Archive for Tongue and Groove


It was easier when all you had to deal with was “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”:

The [Chicago] Cubs have terminated the stadium disc jockey who played the song “Smack My Bitch Up” after Aroldis Chapman’s outing Sunday night at Wrigley Field.

“We apologize for the irresponsible music selection during our game last night,” Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney said in a statement on Monday. “The selection of this track showed a lack of judgment and sensitivity to an important issue. We have terminated our relationship with the employee responsible for making the selection and will be implementing stronger controls to review and approve music before public broadcast during our games.”

After Chapman closed the ninth inning against the Cardinals, The Prodigy’s 1997 song was played. Chapman began this season serving a 30-game suspension covered by Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy after a dispute with his girlfriend in South Florida last October.

Chapman’s usual walk-up music is Rage Against The Machine’s “Wake Up.”

Comments (5)

Retrieved from the vault

This story might have been interesting even if it didn’t involve Canadian garage rock:

A Grand Forks, B.C. man is living his rock and roll dream after a half-century on the shelf.

Danny Norton fronted a psychedelic rock band in the 1960’s in Winnipeg. He recorded a minor hit called Expedition to Earth, that small-towners grooved to back in the day.

That single was the end of his dream. The album was never cut.

But clearly the single was never entirely forgotten:

Norton’s wife went hunting on eBay for the vinyl and found out it had turned to gold.

The orange-labelled disc fetched $900 from collectors.

Another copy appeared three months later. Bidding for that ended at $1137.

Because obscurity, here are both sides of Franklin QC 618: “Expedition to Earth” b/w “Time Time Time,” by Danny Norton’s Expedition to Earth.

Norton’s now working on an album.

(With thanks to Roger Green.)

Comments (2)


After four hours of possibly excruciating research, Brian J. presents “Modern Country Music: A Topical Analysis.”

“Aimed squarely at the 20-year-old party crowd,” he concludes.

Comments (1)

That one face in the crowd

I never get tired of Carly Rae Jepsen: she’s reinvented herself so many ways without ever jeopardizing her girl-next-door persona. In 2014, she did a three-month run on Broadway as Cinderella:

Carly Rae Jepsen at the ball

And I’m not sure I can explain this shot from her Twitter feed, taken in Taipei:

Carly Rae Jepsen goes for a ride

Still, I always come back to the voice. This is an early sample: “Bucket” was the third single from Tug of War, her 2008 album, four years before “Call Me Maybe.” Before bangs, even:

Reportedly, it was a damned cold day on the beach when this was shot.


Under a shower of stars

“Surely someone recorded ‘Sukiyaki’ in French,” I said to myself.

Surely someone did:

Margot Lefebvre (1936-1989) was a French Canadian singer who flourished in the early to middle 1960s. This was probably her biggest hit:

Never got close to the US charts, so far as I can tell.


And it all wraps around

On my list of Best Band Names Ever is the Anderson Council, straight outta New Brunswick, New Jersey; like another, better-known band, they were named for Piedmont Blues singers Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.

Their new waxing, Assorted Colours, contains eight tracks from their back catalog plus four new songs, one of which, “Girl on the Northern Line,” I’d heard before; Michael Lynch, then proprietor of the much-missed Ready Steady A Go Go podcast, cut a version.

Lynch’s version owes a little, perhaps, to “The Little Black Egg.” He got the song from its composer: rock historian Dawn Eden, now better known as Catholic theologian Dawn Eden Goldstein, who’d always intended the song for the Anderson Council. (Lynch and Goldstein would later collaborate on the chewy, chewy “Dubblbubbldandylionluv,” issued under the name “Man Cherry and Candy Date”; Goldstein herself would contribute a cover of Kirsty MacColl’s “They Don’t Know About Us” to the compilation The Stiff Generation.)

Goldstein is properly amused by the appearance of “Girl on the Northern Line”:

If MOJO magazine ever does a feature on “Systematic Theologians Who Rock,” perhaps now I will be on their short list.

I can hardly wait.


Still looking up

Just found out that Rokusuke Ei has passed away at 83. And who was Rokusuke Ei, you ask? He wrote these words for Kyu Sakamoto:

“Sukiyaki,” the unfortunate title slapped on “Ue o muite arukö” — “When I walk I shall look up” — by Western record guys, is still, after 53 years, the only #1 hit in America sung entirely in Japanese.

Sakamoto died in a plane crash in 1985.

