In Praise of The Monkees: The Brilliant Top 10 They Never Play On The Radio
ON this very day in 1968, the last episode of The Monkees TV show aired in the States. Almost every US TV station re-ran the show, with the ’69-’71 being more popular than the debut bow.
The show was shipped out across the world and The Monkees found a load of British fans when it was repeated in the summer holidays in the ’80s and ’90s. While the band themselves have mixed feelings about the show, it simply won’t go away, unless of course, you’re the kind of sneering prick who doesn’t like The Monkees because you could see the business behind them.
Of course, there’s much more to the band than the manufactured element (which, in itself, is as fun and interesting as anything in pop culture). In Mike Nesmith, we had the sulky renegade who went country rock before the rest of rock cottoned on, who then went on to accidentally invent MTV.
In Mickey Dolenz, we saw a solo artist and someone who went on to provide some great voice acting on Scooby Doo and Batman cartoons (which is impossibly great). Peter Tork meanwhile hung-out with George Harrison and contributed to the Wonderwall soundtrack (the first ever Apple Corps release no less!) and was sent to prison on a drug bust, while Davy Jones opened a whole market and became a horse racing jockey.
The Monkees are as brilliant and quirky as any other rock band and recorded some of the most wonderful slices of ’60s pop music ever.
While everyone knows ‘Daydream Believer’, ‘(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone’ and the like, The Monkees were on-hand to deliver some of the most killer, weird and gonzo pop music ever made. Hardly surprising seeing as they were mates with Frank Zappa and Carole King.
So lets dig deeper into the back-cat of The Monkees and rejoice.
Do I Have To Do This All Over Again?
Super funky bass-riff results in dancefloor dynamite with The Monkees being weary about the pop machine. It’s a brilliant slice of bubblegum psych and appears in the fabulously stupid Head movie, directed by Jack Nicholson.
I Won’t Be The Same Without Her
The Monkees were one of the best bands in America when it came to making super, rich, dreamy psychedelic pop music and ‘I Won’t Be The Same Without Her’ is one such number.
The Prefab Four were always in their element when knocking out perfect Beatlesy pop. Teardrop City has the hallmark of some other Monkees tunes as well.
The Porpoise Song
Languid, reflective comedown music and Carol King written, The Porpoise Song would’ve been jizzed about for an eternity if a (supposedly) cooler band had recorded it. Tripped-out drums, orchestrations, drug-eyed fade-aways and more. This song has everything.
The Door Into Summer
One of the standout songs on ‘Pieces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd’, The Monkees sing about greed over a great period production.
With ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’, The Monkees showed that they liked eyeing up the squares with curiosity and they got to indulge their Ray Davis-esque slanted look at society more than once, including this sitar-y, West Coast woozy folk-pop.
Auntie’s Municipal Court
The Monkees countribution – Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork especially – to country rock is consistently overlooked. They were cutting country-pop before Gram Parsons showed the Byrds their arses from their pedal steels. ‘Auntie’s Municipal Court’ chugs along nicely, making way for songs like ‘Listen To The Band’.
Mike Nesmith was the king of Gonzo-pop. He got far flung influences and threw them all at 3 minute pop records. He was one of the few music makers to share the ideals of The Beatles (throw whatever is in your head, at it) rather than simply aping them (‘put some sitar on it’).
Can You Dig It?
Super groovy Eastern pop, again from the fabulous and weird Head soundtrack, ‘Can You Dig It?’ is a grown-up, sexy number that should tick the boxes of a few record collecting nerds.
What Am I Doin’ Hanging Round
As with ‘You Just May Be The One’, Nesmith’s ability to offer a love song, skewed with a little frustration and darkness was up their with the best. ‘What Am I Doin’ Hanging Round’ is an evocative pop song that puts you right in the middle of the story of a young man missing his train to kiss a girl. Nesmith’s voice never sounded better.