The Monkees


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1967-68)

- Mickey Dolenz -- vocals, drums, percussion 
- David Jones (RIP)  -- vocals, percussion 
- Michael Nesmith (RIP)  -- vocals, guitar 
- Peter Tork -- vocals, bass, keyboards 

 

  line up 2 (1968-69)

- Mickey Dolenz -- vocals, drums, percussion 
- David Jones -- vocals, percussion 
- Michael Nesmith (RIP) -- vocals, guitar 

  line up 3 (1969-70)

- Mickey Dolenz -- vocals, drums, percussion 
- David Jones (IRP)  -- vocals, percussion 

 

  line up 1 (1986-)

- Mickey Dolenz -- vocals, drums, percussion 
- David Jones (RIP)  -- vocals, percussion 
- Peter Tork -- vocals, bass, keyboards 

 

  supporting musicians (1987)

- Richard Bechirian -- percussion

- Andy Cahan -- keyboards

- Mark Christian -- lead guitar

- Mike Egizi -- keyboards

- Davey Faragher -- bass

- matt Harris -- backing vocals

- George Hawkins -- bass

- Craig Ostbo -- percussion

- Curley Smith -- drums

 

 

   

 

 

- Michael Blessing (aka Michael Nesmith)
- Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart
- Mickey Dolenz (solo efforts)
- First National Bank (Michael Nesmith)
- Davy Jones (solo efforts)
- Michael Nesmith (solo efforts)
- Second National Bank (Michael Nesmith)
- Peter Tork (solo efforts)
 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Head

Company: Colgems

Catalog: 5008

Year: 1968

Country/State: US/UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: original metallic cover

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD

Price: SOLD $50.00

Cost: $66.00

 

More than anxious to capitalize on the band's popularity, Columbia leaped at the opportunity to finance a Monkees film. Big mistake !!! Directed by Bob Rafelson (and starring a bizarro cast including boxer Sonny Liston, Jack Nicholson, former football player Ray Nitschke and Frank Zappa), anyone expecting a "Hard Days Night" styled comedy was in for a major surprise. To their credit, "Head" proved daring and imaginative, though dense, fragmented and virtually impossible to follow. Anti-war sentiments and non-too-subtle commentary on stardom (the band is seen committing suicide jumping from a bridge) left Columbia executives dumbfounded. Needless to say, the film proved a commercial disaster. In spite of the fact it was their most creative album, 1968's "Head" suffered from the film connection. Certainly far from their most consistent set, interspersed with fragments of dialog, sound effects and incidental music, highlights included Nesmith's blazing 'Circle Sky', Jones' campy reading of Nilsson's 'Daddy's Song' and the psychedelic single 'Porpoise Song' (probably one of Carole King-Gerry Goffin's weirdest efforts). Their poorest seller up to that point, the album faltered at # 45. (The album was originally released with a metallic mirror cover.) 

"Head" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Opening Ceremony - 1:19
2.) Porpoise Song (Theme from "Head") (Gerry Goffin - Carole King) - 2:56
3.) Ditty Diego - War Chant - 1:27
4.) Circle Sky (MIke Nesmith) - 2:32
5.) Supplico - :49
6.) Can You Dig It (Peter Tork) - 3:19

(side 2)

1.) Gravy - :05
2.) Superstitious - :06
3.) As We Go Along (King - Stern) - 3:53
4.) Dandruff? - :40
5.) Daddy's Song (Harry Nilsson) - 2:29
6.) Poll - 1:12
7.) Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again (Peter Tork) - 2:37
9.) Swami - Plus Strings (Ken Thorne) - 5:16


The album also brought personal tensions to a head (ha!). Having just turned in two of his most impressive songs ('Can You Dig It' and 'Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again'), increasingly frustrated with the rock star lifestyle, Tork bought out the remainder of his Colgems contract for a then-whopping $160,000. Giving him kudos for showing the morale strength to follow his beliefs, the decision also left Tork broke. Within a couple of years he was left to working menial day jobs to pay his bills. 

