Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Favorite Soundtracks: The Monkees' HEAD

The Monkees - Head 

(Soundtrack - RHINO reissue 1968/1994)

Taken as an individual document on it's own - removed from the movie HEAD this is an absorbing sound collage and stirring concept albums that holds its own next to works by Radiohead and They Might Be Giants. 

Whatever you think of the Monkees and their fabricated TV image I bet one listen to this disc will make clear that this wasn't bubblegum anymore. The Monkees had actually become a real band after their first 2 commitee produced albums drew criticism and played their own instruments on their recordings and in concert but the problem was they still weren't taken seriously. 

Well, given the chance to make a movie they ran with it satirizing just about every genre (western, boxing, war, romance, etc.) and making a devasting statement about their place in the context of meaningless pop culture. The fact that the movie begins and ends with suicide should give you a little inkling on what that statement was.

The songs are among the best batch concieved under the Monkees banner - their 1967 collection Headquarters being another such collection. "Porpoise Song" is lush and economically psychedelic, "As We Go Along" is a strumming mellow delight, even Davy Jones' "Daddy's Song" is fun. The center piece of this album is Mike Nesmith's "Circle Sky," which Rhino has rightfully restored the live version of (the one that was in the film) as a bonus track. Good stuff which again proves the Monkees could actually play. 

The other bonus tracks include a radio spot, some previously unissued mixes, and a rare version of the "Ditty Diego - War Chant," which re-writes the Monkees theme as something to be scared of. Jack Nicholson (yes, that Jack Nicholson) co-wrote the lyrics to that particular track (with director Bob Rafelson), and was credited as "Album Coordinator" so he has a lot to do with the album's crazy yet incredibly winning flow.

More later...

No comments: