Lonnie E. Holder | Columbus, Indiana, United States | 12/31/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album is middle of the road rock with very serviceable songs with a few excellent exceptions. The album dates back to 1967, the year the Monkees outsold The Beatles and the peak of The Monkees success.
The CD starts off with Michael Nesmith singing "Salesman," a bouncy country-flavored tune. Davy Jones is the lead singer on the following song, "She Hangs Out." This song is sung in a style similar to that of a number of other teen idols during the era and appears intended to target teenage girls. The vocals are among Davy's best.
Michael Nesmith sings the next track, "The Door into Summer." This song is one of my personal favorites because it was inspired by the Robert A. Heinlein novel of the same title. The song is about searching and opportunities lost, elements of which were in the Heinlein novel. This song is well constructed and superior to Michael's first track on this CD.
Michael is also the lead singer on "Love Is Only Sleeping." This song is even more inspired and better than the previous track. There are several special effects and Michael sings this song very well. While the flavor of the song is pop, the song is as original in style as any of the pop of the era, and one indication that the Monkees were trying hard to create their own sound.
"Cuddly Toy" was very good from several view points. Davy Jones was an excellent choice as the lead singer. The style of the song is deceptively innocent and light, but Harry Nilsson's lyrics were about a Hell's Angels gang bang. The innocent sounding music flew past censors and record company executives, and it was only after the release of the album that anyone other than Nilsson and the Monkees knew the meaning of the song.
"Words" is one of those wonderful Boyce/Hart songs sung by Mickey Dolenz. The song is dark with a flavor of psychedelic and is one of the most excellent and original songs on this CD. While the flavor of the songs is similar to some rockabilly singers, the sound is in a style that is purely The Monkees.
"Hard to Believe" is one of the mellower songs on this CD, sung by Davy Jones. This song takes Davy Jones to the edge of his vocal limits and perhaps a touch over. This song is one of the weaker songs on this CD.
"What Am I Doing Hangin' Round" features Michael Nesmith in another country-flavored song co-penned by Michael Martin Murphy of "Wildfire" fame. The music is relatively basic but the vocals are quite good. Peter Tork voices the next track, "Peter Percival Patterson's Pet Pig Porky." I'm not sure of what The Monkees were trying to accomplish with this song, but it is an interesting inclusion.
Then we come to one of the best Monkees' songs, "Pleasant Valley Sunday," sung by Mickey Dolenz. This song receives extensive airplay on classic rock stations. The lyrics are a cynical lament regarding the materialistic and mundane existence of middle class America; a great song for the youth of every era. The lyrics and music match incredibly well to make one of the best songs of the 60s.
The Michael Nesmith penned "Daily Nightly" sung by Micky Dolenz follows. This psychedelic song features Micky's attempts to play the Moog synthesizer. The Moog provides sound effects but is significantly away from the sophistication of The Moody Blues' Mike Pinder of the same era.
Michael Nesmith co-penned "Don't Call on Me," also sung by Michael Nesmith; a very mellow and beautiful song. Michael sings this style of song very well. The fast-paced Goffin/King song "Star Collector" finished the original vinyl, sung by Davy Jones. The music is relatively repetitious and simple, and can become annoying if you focus on it. The Moog synthesizer was also used on this song, but played (much better than Micky - sorry Micky) by Paul Beaver. Thanks to Steve Dallas for providing this information.
The CD then adds an additional 7 tracks. The first short track is pure comedy. Of the remaining tracks 5 are alternate tracks to the music on this CD, and one, "Goin' Down," is an alternate mix from that released on the flip side of the "Daydream Believer" single.
This album contains some gems. Most of the songs are good, some are excellent. The Monkees were trying harder to create their own style and break away from corporate control. The results may have been a bit bizarre, but the 60s were a great time to take chances and do something different. The Monkees will forever be a wonderful part of rock's musical heritage."
One of the top ten albums of the 1960's. This is NO joke...
Robert Bykowski | New Berlin, WI USA | 01/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"No, I'm not kidding. 'Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.' is not only the Monkees' best album ('Headquarters' ranks a close second), it's one of the ten best rock or pop albums of the '60's, and ranks right alongside 'Revolver', 'Pet Sounds', 'Forever Changes', 'Beggars Banquet', 'Highway 61 Revisited', 'Are You Experienced ?' and 'Rubber Soul'. A reevaluation of the Monkees' collective talents is WAY overdue; when you realize that these guys came together as two actors and two semi-pro musicians who auditioned for a TV series because they were in desperate need of work AND THEN forced themselves to become a REAL band, it's pretty amazing just how damn good (and often great) they became. The musical growth and diversity they display on this album is truly astounding --Mike Nesmith, the band's most talented member, shines on tracks like "The Door Into Summer", "Love Is Only Sleeping", and his yearning, soaring vocal on the magnificent country-like "What Am I Doin' Hanging Round ?" (possibly his all time greatest vocal performance). Micky shines on what still might rank as the finest three-minute exploration of suburban disenchantment ("Pleasant Valley Sunday"), as well as what may be the first usage of Moog synthesizer on a rock record ("Daily Nightly"). Even Davy - usually the weak link in the band - manages to charm and delivery solid performances on Harry Nilsson's "Cuddly Toy", "She Hangs Out" and the groupie tribute "Star Collector". Only Peter fails to make an impression here, although his solid musicianship can be heard on several tracks. The remastered sound on this disc really jumps out at you, and highlights what is already a superb album.
If you don't have this one in your collection of '60's rock CDs, you really are missing out on a vital link between the cheerier pop/rock of the early '60's and the darker, more forboding sounds of the late '60's. 'Pisces' will hopefully lead you to discover the Monkees' always good and frequently brilliant catalogue of music."
My FAVORITE album of 1967!
Henry R. Kujawa | "The Forbidden Zone" (Camden, NJ) | 12/25/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you need a quick comparison, this is like The Monkees' version of REVOLVER; every song has a different style, and it all fits together into a perfect whole. SO MANY GREAT SONGS! "Salesman" (consumer activism), "She Hangs Out" (Las-Vegas show-stopper, and a big improvement on the original version), "Love Is Only Sleeping" (perhaps the most powerful song Mike ever sung that was written by somebody else--its lyrics tear your heart open but leave you filled with hope). Then there's "Cuddly Toy" (perhaps Davy's best "music-hall" styler?), "Words" (great, though I prefer the original found on MISSING LINKS 2), "Hard To Believe" (bossa-nova!), "What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round" (country-western!) "Pleasant Valley Sunday" (possibly THE greatest Monkees song ever? ) "Daily Nightly" (deeply psychedelic, with Mike writing & Micky singing & playing) and the absolutely mind-blowing finale, "Star Collector". These were some of the greatest recordings done by these guys, and the amazing thing is this wasn't a "greatest hits" album!My only beef over the years is the use of an alternate version of "Pleasant Valley Sunday", when the one on the 45 and the TV show was always, to me, the "definitive" one (see Rhino's GREATEST HITS to compare!). And HOW did "Goin' Down" (or, for that matter, "Daydream Believer") get left OFF originally? As for the bonus tracks, I'm afraid I feel about all these "alternate mixes" the way I do about 90% of the stuff on the 3 BEATLES ANTHOLOGY albums-- "interesting", but I'll keep the "originals"."
Monkees at their best
Brian C. Taylor | Tallahassee, FL USA | 12/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My favorite Monkees album. If all of their albums had been on par with this, they would be remembered as one of the great 60s bands, instead of their (undeserved) legacy as a gimicky TV product.
I've had this record (and now CD) for about 22 years, and I still listen to it as much as anything in my collection. "Pleasant Valley Sunday", "The Door into Summer", "Star Collector" and "What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round?" are the stronger songs on this disc, but there's not a lousy song on here. Even the much-maligned "Hard to Believe" is probably my favorite sappy Davy Jones ballad. The bonus tracks are nice, and the liner notes are superb and very informative. Overall, I'd say an essential piece of 60s pop music."
Amazingly consistent triumph for the Pre-Fab Four
Danno | NY, NY | 01/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones," without a doubt is the single Monkees album that truly stands the test of time. Their first three albums may have had most of their hit singles. But it's here that the Monkees truly delivered a set of songs that even skeptics will admit stand on their own without the help of a weekly TV show as an infomercial.
No longer chasing the mid-1960s Britpop or bubblegum sound, the Monkees (especially Mike Nesmith) were finally their own men, and turn in fine performances. For the first time we have a Monkees album cover that doesn't ape Robert Freeman's work for the Beatles. Also for the first time, we have a Monkees album unburdened with ridiculous "novelty" numbers like "Gonna Buy Me a Dog," or "Auntie Grizelda." Instead, we have "Salesman," "Door Into Summer," and "What Am I Doing Hanging Round," all sung by Mike Nesmith and all anticipating the country-rock of the Eagles. We're treated to a cover of Nilsson's "Cuddly Toy," and "She Hangs Out," some of the few times that Davy Jones' showbiz schtick isn't embarrassing, and the terrific "Words" goes places that Mickey Dolenz' voice seldom went before or since. And, of course, we have "Pleasant Valley Sunday," easily the greatest single the Monkees ever recorded, and one of the best rock songs of the era. The bonus tracks are the icing on the cake.
Were "Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones" recorded by the Byrds or Blind Faith, it would be hailed as one of the unsung masterpieces of the 1960s. Don't be as closeminded as the average rock journalist, who still thinks Woodstock saved the world and tries to act hip by pretending he likes rap music. Think for yourself, and give this CD a listen. You may never trust the official version of rock history again."