The Two Bennys were perhaps one of 1940s America’s most unsurprisingly unsuccessful light entertainment acts. Technically inept and often deeply offensive, their repeatedly failed attempts at both live and recorded performance are now viewed by most as a fair indication of their low credibility and historical worth.
Viewed through the lens of current experimental music and free improvisation practices, however, many fascinating musical qualities present themselves – one man’s meat is another man’s poison. Indeed, perhaps the wild and uncuffed nature of Court and Taylor’s psychotic dialogues could be seen as a precursor to the later explosions in NYC of free jazz and hardcore punk.
Available for the first time, these remastered recordings, dating from the 30s and 50s, offer a unique insight into the ultimately failed careers of two of Britain's most unique and undiscovered musical outsiders, Benny Court and Benny Taylor, who became mainstays of New York's sidewalks and soup kitchens during The Great Depression.
The album includes excerpts of their 1937 'Schlinger Studios' session, for which they were hired to provide improvised soundtracks for a series of cartoons featuring Mac Schlinger's streetwise rodent (and blatant Mickey Mouse rival) Ritzy Rat.
The full A-side of 'The Nation's Favorite Clowns!' LP (1956) is also included, on which our duo provide a series of short musical portraits of famous clowns; a failed marketing bid to reignite the popularity of America's flailing circus industry.
And finally the last known recording of the pair, performing live at the Soup Kitchen in New York's East Village in 1957.
released January 5, 2015
Re-mastered by Alan Witts, Benedict Taylor and Adam de la Cour.
Special thanks to Stan Kyle who's exhaustive musical archive made this project possible.
Photograph: Franklin D. Roosevelt Library
Public Domain Photographs