Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Country, Folk, Pop, Rock
2008 reissue of this album from the former Monkee and groundbreaking music/video pioneer. Tropical Campfires is an entirely acoustic album with some of this country's best session players (including John Jorgensen of The D... more »
Listen to Samples
2008 reissue of this album from the former Monkee and groundbreaking music/video pioneer. Tropical Campfires is an entirely acoustic album with some of this country's best session players (including John Jorgensen of The Desert Rose Band, percussionist Luis Conte, and pedal steel player Red Rhodes). Nez sings some original tunes as well as covers of 'In the Still of the Night', 'Brazil', and 'Begin the Beguine'. After this recording many of the songs were performed with the same band for Live at the Britt, a festival which was videotaped in Oregon. Nezheads usually list this album in their Top Three. 11 tracks. Edsel. UK.
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I was stunned to learn it was Nesmith.
Anonymous Reviewer | Pittsburgh, PA | 03/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am old enough to remember watching the Monkees on Saturday morning TV when they were still touring. I liked their music but wasn't a huge fan.
Flash forward 35 years. I am in an airport killing time in a bookstore when I hear "Begin the Beguine" playing overhead. I am entranced. I ask the manager what CD he is playing and he pulls out a cassette cover of "Tropical Campfires." I am stunned to find out it is Michael Nesmith. I tell him I think this is great stuff and he says that he plays it because people don't know it exists or how good it is. I leave the store and later buy the CD.
I define a 5 star purchase as one that you play over and over again. Then a few years pass and you play it again and it still inspires you and lights up your nerve endings the way it did the first time you heard it. That's what this CD does for me. To be honest, I have to agree with the other reviewer that Nesmith is not a great singer. In fact, the song that grabbed me, "Begin the Beguine," is probably the worst vocal on the whole CD. But there is a paradox here. This is precisely why I love it. Sometimes a popular song leaves you unmoved when the great vocalists sing it. You just don't "get it." Then along come somebody with a new arrangement or vocal interpretation and suddenly it comes alive for you. This is what happened to me with "Begin the Beguine." Nesmith obviously loves this material and sings and performs it with such passion and enthusiasm that it automatically induces joy in the listener. Just like I didn't "get" opera until I heard Andrea Bocelli, (and truth be told, technically he is a second rate tenor). He is no Pavarotti. Had he been trained from youth he might have been first rate. But no matter. It was the imperfections in his voice that made operatic arias real and accessible to me. Pavarotti never moved me, but Bocelli brought heaven to earth for me. After Bocelli I began to appreciate Pavarotti.
I could never identify with Frank Sinatra "beginning to beguine" because he sounded too perfect and loaded with money. But with Nesmith I can put myself into the picture and actually believe that I am in a tropical paradise. He could be any man singing that song. That's what makes it real for me.
My absolute favorite cut is "For the Island," a spiritual anthem if there ever was one. The words are very simple, but I recognize in hearing them that this is how I truly feel about the world and any hope for the future. Joy again.
"Twilight on the Trail" is my epitaph. It so eloquently sums up what I would offer to others as the whole meaning and purpose of my life. I know I sound cornball but these are the feelings the songs on this CD induce in me. If feeling good and having hope and keeping it simple are cornball then so be it. Maybe I'm just an old fart.
This album is quirky, original, a misfit...and absolutely brilliant. For me, it's like finding a real diamond in a showcase loaded with counterfeits.
On first hearing you will either love this CD or hate it. No in-between on this one. And if you decide you hate it after listening to the samples buy it anyway and put it away for...oh...35 years. Then listen again.
If you like Nez...
Sven Carlsson | 05/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am a huge fan of Michael Nesmith's solo music and his music with The Monkees. If you enjoy his country-rock style then I strongly recommend that you check out the following:
1) March 16-20 by Uncle Tupelo
2) Papa Nez: A Loose Salute To The Work Of Michael Nesmith by Various Artists
3) Stranger's Almanac by Whiskeytown
4) Trace by Son Volt
The best since Infinite Rider...though distinctly different.
C. Floyd | Florida | 07/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Michael Nesmith is the most inventive genius of 4 Monkees. Yes, I'm always going to be a "Davy girl", but I appreciate the supreme genius that is Michael. First off, "Tropical Campfires" is NOT country. It is a marriage of calypso and Western cowboy music, much like a Jimmy Buffett album.
All you need to do is look at that title, and that's the entire sound of the album. The big plus to this album is that Michael remade "Brazil", "In the Still of the Night" (Cole Porter, not the '50s version), and "Begin the Beguine" (also Cole Porter); they are the best versions I've ever heard. Another favorite on here is "Yellow Butterfly", which Michael described as transcendental (I THINK that was the word, though I may be missing the exact word.)--a belief that somewhere in the world a certain thing is happening that causes something to happen where we are, in this case it is raining, so "somewhere sails a yellow butterfly." Everytime I see a yellow butterfly, I smile and think it is raining somewhere.
"Juliana", my favorite all-time love song, other than Michael's "Propinquity" from the Complete albums, is also on here. Men have no patience for the slow-going, peacefully tender exclamation of intense love (such as my husband, who likes the phrases I quote him from it, but has yet been able to listen to the whole thing.), but women listening everywhere melt, wishing that there was a man who wrote them a song with the words: "How your name brings me awake like the first light of dawn....You're my sweet heart's desire, you're the face of a dream I have drawn." This song is so beautifully rendered that I even plan to name our daughter, should we ever have one, Julianna. As a writer myself, I know that love has never been expressed this way ("the face of a dream I have drawn"...wow!) which makes it all the more brilliant that Papa Nez continually finds ways to freshen up old ideas and make them his own.
Do I urge you to buy this? YES! Give Nez a chance. And now that I've reviewed this, I'm going off to listen to "Begin the Beguine"."