Friday, March 2, 2012


YEAR: 1968

LABEL: Colgems

TRACK LISTING: Dream World, Auntie's Municipal Court, We Were Made For Each Other, Tapioca Tundra, Daydream Believer, Writing Wrongs, I'll Be Back Up On My Feet, The Poster, P.O. Box 9847, Magnolia Simms, Valleri, Zor and Zam

BONUS TRACKS: (on the 1994 Rhino reissue): Alvin, I'm Gonna Try, P.O. Box 9847 (Alternate Mix), The Girl I Left Behind Me, Lady's Baby

IMPRESSIONS: You know, I've always called this the Monkees' "Sgt. Pepper" but I think I may just be wrong about that. It's possibly more like their "White Album". Or maybe it really IS their "Sgt. Pepper" now that I think of it. It's far too psychedelic to be their "White Album". However, you squeeze it, "TBTB&TM" is an album I have had my entire life; in fact, I've had it so long I cannot even remember how it came into my possession or when. It certainly must've been only a couple years after it's release in 1968. I'd say I must've had it since I was 4 or 5 years of age, definitely. Yesterday's death of Davy Jones brought to mind my childhood when I never missed a Monkees rerun on telly (Channel 48 played them, dontcha know). The classic TV show was probably my young mind's first encounter with absurdist humour which I would come to worship in the coming years in such comedy gods as "MONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS", The Marx Brothers and "THE GOON SHOW". But I think THE MONKEES actually wormed its way into my mind a couple years before the Marx Brothers movies. As far as the music is concerned, the Monkees always got a bad rap for not playing their instruments or writing their songs. Somehow that's supposed to be a bad thing. I don't seem to recall Mario Lanza getting flak for not playing an instrument or Ella Fitzgerald slagged off for not writing her own songs. The Pre-Fab Four were certainly nowhere near the same league but they were a nice-enough pop group that benefitted from a stable of excellent songwriters: Neil Diamond, Harry Nilsson, Carol Bayer Sager, Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart, John Stewart and Neil Sedaka are just a few of the top drawer talent providing songs for the group. Well respected songwriters all and the songs were good regardless of who was singing them. Here we have the Monkees beating their heads against the wall for respect. Tired of the prepackaged label, the Monkees insisted on more creative control and were allowed to play their own instruments with their previous album "PISCES, AQUARIUS, CAPRICORN & JONES LTD." which is generally considered their finest album. I wouldn't know because I don't own it. This is the one I've owned all my life and it's a damn fine album as well. Here Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones, Peter Tork & Michael Nesmith have jumped feat first into the 60's psychedelic era with the trippiest song cycle since the HEAD soundtrack. The elaborate cover practically announces they're going for a SGT. PEPPER-type album; the album recording sessions began only a couple months after the Beatles' released PEPPER in 1967. There is no way I can listen to this album without being transported right back to my single digits; I even recall an early birthday party where this album was used for the music to a game of musical chairs! The album is a psychedelic 60s treasure trove: the record scratches and skips on Nesmith's "Magnolia Simms", the propulsive bombast of "Valleri", the kitchen-sink bubblegum of "Daydream Believer", the mystical medieval majesty of "Zor and Zam" or the LSD inspired "Tapioca Tundra" are all minor masterpieces. This is an album which always puts a big grin on my kisser.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Dream World, Auntie's Municipal Court, Tapioca Tundra, Daydream Believer, I'll Be Back Up On My Feet, P.O. Box 9847, Magnolia Simms, Valleri, Zor and Zam, Alvin

GUEST ARTISTS: Harry Nilsson (piano on "Auntie's Municipal Court"), Bill Martin (percussion on "Daydream Believer"), Hal Blaine (drums on "The Poster"), Stephen Stills (electric guitar on "Lady's Baby")

FACT SHEET: THE BIRDS, THE BEES & THE MONKEES is the Monkees' fifth album. It sold over a million copies but was the first Monkees album that didn't reach number one; it made it to number three. After finally gaining artistic control and recording together as a band on their previous album, TBTB&TM saw the four members basically coming up with and recording their own tracks separately from the others often in different studios; although all recordings were agreed to bear the legend "Produced by The Monkees" this is somewhat the same thing that happened on the Beatles' "White Album". The resulting album is something of a fractured affair (although in the best possible way) featuring contrasting musical styles between Mike Nesmith's country/western or LSD trippy tracks, Davy Jones' Broadway pop/bubblegum style and Mickey Dolenz's straitforward rock and roll. Peter Tork, very disturbed by the group's not working together as a unit, found most of his songs considered for the album but eventually not included; Tork's participation is almost non-existent with his sole appearance on the album consisting of his playing piano on "Daydream Believer". "We Were Made For Each Other" was written by Carole Bayer & George Fischoff. Former Kingston Trio member John Stewart wrote the smash number one hit "Daydream Believer". Perennial Monkees songsmiths Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart wrote "P.O. Box 9847" and "Valleri".

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