Thursday, June 30, 2011

On my turntable (Monkees edition): Changes

Hey Hey they're the Monkees?
I remember reading somewhere (or maybe I made it up?) that Changes (1970) would have been a decent Archies record, but as far as Monkees albums were concerned it was lousy.

By 1970 The Monkees had little (if any) support from Screen Gems/Columbia Pictures (to whom they were still under contract) but they were still doing well on Saturday morning tv. Producer Jeff Barry was brought back (he had done some of the early Monkees sessions) to record some new material to replace the tunes on the old episodes of the show, to freshen them up I guess.  By the early 1970's, Bubblegum music had become a musical ATM for studio pros that were were cranking out well-crafted 45s for youngsters with babysitting and paper route money to burn (which definitely set the scene for The Partridge Family, which would premiere on ABC in just a few months). In this respect , I reckon Changes was relevant to its time.

I've always thought "Oh My My" is a great track, and works as a strong opener for the album. Sadly, from the start of track two the album takes a bit of a nosedive. One exception is Micky's "Midnight Train", which I remember from the syndicated version of "The Chaperone" episode.
The spirit of '76: DJB&H

Six years after Changes failed to chart (it finally did chart in the 80's when reissued by Rhino), Micky & Davy returned with a new and very respectable album, the collaborative Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart. Marketed as the "guys that wrote 'em and the guys that sang 'em", DJB&H hit the road in '76, playing the "golden hits of The Monkees" at state fairs & amusement parks (I heard that they actually played at the Bel Rae ballroom in MN). The DJB&H lp deserves recognition as part of The Monkees catalog, if only on the grounds that it is a far more sincere effort from Dolenz and Jones, who contributed songwriting and production to the project.

Monday, June 27, 2011

On my turntable (Monkees edition): The Monkees Present

It's been quite a while since I listened to this album from start to finish. It's very good.

The original intent for the LP was that it be a double (24 songs), with each Monkee taking one full side. It was a great idea, that is until Peter left the band. The Monkees Present was ultimately trimmed down to twelve tracks, four per Monkee.
In my opinion, Present is the last real Monkees album until Pool It! (1987).  

The Monkees Present is a very honest and mature offering from the trio, with each Monkee contributing as a songwriter and producer. Micky's contributions are particularly strong, showing overt influences of jazz and blues. Davy sticks to what he does best on the songs he wrote ("If I Knew" & "French Song"), while Mike continues with his innovative rock-country fusion.

It's worth noting that Present was the only Monkees album to generate two singles in the U.S. - "Good Clean Fun" and "Listen to the Band" (which I think was technically the b-side to "Someday Man", but known by most fans as the "hit").
Sticker from '86 Rhino re-issue
As a fan I can sort of appreciate that I didn't hear Present until 1986 when it was re-issued by Rhino. It was "new" Monkee music to me at that point, guaranteeing that my memories of this record get firmly planted in the summer of '86 when Monkeemania was riding its second wave.

From '86-96 Rhino continued to rescue, repackage and re-issue new and previously issued/unheard music by the band. The incredible amount of material recorded by The Monkees between 1966-70 has allowed them to be the band that just keeps on giving.

 Up next: Changes...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

On my turntable (Monkees edition): Instant Replay

...and then there were three.

After the amazing HEAD turned out to be a box office flop, The Monkees quickly dusted themselves off and taped what was intended to be the first of three television specials for NBC, titled 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee.  Upon completion of the special, Peter Tork left the band, citing exhaustion as his reason for departing. In truth, Peter's happiness as a Monkee had been on a steady decline since the group stopped recording as a band (as they did on their third LP, Headquarters).
"Tear Drop City", 1969

In Tork's absence, Micky, Mike, and David chose to forge ahead as a trio (they may not have had much choice, seeing as they were still under contract to Screen Gems).  For their first post-Tork LP the group raided the Monkee vaults for previously unissued material. Each Monkee also contributed some fresh tracks, some of which were quite exceptional (Davy's "You and I", in particular, stands out as one of the strongest tunes he ever wrote for the group).
The Monkees: Micky, David, Michael
The album's lead-off single, "Tear Drop City", dated way back to the band's 1966 Boyce & Hart sessions. The rationale behind releasing a two-year old song on 45 was that it might recapture some of the spirit that earned the band so many fans back in '66.  No such luck.

