The Monkees may have been a prefab TV band, but there was nothing made up about their real-world success.
In memory of the passing of Davy Jones (“the cute Monkee”) on February 29, 2012, here is the video for “Daydream Believer,” showcasing the personality and talent that made him a favorite around the world. Also here are two other tunes — “Valleri” and “Tapioca Tundra” — from the same album, The Birds, The Bees, and The Monkees.
The Monkees: Daydream Believer
The Monkees’ “Daydream Believer” hit the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in American in December 1967, where it stayed for four weeks.
Accepting the Monkees for what – and who – they are (from 1968)
It all started just about two years ago. The idea was repulsive to some of us then: to be asked to accept [figuratively] the offspring of a bankbook father and a computer mother as music. It still is.
But what was hardest of all was the fact that, deep down, we knew all along that The Monkees were good. Oh, sure, we talked about the fact that they couldn’t even play their own instruments at first and that they were just copies of other proven formulas [computer, computer, computer, the cry kept coming] and that everything they did was watered-down imitation — but we knew, even in the beginning, that “Last Train to Clarksville” was a good record, and that this new “monster” was going to go places whether we liked it or not.
The more popular they became, the more we protested, calling the whole thing crass commercialism [or worse]. We wouldn’t watch their television show, naturally, insisting it was just derivative Richard Lester-Beatle cinema.
Then came “Sgt. Pepper” and the real split. Aha, we thought. We can leave The Monkees to the teenyboppers and make the new psychedelized, experimental Beatles our intellectual heroes.
The Birds, The Bees, and The Monkees
But that only worked for a little while, as most over-simplified categorizing does. The Monkees still haven’t produced a “Sgt. Pepper,” perhaps, but suddenly the old stock put-downs for the four don’t work anymore.
They’re not poor musicians. They’re not dull or uninventive. They’re not “schlock rock, prepubescent division” [whatever Cheetah magazine may say].
Nobody lasts in popular music today who stands still or does what he did the day before. The Monkees still may not be great, but they’re certainly moving on up.
The new album, “The Birds, The Bees, and The Monkees” [Colgems, COS 109; 5 stars], admittedly still includes such teen subjects as homecoming queens, circus posters, and dream worlds [which may not really prove teen subjects after all] but there’s not a weak band in the whole album, and it’s hard to find rock anywhere better than “Tapioca Tundra,” “Valleri,” or “Daydream Believer.”
“Writing Wrongs” has jazz improvisations that go back and forth between organ and piano. “P. O. Box 9847” explores the lonely world of newspaper want-ad personals. “Zor and Zam” mixes folk myth and poetry. “Auntie’s Municipal Court” tries to prosecute after “somebody stole their mind.”
“Magnolia Simms,” with its mono track and intentional skipping plus surface noise, is far more successful in getting back into the 19205 sound groove than the similar “Just Like Gene Autry: a Foxtrot,” in the latest Moby Grape album.
The new single, “D. W. Washburn” [Colgems 66-1023; 5 stars], likewise harks back to the ages of flappers and swing, having fun both vocally and instrumentally. The flip, “It’s Nice to Be with You,” is one of the group’s better ballads.