More of The Monkees
First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2006, Volume 13, #10
Written by John Metzger
In order to capitalize upon the commercial success of its self-titled debut, The Monkees (or, rather, the crew that had been assembled by mastermind Don Kirshner) quickly reconvened to begin work on the ensembleís sophomore outing. Considering that, at this stage, the group essentially was a manufactured product, itís not surprising that, in crafting the bandís subsequent endeavor More of The Monkees, Kirshner had a greater interest in repeating his triumphs than he did in allowing the act to achieve any actual artistic growth. Following a virtually identical blueprint, he copped what had worked for other artists, and the final outing featured a hodgepodge of music that, once again, was deeply enmeshed in the sounds of The Beatles and other British Invasion acts. Echoes of The Animalsí 1965 hit Itís My Life, for example, lurked inside the psychedelic, garage-rock haze of She, while (Iím Not Your) Steppiní Stone contained shades of The Yardbirdsí Heart Full of Soul. Similarly, the quartet of Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, Davy Jones, and Michael Nesmith was relegated solely to supplying vocals to the set.
The Monkeesí rapid ascendency to the top of the charts meant, however, that Kirshner was able to attract more interest from the Brill Building songwriters he had hoped would provide greater input to the ensembleís eponymous album. With Neil Sedaka, Jack Keller, Neil Diamond, and the team of Carole King and Gerry Goffin contributing material to More of The Monkees, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, in whom Kirshner never fully believed, were brushed aside, while Nesmith, once again, was limited to scripting two tracks ó Mary, Mary and The Kind of Girl I Could Love. The final outing, of course, suffered from many of the same problems that had plagued its predecessor, namely that The Monkees hadnít developed its own identity so much as it had co-opted the mannerisms of others. Aside from the joyously infectious Iím a Believer and the urgent drive of (Iím Not Your) Steppiní Stone, the bulk of the endeavor was composed of pleasantly mediocre tracks that marginally improved upon those from the groupís debut.
As was the case with the deluxe editon of The Monkeesí self-titled effort, the latest incarnation of More of The Monkees adds a plethora of bonus material to its presentation of the album in both mono and stereo formats. Still, there are no surprises on the set ó only an alternate mix of Tear Drop City was previously unreleased ó and the entirety of the extra songs merely showcase the outfitís continuing efforts to fuse British Invasion and California-bred sounds. Both the Goffin/King-penned composition I Donít Think You Know Me as well as the Boyce/Hart-scripted Iíll Spend My Life with You were influenced heavily by The Byrds, while bits of The Beach Boys surfaced within the harmonies of Through the Looking Glass, another tune that was written by Boyce and Hart. In fact, only half of the 18 supporting selections sprang from the minds of Boyce and Hart, which itself was a reflection of how far Kirshner had gone in his attempts to marginalize them as a means of maintaining his dominance over the project.
By the time that More of The Monkees was released in January 1967, the tussle for control of The Monkees was well underway. The press, which had lauded the bandís debut, suddenly had begun to assault the assembly line-oriented aspects of Kirshnerís style. This, combined with the mammoth success of the ensembleís concerts, allowed Nesmith to make a plea to the showís creators that he, Tork, Dolenz, and Jones be permitted not only to perform on but also to have a creative voice in the groupís recording sessions. Shortly thereafter, Kirshner was sacked, and a new era of The Monkees began. More of The Monkees, therefore, is the final chapter in the ensembleís turbulent birth.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box