On the album charts Instant Replay performed better than the HEAD soundtrack, managing to at least crack the Top 40. To maintain their visibility with the public The Monkees began doing the rounds on various television programs including Laugh-In, Hollywood Squares, and the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. Meanwhile their television show had begun weekly reruns on Saturday mornings, a move that would help a new generation of young fans discover The Monkees.


Up next: The Monkees Present

Friday, June 24, 2011

On my turntable (Monkees edition): HEAD (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

HEAD.  Where do I begin?

Even though I was a Monkees fan as far back as pre-school, I didn't know of HEAD's existence until high school. I had heard the album's majestic single "Porpoise Song" on a 70's tv mail-order compilation, but it wasn't until the early 80's when The Monkees' Japanese reissues showed up in one of my stores that I actually heard the whole album.
"Porpoise Song", Sept '68

The soundtrack to HEAD isn't very long - it only contains six actual Monkees songs - but from start to finish it's a real trip. The LP was assembled by the film's co-writer, Jack Nicholson (yes that Jack Nicholson), using sounds and snippets of dialog from the film in between songs. Conceptually it was very innovative at the time. HEAD goes beyond being just a collection of tunes from a film; It is a true psychedelic masterpiece.

A year or so after I'd had the chance to fully ingest the HEAD LP, I saw the actual film at a Minneapolis Monkees convention. What a trip. A few years later in '86 I caught a special midnight showing of HEAD on the big screen (which I highly recommend to anyone who ever gets the chance).  A week after that midnight movie I saw The Monkees in concert for the first time.
Flyer from 1986 showing of HEAD

And now here I am, one week away from seeing The Monkees in concert for the ninth (or tenth?) time. As part of their show they are performing all of the songs from HEAD while footage from the film is projected behind them. How friggin' groovy is that??

(The answer:
Pretty friggin' groovy, man).

 
Up next: Instant Replay...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

On my turntable (Monkees edition): "D.W. Washburn"/"It's Nice to Be With You"

"D.W. Washburn"/"It's Nice To Be With You", 1968

2011: A banner year for Beach Boys vinyl

2011 isn't even half over yet, and we've already seen three new vinyl releases from the Beach Boys, and pretty cool ones at that. The first was the double 78 rpm 10" of "Good Vibrations"/"Heroes & Villains" that was released as a Record Store Day exclusive.

Then, Al Jardine, to relatively little fanfare, released a limited white vinyl 7" of "Don't Fight the Sea", a song from his A Postcard from California (2010) CD that includes the voices of Brian & Carl Wilson, Mike Love, and Bruce Johnston (essentially making it a Beach Boys track). The singles' b-side does come from The Beach Boys - a previously unreleased vocals-only version of "Friends". A second pressing of the 45 on black vinyl is currently available at SoundStageDirect.com. All proceeds are benefiting victims of the recent Japan earthquakes.

The third and most recent release was a marvelous surprise from MOJO magazine and Brother Records: A yellow vinyl 45 of two newly mixed & mastered tracks ("Cabin Essence"/"Wonderful") from the forthcoming Smile Sessions release, which came stuffed inside a special 60's edition of the magazine.

