The Birds the Bees & The Monkees by The Monkees

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The Birds the Bees & The Monkees by The Monkees
The Birds the Bees & The Monkees by The Monkees

Album Released: 1968

The Birds the Bees & The Monkees ::: Artwork

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1.Dream World3:16
2.Auntie's Municipal Court3:55
3.We Were Made For Each Other2:24
4.Tapioca Tundra3:03
5.Daydream Believer2:58
6.Writing Wrongs5:06
7.I'll Be Back Up On My Feet2:32
8.The Poster2:16
9.P.O. Box 98473:18
10.Magnolia Simms3:42
12.Zor And Zam2:08


The Monkees’ fifth album is less commercial than their previous ones, due to some unusual experimentation.

That's no more apparent than with Mike Nesmith’s four compositions, particularly the 5-minute “Writing Wrongs”, an indulgent piece that suggests whilst he'd always clearly been the most talented member of the group, he mightn’t quite have had the stylistic skills his dreams desired when he presented them in his own right.

Davy Jones co-writes two songs, and they are a moderate step forward for him, but his vocal highlight - indeed the record’s highlight - is Joan Stewart’s lovely “Daydream Believer” (The Monkees’ final No.1 single and possibly Davy’s finest moment), and Boyce and Hart’s “Valleri” (their final Top 10 single). Peter Tork however is once again very much neglected.

This isn’t a bad album overall, but its eclecticism makes it erratic, and too much of the material is not that strong. With their previous Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones Ltd, they were able to combine progress with radio-friendly music successfully, but they don’t do so well on The Birds, although it was still a chart success.

The album was released about the same time their television show was cancelled, although they brought out the critically-praised but publically shunned feature film Head soon afterwards, and with that came the soundtrack of the same name.

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by Reviewer: The Doctor

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]

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by Reviewer: Don Ignacio (blogging at Don Ignacio's Album Reviews)

The Birds, the Bees, & The Monkees is a really fun album, one that's almost impossible to generalize about.

Mike Nesmith's tracks are the strongest. "Auntie's Municipal Court" and "Tapioca Tundra" are country-ish singalongs with low-key, lullingly catchy melodies, and "Writing Wrongs" is a strangely listenable experiment with a cool echo on the piano. His "Magnolia Simms" is rousing fun too, with fake vinyl scratches and a booming vocal delivery.

Davy Jones' songs are the least experimental, but at least they're pleasant in their own way - sappy but enjoyable - his voice is thin but endearing. He also sings lead on the two hits: the gooey but loveable "Daydream Believer", and the much-maligned "Valleri", which sounds catchy and exciting from where I'm sitting.

Mickey Dolenz has a flexible if generic voice, that lends "Auntie" a calm feeling, and he does an eerie Grace Slick impersonation on the overblown closer "Zor and Zam", then has fun with the brilliantly catchy "I'll Be Back Up On My Feet".

Peter Tork plays piano on "Daydream Believer", but *cough*, anyone else notice that he's barely on the album? That's a waste, because his breezy sincere out-take "Lady's Baby" (a bonus track) is my favorite Monkees song at the moment.

I only realized how much fun and impressively musical this album is while writing this review, so I've upped the rating a whole star. Give it a chance if you find it.

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by Reviewer: Cosmic Ben (blogging at Cosmic Ben [Defunct])