I’ve always been a fan of the Monkees. I watched the show when it came on the first time, and later when it was in reruns. I got most of their albums handed down to me from my brothers, and the ones I didn’t have, I got later. (Yes, even the one where the Monkees were down to just Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones.) During their initial period of popularity, there was a big scandal when it was discovered that they didn’t play their own instruments (which was kind of a crock, considering that Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork were both accomplished musicians before they joined the group). I didn’t care one way or the other. I still liked them.
This CD came out in 1992, at a time when you couldn’t swing an animal of your choice without hitting yet another tribute album. I don’t know any of these bands, which isn’t saying much. After all, if you read my site you know the kind of stuff I listen to!
Anyway, on to the music. The first song, “The Day We Fall in Love,” is done by a guy named Deacon Lunchbox who (if I remember the liner notes correctly) died before this CD was released. If you want to hear a schmaltzy romantic ballad performed by a guy who sounds like Yosemite Sam, here’s your chance!
Next we have the Monkees’ first big hit, “Last Train to Clarksville,” by Big Fish Ensemble. I don’t think it’s that great a version, but I threw it in here because just about everybody knows the song.
Here’s “Pleasant Valley Sunday” by Magnapop, one of those grrl groups. (Do people still say “grrl”? Did they ever really say it?)
Our next selection is Peter Holsapple doing “You Just May Be the One.” Holsapple takes this in a more rocking direction. I always liked this song, and after this rendition, I still do!
“What Am I Doing Hangin’ Round?” was one of Nesmith’s countrified songs and this group, Those Big Belt Buckles, actually give this one a bluegrass feel.
Finally, we couldn’t end without the “Theme from the Monkees,” performed in a surf rock way by the Flying Subs.
I would have liked to see the Monkees perform live, even in one of their revival tours. I heard a story about one of their shows — I don’t know if it’s true, but somebody around here could probably verify it: They used to do skits in between some of the songs. In one, the stage is totally bare except for Davy, playing the guitar. Micky walks in and asks Davy what he’s doing. Davy replies, “Playing the guitar.” “You can’t do that!” Micky yells. “Don’t you know the Monkees don’t play their own instruments?” Davy says, “It’s not my guitar. It’s Peter’s.”
If you’d like to hear more reinterpretations of the Pre-Fab Four’s hits, you can get the whole album here.