Friday, September 2, 2011

Monkees 6: Head

The Monkees’ feature film Head was designed to explode their image, and on that level it was successful. Throughout its 85 minutes the Pre-Fab Four skewer their caricatures, get sucked into a giant vacuum cleaner, are trapped in a variety of boxes, get torn limb from limb and even attempt suicide off a bridge. Despite having no real plot, it can be considered an extended version of the TV show, right down to the same lettering on the credits. But there are teenage musical interludes, just like on the show, and because it was the law, there was a soundtrack album.
Head can be considered the last real Monkees album, as it was the last to feature all four members for the better part of thirty years. However, it’s a stretch to call it a Monkees album at all, since the handful of actual songs are interspersed with incidental music, dialogue and effects from the film (sometimes repeated) making for a very disjointed listening experience even if you had watched the film ahead of time.
Like said film, the album starts promisingly enough with a montage leading into the exquisite “Porpoise Song”, with its majestic psychedelic swirl, about something and nothing all at the same time. A spoken nursery rhyme parodies the “hey hey we’re the Monkees” theme song, before giving way to Mike’s “Circle Sky”. While it was performed live by the Monkees themselves for the movie, the studio version was recorded with session guys, and it’s a little tighter, as can be imagined.
Unfortunately, this is where the good part ends. “As We Go Along” is a Goffin/King composition chirped by Micky, while Davy gets to tap-dance all over “Daddy’s Song”, another uncomfortably personal Nilsson song. Peter finally gets two songs on an album, but they’re the quasi-mystical “Can You Dig It?” (accompanied by an embarrassing sequence in the film featuring Micky as a sheik) and the fitting “Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again?”, both leftovers from the sessions for the last album. Neil Young’s buried in there somewhere, too.
Peter would leave the band soon after filming the band’s phenomenally hideous 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee TV spectacular, leaving the other three (and then, just two) to continue making albums and touring. It’s a shame that Head is the end of the line, considering the promise they showed only a year before. Still, Monkeemaniacs hold their entire catalog in high esteem, and likely are still drooling about Rhino’s Deluxe Edition, expanded to three CDs, and possibly the most elaborate re-packaging of seven songs that weren’t that good to begin with.

The Monkees Head (1968)—
1994 reissue CD: same as 1966, plus 6 extra tracks
2010 Deluxe Edition: same as 1994, plus 38 extra tracks

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