Thursday, November 19, 2015

Standing In A Landslide

In 1968 Michael Nesmith recorded a slew of his songs in Nashville with the apparent intent of including them on an upcoming Monkees LP.   For reasons unknown to me almost none of these tunes had an official releases while the Monkees were still a working entity.   Many would later be covered on Nesmith's fine 1970s solo records.   "Listen To The Band" was one of the few exceptions and was released as a single in 1969.

Many years later Rhino records obtained exclusive license to release a gigantic backlog of unreleased Monkees material.   Between three Missing Links sets and expanded releases of the original albums almost everything they recorded is now available.  Among the gems recorded in Nashville is "St Matthew", a semi psychedelic country number with phased vocals and killer twangy guitar.  Like many Nesmith lyrics these are bathed in pathos. On the surface they tell the story of a woman who lives life in the fast lane, but underneath there lies a sadness that belies the upbeat arrangement that encircles the song.

She walks around on brass rings that never touch her feet
She speaks in conversations that never are complete
And looking over past things that she has never done
She calls herself, "St Matthew" when she is on the run 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The emptiness in her eyes was cruel to see

With a blog named after my favorite Monkees' song, one would think I would have posted an entry about this band long before now.  For most of my adult life I enjoyed their hit singles but had no knowledge of their albums.  Only in the last few years have I made that leap, and in the process discovered several things.  (1) Mike Nesmith is a top notch song writer.  (2) They recorded dozens of songs that were never officially released until long after they broke up, and many of these are some of the best music they ever committed to tape.  (3)  They could actually play their instruments, although that really only occurred for a couple of LPs in the middle of their career. (4) I don't care that many of their songs were recorded with session musicians.   I love most of it regardless.

That said it is about time I featured them in some blog posts, so here goes.

According to Wikipedia "Love Is Only Sleeping" was planned as the preceding single to the Pisces, Aquarius, Carpicorn & Jones Ltd. LP, but "was canceled due to fears that the title of the A-side might be too risqué".   It was written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weill, of course one of the top notch songwriting duos of all time.  I just love the syncopated guitar riff and Mike's Texas drawl.  And to top it off it ends in a flurry of psychedelic feedback.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Martha My Dear

The new Beatles 1+ release with two Blu Ray disks of videos is just about the best Beatles product ever.   The CD portion is fine although the Fab Four community is up in arms over the omission of "Please Please Me" since it was a #1 on some charts in the UK.  The new mixes are nice, with more clarity in just about every regard.  The guitar in "Paperback Writer" is absolutely pummeling.

But the videos are the real star here.  Going chronologically, they really kick in with "I Feel Fine" and never let up.   Options of stereo and two version of 5.1 surround are great but I am really in it for the actual videos.   To see those four together, singing, playing, laughing, enjoying themselves is what floats my boat.  Apple has pretty much shut down all Beatles videos on You-tube but who needs them now that we have top notch versions in an official release.   The videos that were initially created on film are just stupendous.   Restored with care and just bursting from the screen. 

Some days I think "Strawberry Fields Forever" may be my favorite song ever.   So thanks to Apple the new version is up on Youtube, and here it is.  But take my word for it, the actual blu ray version is twice as clear and deep.

Just a quick note to say that I have been away due to health issues.  Thanks to my doctors and my partner I am just about back to myself after nearly a year of recovery.  Howdy to all who may have wondered where I disappeared to.

And yes, Martha the sheepdog does make an appearance at the very end of the video, a detail I had never noticed before.