The Beach Boys' Smile Sessions collection will itself be released on vinyl, as part of a Deluxe edition that is likely to be pricey. Considering that it is mixed and mastered by Mark Linnet, who has had his hands on the SMiLE multi-track tapes since 1988, it will likely be worth the money for the fans that have waited 45 years to hear a proper release of this music.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

On my turntable (Monkees edition): The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees

Although The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees (1968) sold enough to achieve platinum status, it was the first Monkees LP to not reach #1 on the album charts. Not coincidentally, it was also the first Monkees album to be released after the cancellation of their tv show. Commercially the band was definitely approaching its expiration date.

Artistically, The Birds & The Bees is a mixed bag. After reaching the musical heights of their 4th LP, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones ltd (1967) the Monkees decided to pursue their individual musical interests rather than work together as a unit (ironically, the album's cover was the first to state, in rather large print, "Produced by The Monkees"). This new approach to recording led to a significant increase of musical output, since each Monkee was now producing their own individual sessions. Due to the large number of tracks being put to tape, The Birds & Bees could have easily been a double album.
"Daydream Believer", 1967
"Valleri", 1968
 The Birds & The Bees included the band's final two top ten singles, "Daydream Believer" and "Valleri". What it did not include, unfortunately, was Peter Tork. The only place Tork can be heard on the LP is "Daydream Believer", on which he played piano.  Although Peter recorded multiple tracks for consideration on the album, none of them made the final cut (most of Tork's recordings from this period would eventually see release on various Monkees compilations by Rhino records).

More about the Birds & the Bees:
  • The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees was the last Monkees album to be mixed for both both mono & stereo release. The mono pressing is one of the the most sought after Monkees records. True story: last month on a routine trip to one of my stores I unexpectedly found myself holding a very nice & shiny used Canadian pressing of the MONO Birds & Bees. As a collector I couldn't believe my good fortune, and actually had to just roam around the store for a few minutes to walk off the shock. It was $14.99, and totally gorgeous. 
  • In 2009 Rhino Handmade issued a limited edition Birds & Bees CD box set, which is pretty amazing. The 3 CD set includes the stereo & mono mixes, plus all other existing material that was recorded during the marathon sessions for the LP. It's probably one of the coolest Monkee items Rhino has ever released.
The rare & highly coveted MONO pressing

Up next: 
HEAD (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

On my turntable (Monkees edition): Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, ltd.

Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones ltd (1967)
Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, ltd (or PACJ as I'll call it, because it's such a long friggin title!) is the Monkees music peak, in my opinion. By this point the band knew what they were doing, and along with producer Chip Douglas they made an album that beautifully captured the "summer of love" vibe of 1967. The album's first single, released in July, 1967 ("Pleasant Valley Sunday" b/w "Words") was a knockout, hitting #3 on the singles chart, indicating the more daring and psychedelic direction the band was headed with their music.
July, 1967

On PACJ the Monkees brought in session musicians to augment their own playing. Only one track, "Cuddly Toy", maintains the band formula employed on the former LP, the wonderfully organic Headquarters. I can't say that I blame them -- Headquarters was a big effort, one that was perhaps too big to continue replicating if you're also shooting a weekly television series and performing world tours to thousands of shrieking kids. Although PACJ was recorded amidst all this chaos, it is considered by many fans to be the group's best effort.

PACJ is one of my top five favorite albums of all time. There isn't a dud on the LP. My earliest memories of PACJ date back to pre-school; My brother and I were lent the first four Monkees albums from a neighbor down the block, and since we were too young to know about proper record care we just scratched the hell out of them, so she let us keep them. When I hear PACJ today it still reminds me of early spring mornings and the smell of crayons.

