From the Vault...


The Monkees

© Lightning Records

Year of Release: 1968

track listing
  • Opening Ceremony
  • Porpoise Song
  • Ditty Diego - War Chant
  • Circle Sky
  • Supplicio
  • Can You Dig It
  • Gravy
  • Superstitious
  • As We Go Along
  • Dandruff?
  • Daddy's SOng
  • Poll
  • Long Title:
    Do I Have To Do
    This All Over Again
  • Swami - Plus Strings Etc.

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    The Monkees

    As of this week (05/12/2019), we have lost two members of The Monkees: Davy Jones - 02/29/2012; age 66, and most recently, on February 21, 2019, Peter Tork, age 77. This week, we look at an album (and soundtrack) of a movie that really was never meant to be: Head, from 1968. By then, The Monkees TV show was cancelled. With the movie, it was basically a demolition of the Monkees' image. The movie was written and directed by Bob Rafelson, and an unknown actor at the time, Jack Nicholson. It was Rafelson and Nicholson's intent to "kill" the group, according to Michael Nesmith. With the failure of the movie, Rafelson and Nicholson parted ways in bitteness with the Monkees, because of the movie's failure.

    By 1968, music was changing to psychedelia. The soundtrack of Head is just that. Psychedelia did not fare well with The Monkees in listening to the music. Even the dialogue snippets from the movie itself was in one particular word: Weird. Psychedelic music to an extent was just that also: weird. The "Opening Ceremony" starting out the soundtrack is weird, very weird. Hate to say it, but the dialogue sounds somewhat to a sexual orgy - Again, it's just plain weird. The "Ditty Diego - War Chant" was a ruthless parody of the Monkees theme song. (I didn't hear the resemblance; although it sounded like a bizarre "nursery rhyme" and something that the later years of The Three Stooges could have done.)

    More on the sound bytes/snippets from the movie: "Supplicio" sounds like strange sound effects - again, it's just plain weird. The movie chat of short-in-lengths "Gravy" and "Superstitious" just comes and goes, as it just sounds strange. "Dandruff?" is just as weird. The same for "Poll." side of Rock -- "Isn't It Time," "Back On My Feet Again" and "Everytime I Think Of You." The other tracks here are more of the 1980s Rock, in a much harder rock style than their most popular hits were. (This is similar to other Rock artists; where they were more "famous" with softer rock tunes -- April Wine, Bryan Adams, to name a few.)

    As for the actual songs: "Porpoise Song" was the movie's theme song. And with the current trend in music being Psychedelic, this song is a complete 180 for the Monkees, and their fans. As they sing "goodbye, goodbye..." gone was the "clean" image of the Monkees that we enjoyed in their previous music, Pop music, and especially from their TV show. (Surprisingly, this song was written by the legendary team of Carole King and Gerry Goffin.) "Porpoise Song" would be the most remembered from the movie and soundtrack, despite how strange and unfitting all of the songs were.

    Michael Nesmith had always written some great songs that the Monkees would cover. "Circle Sky" was written by him, and it is a fair tune, but not as great as his previous compositions he had written before. Again, gone was the image and music of how we knew the Monkees were best at. Peter Tork penned "Can You Dig It," as it is another strange tune, and not your typical Monkees song of greatness. "As We Go Along" is more of a folkish song, and mostly instrumental. This song is listenable, and better than others, but again, it's not The Monkees we all would love from their past. Davy Jones sings on "Daddy's Song," (written by Nilsson) and it just doesn't fit. "Long Title: Do I Have To Do To This All Over Again" -- I will let that question sink in -- Will The Monkees have to do THIS kind of recording all over again??? Not.

    Ending the soundtrack is "Swami - Plus Strings, Etc." -- a weird collage as heard on "Opening Ceremony" with dialogue, and ending with the movie's theme song, "Porpoise Song" and also ending the song is Classical music piece. The Classical portion is probably the most impressive, as it again, takes The Monkees in another musical direction -- Classical and Psychedelic.

    The soundtrack (and movie) just didn't work out. This was definitely a huge disappointment for the group, and their fans. This was also probably the beginning of the end for The Monkees, as after this movie/soundtrack was released, Peter Tork would leave the group for their next album in 1969, Instant Replay. Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones, and Michael Nesmith resumed together for the group's next album in 1969, The Monkees Present. In 1970, Changes was released, and a change was made - Michael Nesmith left the group, leaving Mickey and Davy. The Monkees would later regroup without Nesmith in 1987, with Pool It. The year before in 1986, three new tracks were added to a Best Of compilation, Then And Now... The Best Of The Monkees. One of the new songs that received heavy airplay, was "That Was Then, This Is Now. The group was being rediscovered on Nickelodeon, as their TV episodes were being rebroadcasted, marking their 20th anniversary, and MTV also helped out. Michael Nesmith did not join the group at this time. But in 1996, all original members reunited for their next album, Justus.

    Like many of the original Monkees albums, they were reissued with bonus tracks and rarities. Head was reissued in 1994 and 2010.

    The movie Head was pretty much a bomb. Rotten Tomatoes described the movie's info as:
    The Monkees didn't really enjoy being labelled the pre-Fab Four (Beatles). They expressed their displeasure in this non-sequitur masterpiece. This film literally has no plot; it is instead a patchwork of loopy sight gags, instant parodies, and musical numbers.

    Wasn't this the theme for the Beatles' A Hard Day's Night ? A "masterpiece" ? It was nothing of either.

    Other reviews from Rotten Tomatoes pretty much sums it up:
    The clean-cut kids and the created kinetics work up a "so what" reaction too soon in this 85-minute stretch seques from war to westerns to desert chases to mad scientist brushes in the Columbia (studios) lot.

    Does this sound like scenes from their TV show? Apparently so, but not as what we would expect in the movie.

    The movie is, nonetheless, of a certain fascination in its joining of two styles: Pot and Advertising.
    Pot, marijuana. Yes, that was all part of the rock and roll lifestyle - Sex, Drugs & Rock and Roll.

    In which The Monkees get stoned, commit career suicide, and end up accidentally making one the best movies of the 1960s.
    Really? Smoking pot, and upon reading about the film, LSD was also involved. Maybe this is why the movie was bad? "This is your brain on drugs..." This would be a "career suicide" ... Yet, one of the best movies of the 1960s ?? I haven't seen this movie, but I am curious to see it, being much older now.

    Read the Rotten Tomatoes page here

    Head was probably a movie ahead of its time, as some has stated. I have never seen the movie, but yes, I want to see it. I enjoyed their TV show, just as everybody else did. They were only on for two seasons. After the show was cancelled, it was basically the end of The Monkees as we would know it. There weren't any big hits to follow during and after Head, not like such Monkees classics, as "Last Train To Clarksville," "Daydream Believer," "(I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone," I'm A Believer." (Although some of the album tracks from their "heyday" and a few after Head would become recognizable in much later years. And of course, their reunion in the 1980s, which would lead to all of the original members to reunite again. Despite the fact that Davy and Peter are no longer with us, Mickey and Michael will continue as a duo.

    Head is a bad trip. A trip not to go back to. But this was how it happened, back in 1968. I am curious to see this movie, over 50 years later. Ahead of its time is one thing, and maybe upon viewing it today, some would call it a classic? I'm sure there are those who thought the movie was great back then, and even 50 years later.

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