Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Monkees 7: Instant Replay

Only a couple of months after the Head soundtrack was released, the Monkees trio defiantly put out their next real album, Instant Replay. While most of the songs came from the year’s worth of sessions that yielded the Head songs and The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees, two of those were remakes of outtakes from 1966, and the remainder of the album came from actual 1966 recordings given new mixes.
Even though the TV show was over, a tie-in with their early days was the reliance on songs by the Boyce/Hart and Goffin/King songwriting teams. Such as it is, “Through The Looking Glass” and “Don’t Listen To Linda” sound much of a piece with “I Just Won’t Be The Same Without Her”—fluffy pop, and miles away from the experimentation that pushed their recent work towards rock. The tune that does rock is “Tear Drop City”, a carbon copy of “Last Train To Clarksville”.
Nez was the Monkee most likely to rock, but here on his stuff would be filtered through country music, having recorded some by himself in Nashville the year before. “Don’t Wait For Me” isn’t as overt as some of the other tracks from those sessions (which would surface soon enough); “While I Cry” was recorded earlier, and is the better song, right down to the unresolved end. “Me Without You” fits Davy’s music-hall tendencies, with a recurring vocal part that makes it a direct ripoff of “Your Mother Should Know”. “The Girl I Left Behind Me” is an elaborate composition given a suitably tearjerking delivery. (A more recent attempt appeared as a bonus on the Birds, Bees reissues; the one here is the 1966 recording.) “A Man Without A Dream” was a B-side of the time, but most startling was “You And I”, a somewhat nasty tune from his own pen and lead guitar from Neil Young.
And there was Micky. “Just A Game” is a decent tune, but the harpsichord dates it. And possibly because it could have gone nowhere else on the album, the mini-opera “Shorty Blackwell” gives us nearly six minutes of nasal duet with his sister as they voice the thoughts of his pet cat. Yes, you read that correctly.
Considering how much the remaining Monkees had going against them at this point, Instant Replay was still moderately successful—more so than it should have been. Despite the arbitrary nature of the songs, there are those who adore the album. Yet it seemed perverse for even Rhino to prepare a three-disc Deluxe Edition through its Handmade arm, following on from similar expansions. Along with the expected mono and stereo versions, B-sides and alternates, the set offers even more unreleased material from the year before, a whole pile of backing tracks, most of Nesmith’s Nashville sessions all together, and even some of the music for the 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee TV apocalypse—though sadly, not Peter’s Bach piece nor the “Listen To The Band” finale, his last performance with the group. When combined with the Birds, Bees Deluxe Edition, the placement of some of these tracks becomes extremely arbitrary. Still, it’s nice to have a few versions of the underrated single “Someday Man”, and the multiple alternate mixes of “Mommy And Daddy” and “Good Clean Fun” would lead the observer to think there wouldn’t be a bigtime rejig of The Monkees Present. This being Rhino, of course, makes such an assumption incorrect.

The Monkees Instant Replay (1969)—2
1995 Rhino CD: same as 1969, plus 7 extra tracks
2011 Deluxe Edition: same as 1995, plus 68 extra tracks

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