a Bob Dylan influence hear to my ears,in his Revue era,but Neils voice sounds different to what came before,not as british sounding.Id put this in the camp of later Help Yourself albums and the type.

FEEL NO SHAME-This is as far away from his Bonzo days as you could get,he is certainly being inspired by a more country funk vibe mixed with late Beatles,but it's his own creation and creativity,again some blooming marvellous hammond moves,with electric americana guitar,and excellent musicianship,his vocals are powerful and not in that english whimsy type he has used before,he is trully inspired on this.

HOW SWEET TO BE AN IDIOT-This is beautiful,a lovely strings arranged piano led pop epic,with a lush production,with woodwind,and other instrumentation,just sublime.

DREAM-A Macca infused type off song,just a cracking pop number with possibly a 10CC influence,with nice keyboard work,giving a mellotron like feel,and superb drumming.I can even hear a Supertramp vibe in there too.

SONG FOR YVONNE-This is just a wonky jaunty thumping pop sound,with a melodramatic vibe,with strings,piano,oompah like bass lines,and marching like drumbeat leading the vocals.

THIS LOVE OF OURS-This has a great sounding electric piano type keyboards sound,with exquisite arrangements and is a nice ballad type pop song.

SINGING A SONG IS EASY-Man that organ sound is good,with cymbals tapping along and fab guitar run,and other guitar parts,with a gospel like church sound too.

extra tracks on 2020 cd reissue released by Grapefruit.-my picks.
MUSIC FROM RAWLINSONS END(innes/stanshall)Ahhh this was recorded for Bonzo Dog Bands final album,but this version has no Viv Stanshall talking over it,it's purely instrumental,and is a piano led rather jaunty song,this was released as Neil Innes first single B side.

FLUFF ON THE NEEDLE(B side April 1974)I like this unusual hard pop number,with repeated lines,soaring guitar,and rumbah like drums,

LIE DOWN AND BE COUNTED(A side October 1974)Singer/songwriter type fare on display here,with a slight country edge to it.

WHAT NOISE ANNOYS A NOISY OYSTER(A side February1975)This is what i'd call a commercial fun bubblegum glam pop excursion,with treated vocals,electronic effects, and a catchy as hell repeated chorus,i absolutely adore the silliness off this,and could imagine this being played at Butlins all summer long.

OO CHUCK A MAO MAO(B side February 75)The other side to the above,again this is an ultra commercial heavy pop excursion,and is absolutely marvellous,again in a commercial junkshop glam feel,the last 2 songs are like nothing else Neil had released before,id loved to have saw him approach this even more,as im sure it would've been very intersting,and bloody catchy.

Neil continued his association with GRIMMS,releasing another 2 albums with them.


While dong this,Neil found himself extremely busy with the Monty Python material,making records with them and touring with them,and this connection led to a pastiche,a spoof if you will of The Beatles,but called The Rutles,Neil Innes shows what an expert he is at mimicking The Beatles without plagarising their material,in fact Apple did threaten to sue over copyright because his songs are so close to their sound,but it was decided to not take Neil to court,as he told Apple he was not listening to The Beatles when he was writing the material for The Rutles project,this came to fruition with the release of The Rutles album in 1978.He wrote songs covering all The Beatles eras,from the moptop merseybeat,to the movies Hard Days Night and Help,to Revolver and Sgt Pepper and the whole hippie flower power and psychedelia phase,to the final couple of years,and it was all brilliantly done.
This was not a pisstake of the fabs,but a tribute in a way,which evolved from a sketch in a TV show.
The actual musicians playing on The Rutles record are:
Neil Innes
Ollie Halsall
Rikki Fataar
John Halsey
Andy Brown
and was arranged by John Altman.
The people playing The Rutles on screen are:
Eric Idle as Dirk McQuickly
Neil Innes as Ron Nasty
Rikki Fataar sas Stig Ohara
John Halsey as Barry Wom.

Try and grab a cd of this as the liners give the fake history of The Rutles,gives a fake discography with albums like Twist and Rut,Meet The Rutles,A Hard Days Rut,Rutles For Sale,Rutle Soul,Sgt Rutters Only Only Darts Club Band, The Rutles,Yellow Submarine Sandwich,Shabby Road.
Single titles like Goose Step Mama,Blue Suede Schubert,Ouch,Doubleback Alley,Piggy In The Middle,Cheese and Onions,Get Up and Go...all are actually titles that is The Rutles album,but its all such good fun,ALL the songs are written by Neil Innes,are it's very enjoyable musically indeed,and theres mock album covers and 45 sleeves,along with publicity shots,in all the different phazes of the career,including a snap off The Magical History Tour bus......the pastiche of I Am The Walrus publicity shots and the All You Need Is Love are just tremendous,the detail is brilliant.Theres even a interview with Mick Jagger,playing along with the whole thing.Its the best thing you'll ever see or hear as a pastiche,and for me is an ultimate tribute to The i mean THe Rutles.....heehee.

OK ,this pos


Stu…you should get payment for that biographical article on Neil Innes! It’s an amazing amount of information and worthy of Sweet Floral Albion or Mojo or any music magazine. It’s more a musical retrospective, I suppose, than a biography, but I’m impressed by the thoroughness of your deep dive into the music of Neil Innes. For a long time I knew him as the Rutles guy, and then his solo album “How Sweet to Be An Idiot” which is pretty good. I recently stumbled upon his shot at mainstream group “The World” album. You’re right, Stu, it’s in the vein of Badfinger and early 70’s pop. I like it. It’s in the same category as the first album by the 70’s band Blue. Blue were a trio who made one really fine debut album. Their later albums went for a West Coast sound I don’t think really worked, but that first Blue album is quite good.
I also have to mention that Ollie Halsall, who played with Kevin Ayers and Neil Innes, also appears on an album by Terry Stamp called “Fatsticks” that I like a lot. Terry Stamp was in the band Third World War. I also really like Ollie Halsall’s playing on Michael D’Albuquerque’s album “We May Be Cattle But We’ve All Got Names”. It’s a good 70’s album by a bass player who was in Electric Light Orchestra for a while. His solo work doesn’t sound much like ELO though.


You should write liner notes, biographies or something Stuart.


Excellent article as alwyas, Stuart!
I would add the shortlived FREAKS band that performed at Top Gear and three songs co-signed by Innes on Brian Patten's Vanishing Trick


Thank you Joe,Greg,Gian
Nah guys,its all for fun and enjoyment,i think when you start writing for mags etc,the fun can go,as you're writing on demand and have timelines,though i did write a few pieces for SFA that they used,like others who still take part here,but man that's like over 15 years ago,it's peaks and troughs with me guys,i do it when i feel like it,but my motivation can fly out the window the following day.

When i do these things,like State of Micky and Tommy written Johnny Halliday songs,i listen to everything i have in my collection,just like the Neil Innes thing,sometimes it's very enjoyable to hear all those things again,other times it can be a drag,but its just for enjoyment that sometimes i put it down in writing,no matter how it turns out,and if any soul gets anything from it,thats a bonus.

i'm a non committal bloke,like to do things when i feel like it,thats the way i try and live my life day to day,hence im nearly 55,never been married have no kids,never drove,don't commit to any political ideaology,i like what i like,i think what i think.

So thank you for the nice words guys,you put a smile on my face tonight.