Archive | April, 2018

Certain Songs #1196: The Monkees – “Me And Magdalena (Version 2)”

Album: Good Times!
Year: 2016

And suddenly, it was 50 years later.

Well not suddenly, of course: a lot of things had happened in that time. Head. Peter Tork leaving the band. Mike Nesmith’s solo career and video mogulship. MTV spurring a revival and reunion tour. (And that unfortunate incident where I taped over a Tom Waits concert that Kirk had recorded in order to snag the MTV episodes.) Davy Jones dying.

And, of course, the occasional reunion albums: 1987’s Nesmith-less Pool It! and 1996’s totally-written-and-performed-by-the-band Justus, neither of which I heard, because snobbery.

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Certain Songs #1195: The Monkees – “Daydream Believer”

Album: The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees
Year: 1968

One of the many ironies about The Monkees was that their least photogenic guy was their best singer by miles, which kinda undercut the “American Beatles” vibe they were going for, as manifested by the casting of an actual Brit, David Jones, as “the cute one,” Davy.

There was another David Jones on the British rock scene in the mid-1960s, but the story has always been that to avoid any kind of confusion between the two David Joneses — though there wasn’t ever any confusion a decade later between Mick Jones of The Clash & Mick Jones of Foreigner — he changed his last name to “Bowie,” which led me to wonder: forget Stephen Stills, what would The Monkees as both a TV show and a band been like had the other David Jones tried out?

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Certain Songs #1194: The Monkees – “Pleasant Valley Sunday”

Album: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.
Year: 1967

Like everything else during The Monkees imperial phase, the pace at which they released singles moved at the speed of light: Gerry Goffin & Carole King’s “Pleasant Valley Sunday” was their fourth Top 5 U.S. single in less than a year, and — following on from the artistic freedom they wrested for Headquarters — it was the first one where actual Monkees contributed significantly to the musical mix.

So that’s Mike Nesmith playing the jangling guitar hook that kicks the song off and anchors it throughout, and the piano hook on the long, arching bridge was played by Peter Tork. And Davy Jones, um, played the maracas, and along with Nesmith, provided the backing vocals.

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Certain Songs #1193: The Monkees – “For Pete’s Sake”

Album: Headquarters
Year: 1967

Artistic freedom! Asked for and answered!!

Life comes at you fast when you’re at the top of the pop world, and on their third album in six months, The Monkees got what they’d been asking for from the start: the chance to write for and play on their own records. So they tossed Don Kirshner out on his ass, and with a core group of Mike Nesmith & Peter Tork on various guitars & keyboards, Mickey Dolenz on drums and Davy Jones on, let’s say, percussion, they set out to record their third album, Headquarters.

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Certain Songs #1192: The Monkees – “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone”

Album: More of the Monkees
Year: 1966

Definitely the only song to ever have been covered by The Monkees and The Sex Pistols — though it woulda been fun to hear the Monkees take on “No Fun” or “Substitute” — the garage-y rave-up “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” was actually given by Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart to proto-Monkees Paul Revere & The Raiders first.

But for some reason — probably because they were too busy churning out classics like “Just Like Me” and “Kicks” — The Raiders never released it as a single, so The Monkees recorded it, stuck it on the b-side of “I’m a Believer” and it became a hit on its own recognizance, making #20 on the U.S. charts and #1 in Canada, where the Monkees were even more popular than they were here in the States. Though not popular enough, I guess, for Rush to include any Monkees song on their all-1960s-covers album, Feedback.

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