Comments (4)

And death to your hometown

According to Warren Meyer, Bruce Springsteen has settled into an unsettling niche:

In Springsteen’s late era, he has simply become some grim prophet of New Jersey post-industrial decline. I can handle his pop stuff, but his more recent stuff is simply unlistenable in my book. Here is what it reminds me of: For those of you who saw the movie Network, remember how Howard Beale was taken aside by the Ned Beatty character for a grim lecture? Before that moment, Beale was a popular, authentic spokesman who hit a nerve with the populace. Afterwards, he was boring and depressing and unwatchable. I have always wondered if Bruce Springsteen had a similar meeting.

I dunno. I kind of like this 2012 single:

Maybe it’s the little Irish flourishes.

Comments (2)

Besides themselves

“Full Measure” is an oddity, even by the standards of the Lovin’ Spoonful catalog: a John Sebastian/Steve Boone composition somehow banished to the B-side of “Nashville Cats,” on which neither Sebastian nor Boone sang the lead. In its incarnation as a B-side, it matches up with Dave Marsh’s definition: “music too strange and majestic for Top 40 but so powerful that it wipes out the ostensible hit on the flip.” Then again, Marsh was talking about “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

“Full Measure” managed #87 in Billboard and is still a part of the Spoonful’s setlist. Joe Butler, who sang on the 45, sings it here:

Never get tired of that.


Let us not speak of honor

Say hello — and then say goodbye — to Qandeel Baloch, twenty-six:

Qandeel Baloch

Qandeel Baloch

And in motion:

Now the bad news:

Qandeel Baloch, a Pakistani social media star, was strangled to death by her brother in Multan, Pakistan, on Friday. The fashion model garnered fame and notoriety with her unconventional and scandalous — by Pakistani standards — public persona, and she had recently caused a stir by posting selfies with a prominent Muslim cleric, Mufti Qawi, during Ramadan. Baloch, whose real name was Fauzia Azeem, had a huge social media fanbase, with 40,000 Twitter followers and more than 700,000 on her official Facebook page.

She wrote on Facebook on the 14th:

As a women we must stand up for ourselves..As a women we must stand up for each other… As a women we must stand up for justice

I believe I am a modern day feminist. I believe in equality. I need not to choose what type of women should be. I don’t think there is any need to label ourselves just for sake of society. I am just a women with free thoughts free mindset and I LOVE THE WAY I AM. :)

#QandeelBaloch #I_Am_The_Best #Stubborn_For_My_Dreams #One_Women_Army #High_Targets #DestinationBollywood #Will_Do_Things_My_Own_Way #Just_Watch_Me

As for the perp:

On 15 July 2016, Baloch was asphyxiated by her brother Waseem while she was asleep in her parents’ house in Multan. Her death was reported by her father Azeem. It was first reported as a shooting, but an autopsy report confirmed that Baloch was murdered by asphyxiation while she was asleep, on the night of 15–16 July around 11:15p.m. to 11:30p.m.; by the time her body was found she had already been dead for fifteen to thirty-six hours. Marks on Baloch’s body revealed that her mouth and nose were pinned shut to asphyxiate her. Police called the murder an honor killing.

Real honorable of you there, Waseem.

Comments (6)

In search of ancient artifacts

One of the grandchildren, sufficiently curious, brought a seven-inch slab of vinyl out of the back room. “Is this … a RECORD?”

Assured that it was, he begged to be allowed to play it, and we duly cranked up the 1970s stereo. (Not that it matters, but this was the song.)

He would find one more disc that interested him: Gustav Holst’s The Planets, in the 1967 Boult version, which he set to the fourth movement (“Jupiter”). Made the kid dance, it did.


40 percent less Spice

Okay, it may lack sport or poshness. Still:

[smiling at that #wannabe hashtag]


Official, it says

Subtle, it’s not.


Every little bit helps

Brenda Holloway hit the Top 40 three times for Motown, and each time there’s a story to tell.

First Brenda Holloway LP, Tamla 273

California composer Ed Cobb, once one of the Four Preps, wrote “Every Little Bit Hurts”; Brenda had cut it for the Del-Fi label in Los Angeles, circa 1962, and she’d record it once more for the new Motown West Coast office, manned by producers Hal Davis and Marc Gordon. It was a song she did not want to do: been there, done that. In April 1964, the new version of “Every Little Bit Hurts” was turned loose; it hit #13 in Billboard, getting her a slot on the next Motortown Revue.

