Thursday, June 07, 2007

Number 608 - The Monkee's


Number 608

The Monkees


"Last Train To Clarksville"


(1966)

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Genre:Pop
Youtube! The scientists @ Youtube have been at it again. As most of you would have already seen the video's now have other video's that relate to the "already" playing video (thats a lot of videoing!)on the bottom of the player. See if you can follow this train of thought...At first i thought "How cool" and then it shifted to "is that not a form of advertising?" to "but maybe people would see my video's on other websites?" to "Something just doesn't feel right" .
My decision on this new format is still out to lunch. At least 's put a "how to" insert a code to disable it. But i have this (hollow) gut feeling this new warm fuzzy format will lead to blatant advertising.
Update: Seems I was not the only one worried by this new format as one blogger puts it "I'm not happy with this new feature. I'm a webmaster and one of my sites is about cats which - amongst others - attracts many young kids. I've got a number of YouTube videos there and to my surprise some "related" videos are about "cats watching while I masturbate" and about "pussy" - well, you know what kind I mean" oh dear :/ guess thats why its gone.
PS A big 'ello to all the visitors from WFMU "Beware of the Blog" (And yes Bryan Adams is "Definitive" .... well, to some people anyway and not necessarily me)
Formed primarily for the purpose of starring in a television series, were on one hand a cynically manufactured group, devised to cash in on the early Beatles' success by applying the most superficial aspects of the British Invasion formula to capture a preteen audience. On the other hand, they weren't devoid of musical talent, and at their best managed to craft some enduring pop/rock hits. "I'm a Believer," "Last Train to Clarksville," "A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You," "Pleasant Valley Sunday," "Stepping Stone," "Take a Giant Step," "Valleri," "Words" -- all were pleasantly jangling, harmony rock numbers with hooks big enough for a meat locker, and all were huge hits in 1966-1968. Scorned at their peak by hipsters for not playing on many of their own records, the group gained some belated critical respect for their catchy, good-time brand of pop. It would be foolish to pretend, however, that they were a band of serious significance, despite the occasional genuinely serious artistic aspirations of the members.
The Monkees were the brainchild of television producers Bert Schneider and Bob Rafelson, who decided to emulate the zany, madcap humor of the Beatles' A Hard Day's Night for the small screen. In September 1965, they placed in ad in Variety for four "folk & rock musicians" to appear in a TV series. Over 400 applied for the job, including Stephen Stills and Harry Nilsson, but as it turned out only one of the four winners, guitarist and songwriter Michael Nesmith, actually saw the ad. Micky Dolenz (who would play drums), Davy Jones (who would sing), and Peter Tork (bass) found out about the opportunity from other sources. Nesmith and Tork had experience in the folk scene; Dolenz and Jones were primarily actors (although Nesmith and Jones had already made some obscure solo recordings).
The TV show was a big hit with young audiences between 1966 and 1968, with slapstick comedy, super-fast editing, and thin plots that could be banded together by almost surreal humor. It wasn't A Hard Day's Night, but it was, in its way, innovative relative to the conventions of television at the time. The irony was that, by the time the series debuted in September 1966, the Beatles themselves had just released Revolver, and had evolved way beyond their mop-top phase into psychedelia. Also in September 1966, ' debut single "Last Train to Clarksville" became their first big hit, reaching number one, as did the follow-up, "I'm a Believer." They were quickly one of the most popular acts in the business, yet they were not allowed to play anything on most of their first records, only to sing; the instruments would be handled by session players. This was particularly hard for Mike Nesmith, a serious musician and songwriter, to swallow, although he did manage to place a few of his own tunes on their records from the start.
Despite the questions surrounding their musical competence, did tour before live audiences. They made their own contribution to rock history by enlisting Jimi Hendrix, then barely known in the U.S., as an opening act for a 1967 tour; Hendrix lasted only a few shows before everyone agreed that the combination was a mismatch (to put it mildly). But the Monkees were always a lot hipper personally than many assumed from their bubblegum packaging. Their albums are strewn with rather ambitious, even mildly psychedelic, cuts, some rather successful ("Porpoise Song," Nesmith's "Circle Sky"), some absolutely awful. In 1968, they gained their freak credentials with the movie Head, a messy, indulgent, occasionally inspired piece of drug-addled weirdness that was co-written and co-produced by (before he had broken through to stardom with Easy Rider).
By 1968, the Monkee phenomenon was drawing to a close. The show's final episode aired in March 1968, and Head, released in November, was not a commercial success, confusing the teenyboppers and confounding the critics (not many people saw it to begin with in any case). Surprisingly, it was not Nesmith, but Tork who was the first to leave the group, at the end of 1968. They carried on as a trio, releasing a couple of fairly dismal albums in 1969, as well as producing a little-seen TV special. By the end of the '60s, Nesmith -- who had established his credentials as a songwriter with "Different Drum," which was taken into the Top 20 by Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys -- was also gone, to start a lengthy solo career that finally allowed him to stretch out as a serious artist. That left only Dolenz and Jones, who fulfilled contract with the pointless Changes in 1970.
When enough years separated the music from the hype, the Monkees underwent a critical rehab of sorts, as listeners fondly remembered their singles as classy, well-executed, fun pop/rock. That led to a predictable clamor for a reunion, especially after their albums were reissued to surprisingly swift sales in the mid-'80s, and their series was rerun on MTV. Nesmith was having none of it; by this time he was a respected and hugely successful music video mogul with his Pacific Arts company. The other three did reunite to tour and record a predictably horrendous album, Pool It! (Nesmith did join them once on-stage in 1989). Rhino has treated the Monkee catalog with a respect usually accorded for Charlie Parker outtakes, reissuing all of their original albums on CD with added unreleased/rare bonus tracks, and even assembling a box set. ~ Richie Unterberger
For Beatles see Number 947, 894 & 587
For Stephen Stills see Number 660
For Harry Nilsson see Number 559
For Jimi Hendrix see Number 718
For Linda Ronstadt see Number 665
For Michael Nesmith see Number 549
For The Turtles see Number 541
Gasp Batman! *SHOCK* *WHAM* *POW* that's right... Rolling Stone had no review on The Monkees ~ First edition wasn't out till 1967 anyway. Wait HOLD THE PHONE..... I have just been passed an urgent telegram from Rolling Stone.......
Clever and tuneful, along the lines of knockoff Turtles, this was teenybop fare that provoked shudders from anyone who took the Beatles at all seriously. Those teenyboppers grew up and, in a frenzy of nostalgia, reclaimed their idols. The first greatest-hits package is pleasant -- and more than enough Monkees for everyone except cultists. Pool It! (1987), the reunion album, is glossy, tired, and redundant. The two-CD Anthology and certainly the elaborate box set Music Box take the bunch far too seriously. (2004)
* Remind me not read any more Telegrams
Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs ranked this song at Number (Turtles, Beatles, Mussels, Bugaloos) and the Album ranked at Number (whatever)
This song has a crowbarred of 71.8 out of 108 pts
The Monkees - Last Train to Clarksville
Uploaded by Dan_of_the_Land

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