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...

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