After “I’ll Always Love You,” another Cobb tune (not the same “I’ll Always Love You” cut by the Spinners during their Motown years) failed to hit big, Mary Wells was packing up for 20th Century-Fox, and seeing Brenda as the Next Mary Wells, the company brought her to Detroit to replace Mary on a Smokey Robinson number. It’s the same backing track over which Mary sang; some orchestral sweetening was added for Brenda. “When I’m Gone” reached #25.

Brenda Holloway album art

Brenda’s last Top 40 entry was a song she wrote with her sister Patrice; Berry Gordy and producer Frank Wilson added a few bits and slapped their names on as co-writers. (Wilson, says Brenda, came up with the bridge.) “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” stalled at #39; a subsequent cover by Blood, Sweat & Tears reached #2, by which time Brenda had left Motown and sued Gordy over his alleged contribution to the song.

After a long time away from the microphone, she began to record again, and to make personal appearances. (One such appearance, I am told, was with BS&T.)

Brenda Holloway in 2011

She turned 70 this past week, and she’s still singing.

Comments (1)

To soar beyond the clouds

That which is Pony inspires us all, from whatever corner of the world as we know it.

The musician known to us as MelodicPony, who crafted this lovely bit of orchestration in 2013, has died, the victim of a stroke. He was twenty-seven.

Comments (1)

A hedgerow with fewer bustles

Led Zeppelin, in this particular instance anyway, are Not Plagiarists:

Led Zeppelin have won a copyright lawsuit that claimed they had plagiarized the music to their most celebrated song, “Stairway to Heaven.” A Los Angeles jury determined Thursday that the lawyer representing the estate of late guitarist Randy Wolfe, who played with the group Spirit, did not prove that the hard rockers lifted the song’s intro from Spirit’s 1968 instrumental “Taurus.”

The band was, if not gleeful, certainly relieved:

“We are grateful for the jury’s conscientious service and pleased that it has ruled in our favor, putting to rest questions about the origins of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and confirming what we have known for 45 years,” members Jimmy Page and Robert Plant said in a statement. “We appreciate our fans’ support and look forward to putting this legal matter behind us.”

Jake Holmes, who’d sued Zeppelin over “Dazed and Confused” in 2010, eventually reached a settlement with the band.


It’s syndicated!

Now and again, a chance remark by a friend will send me off in several directions:

The Syndicate of Sound! Now there’s a name to reckon with. From the liner notes of their one and only LP (Bell 6001, 1966):

These five young men, who hail from San Jose, California, have captivated the attention of almost every musical minded individual around these United States. They mix their musical talent with an exciting stage presentation that is so necessary to succeed.

The words of “Chuck” Patti, who managed the band in those days. Probably not an English major, but what the heck.

Despite being tagged as a one-hit wonder — “Little Girl,” after breaking out in Oklahoma City, a great Top 40 town in its day, was picked up by Bell for national distribution and twanged its way to #8 — the Syndicate would chart twice more before disappearing after 1970. The B-side of “Little Girl” was a lovely little ballad called “You,” with lead singer Don Baskin doubling on flute, about as unlike the A-side as you were likely to find in those halcyon days of 1966.

Acts as diverse as the Dead Boys, Dwight Yoakam, and Divinyls have covered “Little Girl,” but sometimes you have to go back to the source:

Still Don Baskin singing, and two other original members of the Syndicate on hand for that 2014 live set.


Good bone structure

In Our Bones by Against the Current cover artAfter three independently released EPs, the upstate-New York trio Against the Current signed to a sort-of-major label, Fueled By Ramen, distributed by the Atlantic Group. I’d reviewed the Infinity EP favorably, and I’d been following Chrissy Costanza’s Twitter feed, which is an intriguing mix of post-adolescent annoyance and road-inflicted world-weariness, so the band’s first full-length album, In Our Bones, was inevitably going to be on my must-buy list, especially considering what I’d said about Infinity:

In American Bandstand parlance, I’d give it an 88: it’s got plenty of beat, it’s highly danceable, and the songs aren’t instantly forgettable.

I’ll happily bump up In Our Bones to 90 or so: any of these twelve tracks could serve as an object lesson in Earworm Production, melding Pat Benatar-level ferocity with lyrical twists worthy of Taylor Swift. The consistency is startling: no song here is shorter than 2:59 or longer than 3:44, and every one of them incorporates a serious hook. (Okay, maybe “Demons,” the closer, is not quite so hook-y.) I think I might have wanted a little more guitar in some of the final mixes, and the way “Roses” sneaks up on you is cruel: it sounds so much like your Standard Break-Up Song, until you find out that it isn’t.

