For those not in the know, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart were one of the 1960s’ most successful songwriting teams. Best remembered for the tasty tunes they supplied the Monkees, they also achieved a respectable round of fame on their own with catchy chart-toppers like “Out & About,” “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight” and “Alice Long (You’re Still My Favorite Girlfriend),” while a slew of other artists covered their creations as well.
Zoning in on lesser heard tracks penned by the duo, Action!: The Songs Of Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart(Ace Records) is packed solid with ear candy. These guys possessed a precious gift for composing radio-instructed sentiments, duly stitched of toe-tapping rhythms, springy hooks, sing-along choruses and compact arrangements.
A lot of the stuff the Monkees recorded is presented here in versions by different acts.
Take for instance, “I’m Not Your Stepping Stone” by the Flies, who render the song in a slow and agonizing Vanilla Fudge-styled manner, frosted with a sprinkling of psychedelic cream, and then there’s the Standells putting a greasy garage rock spin on “Last Train To Clarksville,” where a copy of the bright and bubbly “Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Another Day” from Sir Raleigh and the Coupons serves as a further delight.
Threaded with a soaring falsetto, “I Gotta Find Cupid” by Gary Lewis and the Playboys clocks in as a remarkable Del Shannon imitation. Speaking of Del Shannon, he appears on the disc too, by way a fine treatment of “She,” which again brings us to the Monkees, who scored a hit single with the dark drama of a cruel-hearted woman that walks on people so her feet don’t touch the ground.
Good sounds additionally arrive in offerings from Fats Domino, Chubby Checker, the Shangri-Las and Ginger and the Snaps, not to omit the glossy harmony hitchings of Dino, Desi and Billy’s “If You’re Thinkin’ What I’m Thinkin,’” the moody, magnetizing tones of “PO Box 9847” by the Monkees, which addresses searching for love through classified ads, and the hard rocking fuzz guitar fury of “Action! Action! Action!” from Paul Revere and the Raiders.
Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart’s contributions to the music biz carry loads of weight and value, and this album provides an entertaining and interesting overview of their handiwork. But how nice it will be if a box set, containing strictly Tommy and Bobby’s recordings will eventually see the light of day.