Monday, February 21, 2011

Monkee Grip Glue

The unreclaimable Monkees.
 The Monkees are evidently reformed and touring to cash in the 45th Anniversary of their being manufactured by Hollwywood producer Don Kirshner and his cronies, and an item in The Telegraph would have us believe that the fellows overcame the general scorn heaped upon them and ascended into what there was of the hallowed Rock Pantheon.  At best, the article was a vigorous piece of nonsense. 

Author, please pick up your last check on the way out, as this is the worst sort of puffery one could imagine. Exactly no one took the Monkees seriously as a band, and their chops as a comedians were not held in high regard . Yes, they sold... millions of units, but so has Kraft Cheese, a product who's  popularity reveals how scarce good taste actually is. The Monkees  were a band for teenyboppers with allowance money to burn. It is possible to compare them to the Beatles or the Marx Brothers, but this serves only to demonstrate what they lack. They might have been pioneers of a sort, but they were and remain a fancy you grow out of as your tastes mature; there is the hope that a music fan discovers the good stuff. Theirs was a music glutted by fads , gimmicks and tricks heaped on an albums of songs that were at best cast offs from professional songwriters; it sounded corny back in the day, and the Monkees has aged badly. It sounds pretentious, inane, flimsy constructions gussied up with every studio trick available. The Monkees problem is  worse because, 45 years later, they haven't their youthful cuteness to help get away with the slithering saliva trail they called rock and roll. They are bound to look pathetic. Is this what fans really want to see? 

I should say that the mini-rant was not about these guys individually; Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork have chops, to be sure. But the distinction is that they were members of a combine that was a commercial venture... that was disguised as a rock band,and as far as rock bands go, they were lacking in whatever good graces it takes to be real pantheon members. As an entity, the Monkees were a disgrace. The same may be said of the Sex Pistols, Brit wastrels Malcom McLaren hired to fulfill his fashion sense. The difference is that the Pistols had the integrity to break up unceremoniously. To paraphrase, Johnny Rotten asked the audience at their last US gig if they ever felt they'd been cheated. The Monkees, collectively or individually, never had the honesty to admit that they were a money making fraud.


  1. Sanka Sego8:05 AM PST

    I think you should lighten up on the Monkees. Most of your complaints seem to be with their admirers, rather than with them. Back in the day, the Monkees never claimed to be more than entertainment of a light sort (though Head found them soul-searching a bit). For his part, Mike Nesmith said the group was no more a real rock band than Marcus Welby was a doctor. If baby boomer nostalgia has kept their cult alive, well, there are worse things you can fixate on (like Glenn Beck or too much bacon). I would argue that their hits -- "Last Train to Clarksville," "Daydream Believer" "(I'm Not Your Stepping-Stone") -- are more than mere cast-offs by hit writers; they were fun, frothy little gems of radio magic. It's not insane jazz, but it's not gruel, either.

  2. Well,no, I don't have a problem with fans because you don't come across people in their mid to late fifties screaming the praises of The Monkees
    the way you do with fans of Robin Trower, Deep Purple, Bob Seger, even Loverboy. People who grew up with the Monkees don't think about the boys so much. It's the institution of the Monkees as an institution I find objectionable; the were a fistful of Fabians lurching toward the Abyss.

  3. Sanka Sego10:10 AM PST

    I am afraid you DO find people screaming (at least in print) in praise of the Faux Four, perhaps more than for the esteemed Mr. Tower or even Exuma. You may wish to peruse the recent book detailing the day-to-day existence of the Monkees back in the 1960s to find the proof of this. Face it: there are people old enough to know better who still want to suck on the Monkees popsickle. How can you blame the band for getting back together and making a buck now and then? They are not a threat to Western civilization and they are far less of an immediate danger to our safety than Justin the Beaver. I suppose you'd like them to be driving a bus like Jerry Penrod?

  4. My point stands, I think, in that the Monkees are not remembered for their songs but rather more like a disease a generation of love sick tweeners shared; it was some overwhelming fever who's recollection involves the heat, not the melodies. I still run into a people bring them up in music discussions except as a bad example, and the book on the day to day mechanics of this money machine seems geared at a niche market , small but profitable. This just reinforces the fact that they were musically mediocre and sub-minor in importance. I don't blame the band for going after a payday; after all all the Sex Pistols did exactly the same thing in the Nineties. The Pistols, though, were at least honest about and called their trek the Filthy Lucre tour. What irritates me, among other things, about these hired hands was they still act as if they were involved in something that mattered. Jerry Penrod, I think, has made his peace with what he did and what he's doing now.

  5. Sanka Sego12:28 PM PST

    Is he driving the 34? Go ask him if he prefers taking transfers to goosing the Butterfly...

  6. He's driving the 30, actually, a long haired codger who does his job proficiently. There was the one time when some one wanted to get change for a twenty dollar bill as regards the fare, and Penrod handed him a box of Cootie Smartz Acne Farm starter kits and let him off in front of Mission Bay High, where there was a Jamul City Funk Band reunion happening during a Lunch Period Concert.

    True story. Swear to God.

  7. The Monkees ARE remembered for their songs, and yours is just a negative opinion that you somehow think makes you an expert. You're ranting - and you don't know what you're talking about. Their success obviously bugs you - get over it.

    A 40-year Monkees fan.

  8. The fact that I happen to dislike the Monkees and always have obviously annoys you. You'll get over it. Thanks for reading.

  9. The fact that you dislike the Monkees doesn't annoy me. I could care less about your musical preferences. However, your original, bitter article about the Monkees arrogantly puts down anyone who could possibly have valued the group and their music in any way - which includes me - as if you're an expert on who has musical "chops." Castoffs? Gimmicks? tricks? This included a lot more than just the Monkees as far as recording in the '60's went, Ted - give me a break. The whole Monkees machine was clever, timely and timeless and your jealousy as a musician and poet doesn't take into account their talent, the hits and the memories that millions haven't "grown out of." A fraud and a disgrace? Big words, Ted. The fact that you felt you actually had the right to read Jones and Dolenz the riot act tells me a lot about you. Gosh, if I could be just half the authority on music that you are, Ted! Like it or not, yes - this is what fans really want to see. Live with it.

  10. The length of your second comment indicates that you are, in fact, annoyed with my dislike of the Monkees. It's doubtful you're "okay" with others who've voiced a critical word or two about this faux band. In any case, you're using resorting to ad hominem arguments, attacking me personally rather than the credibility of my statements.

    Defend their music, my friend. Make an interesting set of counter assertions. All you've done here , in essence, is defend your wounded pride. if the Monkees were as good as you think they were, they should have inspired you to make a more compelling statement in their defense.

  11. Gregory Lentfelt10:37 PM PDT

    Anyone who doesn't like the Monkees needs a shotgun shoved up their ass.

  12. Don Van Vreep6:32 PM PDT

    What about the Banana Splits? Aren't they worth a popgun up the left nostril, at least?

  13. How about some horse shit?

  14. I think the Banana Slugs are unforgiveably overlooked by the experts who dictate what the Rock and Roll Canon should be. This song made Lindsey Buckingham take an overdue dump:



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