 

 


 


Genre: pop

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Instant Replay

Company: Colgems

Catalog: COL-113

Year: 1968

Country/State: US/UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4346

Price: $40.00

Cost: $66.00

 

Down to a trio following Peter Tork's departure, "Instant Replay" was clearly recorded under trying circumstances.  Mickey Dolenz, David Jones, and Michael Nesmith reportedly went into the studio without any material and basically took it from there.  Exemplified by some of the group photos on the back cover, the results made it clear the surviving Monkees weren't particularly happy to be with one another and were rapidly running out of creativity, let alone much enthusiasm for continuing The Monkees nameplate.  The collection featured a hodgepodge mixture of older, previously unreleased material with 'Tear Drop City' dating back to 1966, while 'I Won't Be the Same without Her' was recorded in 1967.  In contrast ewer efforts like Nesmith's 'Don't Wait for Me' sounded suspiciously like solo efforts (a la Beatles White Album).  As to be expected, Nesmith-penned country-rock efforts such as 'Don't Wait for Me' and the pretty 'While I Cry' provided most of the highlights. On the downside, Jones' MOR-moves like 'Don't Listen To Linda' and 'Me without You' were increasingly irritating, though his hysterical stab at hard rock 'You and I' was worth hearing.  Usually good for an enjoyable  track or two, this time around Dolenz's all-around weird 'Shorty Blackwell' took up way too much track time.  

 

I'd love to be more positive, but probably only of interest to hardcore fans ...


"Instant Replay" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Through the Looking Glass   (Tommy Boyce - Bobby Hart - Baldwin) - 2:41

I'm certainly not alone in thinking 'Through the Looking Glass' sounded a bit like a dosed remake of 'Cuddly Toy'.   The strange barrelhouse piano, acid-tinged orchestration, coupled with Dolenz's barely in-tune vocals made it a weird opener.   rating: *** stars
2.) Don't Listen To Linda   (Tommy Boyce - Bobby Hart) - 2:45

This was actually a decent enough ballad, but Jones' gasping delivery was so lame and vapid that he managed to reduce it to nothing more than MOR sludge.   Simply horrible.  rating: * star
3.) I Won't Be the Same without Her   (Gerry Goffin - Carole King) - 2:28

A rare vocal appearance by Nesmith who sounded a bit gruff, supposedly due to the fact he'd recently had his tonsels removed.  As I recall, the song was actually recorded during the sessions for their debut album but subsequently shelved.   It certainly had a pleasant Buffalo Springfield-styled folk-rock sound and left you wondering why Don Kirshner and company didn't want to hear Nemsith's voice on any Monkess tracks.    rating: **** stars
4.) Just a Game   (Mickey Dolenz) - 1:46

To my ears 'Just a Game ' sounded like a song fragment waiting to be fit into a true composition.  rating: ** stars
5.) Me without You   (Tommy Boyce - Bobby Hart) - 2:08

'Me without You' was a good example of the group being too cutesy for their own good.  The fact they seemingly ripped off a bit of 'Your Mother Should Know' helped a bit, as did a rather ragged guitar solo.  rating: *** stars 
6.) Don't Wait for Me   (Michael Nesmith) - 

The country-tinged 'Don't Wait for me' was a wonderful example of the direction Nez would go as a solo act    rating: **** stars

(side 2)

1.) You and I   (Davy Jones - Bill Chadwick) - 2:10

Hearing Jones try to power his way through a hard rock tune (well hard rock for The Monkees), was actually kind of interesting.  It certainly wasn't nearly as bad as you might have expected and certainly benefited from the brittle lead guitar provided by Neil Young ...  seriously !!!   (Jones and Mickey Dolenz collaborated on a song with the same title for the 1996 Monkees comeback album "Justus".)   rating: **** stars
2.) While I Cry   (Michael Nesmith) - 2:57

I'll keep my comments brief - simply one of the prettiest, most affecting tunes Nesmith ever wrote and the backing vocals were almost angelic.   rating: **** stars
3.) Tear Drop City   (Tommy Boyce - Bobby Hart) - 2:01

With Dolenz handling lead vocals, 'Tear Drop City' was another previously recorded castoff - this one dating back to 1966.  To my ears it sounded quite a bit like some of their earlier singles including more than a touch of 'Last Train To Clarksville'.   Certainly  not the album's most creative outing, though it was commercial in a retro fashion which probably explains why it was tapped as a single:

- 1968's 'Tear Drop City' b/w 'A Man Without a Dream' (COLGEMS catalog number 65-5000) # 56 pop

