10 September 2013

Never take advantage of a love bright as the sun

I've always had a soft spot for the Monkees, stemming presumably from the 1980s repeats of the TV series but also from the expert crafting of their pop sound that obviously echoed that of the Beatles. Everyone knows that the Monkees originally didn't play the instruments on their recordings, but as they matured as artists and performers they took over performance duties from the studio crews and became their own men.

Without the enormously valuable but highly regimented TV songtrack beaming their wares into millions of American homes the Monkees would never have been able to release an astonishing four US chart-topping  albums in the space of 13 months from The Monkees in October 1966 to Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd in November 1967. The army of session performers, initially, and crack songwriters helped to generate production-line pop, but the quality of what was released and the comedic talents of the performers themselves helped to seal the Monkees' fame. Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork also developed as songwriters, gaining the confidence to stand up to their producers and record their own material alongside that of the hired guns.

Mike Nesmith was the strongest writer amongst the four, having had self-penned songs included from the first Monkees album. His fondness for the country-folk sound was perfectly evoked in You Just May Be The One on the band's third album, Headquarters, released in May 1967. A sensitive lyric paired with Byrdsian chiming guitar, the number featured in the first season of the TV show at the end of the episode 'Monkees a la Mode', in which the boys are ostracised when a high-class society magazine mistakenly praises them as fine and upstanding young Americans. Two minutes of pop at its finest.

See also:
Comedy: 'Monkees a la Mode' (TV episode)
Music: Michael Nesmith - Propinquity
Music: Michael Nesmith - Cruisin' (Lucy & Ramona & Sunset Sam)
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