Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
Listen to Samples
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They Continue To Be What They've Always Been: Talented
MF Regan | Ontario, Canada | 10/28/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I became interested in their work when I rediscovered the show back in the 70's. Much to my surprise, the show had an edge and was more than the kids show I remembered as a child. More surprising- I found when I read the credits at the end- I really was starting to like not just top 40's that I remembered- I really liked 'their songs'. The work, the growth and the talent blew me away. 2 decades have passed and a great comeback. A lot of other people have gone to the concerts, rewatched the tv show and bought the catalogue (that thankfully is now available).
This 30th Anniversary CD, which I bought in 1997 and still listen to, caught me the same way it caught some others. I was expecting- if all 4 joined in (and with Mike being in the fold ), a very country rock flavoured lp.
Instead, they did something very left field, creative and aggressive. Judging from some of the professional and the fan reviews- that surprised many in a good way and not in a good way.
Their problem has always remained the same- there is 'The Monkees'- the tv group- and then there's Dolenz/ Nesmith/Tork & Jones. The Monkees telemusic is well crafted music by craftsmen/women and performed 'by them' and session players combined.
Mike, Mickey, David and Peter's stuff was (and obviously still is from the sounds on this album), heavier, gifted and reaching for the more mature in their fanbase. Headquarters- their third and only self contained album was/remains a testament to that truth.
The Monkees in the end always face the same problem that haunted the Beatles (although they were allowed to break out of it): there are always factions of fandom that want you to play certain periods. There are a lot of pleasant memories (it seems for some) in the mop top period and the guys in both these bands grew up. There in lies the problems (especially for the Monkees because the tv show syndication revisits and constantly recreates it- both for the good and the bad.
On Justus, Circle Sky as an opener was probably a healing move and I'm glad they did it. When the live version didn't appear on the Head soundtrack and a studio version with Mike and session players did, it created a rift between Mike and Peter. The live version played by them in the film kicks and they never sounded tighter or better. This new version is more with a tip of the cap to today's alternative grundge garage pump. It's followed by Never Enough, Regional Girl and Admiral Mike- also rockers and for these guys, having not played as 'the band' in 30 years- 'wow'! As one reviewer put it- they seem to be daring anyone to throw the bubblegum tag at them. They were never bubblegum.
They really are the wonderful story of 4 people who came together in a cattle call but who ultimately came together to become something extremely creative, viable and real. Some people in their industry have never accepted or given them their proper due for that but the truth is in the grooves. They became 'the band'. And it's pretty impressive what they brought to the game- regardless of whether they were recording other people's songs or their own.
For those who lament that there is a cynical quality in some of the tone and pieces on this cd... They happen to be older men singing about what their present concerns are. Good for them. There are a few others from that era who have become quite lax about that. It must have been refreshing to sing something new and it shows. Mickey has the lionshare of writing on this lp and some of these tracks should have had some solid airplay. As one review in a magazine put it- he shows why he was one of the best r'n'r singers. Not bad for a Vulcan, Micky! (I wish he'd stop saying that... he sings and plays instruments. He 'is' a musician for 'Randy Scouse Sake'!)
Peter's two efforts are what I think Peter has always done best. Mood pieces. Mike had the melodies and Peter the mood. They both had the lyrical ability (Mike in more volume) because they're both thinkers.
But Davy closes with the big surprise here and that's great to see. In reading his biography, this guy had a lot more going on inside him than anyone would have ever thought. He's turned into one hell of a performer at these concerts as well, and like most of the guys at the time, I regret thinking he was the liability, musically. He's become incredibly solid and remained real- and that's to his credit. It's Not Too Late has become a favorite track of mine over the years and this version is fitting. It has a gospel/nice middle harmony feel, and a positive thought to close both the project and their reunion.
I hope this isn't the last thing they do together and, on behalf of the people who have listened to these records/ cd's over the years: if you can honestly listen to the first two (studio driven ) cds, and then listen to Headquartes, P.A.C. & Jones and Head, and not hear the progression... get the ears checked. These guys deserved better.
Takes time to grow on you
King Billy | Long Island, NY | 07/02/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When I first heard this years ago, I thought it was awful and got rid of it.
I picked it up again a few months ago (it's CHEAP used) and gave it another shot. I wasn't blown away this time either, but I was willing to give it a few more listens.
Now, after having listened to it many times, I have come to see it as one of the best Monkees albums. It's my second favorite after Headquarters.
