Hey, Hey, we're The Monkees
People say we monkey around.

The Monkees was a television show that premiered in 1966 on NBC. The show was developed to play on the popularity of such bands as The Beatles and infact was patterned after the movie A Hard Days Night which starred The Beatles.

While the four actors hired had preformed musically prior to the show they only recorded vocals for their first album, "The Monkees". This album was released to promote the TV show and became a hit. The biggest single off this album was the popular "Last Train To Clarksville."

Eventually the band learned to play the songs and toured. Their second album was More of The Monkees. This album was released without the actors permission. I have no idea what they contributed to this album. They eventually managed to gain control of the music which led to their third album Headquarters where they played all the music.

After only two seasons the show came to an end and the band members went their seperate ways. They made many unsuccessful attempts to regain the popularity they once had. These attempts included a movie called Head. In recent years the band has had a reunion tour and much of their music and the episodes tv series have been re-released.

The television series was a wacky product of the 60s. Personally I'm not a big fan of many things from the 60s, but I loved this show. I remember watching reruns on Nickelodeon as a kid. I still think this and Scooby-Doo are two of the best series of all time. I think this show greatly affected my outlook on humor and why I find things that are just plan wacky extremely funny.

the actors/band:
Mikey Dolenz
Michael Nesmith
Peter Tork
David Jones
albums:
The Monkees
More of The Monkees
Headquarters
Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones, Ltd.
The Birds, The Bees, & The Monkees
Head (Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Instant Replay
The Monkees Present
Changes
Changes
Then And Now
Pool It!
Greatest Hits
and others www.monkees.net
Theme from The Monkees
By Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart

Here we come, walkin'
Down the street.
We get the funniest looks from
Ev'ry one we meet.

Hey, hey, we're the Monkees
And people say we monkey around.
But we're too busy singing
To put anybody down.

We go wherever we want to,
do what we like to do
We don't have time to get restless,
There's always something new.

Hey, hey, we're the Monkees
And people say we monkey around.
But we're too busy singing
To put anybody down.

We're just tryin' to be friendly,
Come and watch us sing and play,
We're the young gneration,
And we've got something to say.

Any time, Or anywhere,
Just look over your shoulder
Guess who'll be standing there

Hey, hey, we're the Monkees
And people say we monkey around.
But we're too busy singing
To put anybody down.

(break)

Hey, hey, we're the Monkees
And people say we monkey around.
But we're too busy singing
To put anybody down.

We're just tryin' to be friendly,
Come and watch us sing and play,
We're the young gneration,
And we've got something to say.

Hey, hey, we're the Monkees
Hey, hey, we're the Monkees
repeat and fade

extra verse:

Hey, hey, we're the Monkees,
You never know where we'll be found.
so you'd better get ready,
We may be comin' to your town.

some info gathered from monkees.net

The Monkees, both the TV show and the band, were created in 1966 by Columbia Screen Gems TV producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider and music publisher Don Kirshner. The idea was to create a band to replicate the look and sound of The Beatles, circa A Hard Day's Night and for this reason open auditions were held in Los Angeles after publication of an advert in Variety.

Almost every aspiring musician in LA attended the auditions, including Harry Nilsson (who would later write several songs, such as Cuddly Toy and Daddy's Song for the band), Stephen Stills and Bryan Maclean (of Love). Charles Manson is also alleged to have auditioned, although sources on that vary. In the end four people were chosen:

Micky Dolenz, the band's 'drummer' (he had never played before the TV show), had been a child star in the TV show Circus Boy and was the possessor of a fine white soul voice (Dolenz's singing was often underrated, but has recently been the subject of something of a reassessment) and a decent comic actor.

Davy Jones was primarily chosen as 'teen appeal'. The least musically able of the four, he had been a child actor in the British TV show Coronation Street before moving to America to play the Artful Dodger in the Broadway version of Oliver!. When not singing (he was a very weak singer, but was given many lead vocals to appeal to young girls) he 'played' the maracas.

Mike Nesmith was and is a genuinely talented musician - a fine country-rock singer, a decent guitarist, and a songwriter who was capable of occasional moments of true inspiration. He was also the son of the woman who invented liquid paper (in a cooking accident!) and so financially secure. This meant he had less to lose than the other band members, and he would often be a thorn in the side of the record and TV companies.

Peter Tork, a folk guitarist who switched to bass for the band, rounded out the band. He was already an experienced musician before joining the Monkees, although still an unknown.

