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Showing posts from June, 2009

226. The Monkees: The Monkees Present (1969)

The Monkees Present was was the band's final '60s attempt to wring any commercial viability out of itself. Unlike Instant Replay, all but two of the songs were brand new, and the album was accompanied by a strong advertising push (including a cross promotion with Kool-Aid!) and a tour with a seven piece R & B backing group.

As interesting as that all sounds, The Monkees Present failed to make much of an impression. Monkeemania had obviously had its day, and Michael Nesmith chose to leave the band soon after.

The Classics:
Mike's Listen to the Band, though not a huge hit at the time, has become a sort of theme for the group. Though Nesmith claims the lyrics weren't a plea to be judged on musical merit, people nonetheless chose to view them that way. Rhino even chose the song's title as the name of their 1991 Monkees box set.

The Pleasant Surprises:
Good Clean Fun is, in my opinion, the most crackerjack country rock song the Monkees ever did. Though the title has noth…

Respect

225. The Seldon Plan: Lost and Found and Lost (2009)

One of my favorite all-time TV shows is Felicity, which aired on the WB from 1999 to 2002. I think the show captivated me because it represented my college experience. Not that my college life was anything like Felicity's. I didn't send taped diary entries to a friend back home. I didn't spend four years vacillating between two guys (though I would have gone with Noel over Ben). I wasn't a barista at Dean and Deluca, nor did I learn tough lessons about rape, divorce, testicular cancer, and alcoholism. I did, however, cut my hair very short.

Specifics aside, what rang true about the show for me was the earnest nature of the title character and her friends. That was me in college. I was a Romantic. I turned every thought over and over. Every experience seemed deeply important. Weighty philosophical questions and conclusions abounded. I had graduated college by the time the show premiered (actually just that spring), so it was like instant nostalgia for me.

What does all th…

224. The Monkees: Instant Replay (1969)

And then there were three. After Head, Peter Tork left the Monkees, and the other three soldiered on. Instant Replay, an album comprised of older songs from the vault alongside newly recorded material, was the debut of the Monkees as a trio.

Not that it made much difference. Peter, unfortunately, was rarely a huge part of the Monkees sound. That's why he left in the first place. So what you might expect to be one of the band's lesser efforts is actually one of their better ones.

The Classics:
There are no songs on this album that a casual music listener would recognize.

The Pleasant Surprises:
Michael Nesmith had, thankfully, seemed to grow out of his psychedelic phase, and was back to writing pleasant folk country pop tunes. Don't Wait For Me and While I Cry are both twangy laments, and both are newer songs. I Won't Be the Same Without Her is the standout, but is also leftover from a 1966 session. Mike sings, but Gerry Goffin and Carole King wrote it. It's a mannered B…

223. Green Day: 21st Century Breakdown (2009)

On the inside liner notes of Green Day's new album, 21st Century Breakdown, there's a graffiti portrait of the band accompanied by the words "The Class of '13". Believe it or not, 2013 is when Green Day will be eligible for induction into the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame. Pointing that out might seem a bit presumptuous on their part, but as far as I'm concerned, they have nothing left to prove.

Consider that following their initial success (Dookie in 1994), they cemented their place in the public consciousness with the decidedly not-punk ballad Good Riddance (Time of Your Life). That song became the theme for a thousand proms, memorial tributes, and sitcom finales. Sure there was initial backlash, but once American Idiot showed up in 2004, all was forgiven. The album spawned three huge hits, and became the band's second best selling record. Not only that, critics and hipsters alike embraced the album. And, thanks to the political nature of the lyrics…

2009a

Every year I make two mixes of songs that move me, one for each half of the year. I've just finished the first one for 2009. The artwork should be somewhat familiar.

Here is the tracklist:

1. P.O.S. – Low Light Low Life
2. Phoenix – Lasso
3. Sean Fournier – Put the World on Stop
4. White Rabbits – Rudie Fails
5. Death Cab for Cutie – Little Bribes
6. The Seldon Plan – Run, Go
7. The Hopefuls – Virgin Wood
8. Green Day – Horseshoes and Handgrenades
9. Mandy Moore – I Could Break Your Heart Any Day of the Week
10. Harlem Shakes – Strictly Game
11. Tinted Windows – Cha Cha
12. The Honeydogs – Stash
13. U2 – Stand Up Comedy
14. Morrissey – All You Need Is Me