YouTube has a clip of the trio lip-synching the tune for a 1969 appearance on the Johnny Cash television program.  Worth checking out for the velvet suits and watching Jones go spastic on the bass: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFyp_Xc6J9o   rating: **** stars
4.) The Girl I Left Behind   (Carole Bayer - Neil Sedaka) - 2:40

Seriously, what could you have possible have expected from the combination of a tune written by Carole Bayer and Neil Sedaka with Jones handling lead vocals.  Sappy schmaltz.   Yech.   rating; ** stars
5.) A Man without a Dream   (Gerry Goffin - Carole King) - 2:58

Another sappy ballad, but credit Goffin and King for at least crafting a memorable melody ...  always liked the punchy horn charts on this one.  rating: **** stars
6.) Shorty Blackwell   (Mickey Dolenz) - 5:42

Sounding like an odd mash-up of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta and a sound collage, Dolenz's 'Shorty Blackwell' was weird enough to have fitted on "Head".  It certainly wasn't very enjoyable, though I would love to know what it was actually about.  The female singer was Dolenz's sister Coco.   rating; ** stars


 

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Changes

Company: Colgems

Catalog: COL-119

Year: 1970

Country/State: US/UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2871

Price: $50.00

Cost: $66.00

 

 

By the time 1970's "Changes" was released, The Monkees were basically little more than a nameplate.   Peter Tork had been the first to leave in 1968.  Michael Nesmith left in mid-1970.  Both were forced to buy out the remainder of their Colgems contracts to the tune of $150,000 a year.  Though Davy Jones had previously announced his intention to leave the band, the financial ramifications may have been the reason he reconsidered the move.  Accordingly, "Changes" found The Monkees enterprise down to the duo of Jones and stalwart Mickey Dolenz.  With Jeff Barry brought in to handle production chores, the set occasionally came off as little more than a musical wake.  Left to the mercy of Barry and a gaggle of other outside writers,  Jones himself has labeled the album as being little more than an Jeff Barry produced Andy Kim solo album with minimal Monkees participation.  Clearly uninspired by their surroundings, neither principle seemed to put much effort into the set. The new tracks were rounded out by three previously recorded tracks - 'You're So Good', '99 Pounds' and 'Midnight Train'.  Dolenz's 'Midnight Train' also serving as the only original effort.  Exemplified by material such as 'Oh My My' and 'It's Got To Be Love' the results were professional, if largely bland and quickly forgotten.  The only tracks that really stood out were the gorgeous bubblegum-ish 'I Love You Better',  the ballad 'Ticket On a Ferry Ride', 'Tell Me Love', and  the circa 1967-era rocker '99 Pounds'.  The latter made it clear Jones' wasn't cut out for hard rock.   With the collection failing to chart, Dolenz and Jones officially killed the band.

"Changes" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Oh My My   (Jeff Barry - Andy Kim) - 2:57   rating: ***** stars

Originally penned for Bobby Bloom, 'Oh My My' found the duo taking a shot at an unexpectedly tough rocker.  With Mickey on lead vocals  it was still a pop tune, but complete with hard rock guitar that sounds a bit like Pink Floyd's 'Wish You Were Here',  the tune actually wasn't half bad.  It was also tapped as the final Monkees' single on Colgems:

1970's 'Oh My My' b/w 'I Love You Better' (Colgems catalog number 66-5011)  # 98 pop   The quality is poor, but YouTube has a promotional video clip of the tune at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izHTcRe9P8U 
2.) Ticket On a Ferry Ride   (Jeff Barry - Bobby Bloom) - 3:25  
rating: *** stars

In spite of a slightly flat Dolenz performance, 'Ticket On a Ferry Ride' was a decent ballad with some nice Monkee-ish backing vocals   I'm guessing those backing vocals came from Barry, Bloom, and company.
3.) You're So Good To Me   (Jeff Barry - Bobby Bloom) - 2:29  
rating: *** stars

Jones getting a chance to toughen up his sound ...  While he simply didn't have the vocal chops to pull it off, the song was good enough to survive.  Not to be confused with 'Your So Good' which appeared on  "Missing Links Volume III"..
4.) It's Got To Be Love   (Neil Goldberg) - 2:20  
rating: ** stars

Dolenz's MOR-ish vocals and delivery turned this one into a throwaway.  Shame since the song had good structural bones and would have been quite good with a less lounge act delivery.
5.) Acapulco Sun   (Steven Soles - Ned Albright) - 2:45  
rating: **** stars

