Too Much Monkey Business by Chuck Berry
Genre: Classic R&B. Taken from the album After School Session
It’s no great surprise that this Chuck Berry classic ended up top of the chart as it’s the quintessential Rhesus Park song. Indeed, Too Much Monkey Business would have been our official slogan had the Berry estate not demanded £300,000, two Faberge eggs with the image of Christ on them and a sacrificial macaque during tense negotiations.
Chuck’s infectious blend of rhythm and blues proved a hit across all our species, delighting reclining bonobos and warring chimpanzees alike. The fact our simians showed little interest in inferior cover versions from the likes of Elvis Presley, The Beatles and The Yardbirds proved of great interest to Dr Julius Zeebrugge, the animal psychologist who monitored the monkeys during our ground-breaking experiment.
“This signals that monkeys have a refined taste in music and won’t accept fake imitations,” Dr Julius said. “This hypothesis was only previously backed up by anecdotal evidence, such as when the London Zoo gorillas violently heckled McFly during a publicity shoot in 1999, but we now have scientific proof. It’s a vital breakthrough.”
Keeper Hertz van Rentaal, the brains behind our Simian Top 50, admitted Chuck Berry was a worthy winner. “I’m a big Gorillaz fan so I was hoping they would end up at No.1 but even I have to admit this song is a class apart,” said Hertz. “It inspired me to do some research into Chuck and I was shocked to learn he was the guy who wrote Johnny B Goode as I thought Michael J Fox had first performed it on Back to The Future in 1985.”
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Took Problem Chimp to the Ideal Home Show
by Half Man Half Biscuit
Genre: Indie. Taken from the album CSI Ambleside
Another selection that highlights our monkeys’ appreciation of songs delivered with a delicious slice of humour. This gem of a track sums up why Half Man Half Biscuit are revered so highly by both our primates and discerning musos as it blends quality writing with a belting tune and faultless delivery.
Seeing the song rank so highly in our Simian Top 50 delighted head keeper Clemente Kurva, who has been a devoted Half Man Half Biscuit fan since the 1980s. Indeed, when CSI Ambleside was first released in 2008, he was so inspired by the track that he decided to stage his own version, taking anti-social chimpanzee Hector on a day trip to London for the following year’s Ideal Home Show.
“That’s a day I won’t forget in a hurry,” recalled Clemente. “Hector started off by taking a dump in Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen’s bespoke Japanese garden then set about attacking Colin and Justin while they were posing for pictures with some Japanese tourists.
“I can still hear Justin screaming: ‘Not his pretty face!’ as Hector sank his claws into Colin and he didn’t let go until one of the Japanese girls started bashing him on the head with her umbrella. Hector dashed off before the security guards came on the scene and managed to feel up Sarah Beeny before the sight of Kirstie Allsopp’s heaving bosom pulled him in like a tractor beam.
“That proved to be a bridge too far though as a jealous Phil Spencer wasn’t about to let anyone else get their hands on Kirstie’s goods. He saw Hector coming and drop-kicked the poor beast into a Jacuzzi on one of the adjacent plots. Hector was laid out cold and I thankfully managed to fish him out of the Jacuzzi before he could drown. There might have been some brain damage but it was hard to tell with Hector because he was a few spanners short of a tool box anyway.”
The Monkey by Manu Chao
Genre: Punk/Latin. Taken from the album Baoinarena (Live)
The multilingual, multicultural Manu Chao is an artist who encapsulates the diversity of Rhesus Park and our monkeys certainly seem to view him as a kindred spirit.
This live number sees Chao at his energetic best and the raucous performance always sends a surge of excitement through our simian ranks. This reaches a crescendo in the parts where a primitive Tarzan roar is emitted but it would be foolish to think the song’s only appeal lies in its uproarious delivery.
It’s hard to catch the lyrics at first listen as Chao rattles his words out so furiously but he is hailing the monkeys as a superior species to the human race, something the Rhesus Park simians clearly agree with.
The lyrics are: “Now three little monkeys sat on a coconut tree, discussing things has they are said to be. Said one to the other, now listen you two there is a certain rumour that cant be true. That man descended from our noble race the funny idea is a big disgrace.