Fancy items of interest, in my opinion:
  • PACJ features the first use ever of a synthesizer on a rock record. At the time only three Moog synthesizers existed in the world, and one of them belonged to Micky Dolenz. The incredibly far-out song "Daily Nightly" (written by Nesmith) prominently features Micky playing the instrument, creating noises that were unlike anything the public had ever heard.
  • Curiously, The Monkees released the single "Daydream Believer" one month before the release of PACJ, even though the song is not included on the album. The single's b-side, the scorching "Goin' Down", remained a b-side only track, although at one point it was considered for inclusion on PACJ. "Daydream Believer" was eventually included on the band's fifth album, The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees (1968).
  • The Monkees use of psychedelic substances was beginning to influence both their music and their television show. There are occasional moments on the show where The Monkees are noticeably stoned, the most obvious being the interview segment at the end of the "Fairy Tale" episode (which is followed by a fantastic clip of "Daily Nightly" with Micky sitting at his Moog)
  • PACJ was recently issued by Rhino as a budget CD (just the album, no extras). If you've never heard this album, now's your chance to pick it up at a very reasonable price. The album is also available from Sundazed records on high quality 180g vinyl.  

Up next: The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees...

Monday, June 20, 2011

On my turntable (Monkees edition): Headquarters

Headquarters (1967)
When the time came to begin work on The Monkees' third album things between the group and music supervisor Don Kirshner had become too hot to handle. The show's producers had to make a choice, and they knew that Micky, Mike, Peter, and Davy were irreplaceable. The short version of the story: Kirshner got his walking papers and The Monkees were suddenly handed the control they wanted in making their next album.
"The Girl I Knew Somewhere", 1967


The first task on the band's to-do list: enlist a producer. Nesmith approached Chip Douglas, who was the current bass player for The Turtles. For Nez, who wanted as much control as possible, Douglas was a clever choice, since he'd never played the role of producer before. Mike told him not to worry, that he was confident that Chip would do a great job.

The record-buying public got its first taste of the The Monkees as a band on Nesmith's "The Girl I Knew Somewhere", which was issued as the b-side to Kirshner's last recording for the group, Neil Diamond's "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" (which featured studio players and one sole Monkee, Davy Jones).  As the bands' third single shot up the charts they were busy hunkering down in the studio creating the material for what was, in essence, the first real Monkees album.
The finished product, Headquarters, was an honest-to-goodness melting pot of the combined talents of the group. At least half of the material was penned by the members of the band (3 by Nez, 1 from Dolenz, 1 from Tork), comprising the more memorable moments on the LP.
Upon its release in the spring of 1967, Headquarters zoomed to #1. The following week the album was hijacked from the top spot by the arrival of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. While the sales of Headquarters did not equal those generated by the first two LPs, the album should still be seen as an enormous achievement. The Monkees had battled the Machine and actually won. Micky, Mike, Davy, and Peter, four guys cast to portray a band for a tv show, were now an actual living, breathing band. 

Some additional tidbits:
  • Headquarters was the only Monkees LP in the U.S. to not generate a single. Micky's "Randy Scouse Git" became a huge hit overseas when it was issued as a single under the name "Alternate Title"
  • Peter's song "For Pete's Sake" replaced "(theme from) The Monkees" in the closing credits of the show's 2nd season (the song also happens to be my favorite of all time. Love it. I seriously want it played at my funeral.)
  • Hip Hop artist Del tha Funkee Homosapien sampled Peter's voice from the track "Zilch" as the basis for his 1991 hit "Mistadobalina"
  • Headquarters would sadly turn out to be the last Monkees album of the '60's to feature all four as a cohesive musical unit. In 1996 the band reunited for the fully self-penned & produced CD Justus.
  • Micky has gone on record saying that the reason Peter left the Monkees in 1968 was that the band strayed from the band format of Headquarters (that and exhaustion). Peter himself has said that Headquarters was the highlight of his Monkees experience.

Up next: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, ltd...

a little something to SMiLE about...

This morning one of my record stores Tweeted that they just got the new MOJO magazine in stock. The issue features articles about the Beach Boys' SMiLE album, including  new interviews with Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, and Mike Love. But that's not even the best part: Stuffed inside each magazine is an honest to goodness sneak preview of the upcoming Smile Sessions release. Sure as shit, if I'm lyin' I dyin'. So I got on the next bus to the record store and there it was -- a brand new Beach Boys single of "Cabin Essence" b/w "Wonderful", sparkling and new, mixed and mastered by Beach Boys sound god Mark Linett. This record is a glorious peek into what looks like an incredible set for SMiLE fans!

