The New Monkees
Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1987)
- Jared Chandler -- rhythm guitar, vocals
- Konstantinos "Dino" Kovas -- drums, percussion, vocals
- Marty Ross -- bass, vocals
- Larry Saltis -- vocals, lead guitar
- Tower City (Larry Saltis)
- The Wigs (Marty Ross)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: The New Monkees
Company: Warner Brothers
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 2533
You kind of had to feel sorry for The New Monkees - you certainly couldn't blame them for taking a shot at the big time, but tagged with a boned head concept like The New Monkees, they never had a fighting chance. Add to that the fact the four members actually managed to survive the experience and seemingly remain sane and on good terms, speaks highly of their individual and collective character.
In 1986 with The Monkees celebrated their 20th anniversary, MTV began re-running their television show. The reruns proved surprisingly successful. The fact the original Monkees were no longer active was apparently enough to interest Columbia Pictures Television in exploring opportunity to mine public interest in the band. Rather than attempt to reunite the original band I'm guessing the costs were prohibitive), The New Monkees concept was born.
Like the original Monkees, Columbia financed a series of well publicized auditions for the planned television series. Unlike the original Monkees, this time around musical proficiency was a requirement. The four "winners" were rhythm guitarist Jared Chandler, drummer Konstantinos "Dino" Kovas, former Wigs singer/bassist Marty Ross and former Schemes singer/guitarist Larry Saltis. If you've ever seen the original Monkees television series then the plotline about four young, goofy guys living in a large, magical house with plenty of time to pursue their musical interests, wasn't going to be a major surprise. Columbia seemed sold on the concept, signed up to finance 22 episodes, though the show was cancelled after 13 episodes.
(left to right) Larry Saltis - Konstantinos "Dino" Kovas - Jared Chandler - Marty Ross
Hoping for marketing synergy, a New Monkees LP was also financed.
Working with a slew of producers including Steve Barri, Carol Carmichael Parks and Dean Parks, there's no denying "The New Monkees" was first and foremost musical product. As was the case with the original Monkees, the powers behind the project had little interest or faith in the New Monkees creative skills, basically relegating them to hired cogs in the machine. Ten of the eleven tunes were from hired guns - the lone exception being Larry Saltis' co-writer credit on the AOR-ish 'Corner of My Eyes'. I'm not going to try to convince anyone this was a great album. It wasn't. Reliant on outside material which they probably had no say in terms of selecting, the band were framed in an 80s production sound that hasn't aged very well and anyone looking for depth ... well, this wasn't the place to start. The fact both Ross and Saltis had nice voices certainly helped out, as did the fact six of these tunes were better than average. That was actually quite an accomplishment for a band not in control of their destiny. If you liked anonymous AOR bands like Mister, Mister, then this probably wasn't going to offend your ears. I'll also tell you the album was way better than the lame television show. I've only seen a couple of the episodes (many are on YouTube), but to call them uneven would be charitable.
Monkees" track listing:
1.) What I Want (Eddie Schwartz - David Tyson) - 3:02 rating: **** stars
Okay, 'What I Want' was such a dreadful song, it was actually enjoyable. Kind of like a good burger. You know it's horrible for your diet, but ... With Ross and Saltis sharing lead vocals, the chorus was simply irresistible. Warner Brothers tapped it as the single:
- 1987's 'What I Want' b/w 'Turn It Up' (Warner Brothers catalog number)
Warner Brothers apparently spent about $5.00 on production values, for the accompanying promotional video. I suspect the video wasn't one of Andrea Parker's career highlights. You can judge for yourself since YouTube has the video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQcsNDqcyuw For the two hardcore New Monkees fans out there, as part of a 1987 Warner Brothers promotional album entitled "Yulesville" the band re-recorded the song with a Christmas lyric - 'What I Want (For Christmas),'.
