I wouldn't want to claim Michael Nesmith is on a par with John Lennon or anything, but this guy is freaking great!
Nsmith doesn't do anything fundamentally different from many other songwriters of the era (1968 was a pretty strange year for music, the peak of psychedelia), but he takes those ideas and doesn't just reduce them to the common denominator. Instead, he sounds fresh and vibrant!
Nesmith takes on The Byrds' country/rock jangle for all they're worth on "Auntie's Municipal Court", and there's a wild hodge-podge of ideas in "Tapioca Tundra". He also writes a wholly enjoyable old-timey pop/Jazz tune in "Magnolia Simms", as well as the *ahem* Pink Floyd-ish "Writing Wrongs". Those are some of the best songs on this album - pretty good for a manufactured band, I'd say! Christina Aguilera couldn't reach this level of creativity with a 20-foot pole.
That's not to say The Birds, The Bees and The Monkees
is a great work of Art, but even so it's an interesting pop album. Naturally, the melodies are the principal reason to give this a listen, and Nesmith's melodies are lovely. Probably the most famous one though is from an outside songwriter, "Daydream Believer". And Boyce and Hart contribute their answer to Magical Mystery Tour
with "P. O. Box 9847" ... that track is a blast!
I like Davey Jones' contributions as well, his "Dream World" is an enjoyable pop number that also has something slightly off about it. "The Poster" isn't as highly recommendable, but it's still pretty good considering it's one of the album's weaker tracks. Oddly, the sunshine/pop of "I'm Gonna Try" in the bonus tracks is a real gem if you like that genre - certainly they could've replaced the too-simplistic and generic "We Were Made For Each Other" with that one instead.
This is just a good album. It's notably weaker than the predecessor Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd
, but possibly stranger too. That's definitely worth something! Thumbs up.
[Footnote: Don Ignacio's Blog supplements this Review with a bonus track-by-track commentary] Rated:
by Reviewer: Don Ignacio
(blogging at Don Ignacio's Album Reviews