The Monkees – The Birds, the Bees and the Monkees (1968): On Second Thought

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An astoundingly successful television show combined with a barrel full of hit singles spurred the Monkees into becoming one of the biggest bands of the late ’60s. Comprised of Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork, the group may have been revered by millions, but were hurled heaps of abuse by ignorant critics.

Mistakenly viewed as a fabricated band, the Monkees actually did play their own instruments and, although a good chunk of their songs were authored by other people, their original tunes were just as valuable and vibrant as anything the Beatles, the Kinks, the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones were cranking out.

The Birds, the Bees and the Monkees, released this week in 1968 via Colgems Records as the Monkees’ fifth studio album, found the fantastic foursome continuing to wield their mojo to aesthetic effects. Country currents, surrounded by a bit of a psychedelic fringe supervises the scene on “Auntie’s Municipal Court,” a touch of exotica is applied to the Latin-flavored “Tapioca Tundra,” and “I’ll Be Back Up On My Feet” shuffles and skips to a catchy clutch of bright and bouncy rhythms.

The sweet and precious sentiments of “Daydream Believer” and the penetrating pop rock of “Valleri,” which reached No. 1 and No. 3 on the charts in the fall of 1967 and the winter of 1968 respectively, are also included on the disc, as well as anti-war meditations of “Zor And Zam” that booms with power and authority. Looking for love in the classified ads is the topic covered in the herky jerky motions of “PO Box 9874,” a spacey droning din washes over “Writing Wrongs” and “Dream World” sparkles and shimmers with gloss and polish.

Kingpins of genre-blending, the Monkees perform a great job flaunting their mercurial talents on this album. A pleasing variety of styles and structures, ranging from ragtime sounds to orchestrated lushness to experimental hoodoo to commercial pop to sugar-frosted balladry bleed through the record. Dangerously contagious hooks and melodies, complemented by the band’s exciting vocals and on target harmonies further frame the material.

Crafted of interesting curves, The Birds, the Bees and the Monkees thoroughly represents the band’s ability for stretching boundaries and creating imaginative impressions while doing so. To be sure, the Monkees garnered the majority of affection from the pre-teen set, but those listening closely to their music knew all along how phenomenal they really were.

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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