In the weeks since Davy Jones passed away I’ve been listening to my Monkees albums and reading articles about him. What struck me was the music was typically discussed more than the show. Not to downplay the show at all (it did when an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series and truly is pretty outstanding), but considering how critically derided the band was for being created and not playing the instruments on their first two albums that’s quite an accomplishment.
In listening to the albums I have from start to finish several times, I realized just how much good music The Monkees made, a credit not only to the studio musicians and songwriters they worked with, but also to The Monkees themselves. Remember, after the second album, they took over creative control of their music.
I’m also reminded how much of their music ISN’T played today. My local oldies station did a Monkees music weekend in honor of Davy Jones and they played so many songs that never get airtime. Good songs. It occurred to me that when people think of The Monkees, they think of “Last Train to Clarksville”, “Daydream Believer”, and “I’m a Believer” first. Then maybe they remember “Pleasant Valley Sunday”, “(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone”, “Mary, Mary”, and “Valleri”. Maybe.
Not wanting to let good music go to waste, here are the songs (a few from each album) that I don’t think you should miss:
From The Monkees: “This Just Doesn’t Seem to Be My Day”, “Take a Giant Step”, “Papa Gene’s Blues”
From More of The Monkees: “Auntie Grizelda”, “Look Out” (Here Comes Tomorrow)”, “Sometime In the Morning”
From Headquarters: “You Told Me”, “Sunny Girlfriend”, “Randy Scouse Git”
From Pieces, Aquarius, Capricorn, Jones LTD: “Daily Nightly”, “Love Is Only Sleeping”, “Star Collector”
From The Birds, The Bees, and The Monkees: “Auntie’s Municipal Court”, “PO Box 9847”, “Tapioca Tundra”
From Head Soundtrack: “Circle Sky”, “Long Title: Do I Have to Do This All Over Again”, “As We Go Along”
From Instant Replay: “Teardrop City”, “Someday Man”, “I Won’t Be the Same Without Her”
From The Monkees Present: “Bye Bye Baby Bye Bye”, “French Song”, “Listen to the Band”
From Changes: “Oh My My”, “Ticket on a Ferry Ride”, “99 Pounds”
From Pool It: “Heart and Soul”, “She’s Movin’ in with Rico”, “Gettin’ In”
From Justus: “You and I”, “I Believe You”, “Unlucky Stars”
Bonus Tracks: The Rhino re-issue CDs feature some really good bonus tracks. Two of my favorites are the live version of “Circle Sky” on Head and an alternate take (with different lyrics) of “Mommy and Daddy” on The Monkees Present.
My further unsolicited advice: All of their albums deserve a listen (including Live ’67, which has my favorite version of “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” ever, and Then and Now…Best of the Monkees, which features three new tracks, “That Was Then, This Is Now”, “Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere”, and “Kicks”), but if you’re looking to start somewhere other than the beginning, start with Headquarters and then listen to Pieces, Aquarius,… as those two, I think, are two of their best.
You won’t regret it.