UNDERRATED UNEVEN EFFORT FROM THE PRE FAB....THREE?
Jared Insell | Canada | 03/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Monkees commercial fortunes had been falling for about a year by the time 'Instant Replay' had hit record stores in 1969. 1968 had closed rather badly for the group. HEAD was not the cinematic masterpiece the Monkees had envisioned it to be, instead it was a box office disaster. To make things worse, after the filming for their doomed tv special '33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee' Peter Tork quit the group in December of '68, unhappy with the direction the Monkees were going. Only the trio of Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz and David Jones were to see in the new year. A year in which the entire Monkees project would give one last choking gasp before it completely died. With the departure of Tork, the bombing of HEAD and the TV show long gone, the future looked undeniably bleak for the Monkees. The trio however didn't croak as the critics had expected; they were still dishng out recordings. Led by Nesmith, the three piece Monkees band worked really hard to try and regain the popularity they once had. When 'Instant Replay' was released in Febuary, The Monkees mounted a concert tour with an R&B group called Sam and The Goodtimers to promote the album and made TV appearances on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson and other talk shows. Despite this more commercially active Monkees group (which hadn't really been seen since 1967), the public didn't go for it. The Monkees 1969 releases scanned the lower regions of the Billboard charts, concerts were poorly attended and the TV promotions didn't help either. The Monkees kinda stepped back on this album though and let other producers and songwriters try to work their magic to contemperize the Monkees sound so they could appeal to a more mature audience. In the end Instant Replay was actually an improvement for The Monkees reaching a respectable #32 on the charts but it was obvious the Monkees were dead. It's somewhat unfortunate that this is what happend because the Monkees definetly weren't afraid to get their hands dirty and work for the success. If anything the music on 'Instant Replay' shows that the Monkees were maturing musically despite the fact that this album was a hodge podge of recordings from different times. 'Instant Replay' is unfortunately vastly underrated. Many have dubbed it as the Monkees weakest 60's album. Ok so it's no 'Pisces' or 'Headquarters' or even 'Present' nonetheless in my opinion it surpasses the bulk of other Monkees records (particularily the Kirshner era albums). Michael Nesmith really came out on his own on this album. His songwriting just seemed to be getting better and better as time went on. Here we see some of the material form his legendary Nashville sessions. WHILE I CRY is one of the most beautiful country ballads ever. This song should have been a single. Another nice country ballad here is DON'T WAIT FOR ME showing Nez's further journey into the country rock genre. The last Nez track here is Goffin/King's I WON'T BE THE SAME WITHOUT HER a funky rocker left over from 1966 however it strangely fits well in 1969 and doesn't sound dated. Davy Jones kinda stepped out of his role as a songwriter and let the other producers experiment with his sound(trying to make it more adult contemperary). His best song here is his own YOU AND I. Somewhat of a 'rocker shocker' especially coming from Davy. This track features some great Neil Young guitar. Most of Davy's other tracks are love songs. DON'T LISTEN TO LINDA is a schmaltzy pop ballad but well produced and a great improvemnet over the bouncy early version. THE GIRL I LEFT BEHIND ME is also a leftover from 'The Birds The Bees And The Monkees'. Like DON'T LISTEN TO LINDA, this track is sickly sweet but the production values are great and it's an excellent improvement over the previous version. The best of Davy's ballads here though is the almost funky R&B feel of A MAN WITHOUT A DREAM which has an almost Motown sound to it. The last Jones track is the Beatles 'Your Mother Should Know' rip off ME WITHOUT YOU which is probably his worst trakc here but still this is pretty darn catchy. Micky Dolenz takes his hand a songwriting for a change. The first two songs are Boyce And Hart tunes though. The albmu opener THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS had been done before but was very choppy. This version is an improvement and is a good album opener. Micky also trys to make a hit out of the Clarksville-clone single TEARDROP CITY. Despite the resemblence this song has an excellent guitar riff that stands out on it's own. When it came ot songwriting Dolenz went very experimental here. His beautiful ballad JUST A GAME is an excellent track proving that he was quite a good songwriter. The overblown epic SHORTY BLACKWELL however shows how self indulgence can ruin good music. This song is the album's worst track with mediocre vocals by Dolenz and his sister, Coco; singing about Micky's cat and the other Monkees. The bonus tracks for 'Instant Replay' are the best in the Rhino reissue series though. Despite the fact it probably should have been on 'The Monkees Present', SOMEDAY MAN finally makes an appearance on an album. This great track was the b-side to 'Listen To The Band'. Two Nesmith tracks also appear here for the first time the excellent CARLISLE WHEELING (this is the best version) and ST.MATTHEW which hailed from the Nashvile sessions. Dolenz' funky ROSEMARIE is an intresting jam but not really a song. A wonderful ballad called SMILE written by Davy also appears here for the first time. The last two tracks are merely alternate versions of THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS and ME WITHOUT YOU both are weaker than the originals but still worth a listen. Overall 'Instant Replay' is vastly underrated. Yeah yeah it's uneven and it's not the best Moknees album out there. However the majority of songs on her are some of The Monkees finest recordings. This album has quite a variety and was the first Monkees album I bought. Although it might not be the best intro to the group this is the record that got me hooked on the Monkees. Highly recommended."