The TV series for which these four were brought together was an excellent piece of surrealist comedy, and uniformly praised. The music they made was more controversial, however. Tork was horrified when he arrived at the session for their first single, The Last Train To Clarksville, to find that the backing track had already been recorded by the Wrecking Crew, and that even though he had his own idea for a guitar countermelody his input was neither requested nor allowed. While they made some fine singles (mostly written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, but with some written by Gerry Goffin, Carole King, Neil Diamond and other Brill Building hitmakers), their album tracks were almost uniformly dreck, and the musicians in the band were understandably annoyed to be left out of recording their own albums.

They were also concerned that they couldn't reproduce the sound of their records on stage (although Frank Zappa in a typical back-handed compliment said they were the best sounding live band in California - 'because they can afford good equipment') and Nesmith in particular, who had been spending time with 'real musicians', even visiting the recording of The Beatles' A Day In The Life was getting increasingly frustrated at his own songs getting passed over (including Different Drum, which he gave to the Stone Poneys when it was turned down for the Monkees).

As a result of the increasing acrimony between band and record label, eventually, from their third album on, they were allowed to play and write on their own records, and have some say in the choice of outside material. However, they were restricted to Secreen Gems writers, so the albums continued to be patchy, despite their nurturing of writing talent like Nilsson. None of the band except Nesmith were songwriters of any real ability (although Dolenz wrote the extraordinary Randy Scouse Git/Alternate Title which suggests that he could have been really good if he put his mind to writing), but they all used their positions to encourage musicians they admired - featuring Zappa and Tim Buckley on their TV show and having Jimi Hendrix as a support act.

In 1968, after the cancellation of the TV show, they released their masterwork, the film and album Head. The film, written by Jack Nicholson and Rafelson under the influence of copious amounts of psychedelics, is one of the truly great films of the 60s. A concerted attempt to destroy and satirise their own image, this film does most of the things Monty Python's Flying Circus became famous for a year later, as well as being an obvious influence on Zappa's 200 Motels (Zappa appears in the film, as do Nicholson, Sonny Liston, Victor Mature and many more incongrous guest stars).

The film starts with the band's collective suicide, and goes on from there to attack nearly every sacred cow there is, with some great individual lines ("Boys, don't never make fun of no cripples", "Don't move, I want to forget you just the way you are"), many of them at their own expense ("Well, if it isn't God's gift to the four year olds. Still paying tribute to Ringo Starr?"), as well as having some truly disturbing moments (the quick cut from the famous clip of a Vietnamese prisoner of war being shot in the head to a girl screaming in the audience at a concert is an image that will always stay with me). The music is more patchy than the rest of the film, but still has some excellent moments. The film destroyed the Monkees' career, as one can only imagine they wanted, given their relentless attacks upon themselves throughout ("The money's in/we're made of tin/we're here to sell you more"). I somehow can't see any of today's manufactured bands doing anything like this.

After Head, one by one the band members bought themselves out of their contract, starting with Tork, and with the last album, Changes, by Dolenz and Jones alone, the joke in the industry was that the next album would be by 'the Monkee'. The band went on to solo projects, but only Nesmith had any real success, with his First National Band making many records that stand up well as contemporaries of The Flying Burrito Brothers.

In the mid-70s Dolenz and Jones teamed up with Boyce and Hart for a 'Monkeees' reunion that due to trademark issues had to tour with the unwieldy name 'Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart Present The Great Golden Hits Of The Monkees Show - The Guys That Wrote 'Em And The Guys That Sang 'Em. This tour was shortlived, but there was a bigger 'reunion' in 1988, when three of the four (Nesmith refused to take part) got together on the back of renewed interest (MTV were showing the old Monkees TV shows). They released a dire album, Pool It!, but the reunion didn't take off as they'd hoped - apparently Davy Jones behaved like a primadonna and alienated many in the business, cutting off their chances of TV and radio appearances. Around this time there was also a 'new Monkees' TV show, with young actors, that was a dismal failure.

The whole band (including Nesmith) reunited in the mid-90s to record another poor album, Justus (which had one good track - a rerecording of Nesmith's Head song Circle Sky), make a one-off TV special (written by Nesmith, and well worth watching), and do a short world tour. After this tour, Nesmith left again, and the others continued as a three-piece.

Currently Tork is out of the band again, and Dolenz and Jones are touring as 'the Monkees'. Tork and Jones also appear as solo artists on package oldies tours, and Nesmith was last heard of putting together a multimedia CD-Rom based on the Byrds' So You Wanna Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star? (a song many have claimed was based on the Monkees. Any reunions are both unlikely and unnecessary - the band left us with a handful of great singles (and Daydream Believer, I'm A Believer, Pleasant Valley Sunday and others are great) and one of the best films ever made, and everything they've tried to do together since has merely made that small but worthwhile legacy seem that much more tainted.

I never made it through an episode. I'm sorry.

Having cut the cord and deciding to consume TV through the digital antenna, I have been opened to the world of non-cable stations. Many of them religious in nature, and many in Spanish in nature, along with FOX and CBS. And the absolute gem Buzzr, which simply repeats old game shows.

But there's a couple of oldies stations as well: who have capitalized on cheap or public domain content along with chasing the grey dollar, of which there are many.

The 60s seemed like a royally goofy time, and it was spoofed beautifully in Austin Powers. There seemed to be a really giddy optimism, jangly guitars, Dee Dee Ramone haircuts and love beads. Bright colors, space age fabrics, and silly fun. Batman was an exercise in camp humor, stupid puns, deus ex machina and the earnestly deadpan velvety voice of Adam West.

I'd heard of the Monkees, of course. Last Train To Clarksville is actually a pretty good song, so when I was channel surfing and the show came on, I thought I'd give it a shot.

I'm not quite sure what it was that made me switch it off as fast as I did.

The episode in question featured the "Prefab Four" (I love that expression) moping around the house until some Central Casting upper class twit, "Sir Twiggly Toppin Middlebottom" shows up. He asks what a "long haired weirdo" is and the drummer, in a fit of terrible acting, makes a grimace supposedly of offense and makes to jam his drumstick down the guy's ear canal, along with a cartoon "boink" as another guy grabs his arm. It's the Three Stooges, minus the Shakespearian acting talent.

Oh, God.

Sir Twiggly then tells the Eric Idle lookalike with the Keith Moon eyebrows that he has to leave immediately for England for the reading of some even more upper class twit's will. Every time Eric Idle objects, the man faints theatrically, and the same laugh track used from everything from The Addams Family to Batman kicks in.

A commercial then comes on explaining that if I have Medicare and urinary problems, there's a revolutionary new catheter I can take with me pre-lubricated, in my pocket in a discreet sealed pouch - which will cut down on the significant pain of working a flexible plastic tube up your penis and stabbing into your bladder past the urinary sphincter - and all I have to do is call this number and they'll take care of the paperwork. Of course, I had long abandoned paying any attention to the screen after the word CATHETER and the admission that forcing something the wrong way up your Johnson hurts, with nothing but an inner monologue white noise scream taking up my whole attention.

Back to the show, the others decide to tag along, but since none of them have any real money, they save the expense of buying air tickets for them all by shipping three of them in giant coffins. When HM Customs (whose agent speaks in a bland Northeastern US accent) demands they open the coffins and find three juvenile delinquents loosely draped in an Ace bandage each, the guy waves them all on.

The long and the short of it is this. The will states that Keith Moon Eyebrows gets the estate and the castle and so forth if he can stay there nonstop for a period of five years. Or, the town can buy it at a price they can't afford. If neither works out, the estate goes to so and so, "The Drunken Sot". (Cue some guy theatrically falling over and hiccupping.) Apparently this would be the Most Awful Thing Ever, even though everyone looks like they're in the cast of Jabberwocky, except in cool sixties threads. So Mooneyes decides to stick it out.

To alleviate the boredom they agree to hold a Ren Faire on the property, which apparently obliges Eric Idle to have to joust and get himself brained by a guy with a mace in an armored sword/mace/medieval combat. You know, because this is England. But they decide this is their opportunity - they'll take bets on the whole affair so that they can pay off the estate and get back to being broke in America (even though they're supposedly an equal to the Beatles.)

At that point I reached for the OFF switch.

The acting was atrocious, the jokes pathetic - the laugh track annoying and I can see now that "Prefab" didn't just refer to the pre-casting of the four actors, but that everything was a pre-existing set piece picked up off the rack and clumsily hammered together. It was Batman's whackiness without the charm, Gilligan's Island's laugh track without the joke, and some of the stupidest writing I've seen this side of the Jersey Shore. None of the people involved could act or had any charisma or discernible personality, and the drummer's hair looked like a white guy's Afro that had been dragged through a hedge backwards.

Like the aforementioned catheter you can fit in your pocket and work into your aging wrinkled Johsnon in a stall down at the local Denny's - the whole thing seemed forced, and equally painful.

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