2011 best of Qtr II

What an amazing three months it's been for new music (and new vinyl!).  Of this entire list, only three tracks (#8, 5 and 4) are not currently available on wax.  Six of the tunes were released as part of Record Store Day 2011, and three are vintage trax from the 60s (#17, 13, 11). If the next three months anything like the past three it should be a great summer for new music!
20. "Girl Panic (david lynch remix)" - Duran Duran (RSD)
19.  "Havana Affair" - Red Hot Chili Peppers (RSD)  
18. "Blue Sway (w/richard niles orchestra)" - Paul McCartney
17. "The Girl's Song" - The 5th Dimension
16. "Damby Delight" - High Llamas (RSD)
15. "Richie and Ruben" - Fountains of Wayne
14. "Every Day Is Yours To Win (live sessions)" - R.E.M.
13. "Stop and Think" - The Rascals
12. "Unkind" - Sloan
11. "Prelude/To Claudia on Thursday" - The Millenium
10. "Are We Lovers Or Are We Friends" - Acid House Kings
9. "Rainbows In Gasoline" - Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (RSD)
8. "Sorry" - The Smithereens
7. "Rope" - Foo Fighters
6. "Make Some Noise" - Beastie Boys (RSD)
5. "Come On Get It" - Lenny Kravitz
4. "What I Heard" - Blondie
3. "Funky But Chic" - New York Dolls
2. "Sad Song" - The Cars (RSD)
1. "Anna Lee (Sweetheart of the Sun)" - The Bangles

note: (RSD) =
Record Store Day release

Sunday, June 19, 2011

On my turntable (Monkees edition) - More of the Monkees

More of The Monkees (1967)
One of the things I love about The Monkees is that each of their albums has its own interesting history. The legend behind More of the Monkees (1967) is particularly interesting.

Following the whirlwind success of The Monkees' debut LP, the "powers that be" (aka the Monkee Machine) had promptly started assembling tracks for the band's sophomore album. Nesmith and Tork, both professional musicians prior to being Monkees, had begun fighting for more input on the group's recordings, and were assured by the show's producers that it would happen. Having been assured that they would be participating more in the making of the second album, the band was outraged when they learned, while on the road doing live performances, that their 2nd album had been released not only without their input, but without their knowledge. The Monkees, especially Nesmith, were furious.

As was often the case, recording sessions for The Monkees were happening round the clock, often in multiple studios, to crank out material for the television show. At this point the LPs were considered almost as soundtracks to the show rather than records with merit of their own.  Despite the hasty hodgepodge fashion in which More of the Monkees was assembled, it wound up being their biggest selling LP, and for the most part it still holds up well.
"I'm A Believer", 1966
Prior to More's release, Colgems issued its second Monkees 45, "I'm a Believer" b/w "(I'm not your) Steppin' Stone". The record was the last #1 single of 1966, and The Monkees kicked off 1967 with the #1 song in the country (it stayed in the #1 spot for a whopping seven weeks).  1967 would prove to be the year of The Monkees, with record sales surpassing those of The Beatles and the Stones combined.  The Monkees were truly the hardest working band in show biz at this point, shooting their own tv show, doing live tours and somehow managing to release three full-length albums in '67.