2.) Do It Again (Julia Downs - John Parr) - 3:47 rating: **** stars
If you're allergic to that unique, synthesizer powered '80s AOR sound, then you'll want to stay away from this one. That said, to my ears 'Do It Again' (not the Steely Dan tune), stood as another guilty pleasure. great hooks throughout the three and a half minutes. There's a promotional clip at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzn7U_2xZmc
3.) I Don't Know (Michael Cruz) - 3:13 rating: **** stars
'I Don't Know' was a decent enough pop tune ... actually it was a pretty good pop tune. Nice melody and sweet vocals and had it been released by anyone other than The New Monkees, it might have gotten some traction. I'm, guessing it was taken from one of the 13 television episodes, but YouTube has a promotional clip for the tune. Drummer Dino Kovas was apparently sick with pneumonia when the video was filmed, hence the focus on the other three members. Guess that explains why the "drummer" was shown wearing a fish head. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ybw66oAHicc
4.) The Way She Moves (Dennis Kelde) - 3:43 rating: ** stars
The first disappointment, 'The Way She Moves' was a plodding and forgettable ballad. Perfect for the airwaves. Here's the promotional clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqymVmU6MJY Actually, far better was a low-keyed 2007 reunion performance before a room full of friends: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHDyNPjB3hM
5.) Boy Inside the Man (Tom Cochrane) - 4:18 rating: **** stars
Yeah, I know Tom Cochrane wrote it and sand the original, but for some reason (maybe the mandolin, or Marty Ross' fantastic voice), 'Boy Inside the Man' has always reminded me of something off of a Hooters album. I always liked The Hooters, so this slice of Americana-FM rock was surprisingly enjoyable. Perhaps the album's best performance. YouTube has the promotion video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OZpS_7_q84
'Burning Desire' was seemingly intended to showcase their rock credentials. Not really successful, though it was nice to see Ross wasn't dressed up in a kilt. Supposedly a live performance, I have my doubts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HK93jTh46JU Far better was this 2011 Christmas reunion performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFkF2HmC3Ts
2,) Whatever It Takes (Alan Roy Scott - Arnie Roman) - 4:14 rating: **** stars
Ah, that instantly recognizable '80s sound. I have to admit missing it from time. Featuring Larry Saltis on lead vocals and some Michael McDonald-styled backing vocals, 'Whatever It Takes' was another tune that proved surprisingly enjoyable.
3.) Affection (Ken Brown) - 3:35 rating: **** stars
'Affection' featured Ross on lead vocals and served as the album's most jittery, new wave-ish performance. The lyrics were also surprisingly dark and disturbing. Do I detect a touch of The Wigs on this one ? Taken from one the television episodes, YouTube has an acoustic performance of the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbnAr9v4VwM
4.) Carlene (Greg Barnhill - Gene Houston - Johnny Hozey - Derrell Brown) - 4:04 rating: ** stars
Completely anonymous '80s AOR. YouTube promotional video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLVDMhbTsdk Supposedly live, but it sounds exactly like the studio version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQSQ6eYJ0z8
5.) Corner of My Eyes (Larry Satis - Mike Slamer - Charlie Mitchell) - 4:40 rating; *** stars
The lone original composition, 'Corner of My Eyes' was also one of the blandest performances. One of those tunes that's fun to play spot-the-influences with. Promotional video (sans Ross) at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=266_ibw2dq0
6.) Turn It Up (Joe Cunale - Jimmy Haddox) - 3:38 rating; *** stars
'Turn It Up' was a rather pedestrian and bland rocker that was apparently their television theme ... The song also provided drummer Kovas with his one shot as lead singer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FkQcWuJaPc
It shouldn't have come as a shock to anyone, but the synergistic marketing scheme was an abject failure. The televisions series was cancelled after 13 episodes and the New Monkees 45 and parent album vanished into cutout bins. Even better, having repeatedly slammed the initiative, the original Monkees filed a suit against the project (it was settled out of court).
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