“No monkey ever deserted his wife, nor her baby and ruin her life. I said yeah... Monkey speaks his mind. And another thing you will never see a monkey build a fence around a coconut tree and let all the coconuts go to waist, forbidding all other monkeys to come and taste
“Now if i build a fence around this tree starvation will cause you to steal from me. I said Yea... the monkey speaks his mind. There is another thing a monkey won’t do, go out at night and get on a stew, or use a gun a club or a knife to take another monkey's life.
“Yes man descended the worthless bum but my god brothers from us he did not come Yeah... The monkey speaks his mind.”
Simian Top 50
Love Ain't Nothing But A Monkey On Your Back by Johnny Nash
Genre: Soul. Taken from the album Chess Soul
This suave slice of Sixties soul soothed simian senses and brought an air of calm to the park whenever it was aired. Even the most obnoxious of dominant males ceased their reign of tyranny for three peaceful minutes while Johnny Nash exercised those fabled lungs.
The song proved particularly popular amongst our bonobos, rating even higher than Chuck Berry’s overall chart-topper, as it provided a fitting soundtrack to their endless lovemaking. Indeed, love ain’t nothing but a monkey on your back if you are a female bonobo being tended to by a male trying out some of the more inventive positions from the simian Karma Sutra.
Keeper Hertz van Rentaal said: “Johnny’s biggest hit was I Can See Clearly Now and there’s no greater clarity for a monkey than those few precious post-coital moments.
“It’s ironic that this song proved to be such a hit with the bonobos as their whole society is based on love while Johnny describes it as millstone of sorts. But it’s such a brilliant soul song that they’re happy to forget the lyrics and just lose themselves in the music.”
I Wanna Be Like You by Louis Prima and Phil Harris
Genre: Jazz. Taken from the album The Jungle Book
Destined for the upper reaches of our chart as the Jungle Book is a regular feature in Rhesus Park’s weekly Family Film Club, alongside Bad Lieutenant, the Last Temptation of Christ and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Our monkeys instantly recognised Louis Prima’s distinctive vocals when the song was piped into their enclosures and some even aped King Louis’ dance steps from the movie as the infectious chorus kicked in.
Having loved this classic number for years, there was a violent reaction when the Rhesus Park simians were exposed to the abomination that is the Robbie Williams/Olly Murs cover version for the first time.
In scenes reminiscent of the start to 28 Days Later, when monkeys infected with the rage virus run amok, our primates expressed their displeasure by embarking on a wild spree of destruction. Thirteen monkeys and one keeper sadly lost their lives amid the chaos during four bleak minutes of madness that will forever haunt those unfortunate enough to witness it.
Keeper Clem Rough, who is still on compassionate leave as she tries to recover from the tragedy, said: "I used to love Robbie Williams but now I can't even listen to Angels without seeing my beloved chimps tear into each other's throats. He has blood on his lovely hands."
Statutory Rights by Monkey Swallows The Universe
Genre: Indie/Folk. Taken from the album The Casket Letters
Monkey Swallows The Universe might not have the fanbase or riches of Arctic Monkeys but they came out on top in Rhesus Park’s simian Sheffield derby.
Statutory Rights, the opening track to their 2007 album The Casket Letters, proved a surprise smash hit for our primates, with Nat Johnson’s soothing vocals sending them into an almost hypnotic state.
The song went down a storm on Sunday mornings, with the monkeys keen to relax and unwind after a raucous night of hell-raising and copulation.
Our animal psychologist Dr Julius also attributes its high ranking to the lyrics, as our simians now have their statutory rights protected following Rhesus Park’s decision to finally adhere to the PETA code.“I don’t think it’s just a coincidence,” he said. “This song reminds them Clemente Kurva can no longer chastise them with a cattle prod and that leads to a great sense of comfort.
"I'm thrilled to see this song rate so highly as it was my personal favourite. Watching the Rhesus Park monkeys all day can be a harrowing experience but I always drifted off into something resembling a meditative state whenever this came on. Lovely stuff."
King Kong's Visit to Glasgow by Michael Marra
Genre: Folk. Taken from the album Candy Philosophy
Michael Marra’s wonderful tale about the famous ape heading to Glasgow to watch a Celtic game went down a storm at Rhesus Park, proving once again that lyrics are as important as a good tune in the simian world.