Album trivia & whatnots:
  • The Monkees were embarrassed and angered by More of the Monkees' cover photo, which showed the band all gussied up in J.C. Penney clothes. The photo was intended to be part of a  JCP Monkees promo campaign; The band considered the clothes to be hideous
  • The cover pic is actually a composite of two different shots. The edit of the two photos can be traced from the top of the photo, below the "k" in Monkees, down the picture towards Nesmith. The end result: the cover uses the top half of Nez from one shot, and the bottom from another (the hatchet job is quite noticeable around Mike's waist/belt buckle)
  • More of the Monkees includes what I consider to be the WORST Monkees song of all time, "The Day We Fall In Love", a schmaltzy spoken-word piece of schlock performed by heart throb Davy "star eyes" Jones. Perhaps not coincidentally, it was the only track on the album not to be used in any of the tv episodes
  • The mono pressing of the LP features a slightly longer fade on "(I'm not your) Steppin' Stone", a song often cited as being the first punk rock song ever recorded
  • "Mary, Mary", one of two Nez compositions on the album, achieved its first success on the U.S. singles charts in 1988 when it was recorded by hip-hop legends Run DMC
Up Next: The Monkees' Headquarters...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Happy Pride!

Once in a while I'll hear somebody complain about gay pride parades. For example: "Whatever they do is their business - I just don't understand why they have to flaunt it in everybody's faces.  Why do they need a parade anyways?" Do I flaunt my sexuality?  I dunno, but I do find it interesting that you never hear people complain about straight people flaunting their hetero-ness all over the place.

Leo and I watched the film MILK tonight (not because it's pride week in Mpls, just happened to choose to watch it). Watching MILK again has left me thinking about my own experience as a queer person and what it all means. Of course there's no concrete answers, just a lot of thinking, but it's helpful nonetheless.  For me Pride week is sort of like Thanksgiving, except instead of thinking about all I'm thankful for I reflect on things such as community, leadership, diversity, and what it means to be queer in America. You know, little stuff like that.

Being queer in America is a daily challenge, or at least it is through my eyes. That's not to say that there aren't rewards that accompany the challenges. In the twelve years since I came out I have grown closer to becoming the person that I truly want to be, which is a very powerful thing to be able to say.  Coming out is an on-going process that never really ends. I often think about non-queer folks and the "privilege" that they have of living in a society where it is assumed you are straight unless you make some public declaration stating otherwise.

This year at the start of Pride week I find myself asking "If I could start all over and be straight, would I do it?", and I have to say absolutely not. I'm not saying this because I think there is anything wrong with being straight.  I say "no" because I feel like I am at a place in life where I am comfortable fully and publicly embracing my queerness.  All of the struggles, bullying, marginalization, hate, etc. that I have faced to this point has played a role in making me who I am right now, and I rather like who I am right now. I am PROUD to be this person, queer as God made me. A big ol' flouncy light-in-the-loafers fancy-schmancy queer man.

My hope for everyone reading this is that you have an opportunity this week to celebrate all of who you are. Make some time to be proud of the person you are right now in your journey to wherever it is that you are going.

Happy PRIDE to you.

On my turntable (Monkees edition): The Monkees

The Monkees (1966)
OK so here's the deal. My second favorite band of all time (following Los Beatles) is coming to town on July 1st & 2nd, which gives me 13 days to blog a daily Monkee LP leading up to the show. I did this with last month's Cars concert, and enjoyed it almost all the way through, until it started feeling like a homework assignment. I'm gonna give it a shot, but if I stop after a couple days you'll know why! The Monkees' story has been pretty well documented, so there's no real need for me to rehash all of it here. OK maybe I'll hash just a little.

When "The Monkees" tv series debuted on NBC in Sept 1966, their first single "Last Train to Clarksville" had already begun its climb to the top of the music charts.  They could not have been better poised for success. Although the television show was inspired by the films of The Beatles, their debut album had a sound of its own. Combining folk, country, and pop influences and the work of multiple producers, studio musicians and songwriters, the end result bore little resemblance to Meet the Beatles! (1964), the fab-four's American debut.

