33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee: The Monkees on Record, Part 3
You can see the changes we’ve been going through.
Such a pity, what a shame, who can we blame?
You and me, me and you, and the rest of them, too.
In a year or maybe two, we’ll be gone and someone new will take our place.
There’ll be another song, another voice, another pretty face.
You and I, a surprisingly biting Davy Jones composition from the Monkees first album as a trio, Instant Replay. The prediction was dead on and slightly over a year after this song was released the Monkees would be gone.
At the end of 1968, following the completion of the Monkees first (and last) television special 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee (the inspiration for the title of the series you are now reading), Peter Tork announced that he was leaving the group. Tork dropped a sizable amount of cash to buy out his contract with Columbia Pictures, announced several future projects including his own production company, formed a band called Release, and then promptly dropped off the face of the Earth.
INSANT REPLAY Colgems COS 113 February 1969. The album Instant Replay seems to exist for only one reason, to prove that the, now Peter-less, trio of Monkees were still a group. Instant Replay was an apt title since a large portion of this album consists of tracks that had already been recorded in sessions for other records going back to 1966. The new material, even Nesmith’s contributions, is weak and floundering and probably didn’t do much in 1969 to reassure the public. Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart (who were conspicuously absent from the Head LP) are heavily represented here including two of the better tracks, Through the Looking Glass and Tear Drop City. Davy Jones served up an uncharacteristically sarcastic composition of his own with You and I. By this point, even the most docile Monkee had turned.
Trivia – Chosen as the only single released from the Instant Replay album, Tear Drop City was actually recorded during one of the Monkees earliest sessions in the studio. It was passed over for inclusion on earlier albums due to its similarity to the hit Last Train to Clarkesville.
THE MONKEES PRESENT: MICKEY, DAVID, & MICHAEL Colgems COS 117 October 1969. The trio of Monkees returned at the end of 1969 with a much more viable offering than their previous album. While still featuring a few left overs, Present shows the trio developing as a group and heading off in new directions. Nesmith was thankfully back on his game with the infectious Good Clean Fun and the song that would become his trademark tune, Listen to the Band. Mickey Dolenz delivers some excellent, if angry, vocals on the topical Mommy and Daddy and the fun Looking for the Good Times. There are a few clinkers including the absolutely bizarre Ladies Aid Society and the lame French Song but after the stumbling block of Instant Reply, the three remaining Monkees were finding their legs.
Trivia – Often referred to as the Monkees’ White Album, Present started off as the group’s second attempt at a double album. This time around, three sides would have been dedicated to individual output with the fourth side comprised of group efforts. Some time into production, the concept was abandoned and considering that the trio was still solidifying as a group it probably wasn’t a bad idea. Two singles were released for this album including one track, Paul William’s Someday Man that was not included on the LP. The single didn’t do much on the charts until enterprising Deejay’s flipped it over and played the B-side Listen to the Band. Nesmith’s rocker faired better and held onto the charts longer than the song it was intended to support.
Note: It has always been this author’s opinion that, had the Monkees released another album after this one as a trio, they would have experienced sustained success. Peter Tork was a talented musician and a decent comedic actor but his participation in the group was not vital to their existence. The Monkees Present was not a great album but it was clearly headed back in the right direction and the distance it places between itself and Instant Replay is considerable. With the reruns of the television series to support them, if the Monkees could have continued in the direction they were going and produced one more album, I believe it would have been a different ballgame.
CHANGES Colgems COS 119 May 1970. After the completion of Present and a brief 1969 tour, Michael Nesmith followed Peter Tork’s lead and left the Monkees. Relieved of the two true musicians in the group, Davy Jones and Mickey Dolenz completed their contractual obligations with this LP. The desperate duo attempted to regain some increment of success by crawling back to the group’s bubblegum roots. To be fair, they did produce an album distinct from all the others but the new sound was weak and failed to interest even diehard fans. There are a few decent tracks on the album though including the bluesy rocker Oh My My that was released as the only single from the album, it’s flip side I Love You Better, and the insubstantial but catchy Acapulco Sun. Even redubbing some of these songs onto the Saturday morning rebroadcasts of the series couldn’t help this album and by the middle of 1970, the final two Monkees called it quits.
Trivia – A promotional film (the precursor of today’s music videos) was made for Oh My My and photos from this appear on the back cover of the Changes LP. A popular rumor at the time of this album’s release was that one of the final two members would leave the group and the remaining one would record as The Monkee! In one last ditch effort to squeeze blood from a stone, two tracks recorded for this album but not utilized, Do It In the Name of Love and Lady Jane, were released as a posthumous single on the Bell Records label. The artists were credited as merely Dolenz and Jones and the single went nowhere.
Coming Next Week – The Best of a Barrel Full of the Monkees’ Greatest Golden Hits!