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The Monty Python Matching Tie and Handkerchief is the fourth studio album by Monty Python, released in 1973 through Charisma Records in the UK and Arista Records in the US. The LP version is famous for the fact that it was mastered with two concentric spiral grooves on Side Two rather than one, so that the one that would play when the needle was dropped was completely unpredictable. So in that sense it's a "three-sided album". To add to further confusion both sides of the LP were labelled as "Side Two", with only the matrix numbers identifying which are the first and second sides. The cassette and CD versions, unfortunately, couldn't pull off this gimmick. Thus, they merely put all the tracks after one another.

Many sketches premiered in the TV series Monty Python's Flying Circus, but some have been shortened or lengthened and/or have a few lines that are different from the TV versions. There is also new material. The album is very sketch heavy, with hardly any songs, among which "The Philosopher's Song" is the most well known.


Side One
  1. "Church Police" note 
  2. "Elephantoplasty"
  3. "Novel Writing"
  4. "Word Association"
  5. "Bruces/Philosopher's Song"
  6. "The Adventures Of Ralph Mellish/Hot Dogs And Knickers" note 
  7. "Cheese Shop Sketch" note 
  8. "Wasp Club/Tiger Talk" note 
  9. "Great Actors"

Side Two - Groove One (One of two sides will play depending on the groove the stylus is cued in)

  1. "The Background to History"
  2. "First World War Noises"
  3. "Boxing Tonight (Fight Of The Century)"

Side Two - Groove Two

  1. "Mrs. Niggerbaiter"
  2. "Oscar Wilde"
  3. "Buying A Cat" note 
  4. "Phone-In"

Extra tracks on the CD

  1. "Psychopath"
  2. "Teleprompter Football Results"
  3. "Radio Tuning Radio 4 - Graham Chapman Radio Time"
  4. "Radio Shop"


Tropes appearing on Side Two of Side Two:

  • The Alcoholic: "Bruces" features a bunch of Australians who are so obsessed with drinking beer that all throughout the sketch new cans are opened and "The Philosopher's Song" features various historically important philosophers all depicted as alcoholics.
  • Album Filler: The crowd laughter in "Oscar Wilde" goes on for a long while.
  • Alternate Album Cover: The above image is the UK version of the artwork in a white box with a rectangular window and features one of the current Monty Python logos. The US artwork features a yellow box and an oval window while still retaining the same interior sleeve.
  • Black Comedy: The tie and handkerchief on the album cover look ordinary, but when the inner sleeve of the LP is pulled out it reveals that the tie and handkerchief are actually from a man hanging from a gallows.
  • Blowing a Raspberry:
    Michael Palin: Before the next joke there will be a short raspberry
  • Body Horror: "Elephantoplasty", where a man's head has been transplanted with that of an elephant.
  • Brick Joke: Half the "Wasp/Tiger Club" sketch Idle interrups the sketch to get back to the "Novel Writing" sketch, which appeared earlier on the album.
  • Continuity Nod: "All Things Bright and Beautiful", sang during "The Bishop" sketch would later appear again, this time in the parody "All Things Dull And Ugly" on Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album.
  • Church Police: The sketch "Church Police" has a literal police squad arriving to find out where the dead bishop came from.
  • Crazy-Prepared: The sketch "Radio Shop" has a verbose customer who wishes to have his radio repaired, but the clerk tries to get around it. But the customer recognizes that "avoidance of responsibility is as English as toasted muffins," he produces the following:
    • A receipt for the radio, with the store's address on it.
    • The manufacturer's catalog, to prove that the receipt didn't have any typos.
    • A witness to the sale, who took a Polaroid of the transaction to debunk the claim that the chain never sold the customer's model of radio.
    • A tape recording of the customer talking with the clerk's manager, who promises to have the radio fixed as soon as possible because he's "an old customer", to prevent the clerk for sitting on the repair job for nine months.
    • And finally, he surrounds the shop with armed men to ensure the staff will fix the radio. When the staff still refuse to cooperate, the customer, who reveals his name as Mr. Armageddon, has the shop demolished.
  • Deadly Doctor: "Elephantplasty" features a doctor so obsessed with transplantations that he gleefully runs outside whenever he hears a car accident happening.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: Terry Gilliam designed the album cover and inner sleeve.
  • Distinct Double Album: A special case. Despite only having two vinyl sides, the hidden record side makes this a triple album. The CD is just one disc.
    • Technically speaking, it's a 1½ album, since double albums have four sides.
  • Easter Egg: The third side of Side Two to unexpecting listeners. Getting the needle into the second groove so you could hear the "third" side could be quite tricky.
  • Fatal Family Photo: "First World War" features two soldiers in a trench during "World War One", while one of them shows his family photos, with predictable results...
  • Heteronormative Crusader: "Bruces" features a group of Australian philosophy students who are absolutely against having "poofters" in their society.
  • Hidden Track: The entire second concentric spiral groove of Side Two was a hidden track on the original LP, as it could take listeners months before they suddenly discovered there was a whole new side with material. Many people were confused to hear sketches they hadn't heard before after listening to the record the first time after purchasing it, especially since both LP sides were titled "Side Two", making it difficult to find out on which side what sketches were available? Unfortunately the CD version doesn't have this gimmick.
  • Instant Emergency Response: In the "Dead Bishop" sketch, when the couple and their son find another dead bishop on their landing, they call for the Church Police, who arrive exactly two seconds later.
  • Land Downunder: "Bruces" features a bunch of stereotypical Australians with ditto accents. They are also all obsessed with guzzling down beer, as the sound of beer cans being opened is heard all throughout the sketch.
  • Lethal Chef: The housewife in "Church Police" cooks rats, which "taste horrible" according to her husband.
  • Manchild: The man in the "Mrs. Niggerbaiter" sketch, who is treated by his mother and her friend as if he is still a child, despite clearly being an adult and even Minister of Overseas Development.
  • Mundane Made Awesome:
    • "Ralph Mellish" describes the boring life of a file clerk, while dramatic music and Michael Palin's enthusiastic narration makes everything sound far more exciting than it actually is.
    Michael Palin: [dramatically] June the 4th, 1973, was much like any other summer's day in Peterborough, and Ralph Mellish, a file clerk at an insurance company, was on his way to work as usual when... [DAH DUM] Nothing happened! [DUM DUM DAH DUM!] Scarcely able to believe his eyes, Ralph Mellish looked down. But one glance confirmed his suspicions. Behind a bush, on the side of the road, there was no severed arm. No dismembered trunk of a man in his late fifties. No head in a bag. Nothing. Not a sausage. For Ralph Mellish, this was not to be the start of any trail of events which would not, in no time at all, involve him in neither a tangled knot of suspicion, nor any web of lies, which would, had he been not uninvolved, surely have led him to no other place, than the central criminal court of the Old Bailey.
    • "Background To History" features several historians launching into pop songs to discuss medieval open field farming.
    • "Novel Writing" features Thomas Hardy doing nothing but writing a novel, but there is a large crowd there to watch and cheer while he does it. Michael Palin and Graham Chapman provide journalistic commentary.
  • New Sound Album: This was the first LP with three sides in decades. In the 1910s the practice was normal, but had fallen out of use. The Pythons revived this forgotten idea for this album. The Residents had the same idea only a few years later, but when they found out that Monty Python beat them to it they dropped their plan.
  • Old-Fashioned Copper: The policemen in "Church Police" use very old-fashioned expressions such as "What's all this then?", spoofing the kind of British Coppers you encounter a lot in popular culture.
  • Objectshifting: The Elephantoplasty sketch features surgeon Reg LeCrisp explaining the various operations he's performed, most prominently hybridizing an unsuspecting human with an elephant. He admits that donors aren't easy to come by, meaning he often has to make use of inanimate objects in order to remake his patients, including "chairs, tables, floor-cleaning equipment, drying-out racks, pieces of pottery." Finally, he reveals that the chair he's sitting on is one of his former patients.
  • Packaged as Other Medium: The intitial pressings of the album were packaged with a real tie and handkerchief, implying the record was merely a free extra.
  • Precision F-Strike: Contrary to the TV version, the "Cheese Shop" sketch uses more coarse language.
    I don't care how fuckin' runny it is!
  • Record Needle Scratch: "First World War" has Chapman buy a record twice, after finding out the record is scratched. When the second copy also has a scratch on it he goes to the shop to complain once more, only to have his line be in a continuous scratched loop too.
  • Reggae: The first song on medieval open field farming is performed in this style.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Only the Pythons would have enough chutzpah to feature a character named Mrs. Niggerbaiter.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: The political TV debate at the start of the "Church Police" sketch features politicians with far right mindsets, yet the housewife at home who turns off the TV calling it "Liberal rubbish."
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Novel Writing" features Thomas Hardy writing The Return of the Native, reported in the form of a sports broadcast.
    • "Word Association" namedrops George V.
    • "Bruce's Song" namedrops various philosophers: Immanuel Kant, Martin Heidegger, David Hume, Artur Schopenhauernote , G.W.F. Hegel, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Karl Wilhelm Friedrich and/or August Wilhelm Schlegel, Friedrich Nietzsche, Socrates, John Stuart Mill, Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes and René Descartes.
    • The Ralph Mellish sketch inspired the original name of the character Hans Moleman in The Simpsons.
    • "Cheese Shop" is basically a customer summarizing all kinds of cheese until finally finding out that the cheese shop doesn't sell this product at all. The customer also mentions he was reading a novel by Hugh Walpole.
    • "Great Actors" has Idle interview Cleese, who plays a Shakespearan actor.
    • The Ronettes bring out an album with "Medieval Agrarian History".
    • "Oscar Wilde" has author Oscar Wilde, painter James McNeill Whistler and playwright George Bernard Shaw take turns in being witty in front of the English king and getting one another in trouble for it.
    • "Background to History" features stylistically impeccable parodies of the music of Bob Marley, glam rock star Gary Glitter and Joe Cocker; the last one doubles as a Shout Out to The Beatles since it quotes from the backing vocals for "Hey Jude".
  • The Something Song: "Philosopher's Song".
  • Time Marches On: The entire gimmick of the three sided LP only worked on LP and wasn't used on the CD versions. The gags in the "First World War" sketch about record needle scratches also had more effect on the original vinyl LP. In "Mrs. Niggerbaiter" Cleese says: "I have an important statement about Rhodesia in the Commons tomorrow". Since 1980 Rhodesia has changed its name into Zimbabwe.
  • Upper-Class Twit: In "Great Actors", Cleese's character is a distinguished Shakespearean actor with a knighthood, who seems to distinguish one role from another chiefly in terms of the number of lines they have.
    Sir Edwin: Othello's a bugger too, mind you, especially the cleaning up afterwards, but he has 941 words less than Hamlet. On the other hand, the coon's got more pauses. Sixty-two quite long ones, as I recall. But then, they're not so tricky, you see, you don't have to do much during them.
    Alan Seaman: You don't?
    Sir Edwin: No, not really, and they give you time to think what sort of face you're going to pull during the next speech, so that it fits the words you're saying as far as possible.
  • Word Association Test: The sketch "Word Association" has John Cleese discuss this trope.