Friday, July 7, 2017
The Monkees - Right Now (Alternate)
In 1976, prolific songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart reunited with former Monkees Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones. Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork were also invited to join, but they both declined (Peter would later join the group on stage for their July 4th concert in Disneyland). The four desired to reform the Monkees for a brand new album, but were legally prohibited from using the group name. And so, the new group decided on the exceedingly long name of "Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart". Pretty creative, huh? The group's self-titled debut album was released in early 1976. I searched for quite awhile, but I wasn't able to find an exact date of its release. Just goes to show how popular it is! I really dislike the name of the album, so let's just say that through some implausible, legal loophole, the four were able to secure the rights for the Monkees name. Here I present the original Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart album, repackaged as The Monkees' Right Now. I took the original album cover for this album, cleaned it up, and replaced the original text with its new, more appropriate title. Being a relatively rare album, I don't expect a lot of people here to be familiar with this collection of music! Before beginning, I feel like it'd be appropriate to mention that the CD release of this album was ripped from vinyl, as the original master tracks couldn't be located. As a result, there are a few small "hiccups" heard a few times throughout the album, most noticeably during the tracks "Right Now" and "You and I". Nothing that I can really do about that though, so I guess it's just something we're gonna have to deal with. Anyways, let's get into it, shall we?
Side A opens with the lovely progressive ballad "Right Now", sung by Davy. By this point, Davy, then 30, was much more older and mature than he was in the mid-60s, and I believe you can hear it in his new album. After that comes the sappy "I Love You (And I'm Glad That I Said I)". Sung by Bobby Hart. Definitely my least favorite cut off the album, it kind of reminds me of "The Day We Fall in Love" from the original More of the Monkees album, with its lush instrumental backing track and dynamic sound to it. Listen for yourself and see what you think of it. Then comes my favorite track off this album, "You and I". This track would actually later be re-recorded by the Monkees in 1996 for their second reunion album Justus. I certainly like both versions, and they're so different from each other (production wise), that I guess it'd be unfair to compare them to each other. But fuck, I'm gonna anyways! Here, Micky sings lead, while Davy sings lead in the re-recording. Both deliver extraordinary vocal performances, but Micky's definitely outshines Davy's attempt. Micky's extreme vocal range was always one of his biggest strengths when it came to singing! Anyways, instead of getting carried away with this, I'm just gonna close by saying that this is a classic recording by the group. The group's cover of "Teenager in Love" follows after. It's definitely a really great track, but I can't help but feel like the overdubbed plucked guitar is just a little bit out of tune, which can get a little distracting once you notice it. After that, the amazing "Sail on Sailor" comes next. Here, the track was simply retitled to "Sail On", as I'm too used to "Sail on, Sailor" by the Beach Boys. In this track, I believe all four group members sing their own verses, I can't ever really tell Boyce and Hart vocals apart from each other! Side A closes with "It Always Hurts the Most in the Morning", another great, progressive pop track. I especially love the a cappella interlude near the end, what a great touch by the group!
Side B opens with the heavy rock track "Moonfire", featuring fuzzy electric guitar riffs, intricate group backing vocals, and a heavy lead vocal from Micky. One of the great highlights from this album. Another fantastic track follows next, entitled "You Didn't Feel That Way Last Night (Don't You Remember)". Here, the title was shortened just to "You Didn't Feel That Way Last Night", the full title is just too much of a mouthful! Probably my second-favorite track off the album, the electric synthesizers add a great touch to the song. Next comes a very strange track, "Along Came Jones". Harkening back to the early, comedic days of the Monkees' career, this cover of The Coaster's 1959 hit features dissonant diminished chords, spoken words segments, and an instrumental interlude inspired by the infamous Benny Hill theme. Certainly an experience to listen to IMO! Coming right after it is a more rock-oriented track, similar in tone to the two previous tracks of the second side. Probably the weakest Dolenz lead vocal on the album. Nothing's particularly wrong with it, it just sounds kind of off in a way. Sounds like he had a cold while recording the lead vocal or something. The rest of the track is great though, especially the electric guitar solo. Following is another great one, "I Remember the Feeling". I believe the group was trying to market this track as a single, and often performed it during their live concerts. I believe it was actually released as a single, but it obviously went nowhere. I'd say that it definitely deserved chart action though! Not the biggest fan of Davy's sections though, but I guess it's not that big of a deal. A pretty good track overall. The album closes out with another hard-rocker entitled "Sweat Heart Attack". It's funny, typing up that previous sentence just now, I mistakingly referred to the track as "Sheer Heart Attack". Nope, that's Queen, not the Monkees! Overall, a great end to the album I'd say. There's this one riff in the end guitar solo that sounds extremely similar to a riff heard in Heart's "Magic Man", check it out and see if you can hear it!
Right Now, while missing two primary members of the group, remains a pretty damn good collection of music in my opinion. The group certainly found a good sound for themselves with this album. It makes me wonder just what followup albums could have possibly sounded like! Unfortunately, it was to never be. After a live album from Japan was scrapped in late 1976, the group quietly dissolved, and that was that. It would take the Monkees another eleven years to reform for an actual reunion. 1987's Pool It! was pretty much a musical disaster. The '80s and the Monkees do NOT go well together! I haven't even been able to listen to the entire thing. 1996's Justus was just marginally better. 2016's Good Times!, however, was a fantastic reunion album and a perfect closer to the Monkees story. I have no changes to make to any of those albums, which brings the Monkees series to a close here! Thanks to everyone for the positive feedback, as well as the patience with the slower upload schedule this past year or so. Not sure what I'll be posting on here next, probably just some scattered alternate albums and mixes from The Beach Boys, The Beatles, and other groups such as the Doors and the Kinks. I guess I'll just keep it a surprise until then! Enjoy, and look out for more very soon!
1. Right Now (Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart)
2. I Love You (And I'm Glad That I Said It) (Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart)
3. You And I (Micky Dolenz/Davy Jones)
4. Teenager in Love (Doc Pomus/Mort Shuman)
5. Sail On (Doug Trevor)
6. It Always Hurts the Most in the Morning (Tommy Boyce/Micky Dolenz)
1. Moonfire (William E. Martin)
2. You Didn't Feel That Way Last Night (Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart)
3. Along Came Jones (Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller)
4. Savin' My Love for You (Micky Dolenz/Davy Jones)
5. I Remember the Feeling (Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart)
6. Sweet Heart Attack (Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart)