Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Monkees

I love the Monkees. I remember when they came on the scene back in the Summer of 1966, first with the song "Last Train to Clarksville", and their hit show which premiered soon afterward.

At the time, I was, as always, a huge Beatles fan. But the Beatles were changing, becoming more sophisticated. John suffered thru the summer tour with the "Beatles are bigger than Jesus" debacle. They were roughed up in Manila and barely got out of there in one piece.

I saw the Beatles that summer in Seattle (their 3rd to last show). They ran thru their regular set and I remember being disappointed that there was no songs from their brand new album "Revolver". But what the heck, I got to see them finally, and figured I'd see them again next year...maybe even in my hometown of Portland, Oregon.

By Christmas, things were truly changing for the Beatles. There was no Christmas album that year (in England they released "A Collection of Beatle Oldies" LP, but nothing in the states). In February we saw a new era for the Beatles with the release of the "Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever" single and short promotion films (shown on "Ed Sullivan" and I think "American Bandstand", too. I know I saw it more than once). And there was talk of no more tours.

With mustaches and goatees and John wearing his National Health glasses, and the spooky acid influenced music and promo films, they seemed a little bit scary. Scary is not a bad thing, but I had spent a solid three years of my childhood loving the Fab Four. The moptops. Not these guys. That's when the Monkees grabbed my attention. They filled the void for the departed more innocent version of the Beatles.

The Monkees had a great show, and although I can't really stand to watch it now, it did win a couple of Emmys. It wasn't just kids watching it. Adults, too, were caught up in the energy, humor and great songs.

And to those who say the Monkees were not a real group, I say "Who cares?" A lot of groups are manufacture by managers and record companies. Peter Paul and Mary were created by someone of the guys even changed his name (I can't remember which one) so the band could be called Peter, Paul and Mary. So what if the Monkees were actually the four guys AND a bunch of studio musicians and a stable of veteran hit song writers? It doesn't make the music any less enjoyable.

Although I don't really like their TV Show anymore, and I was never a fan of their film "Head", I still love their music. Mickey Dolenz never gets the credit he deserves as the singer of a string of huge hits in the late 60's. I play the Monkees CD Collection all of the time, and never tire of them.

I think my favorite one is "Pleasant Valley Sunday" written by Goffin and King. A super song, with a great performance by Mickey. The lyrics and melody captures the duality of the fun and hypocrisy of American suburban life in the late 60's. It's a perfect gem. I could listen to it everyday.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Paul's Bass Playing

Check out Side One of Abbey Road. Notice how Paul's bass-playing really shines on songs by the other boys..."Come Together", "Something", and "I Want You". His playing on his own tunes; "Oh, Darling" and "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" is adequate, but not nearly as melodic or inspiring as on John and George's tunes.

Why is that? I think it's because on the John and George songs, his bass playing was his main focus, and he was able to take the time and come up with fantastic accompaniment, whereas on his tunes, he's focused on singing, arrangement, other words, the entire song experience.

This may explain why his playing seemed to be less interesting once he broke with the Beatles.