Written by future Tidbits members Steven Soles and Ned Albright, 'Acapulco Sun' had a winning melody with a breezy,  tropical feel.  The tune's always sounded like something Mike Nesmith might have written.  Great slide guitar on this one.  I've never seen a copy, but the song was released as a Mexican single.
6.) 99 Pounds   (Jeff Barry) - 2:25  
rating: **** stars

As fans will be able to tell from the retro sound (just check out the fuzz lead guitar and Arthur Butler's Farfisa organ), '99 Pounds' was a leftover from the 1967 "Headquarters" sessions.  The irony stemmed from the fact Barry had produced the song back in 1967.   As mentioned previously, the song underscored Jones was never going to cut it as a hard rock singer, but there was so much energy packed into these two and a half minutes, it was easily one of the album's standout performances.

(side 2)

1.) Tell Me Love   (Jeff Barry) - 2:32   rating: **** stars

Perhaps the album's most interesting song, 'Tell Me Love' managed to mash-up a Gospel flavored ballad with a pseudo-classical feeling.  One of Dolenz's best performances, the song also sported an amazing bass line.
2.) Do You Feel It Too?   (Jeff Barry - Andy Kim) - 2:28  
rating: *** stars

It took awhile for 'Do You Feel It Too?' to kick into gear, but when it did the song's melody was almost  enough to compensate for Jones' flat delivery.
3.) I Love You Better   (Jeff Barry - Andy Kim) - 2:26  
rating: **** stars

'I Love You Better' was the album's best song and a great example of Barry's knack for crafting killer bubblegum pop.   You had to wonder why the song was relegated to the 'Oh My My' "B" side.
4.) All Alone In the Dark   (Steven Soles - Ned Albright) - 2:47  
rating: *** stars

The second Soles-Albright contribution, 'All Alone In the Dark' featured an off, quasi-jazzy feel.  While I didn't particularly like the song, it was a nice fit for Doenz's goofy persona.  
5.) Midnight Train   (Mickey Dolenz) - 2:05 
rating: ** stars

The album's lone original composition, 'Midnight Train' was another "resurrected" song.  The track was originally intended for inclusion on 1969's "The Monkees Present".  To my ears the Western swing feel made it sound like a Mike Nesmith composition.  Kudos to Dolenz for effortlessly handling the mile-a-minute vocals (his sister Coco was featured on backing vocals).  The song's always reminded me of Commander Code and the Lost Planet Airmen's 'Hot Rod Lincoln'.
6.) I Never Thought It Particular   (Tommy Boyce - Bobby Hart) - 2:20  
rating: *** stars

Another rescue job - 'I Never Thought It Particular' dated back to 1966's "More of the Monkees" sessions.  I'm guessing it was dropped due to the fact the Jones sung ditty sounded too much like some of their other releases.  A far more typical Monkees sound, but easy to see why it was shelved.

 

 

 

 


Genre: pop

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Barrel Full of Monkees

Company: Colgems

Catalog: SCOS-1001

Year: 1971

Country/State: US/UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/ VG+

Comments: double LP set, minor ring and edge wear

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD 5043

Price: SOLD $15.00

 

The final Monkees release on Colgems, 1971's "Barrel Full of Monkees" was a double LP 20 track compilation.  Apparently geared for the children's market that grew up with the band's television program, the set was actually quite good.  Overlooking the absence of  much in the way of liner notes (but then do 10 year olds care about liner notes), the compilation pulled together the band's radio hits, pseudo-hits and a couple of their better album tracks. Curiously it didn't sell well.  That might have something to do with the fact fans had grown up and moved on to other things, or perhaps something to do with the hideous cover art.  (The album shouldn't be confused with the Rhino Records release "Barrel Full of Monkees: Music for Children" that featured an inferior track listing.)