The fact that they didn't sound so much like The Beatles, I believe, is a primary factor in why The Monkees' music has held up so well over the years. With all the hands involved in making the group's first two LPs it's a miracle that a cohesive sound emerged at all; personally I have always credited Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart as being the engineers of The Monkees' sound. It was Boyce and Hart that wrote and produced most of the hits, including "Clarksville".
"Last Train to Clarksville", 8/66

In the late 60's/early 70's when "The Monkees" was being rerun on Saturday morning tv, Colgems reissued the band's first two singles. I still remember the day our mom bought my brother and me those two 45s - It was at a store called Play World where mom bought a lot of her aquarium fish.  I still get a chill of excitement whenever I hear those first two guitar notes on "Clarksville" -- it's truly one of the most perfectly crafted pop records of all time, in my opinion.

Some mindless album trivia: 
  • "Saturday's Child" was written by singer/songwriter David Gates before he hit the big time with his wonder group, Bread
  • Monkee Mike Nesmith penned and produced two songs on the album: "Papa Gene's Blues" (a fan favorite featured frequently in the tv show), and the sizzling "Sweet Young Thing", a rare collaboration with legendary duo Goffin/King
  • "Let's Dance On", featured in the show's pilot episode, has no bass guitar. Personally, it drives me batty that there's no bass, and one of these days I intend to add a bass track to it myself so I can finally get over it and move on
  • "I'll Be True To You", sung by Davy Jones, was originally recorded by The Hollies. According to Jones, it wasn't until a later Monkees reunion tour that he learned this, when his wife at the time commented about the Hollies tune in the group's set
  • The album's closer, "Gonna Buy Me A Dog" includes the freestyle comedy stylings of Jones and Dolenz being let loose at the mic. Dolenz had reportedly recorded a 'straight' rendition of the tune before he and Jones hammed it up on the quite funny version that ended up being used on the record. It's worth noting that when this record was made the Monkees had only recently been introduced by the show's creators, which is evidence of just how quickly the comedy between Dolenz and Jones (both former professional child actors) clicked. To this day the duo (when on good terms) seem intent on cracking each other up on stage, which is very fun to watch.
Up Next: More of The Monkees...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

6.14.2011 - Go-Go's at MN Zoo Ampitheater

L-R: Charlotte, Belinda, Gina, Kathy
The Go-Go's rocked Apple Valley last nite. They took the stage quite late due to a relentless downpour that soaked the audience, most of whom were wearing plastic rain gear (guess who wasn't? I was DRENCHED).  It rained so hard that I was unable to write down the setlist, but I do remember that most of the songs came from the band's first LP (which makes sense, seeing as it's the 30th anniversary). They opened the show with "Vacation", followed by (not in order):
  • "How Much More"
  • "This Town" 
  • Belinda's "Mad About You" 
  • "Skidmarks on My Heart" 
  • "We Got the Beat"
  • "Mother's Little Helper" (yes, the Stones tune!)
  • "Head Over Heels"
  • "Our Lips Are Sealed"
  • "Get Up and Go" (the surprise highlight of the show. They NAILED it. GO!)
After I had begun shivering severely I decided to call it a night. I left as the band was playing "We Got the Beat", so it felt close to the end anyway. I thought about going back to the mens room to dry off some of my body with the hand dryers again, but I was just broken down at this point. I convinced myself that the band would be back and next time the show would be under drier conditions!

Belinda & Jane
Overall the night was a triumph. Each of the gals thanked the crowd for sticking it out in the rain, telling us how much they loved
and appreciated us. They all seemed genuine and sincere in expressing their gratitude for the fans and for the rare opportunity to still be banging out these songs after 30 years.  In all truth, they've rarely sounded tighter as a band, and Belinda's voice was fantastic. My hope is that they capture some of this current magic in the studio. I think it would be awesome if they released a 4-song vinyl/digital EP of new material (perhaps including a studio recording of their Go-Gofied "Mother's Little Helper").

A monstrous THANK YOU to Babe, Char, Kathy, Gina, and Jane for a hot, wet, rockin' nite!

See you next time...