“Running With the Wild Things” was the lead single:

In Our Bones found its way to #2 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart, though progress up the 200, the all-inclusive chart, has been slow: last I looked it was perched at #181. Then again, ATC started out as a YouTube fave — 1.2 million subscribers — and toured the world before ever releasing this album, so I imagine they’re fairly happy, if maybe a little tired.

Comments (5)

What a difference a half-century makes


Audience member: “Judas!”

Bob Dylan: “I don’t believe you! You’re a liar!”


Audience member: “Freebird!”

Bob Dylan:

The times, they have been a-changin’.

(Via Q104.3 New York.)


The Dormouse had it right

After mentioning Jefferson Airplane’s relatively few forays into the Top Ten back in the day — yes, folks, it’s a Slick fixation we have here, or something — I figured it might be time to focus on the best of those tunes, “White Rabbit,” recorded in 1967 and included on their Surrealistic Pillow album. Everyone knows what it’s about, of course: all the Alice in Wonderland shtick is there, just like you remember it.

But there’s more going on here. This is, I would argue, the second-best homage to Ravel’s Boléro in all of pop/rock. (The best: Roy Orbison’s “Running Scared,” from 1961.) I admit, though, this didn’t become obvious to me until some enterprising soul kindly split up Grace Slick’s vocal track and the instrumental backing, in which things become so obvious even I can’t overlook them.

(With thanks to Tom Caswell.)

Comments (1)

A child across the seas

The Small Kindness humanitarian organisation requests your attention for a moment:

As the world’s TV attention and news programs focus on the masses, commenting on the millions of refugees filling Europe, the real human tragedy and story of one single life is missed.

Our video focuses on the suffering of just one solitary boy who wants to go back home, but loses his life while searching for humanity. The campaign #YouAreNotAlone calls on us all to reach out and support these innocent of war.

The video is by Small Kindness founder Yusuf, otherwise The Artist Formerly Known As Cat Stevens:

It’s not quite the same voice that sang to Lady D’Arbanville four decades and odd ago, but it’s still compelling.


What happens when you don’t let it go

British comic Philip Green has developed a small cottage industry on the side: making fun of Meghan Trainor. A sample:

I don’t think I saw quite all of that coming.

Green also takes on “Me Too,” with comparable results.


No static at all

Rather a lot of us grew up in circumstances like these:

If you were born a few years before the era of Teen Death Songs, as I was, you might remember when AM radio stations played music. The greater fidelity of transmission and reception provided by FM radio put an end to that, of course. Yet some of the hits of the early Sixties don’t sound quite right in high fidelity. They seem to have been designed to be heard on tinny, staticky AM radios … specifically, the sort of radio that was built into the dashboard of a 1965 Chevy Caprice.

The result is a seeming loss of authenticity when those early AM radio hits are reproduced on modern equipment. The listening experience just isn’t the same. Why, to this day I can’t abide hearing “Walk Away, Renee” in remastered digital quality sound. My wife, that heretic, suggests that it might be because of the wear and tear fifty years of sitting in front of a computer monitor has put on my ears, but I know she and all my other friends are just trying to make me paranoid, and I’m not going to let them!

For what it’s worth, there is no known original stereo tape of the Left Banke’s third single, “Desiree”; all versions in release are the 45 single mix. That said, the “Renee” version linked seems a bit more heinous than usual.

And that said, rather a lot of Sixties records were cut specifically with auto audio in mind. For (one very big) instance:

In his still essential Motown history Where Did Our Love Go? Nelson George writes, “Motown chief engineer Mike McClain built a miniscule, tinny-sounding radio designed to approximate the sound of a car radio. The high-end bias of Motown’s recordings can be partially traced to the company’s reliance on this piece of equipment.” They knew people would be listening on their car stereos and on their transistor sets and they were going to do what it took to make their songs sound good and memorable. Even if you couldn’t put your finger on it, when a Motown song came on, you knew it.

I have a copy of “Dancing in the Street,” carefully de-noised, painstakingly remixed, and lovingly remastered. It has about one-sixth the impact of the mono single.