"Barrel Full of Monkees" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) I'm A Believer   (Neil Diamond) - 2:41

2.) Cuddly Toy   (Nilsson) - 2:45

3.) Star Collector    (Carole King - Gerry Goffin) - 3:30

4.) What Am I Doin' Hangin' 'Round?   (Lewis - Clarke) - 3:02

5.) Pleasant Valley Sunday    (Carole King - Gerry Goffin) - 3:10    

 

(side 2)
1.) Last Train To Clarkesville   (Boyce - Hart) - 2:40

2.) Valleri   (Boyce - Hart) - 2:16

3.) Randy Scouse Git   (Mickey Dolenz) - 2:35

4.) I Wanna Be Free   (Boyce - Hart) - 2:24

5.) Listen To The Band   (Michael Nesmith) - 2:45 

 

(side 3)
1.) (Theme From) The Monkees   (Boyce - Hart) - 2:20

2.) She Hangs Out   (Jeff Barry) - 2:33

3.) Gonna Buy Me A Dog    (Boyce - Hart) - 2:28 

4.) She   (Boyce - Hart) - 2:27

5.) (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone   (Boyce - Hart) - 2:25 

 

(side 4)
1.) Daydream Believer   (Stewart) - 2:58

2.) Your Auntie Grizelda    (Keller - Hilderbrandt) - 2:28

3.) A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You   (Neil Diamond) - 2:35

4.) Mary, Mary   (Michael Nesmith) - 2:12

5.) Shades Of Gray   (Barry Mann - Cynthia Weil) - 3:20

 

 


Genre: pop

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Re-Focus

Company: Bell

Catalog: 6081

Year: 1972

Country/State: US/UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring wear, cut lower corner

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD

Price: SOLD

 

With the band's television program going into Saturday morning syndication, Bell Records took advantage of the new audience to release another "best of" collection; 1972's cleverly-titled "Re-focus".   Most of the band's top-40 hits were here; the one odd (and interesting) choice being the inclusion of Nesmith's 'Listen To the Band'. Given the set did little sales wise, it's one of the rarer titles in the catalog and the packaging was kind of cool.   

 

"Re-focus" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Monkee's Theme (Tommy Boyce - Bobby Hart) - 2:29
2.) Last Train To Clarksville (Tommy Boyce - Bobby Hart) - 2:48
3.) She (Tommy Boyce - Bobby Hart) - 2:27
4.) Daydream Believer (John Stewart) - 2:58
5.) Listen To the Band (Mike Nesmith) - 2:45
6.) A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You (Neil Diamond) - 2:35

(side 2)
1.) I'm a Believe (Neil Diamond) - 2:41
2.) I Wanna Be Free (Tommy Boyce - Bobby Hart) - 2:24
3.) Pleasant Valley Sunday (Carole King - Gerry Goffin) - 3:10
4.) (I'm Not) You're Steppin' Stone (Tommy Boyce - Bobby Hart) - 2:25
5.) Shades of Gray (Barry Mann - Cynthia Weil) - 3:30

 


Genre: pop

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  Tails of the Monkees

Company: Silhouette 

Catalog: SM 10012

Year: 1983

Country/State: US/UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: picture disc

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5364

Price: $50.00

 

So let me be warn you that in spite of the title, "Tails of the Monkees" was a real hodgepodge.  The subtitle gave you the impression this was a previously unreleased concert performance ...  Unfortunately large chunks of the album's scant playing time were devoted to interview materials (mostly with Michael Nesmith) pulled from television appearances, radio interviews. etc.  Most of it was pretty bland, though Nesmith's comments on seeing Jimi Hendrix and having him open for The Monkees were pretty funny.  Another warning, while there were five 'live' performances (none featuring particularly good sound quality), they weren't really Monkees tracks, rather featured the mid-1970s Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart pseudo-Monkees line-up.  I'm guessing the live tracks were recorded in Japan.  

 

"Tales of the Monkees" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Opening Live    rating: * star

'Opening Live' was basically a sound collage pulling together snippets of radio interviews, their television show, etc. 

2.) Comments Regarding Their Musical Career    rating: ** stars.

Pulled from The Interview Show, 'Comments Regarding Their Musical Career' featured Michael Nesmith talking about the band's roots and early relationship with Screen Gems.  

3.) Last Train To Clarksville  rating: *** stars

The first of five live tracks, with Dolenz handing lead vocals, 'Last Train To Clarksville' was a surprisingly good performance, sticking pretty close to the studio original.  Unfortunately the sound qualify was abysmal,  sounding like it had been recorded through a wool blanket.

4.) Comments    rating: * star

'Comments' featured Nesmith going on about the band trying to show some creative independence.    

5.) I Wanna Be Free    rating: ** stars.

Another Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart performance, 'I Wanna Be Free' was probably the worst of the five concert numbers.  The studio version wasn't any great shakes, and the concert version only served to showcase the ravages time had taken on Davy Jones' voice.  Yech.  

