The Monty Python Matching Tie and Handkerchief is the fourth album by the comedy group Monty Python, released in 1973. Most of the material was newly written for the album along with a handful of sketches from the third series of Flying Circus, one from the second (“Bruces”) and another from the first (“Pet Conversions”). The team were once again joined by Neil Innes, who provided a trio of rock music parodies for “The Background To History”. The album was famously mixed and edited in a garden shed belonging to the father of producer Andre Jacquemin.

The initial pressings were designed to resemble a box containing a tie and handkerchief, the concept being that the record was merely a ‘free gift’ included with the package. It was also notable for its inner artwork, which was visible through a cutaway hole in the album’s outer sleeve. It appeared to be a simple Terry Gilliam artwork of a tie and handkerchief, but when the card insert was pulled out it revealed that the tie and handkerchief were actually on a man hanging from a gallows. A second insert featured the album credits and the text to “The Background To History” sketch. The US release had a different cover design with the two insert sheets printed on either side of a card inner sleeve. Later releases of the album would have just a picture of the clothing on the front cover, without the inserts.

The album’s original LP edition is particularly notable in that it was mastered with two concentric grooves on side two, so that different material would be played depending on where the stylus was put down on the record’s surface. For this reason it is sometimes referred to as a “three-sided” record. The cutting was carried out by George “Porky” Peckham, who became known for etching messages into runout grooves. This was the first of many Python albums to bear one of these so-called “Porky Prime Cuts” – a brief message on Side 2 which reads: “PORKY – RAY ADVENTURE”. To further confuse the listener, both sides of the record label were labelled “FREE RECORD Given away with the Monty Python Matching Tie and Handkerchief – Side 2” – only the matrix numbers identify which are the first and second sides.[3] The album did not have a track listing, so that this feature would come as a complete surprise to listeners, who might on a subsequent listening hear material they had never heard before, creating genuine confusion.

Since the record had two concentric grooves, they were spaced considerably apart, halving the length of the playing time. Subsequent editions of the vinyl incorporated both grooves sequentially as separate tracks, eliminating the double groove. Likewise with promotional copies for radio stations, as they were banded for airplay. However, when Virgin reissued the album in the UK in 1985, the double groove was retained, but with the “Great Actors” sketch cut from the end of Side 1 and moved onto the start of the second side which previously began with “The Background To History”. This meant the two B-sides no longer had equal length, resulting in a long silence following the “Phone-In” sketch at the end of the second Side B.