The Dundonian’s songs are also laced with humour and our psychologist Dr Julius was delighted to see the primates respond so positively to his work.
“I’ve always maintained that monkeys have a great sense of humour,” Dr Julius said. “That’s why they were such a natural choice for the PG Tips ads. The high OSH rating for this song proves that they appreciate funny lines.”
Rhesus Park CEO David Alsatian was also thrilled to see the song rate so highly after making his own trip to Celtic Park in the mid-1990s, when the song was first released.
“I loved the line that urges King Kong not to kill Paul McStay,” said Alsatian. “He was the only Celtic player worth watching in that game. I don’t think the fans would have shed too many tears had the ape trampled all over their porous and laughable defence.”
Fire Coming out of a Monkey's Head by Gorillaz
Genre: Dance. Taken from the album Demon Days
A band called Gorillaz singing a song about a mountain called Monkey, with Dennis Hopper on lead vocals? It really doesn’t get much better than this for the Rhesus Park monkeys.
This cautionary tale about the ruinous exploits of the Western world struck a chord with every species at the park, hinting at their wider wisdom.
Our psychologist Dr Julius said: “The appreciation shown towards this song suggests that the primates have been watching our society slowly decay from their unique vantage point. We pay to watch them for entertainment but maybe we are the ones who are actually being examined.”
That theory was expanded on by keeper Hertz van Rentaal, the man behind our pioneering musical study, who believes monkeys may soon be our overlords.
He said: “Towards the end of the song, there’s a prophecy - the Happyfolk felt fearful,, for they knew that soon the monkey would stir from it's deep sleep.
“Dennis Hopper then talks of a cacophonous sound, fire and then nothing. That sounds pretty much like the monkeys seizing power of the earth in a brutal war. Maybe Dawn of Apes wasn’t that fanciful a movie after all.”
Intro and Outro by Bonzo Dog Band
Genre: Pop/Comedy. Taken from the album Gorilla
This classic song somehow managed to escape our attention while compiling the original list, a shameful oversight on our part as the song ticks almost all of the boxes for inclusion in the Simian Top 50.
The session gorilla flown in to play Box Humana joins the most eclectic band ever assembled, taking his place alongside Big John Wayne, Adolf Hitler, Harold Wilson, Billy Butlin, Eric Clapton, Roy Rodgers and Trigger, Val Doonican and The Incredible Shrinking Man.
Given that one of their own was involved in the recording, it was no surprise to see the song rate highly with our gorillas, who responded to this track more than any other in the Simian Top 50.
Our psychologist Dr Julius said: “Monkeys are proud animals and you can see this with the high OSH rating recorded with the gorillas for this track. They recognise a comrade is part of the band and this contributes towards the enjoyment of the song.
“It also scored highly with the rest of the simians, illustrating one more that these beasts appreciate humour. I must admit, I still enjoy a chuckle when I hear this song, although it’s mainly because I first heard it about 30 years ago while spaced out of my skull on LSD.”
Punish The Monkey by Mark Knopfler
Genre: Rock. Taken from the album Kill To Get Crimson
On the surface, it appears that the popularity of this song reveals a masochistic streak to the Rhesus Park monkeys, which is most probably down to the vicious beatings dished out by head keeper Clemente Kurva prior to us finally adhering to the PETA code.
But if you examine Knopfler’s lyrics more closely you begin to appreciate that this is in fact a protest song asking why the monkey always gets punished while the organ grinder gets off scot free.
“This is another extremely interesting choice,” said our psychologist Dr Julius. “The monkeys are sending a clear message about their displeasure over the injustice of their world. Why must they be imprisoned every day while their vicious jailors return to their luxury homes?”
That theory was shot down by Clemente Kurva, though, who insisted the Rhesus Park simians “had it easy” compared to wild animals. He said: “What would you rather suffer – me smacking you on the arse with a stick or a lion sinking its teeth into your neck?
“There’s no deeper meaning at work here. The monkeys just appreciate a good guitar player and they don’t come much better than Knopfler. Put on the entire Brothers In Arms album and you would see the same results.”