Instant Replay (1969)
Mr. S. St Thomas | UK | 12/25/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"What a shame that we can't physically go back in time and alter history. Given that ability, my advice to The Monkees in 1969 would have been `don't quit'. Not because they were the best band in history, or all of the material released on INSTANT REPLAY and THE MONKEES PRESENT were classics, but merely because there are moments on these albums that truly shine. But no matter what we say or do cannot alter the fact that at the time, The Monkees were hated and ignored by the media and a good portion of the record buying public, for reasons not truly deserved. Peter Tork had left the band in 1968, which also appears to be one of their most productive and prolific recording periods. On these final albums with Mike Nesmith, The Monkees may have just started getting on to a good thing. But public indifference and bad vibes killed it.INSTANT REPLAY surprises me on many levels. My acquaintance with Nesmith's solo career is fairly well established, and his solo albums from 1970 ~ present I highly recommend. The material offered on INSTANT REPLAY by Nesmith truly shows the direction and talents he had prior to his departure from the band. I am also pleasantly surprised by Davy Jones particularly on this album. The material he wrote, produced or chose to sing suited his voice and style far better than earlier offerings. I cannot profess to be a huge Davy Jones fan, but my mind certainly changed when hearing INSTANT REPLAY. I feel Mickey Dolenz is better represented on THE MONKEES PRESENT than on this album. Which is where a time machine would come in very handy. Anyone who has both offerings, including the alternative and extra tracks can compile a Monkees 1969 album that really is a strong, cohesive set, and nothing to be ashamed of. There is no changing the public indifference at the time though, sadly enough. If fortunes could be reversed, a 1969 album by the Monkees comprised of the material that really excelled, might just have a different fate.`Through The Looking Glass' (by Boyce, Hart & Baldwin) opens the album. Obviously a single due to its insistent singalong chorus, I personally would not have gone with this song. It's good, don't get me wrong, but I think there is material on this album much better. `Don't Listen To Linda'(by Boyce & Hart) is a great song, the first of the Davy Jones vocal set of material, and its one of those I would have put to the side for that Monkees '69 album. No time machine though. `I Won't Be The Same Without Her'(Goffin & King), one of the older tracks is another set aside. This song is fantastic, with great vocals by Mike Nesmith (and Glen Campbell). I was very surprised at the quality of the material by this point of the album. 2 truly great tracks almost from the start. `Just A Game'(by Dolenz), `Me Without You'(by Boyce & Hart), and `Don't Wait For Me'(by Nesmith) I feel are outshined by the 2 songs before them and after them. I am hesitant to say that about a Nesmith composition, because I feel so much of his material is as good as the outside writers provided The Monkees, but I'll explain my reasons for `Don't Wait For Me' not being included later. Dolenz's `Just A Game' is a very short song, but I feel it needed a bit more work. No time machine. And now the two gems of INSTANT REPLAY, Jones & Chadwick's `You and I' and Nesmith's `While I Cry'. `You and I' changed my mind about Davy Jones quite abruptly. This song is one of the standouts in The Monkees entire recording career, and to hear Jones singing such a heavy rock arrangement, that he also wrote, was a delight, honestly. That it boasts Neil Young as the lead guitar soloist is another plus. And I hear Nesmith's `While I Cry' as a definite single release. Absolutely beautiful song.`Teardrop City'(by Boyce & Hart) is obviously `Last Train to Clarksville' revamped. Shame really. `The Girl I Left Behind Me' by Sayer & Sedaka is a decent song, but not the strongest of the set. But these are followed by another excellent Goffin & King song `A Man Without A Dream'. Davy Jones in hindsight has announced reservations about the production of Bones Howe on this track, but personally I feel this song has nothing wrong in this area. The material suits Jones voice and public persona, and my appreciation of this style of music has grown in recent years. Maybe when I was younger I would have avoided a track like this, but `A Man Without A Dream' has a strong root in Motown, and Jones sings this song in his natural singing range, which shows how good a vocalist he actually is. And let's call Dolenz's `Shorty Blackwell' an ambitious step. Honestly, Dolenz is a songwriter with great possibilities, and he certainly was more experimental than he may be given credit for. Certainly his songs on THE MONKEES PRESENT are some of the most innovative I've heard from the 60's. `Shorty Blackwell' works on some levels, and on others doesn't, but I give the man an A for ambition. A bit more time spent on arrangement, and this might have been The Monkees `Shangri~La' (see The Kinks).The bonus material has songs I would personally have substituted for the released tracks. Nicol's & Williams `Someday Man' is another strong song that Jones sings, and produced by Bones Howe. This style really suits Jones as much as the heavier rock of `You and I'. An obvious single despite the numerous `sections' of the song, which go into half time and back out again. The two other tracks I would have saved were Nesmith's `Carlisle Wheeling' and `St.Matthew', both much stronger than his own `Don't Wait For Me'.There is a great album here, and combined with THE MONKEES PRESENT, taking the gems from each you'd have a pretty amazing and solid 1969 Monkees album. My choices for inclusion would be:Don't Listen To Linda (Boyce & Hart)
I Won't Be The Same Without Her (Goffin & King)
You and I (Jones & Chadwick)
While I Cry (Nesmith)
A Man Without A Dream (Goffin & King)
Someday Man (Nicols & Williams)
Carlisle Wheeling (Nesmith)
St. Matthew (Nesmith)"
A VERY UNDERRATED ALBUM!!!
Mr. S. St Thomas | 03/04/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It is obvious now that 1969 was not a good year for the Monkees. Peter Tork had left the band after the failure of Head and 33 1/3 Revolutions per Monkee. Instant Reply was released in Febuary of 69 featuring only Mike, Micky and Davy on the front. However by this time fans did not care Monkeemania was dead and the record sales had dropped. It was too bad because Instant Replay is a great album and although it reached #32 on the top 100 LP chart it still has some great songs. My favourites are "I Won't Be The Same Without Her", "Don't Wait For Me", "You and I", and "Just A Game." The tracks you should avoid are "Shorty Blackwell" and "Through The Looking Glass". The bonus tracks are good too especially "Carlisle Wheeling", "Somedy Man" and "Smile". At first I was worried that I may have wasted money for buying this album however I was proved wrong and I was not disappointed. If you haven't gotten this album..get it! Nesmith's song writng blossoms and Jones' singing truly make this album Micky however seems to be lost in this one but he returned to greatness in The Monkees Present. I felt this album should have been in the top 10!"
Down To Three
Thomas Magnum | NJ, USA | 12/01/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Instant Replay is the first Monkees album as a trio and the first to be released not tied to their show or a movie. Although they were still a group, the tracks on this album are all basically solo efforts by the three members with none of them working on the other's songs. The title is appropriate as many of the songs are leftovers from prior years. "Tear Drop City" is a rewrite of "Last Train To Clarksville", "Don't Listen To Linda" is another leftover. Despite the reworkings there are some excellent tracks on this album. Mickey does his Alice In Wonderland impersonation on "Through The Looking Glass", "Just A Game" finds him in a whimsical mood and "Shorty Blackwell" is his magnum opus. Davy has his usual sappy tunes like "A Man Without A Dream" but he actually pulls off a major surprise with the hard-edged "You & I" which contains guitar work from Neil Young. Mike provides the excellent "I Won't Be The Same Without Her" and "While I Cry" which shows a rare and welcomed vulnerability. Instant Replay is there least consistent album but it shows that the band was maturing as musicians."
"In a year or maybe two, we'll be gone and someone new will
mwreview | Northern California, USA | 03/06/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Instant Replay marked a big change for The Monkees. Peter Tork was gone and their teeny bopper appeal was in steady rapid decline. I got this album on the original Colgems vinyl when I was a kid back in the early '80s. As a big fan of Mike, I was happy to see him well-featured on the back cover (the only Monkee who is in five photos rather than four). I also really liked his track "I Won't Be The Same Without Her." It was love at first listen and I remember running to a friend's house to play the track for him with my parents reminding me to be very careful with the (at the time) rare album that cost $24.95 at the collectible records shop. The rest of the album is surprisingly solid. There are a couple of ringers (both Micky-sung tracks) but there are also several songs that are among my all-time Monkees faves and always end up on any compilation tape/CD I make. The heavy rockin' "You and I" is worth having Instant Replay in and of itself. This CD release also offers several quality bonus tracks (no fillers, although I do not care for "Rosemarie") and, in my opinion, a better cover. I really like the center photos on this release. I've always thought the center photos on the original release (Micky and Davy being cut at the chin while Mike fills up the box and looks to the side) odd. The photos on the cover of this release are much more attractive, too.