And I may as well admit here that our local Top 40 AM station had a simulcast on FM. The FM was a little cleaner, but not enormously so; more to the point, AM radio sets of the era were simply better than they are now. When seemingly all the music started moving to FM, receiver manufacturers found the idea of cheaping out on the AM sections irresistible. I have Bose audio in my car. CDs are great, FM is fair to good depending on station practice, and AM is not much better than an old Princess phone. Yet there are still some good AM sets to be had, if you look around.

More worrisome is the prospect of being stuck with remasters hereafter:

Last fall, we wrote about the record labels moving on from streaming companies to instead suing CBS over its terrestrial radio operations playing pre-1972 songs as well. CBS hit back with what we considered to be a fairly bizarre defense: claiming that it wasn’t actually playing any pre-1972 music, because all of the recordings it used had been remastered after 1972, and those recordings should have a new and distinct copyright from the original sound recording. As we noted at the time, an internet company called Bluebeat had tried a version of this argument years earlier only to have it shot down by the courts (though its argument ignored the whole derivative works issue).

Now, in a somewhat stunning ruling, the court has agreed with CBS that remastered works get new copyrights as derivative works of the original. You can read the full court order here [pdf]. The court, correctly, notes that for a work to get a new copyright, it must show originality beyond the initial work — and that originality “must be more than trivial.”

Will somebody at whoever the hell has the rights to the Mercury/Smash catalog now order a new version of “Desiree”? I’d bet on it.

(With thanks to Roger Green.)

Comments (5)

Meanwhile on Choctaw Ridge

“It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty Delta day…”

Everything you know about Bobbie Gentry starts with that one line, and of course you know the song:

That half-raspy belle-but-not-of-the-ball voice of hers became instantly recognizable, and it saw her through a few smaller hits on the way to oblivion.

Bobbie Gentry for Top of the Pops circa August 1968

Bobbie Gentry goes slightly wild

This is about the place where I’d insert a recent picture. But here’s the catch: there aren’t any recent pictures. Some time after her 1978 single “He Did Me Wrong (But He Did It Right)” failed to catch on, she withdrew from the public eye almost entirely.

Neely Tucker went looking for her:

Bobbie Gentry lives about a two-hour drive from the site of the Tallahatchie Bridge that made her so famous, in a gated community, in a very nice house that cost about $1.5 million. Her neighbors, some locals and some real estate agents know who she is, although it’s not clear which of her many possible names she goes by.

And no, we still don’t know what was being thrown off that bridge before Billie Joe consigned himself to those muddy waters. There was a film sort of based on the song, but there’s no reason to suspect it’s canon; it’s not even spelled right. Nor is the death of Billie Joe the worst thing that ever happened on the Tallahatchie; Emmett Till wound up there, and he was murdered.

(I am indebted to Roger Green for turning up that B&W picture, which apparently the BBC had in one of its libraries.)

Comments (2)

Swag of a sort

Back in February, I reviewed Sabrina Lentini’s second EP, which is titled, um, Sabrina Lentini. (My Google-Fu is legendary.) I’d been part of the crowdsourcing process, and at my level, I got not only five downloadable tracks, but actual hard copy plus an autographed photo, when she got around to it.

She’s gotten around to it. Girl goes through Sharpies like I go through Advil. It’s an actual, properly pressed CD — none of that CD-R stuff — and it’s got credits and everything. The 5×7 color glossy is amusing: she’s working a camera that looks to be at least 50 percent older than she is. (The back contains the cryptic message “Sabrina hi-res IMG_6318.jpg,” probably left there by the place that printed all these up.) Forever Daisy Music, her publishing and production operation, has a cute logo — it’s on the CD label — apparently drawn by someone who bought a lot of late-Sixties records from Elektra.

The songs, of course, are as good as ever.


Turn on your radio

Ontogeny might not recapitulate phylogeny the way we once thought, or at least the way Ernst Haeckel thought, but pop music parallels a whole lot of cultural evolution:

When there’s war, either actual or likely, you get nice bright shiny happy music — rock in the 50s and 60s, disco in the 70s, techno in the 80s, hedonistic tween pop now. But when things are great — as in the 1990s — you get songs about how awful everything is (grunge, nu metal). The only caveat here is that you have to look at what’s actually on the charts, not just what you think is going to be there — Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane never sniffed the top 10, and the only Doors songs to do so were treacly pop crap like “Touch Me.” Acidy stuff was there, but most “Sixties” music shared chart space with, and usually lost out to, crap like “Harper Valley PTA” and “Sugar Sugar” (the top song of 1969, the very year of Woodstock!).

