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Music Review: The Monkees and More of the Monkees

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In 1966, the legendary Don Kirshner, who was the head of music for Columbia Pictures’ Screen Gems, which produced television shows such as Gidget, I Dream of Jeannie, and Bewitched, was called upon to craft a soundtrack for a show about an out-of-work rock band and their madcap adventures. Kirshner said that he would outsell The Beatles, and people laughed. They laughed until The Monkees sold four million copies.

Rhino has re-released The Monkees on CD, as well as the follow-up album More of the Monkees. These CDs, along with the insert booklet penned by Andrew Sandoval who authored The Monkees: The Day-by-Day Story Of The 60s TV Pop Sensation, tell an extremely interesting story, and offer insight into not only the creation of each song, but the selection process for each album.

Whether your opinion of The Monkees is “Who?”, “Stupid television show”, “Milli Vanilli of the Sixties”, “Some guys with a television show who made good music”, or something in between, you can’t help but be intrigued by this piece of both music and television history.  The numerous hands in this cookie jar, or monkee cage if you will, are evident in these two albums as the style of music ranges from bubble gum pop to country, and from rock to pure novelty. Even the style differences of The Monkees themselves were extreme, and though it would appear that their input was minimal when this adventure began, you still get insight into them as individual artists.

With the first album containing “(Theme from) The Monkees”, “Take a Giant Step”, and “Last Train to Clarksville”, and the second outing holding “Mary, Mary”, “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone”, and “I’m a Believer”, you can see not only that both contain what would be called Monkees classics, but you can also see the evolution of the music.

By releasing the two albums separately, Rhino stays true to the original vision, and the inclusion of some of the cuts that did not make the cut, as well as different versions of songs, really paints a complete picture. Unfortunately, providing us with both the stereo and mono versions of all the tracks looks like they were trying to fill space. Some may say that here is too much filler here, but reading the inserts while listening to the songs create an atmosphere that pulls you into the studio, and includes you in the process.

Recommendation: This is a must for the true fan of The Monkees or of television and music history. The diverse style of music contained in these collections would fit well into anyone’s music library.

Written by Hombre Divertido

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS
  • Vern Halen

    It’s hard for some to admit, but these two albums contain some of the finest pop and rock tunes of their era: “Steppin’ Stone,” “She,” “Clarksville,” & the Nesmith penned tunes. Hey, the Beatles didn’t play all the instruments on some of their albums either – the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds I believe is mostly orchestrations. If you haven’t already – give these tunes a spin.

  • Mohjho

    The greatest non-band of all time.