Correction to a correction
Bobby Brogan | 02/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork DID in fact play on this album on Nesmith's songs Michael played guitar and Peter played second chair guitar...check out the session notes for this album...they are listed as muscicians"
The Monkees - In Search of Respect
Gord o' The Books | SE Michigan | 01/19/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Monkees have had a Sysiphusian career. These four artists were pulled together from hundreds of applicants, for their experience, talent, musical and comedic background, and ability to sell records, in 1965-1966.
Their trajectory to fame was shortened, perhaps artificially, due to casting call and auditions conducted by Colgems and NBC. There is plenty of history to be found on other reviews, and the album liner notes. My reviews will not rehash all of that.
This first album gave them their first enormous blast of respect. The question is: are Davy, Micky, Peter and Michael talented enough, to merit the monstrous sales of their first five LPs? Would they have made it without the Monkees TV show? Did the show simply accelerate what would have been sure artistic respect. Were they that good?
My answer, in my reviews, will be "yes." There is a sense of unreasoned hate that comes into play, when discussing the Monkees. There isn't a Rock Hall of Fame artist alive, that wouldn't have given their left arm for a chance to be a Monkee. Not one. So, it is hate rooted in hypocrisy.
Did they play their own instruments? Yes, but not all the time (but who does?) Did they write all their own music? No - but who does? Did they arrange or produce their own records? Not all of them, but what they did produce was of an excellent quality.
Were they an artificial group, put together by corporate suits? Yes, indeed. But even the Beatles were not immune to a little of this, when George Martin replaced poor Pete Best with Ringo Starr. Even the Beach Boys celebrated Pet Sounds album had a lot of help with the same artists that are playing on the Monkees' first two albums.
No - we come back to the question: were they good? Did they bring some of what makes Rock music unique, into their interpretation of the TV show and its music? Again, I say resoundingly, YES.
The suits made one mistake - they were too good in their selection of actors/singers as their cast of the Monkees TV show. They would up with some really talented, albeit musically unsuited to be in the same group, group of typical counter-culture Sixties rockers.
What did I just say about being unsuited? Well, yes, there are four distinct styles in the Monkees. But you do not pick up on that in this first album. It is as much a Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart album as the Beatles first album is a George Martin album. But you do get elements of each of the boys. The sound is unified, but soon it will spread out into four distinct musical interpretations. But even that is not all bad. Most people's mp3 playlists are conglomerations of different musical styles. By the time of the Pisces album, a Monkees LP sounds very much like an Itunes shuffle play. And here again, the Monkees are ahead of the industry. This is how they wanted it, what they insisted on - they took on the suits and won artistically, while losing commercially.
There would be other Monkees climactic moments: 1967 just after the release of Headquarters, in 1986 at the short-lived reunion, and again in 1996 at their 30th anniversary. But in each case, the haters organized themselves to stop any respectability to come their way.
Too bad - these four gentleman are truly talented. We will never know what might have been, had Rolling Stone, MTV, and the Rock Hall been more encouraging of these guys.
This album gives you your first glimpse of the Monkees: Micky's superb pop interpretations, Davy's sense of making a hook work, Michael's "out there" individuality, and just a touch of Peter. Enjoy this album, and "More of the Monkees," the last period in their career, when the corporate world had much control over them!"