“Somebody to Love” hit #5 in Billboard, and “White Rabbit” made it to #8, which may explain why Surrealistic Pillow, the Airplane album that contained them both, topped out at #3. However, this was a short-lived phenomenon at best; JA’s third-biggest hit, “The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil,” stopped two slots short of the Top 40, and nothing else came close to that. (We will pretend not to notice “We Built This City,” an inexplicable #1 for the de-Jeffersoned “Starship” in 1985.) The chart history of Jimi Hendrix contains no zingers, even brief ones: Hendrix’ much-loved reworking of Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” stalled at #20, and “Purple Haze,” which everyone thought of as Jimi’s Big Hit, died at #65.

And while viewing that last paragraph, you should keep in mind that I have always had a taste for treacly pop crap, dating back at least as far as, oh, “Johnny Angel.”

Comments (4)

Un, deux, cinq

Garage rock is mind-boggling in itself. Now imagine Canadian garage rock.

Okay, maybe the Guess Who when Chad Allan was out front. They were from Manitoba, which is like Iowa with a shorter growing season. It took a little longer for me to turn up a garage band from Montreal:

“1-2-5” was the only Haunted single to be released down here in the States, on the always-quirky Amy label. I missed it when it came out in 1966.

The last Haunted single, in 1968, comprised two French-language covers: “Vapeur Mauve” b/w “Pourquoi”. You know both these songs in English already.

Comments (3)

News duly spread

I’m thinking they had 80 or 90 cents left over from that Kickstarter, and so:

I am sworn not to mention that the Del-Vikings actually came out of Pittsburgh.


Shirley, she can be serious

I put nothing past singer/actress Shirley Manson, who once upon a time was a shop assistant at Miss Selfridge, but wound up assigned to the stockroom, lest she come into contact with actual customers. (This is almost exactly my attitude toward retail.) That voice, however, was meant to sing, and after about a decade of various English appearances, she wound up fronting a Madison, Wisconsin band called Garbage, which would put out four albums in ten years before going on hiatus. Their third album, beautifulgarbage, contained an extremely catchy song — “Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go)” — with an extremely sketchy video in which the band is faceless and then some.

Shirley Manson green-screened out of the frame

Manson does not remember this video fondly.

Garbage reunited in 2012, and Manson did her part to promote their efforts:

Shirley Manson on a carpet that isn't red

Shirley Manson in a publicity pose

In the interim, she had recorded, but ultimately shelved, a solo album. The sixth Garbage album, Strange Little Birds, will be out in June, and this is the lead single:

Later this summer, Shirley Manson turns 50. I don’t believe it either.

Comments (3)

Back from Clarksville

Good Times! by the MonkeesIn 1966, if you’d told me there would be a new Monkees album in 2016, I’d have gone into Full Guffaw; yeah, this band, to the extent it really was a band, may hang around for a while, but no way they’ll even be remembered half a century from now, let alone in the studio cutting new material, and hey, Don Kirshner will be — what, a hundred and thirty?

Shows you what I knew then. (Hey, I was thirteen. Gimme a break.) The three surviving Monkees — Davy Jones died in 2012 at sixty-six — with the able assistance of ace producer Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne), have reunited for a twelve-track popfest that ranks as the second best Monkees waxing ever, right after whichever Greatest Hits compilation you have. As always, there’s first-class outside material, plus contributions from the band themselves; the voices are a bit deeper than they were 50 years ago, but the singing is every bit as good. Do they play their own instruments? Depends on the track. On the closer, “I Was There (And I’m Told I Had A Good Time),” Micky Dolenz sings and plays drums; Schlesinger takes care of bass and piano, and genius guitarist and occasional Schlesinger associate Mike Viola does the six-string thing. One track here has sort of appeared before: “Love to Love,” a Neil Diamond (!) number sung by Davy, recorded for the Headquarters sessions but struck from the track list before release. It surfaced as a bonus track in a 2007 reissue; this version adds backing vocals from Peter Tork and Micky.

Perhaps the most Sixties track here is “Wasn’t Born to Follow,” a Carole King/Gerry Goffin number made famous by the Byrds, recorded in 1968 and given fresh Tork vocals here. The least? Maybe “I Know What I Know,” written and sung by Mike Nesmith, a piano-driven piece that would have fit in well with Nez’ First National Band material.

If you’ve been a fan all these years, congratulations: you’ve just been justified. And besides, Don Kirshner’s long gone.

(In case the FTC asks: I bought this.)

Comments (3)