6.) Comments    rating: ** stars.

It was fun to hear Nesmith talking about Hendrix touring with the Monkees on 'Comments'.   

7.) I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight  rating: *** stars

Probably the best of the live tracks, 'I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight' actually managed to capture a bit of garage rock energy.  

 

(side 2)
1.) Comments Regarding Their Musical Career    rating: * star

Side two opened up with Harry Harrison prattling on about the band for Armed Forces Network The In-Sound.  Geez, did Harrison ever sound like a schmoozer ...  Ever wanted to a be a Green Beret ?   

2.) I'm a Believer    rating: ** stars.

The live version of 'I'm a Believer' suffered from sound quality that was even more dismal than the other four tracks.  While Dolenz handled the lead vocal, Jones brief segment underscored how weak his voice had become.   

3.) Comments    rating: ** stars.

A continuation of The In Sound interview, the splicing between DJ Harrison and Nesmith was hysterically inept, as were the question being asked.  The ad for the Women's Army Corps advertisement was even funnier. \

5.) I Remember the Feeling   rating: ** stars.

'I Remember the Feeling' was lame beyond anyone's wildest dreams - it sounded like they'd stolen it form an after shave commercial.   

6.) Comments

Another snippet from he In Sound interview, Jones was featured on some dull comments about whether the band played their own instruments.   rating: * star

7.) A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You    rating: ** stars.

It was billed as previously unreleased, but to my ears this version of 'A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You' sounded like it was the original studio version - way too accomplished and smooth to be a live take.  

8.) White Christmas    rating: ** stars.

Originally the 'B' side to the seasonal 45 'Christmas Is My Favorite Time of Year' and featuring Jones on lead vocals, this countrified version of 'White Christmas' may be the world's dullest cover of the classic song.    Jones literally sounded like he was asleep. 

So unless you're a major Monkees fanatic, or simply love picture discs, you can probably live without this one.

 

 

 


Genre: pop

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Pool It !

Company: Rhino

Catalog: RNIN 70706

Year: 1987

Country/State: US/UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 3213

Price: $15.00

 

With MTV having introduced The Monkees to another generation of fans via re-reuns of their television show, it was only a matter of time before the accountants moved in and ensured that a reunion was a viable alternative for folks.  Bless his soul, but Michael Nesmith had the courage (and financial resources) to sit this one out.  

 

With Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones, and Peter Tork having resumed touring in 1986, it was only a matter of time before pressure was brought to bare with respect to recording some new music.  The pressure came as the trio were getting ready to embark on another US tour.  The response was 1987's Roger Bechirian produced "Pool It!".   While the album was marketed as a Monkees album, that was pretty much a stretch.  With most of the album's dozen songs penned by outsiders, the results came across as solo efforts, rather than a true collaboration.  Their voices remained recognizable and Rhino had the marketing sense to live up to the trio's established television personas - Jones the romantic and main ballad singer ('(I'll) Love You Forever' and 'Counting On You'); Tork the quirky member ('Gettin' In' and 'Since You Went Away'), and Dolenz as the easy-going, good-natured one ('Heart and Soul').  You also got the feeling neither Rhino, nor the trio were sure how too update their sound for a mid-'80s audience.  Their  new wave cover of Wreckless Eric's (I'd Go the) Whole Wide World' wasn't half bad, but things went off the creative rails when they took a stab at "toughening up" their sound.  Released as a single 'Every Step of the Way' was hysterically inept, while 'Midnight' simply underscored the fact Jones was ill suited for rock and roll.

 

Following a squabble over an appearance at an  MTV awards show, the network effectively banned the group from it's play list.  You could also argue the album cover photo didn't help sales.  Pitchfork included the album on it's list of "The Worst Record Covers of All Time".  Neither seemingly bolstered sales, the album peaking at # 87 on the US charts.

 

"Tales of the Monkees" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Heart and Soul   (Simon Byre - Andrew Howell) - 3:55    rating: **** stars

Against every fiber in my body, I have to admit that I thought the title track was a great song.  Dolenz sounded in good form and the tune had the kind of goofy melody that was a perfect match for the remaining Monkees.  Easy to see why Rhino tapped it as a single:

- 1986's 'Heart and Soul' b/w 'MGBGT' (Rhino catalog number RNOR 74408)  # 87 pop    Interestingly, Rhino financed a promo video, but MTV banned it after the band refused to play for an MTV sponsored awards show.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mo7cBvd62Uw  

2.) (I'd Go the) Whole Wide World   (Eric Goulden() - 2:56   rating: *** stars

With Mickey on lead vocals, their version of '(I'd Go the) Whole Wide World' wasn't going to make you forget the Wreckless Eric original (off his "Stranger Than Fiction" LP), but give The Monkees credit for finding the song and not messing with it too much.