Side 1 (I still think of these albums in vinyl terms) "Through the Looking Glass"--I'm not crazy about the Micky tracks on this album. I think his vocals are, for the most part, silly as if he is doing novelty songs and is not taking the music seriously. This song is actually tolerable. It is catchy and memorable. I like the piano. I do not like the vocals at the end where he almost sounds like a squawking bird. "Don't Listen To Linda"--While Micky's songs here are weak, Davy really shines on this album. This song is slow and quiet. The orchestra adds a more mature touch from the Davy ballads of the earlier Monkees albums. This song is OK, but is my least favorite of the Davy tracks here. "I Won't Be the Same Without Her"--As mentioned above, this song is great! One of my all-time favorite Michael Nesmith tracks. I like the blending of the vocals on the long notes and the overall sound has a rugged appeal (for lack of a better term). "Just a Game"--This is the one track I did not remember until I played it recently and, even then, it didn't ring many bells. A very insignificant number with the only positive being it is very short (1:46). I'm ready to declare this track my least favorite on the album. "Shorty Blackwell," for all its pomp and circumstance, at least leaves an impression. "Me Without You"--Now the good Davy stuff. I love the organ or whatever it is in this track. The guitar solo is terrific! It also rocks! The whole overall sound of this song is cool except the horns at the very end (unnecessary, in my opinion). "Don't Wait For Me"--Slow, sad country track by Mike with steel guitar and all. It has a different musical path to it; it doesn't follow conventions. It's hard to explain, but I like it for those reasons.
Side 2 "You and I"--Now we're rockin'! This song kicks butt; it sounds strange describing a Monkees song as such but it does. From the opening guitar and pulsing bass to the haphazard drums at the end, this track rocks! It's not a "Let's Dance On" kind of rocker, but a more serious kind of rocker, though not as heavy as "Circle Sky". I agree with the other reviewers that Davy's vocals are excellent here. I can't say enough about this track! "While I Cry"--Another quiet, slow Mike song. He demonstrates his vocal range here. It is not my favorite Mike track on this album, but, vocally, it is the most impressive. I like the guitar introduction. "Tear Drop City"--The sole single from Instant Replay (b/w "A Man Without A Dream"). It reached #56 on the charts. It's a Micky rocker and, with "Through the Looking Glass," the only decent tracks sung by him on this album. Another reviewer mentioned it sounded like a re-hashed "Last Train to Clarksville." I hadn't noticed that before but, as far as the guitar and tempo go, I can definitely hear a resemblance. "The Girl I Left Behind Me"--A Davy track with orchestra. The verses are mediocre and sometimes awkward ("and messing up the one good thing we had") but, when it picks up tempo ("I'm going out the same way I came in..."), it really shines. "A Man Without A Dream"--I like this song but I do not care for the horn section. The drums and bass really keep the tempo up, and Davy's vocals (like with "You and I") are excellent. If it weren't for those horns which, at times, take over the track, I would put this up with "You and I" as my co-favorite Instant Replay song. "Shorty Blackwell"--A silly, ostentatious Micky track that runs for almost 6 over-indulgent minutes. The lyrics are silly "I'm feeling very bad today, another cat came in to stay. He's eating all my food, he's speaking very crude, he's gonna change the mood." The music is complicated and over-orchestrated. I guess if the Beatles did this track, it would be considered brilliant.
Bonus tracks: I've had "Someday Man" for decades as the b-side to the "Listen to the Band" single (from "The Monkees Present" album). It is fantastic. Again, I'm not crazy about the horns, buy they do not take over the song like in "Man Without A Dream." I like the guitar/piano opening before each part. "Carlisle Wheeling" is another slow, country track by Mike. I like his original Instant Replay tracks better, but the Mike country-rocker "St. Matthew" is very nice. I have that song on "Missing Links Volume Two" and it is one of the highlights of that CD. "Rosemarie" is another over-done Micky track. "Smile" is a quiet Davy number that is OK, but not as good as his original Instant Replay songs. I've only heard the Amazon clips to the alternate versions. It sounds like the guitar covers up the cool organ on "Me Without You" (unless that was just before the solo). I couldn't tell much difference in the "Through The Looking Glass" alternate version clip. For those casual Monkees fans who only have their earlier albums, I recommend giving Instant Replay a spin. You may be pleasantly surprised. "