It's far from being a perfect album. Someone once described it as "weird, flawed, and eccentric" and I agree. Certainly, the album could have been better with the omission of a weak track such as "Run Away From Life" in favor of a good Mike number. It is this albums greatest flaw that Mike is so absent on lead vocals.
But Mike did have a heavy hand in this one. He played guitar on all the songs, sang back up, and he produced it (though production is credited to "the Monkees"). "Wool hat" is all over this record, but for one reason or another, he opted to let the other Monkees shine. As a fan, I don't agree with that decision, but who am I to argue?
My favorites are Regional Girl, Dyin of a Broken Heart, Oh What a Night, You and I, It's my life, Admiral Mike, Circly Sky, and I Believe You. The other songs aren't as good, but I've grown to appreciate them.
Perhaps the reason this album has suffered such poor critical reviews is that it doesn't sound anything like the Monkees we remember. It's a bit heavy, almost grungy at times. I think that was a brilliant approach. The Monkees in 1996 were trying to make an album that was modern, not something retro to appeal to their older fans. It had a ballsy and fresh 90's sound that was different from anything they had done before. But there was one problem....there was no audience for it. While 60's fans were looking for Carole King type ditties produced by Chip Douglas, 90's music fans were looking for martyrs. To make matters more difficult, this album got very little in the way of promotion. There was an ABC special, but almost nothing after that. They made excellent videos for several of the songs (the black and white Regional Girl video is one of my favorites) that never got any airplay on MTV. While there had been a tremendous buzz around the Monkees in the 1980's, there was none in the 1990's. Justus was the wrong album released by the wrong band at the wrong time.
Had the same identical album been released in 1987 instead of Pool It, I think it would now be regarded as a classic.
There is something to be said about the Monkees playing together as a band. They seem to enjoy playing together and there is a chemistry that I can't explain. It isn't found on albums like "Pisces..", "Head", or "More of...", but it is on Headquarters and on Justus. I only wish they had made more albums as a quartet.
I prefer this sequence...
1. You and I
2. Never Enough
3. Dyin of a Broken Heart
4. Circle Sky
5. Unlucky Stars
6. Admiral Mike
7. I Believe You
8. Run Away From Life
9. Regional Girl
10. Oh, What a Night
11. It's my LIfe
12. It's Not Too Late
Well, how would YOU sound after 30 yers?
Bill Board | God's Wrath, Ohio | 02/24/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Gee.........it's so nice being almost 52 and not having to be "hip" or "cool" anymore. I remember purchasing this cd in 1996, and my (THEN!) ten-years-younger-than-me wife whining to me, "Oh, the Monkees........they're so sixties!" "Yes indeedy, they ARE," I snidely told her, "You jus' run along an' look for that 'My Baby's Daddy' or whatever you lissen to an' whut I ignore." For a band that had been apart since late sixties, their material was excellent, and not to be redundant, it was a genuine pleasure to see and hear the guys reunited for the first time since...well, Altamont, or something. The material? Michael Nesmith's material (unfortunately, just 2 songs this time out) is/are quite easily the strongest, even though the one he sings, "Circle Sky" is lifted almost note-for-note from the version on "Head"; Micky Dolenz is quite easily the finest singer of the four, and, MAN!, he developed into one leviticously deuteronomous drummer over the years! Davy Jones is...well, "Davy Jones," and you can't blame a band for wanting a "pretty boy" up front - and, yup, he had one heck of a set of pipes, too! And Peter Tork's material is simply...horrible, but he MORE than makes up for his lack of compositional skills by his incredible ability as a musician: he's credited with "Bass, Keyboards" (and let be generous and overlook "vocals"), but on the sleeve, he sure looks like he's playing a Strat. Ah, quibbling, quibbling...the Monkees, in their original incarnation, were a brilliant marketing ploy, and they made a lot of people a lot of money (Neil Diamond, Boyce & Hart). So what IF they wanted to manifest their unrecognized talent and play on their own albums, sans "studio musicians," and Heaven help anyone who'd turn to Neil Diamond for a song (yes, I'm looking at "The Last Waltz" right now...get over it...). The Monkess' pre-MTV video of a song off "Piceses, Aquarius, blah-blah blah," a song called "She Hangs Out," is EASILY the superior to most anything you'll watch on "Television Music" - and Mike Nesmith all but invented MTV! So put the bong down, leave the Miller Lite in the 'fridge for a bit - in short, STOP BEING "COOL" for awhile, and give "Justus" an unbiased listen. I can guarantee you'll be pleasantly surprised."