3.) Long Way Home   (Dick Eastman - Bobby Hardt) - 3:46   rating: ** stars

Jones instantly recognizable vocals gave 'Long Way Home' one of the album's most Monkee-fied sound.  Again, the big drums and '80s production haven't aged all that well, but it was one of those sappy ballads that sent generations of little girls squealing in delight.   

4.) Secret Heart   (Brian Fairweather - Martin Page) - 3:05   rating: *** stars

Another Mickey vocal and probably the album's most readily commercial tune, though the song's '80s production sounded strained and a bit calculated.

5.) Gettin' In   (Peter Tork) - 3:03   rating: *** stars

Penned by Tork, 'Gettin' In' found Peter turning in his best new wave influences ...  Imagine The Monkees having overdosed on Duran Duran.   LOL   The '80s, though not necessarily at their best.   Filmed by an audience member, YouTube has an in-concert clip of the song.  Worth checking out just to see Tork's dance moves:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGv4O7lZ_eg 

6.) (I'll) Love You Forever   (David Jones) - 3:22   rating: * star

Written and sung by Davy Jones (it had previously been released as a solo 45), '(I'll) Love You Forever' might well be his signature tune.  And it's exactly what you'd expect - a big, bloated, and hard to stomach ballad that probably wouldn't appeal to any female over 15.  YouTube has a May, 2010 Jones' solo performance of the tune at Epcot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fikhJ6AEZLI 

 

(side 2)

1.) Every Step of the Way  (Mark Clarke - Ian Hunter) - 3:21   rating: ** stars

Hum, The Monkees trying to toughen up their sound  with kind of an aggressive, new wave edge.  The problem was that in spite of the mullet, Jones simply didn't have the kind of voice suited to the genre and the song wasn't all that good. That didn't stop Rhino from releasing it as a single:

- 1987's 'Every Step of the Way' b/w ('I'll) Love You Forever (live version)' (Rhino catalog number RNOR 74410)   In conjunction with the single, Rhino released a hysterical promo video for the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=270LOvTrxWg 

2.) Don't Bring Me Down   (Tom Teely - Glenn Wyks) - 2:56   rating: **** stars

'Don't Bring Me Down' was a sweet, breezy pop tune that in retrospect suffers a bit from the heavy '80s production sound.  Still it was another nice tune for Dolenz's commercial voice.  Rhino also funded a cute video for the song.  In conjunction with Nickelodeon, the company ran a "Meet the Monkees" fan contest where the winner got to have dinner with The Monkees.  The dinner was filmed and became a promo video.  A then young girl by the name of Adrianne Boomer won the contest:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08G78HJ_Q18 

3.) Midnight   (David) - 4:28   rating: ** stars

Another tune where they were apparently trying to toughen up their sound.  Unfortunately, Dolenz simply didn't have to kind of voice to pull it off.  'Midnight' found Mickey apparently having overdosed on Miami Vice ....  Pretty horrible tune.

4.) She's Movin' In with Rico   (Andrew Howell) - 3:21  rating; * star

The reggae flavor wasn't a good sign ...  and yeah, 'She's Movin' In with Rico' was easily the album's worst performance.  Just like Jones couldn't pull of hard rock, reggae wasn't his calling.  Horrible.

5.) Since You Went Away   (Michael Levine) - 3:50   rating: ** stars

Tork had actually previously recorded this tune with his band Peter Tork & the New Monks.  This version represented a slightly fuller arrangement, though the vocal was equally flat.  Too cute for more than one or two spins, but 'Since You Went Away' was a perfect song for Tork's goofy persona ...  

6.) Counting On You   (Alan Green) - 5:46   rating: ** stars

'Counting On You' closed the album with an acoustic ballad.  The combination of some of Jones' sappiest vocals (he sounded like he was going to breakdown in the  middle of the song), and Alan Green's hideous lyrics made this one a pain to sit through.   Simply awful.

 

 

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