Friday, March 30, 2012

Misplaced Songs - 04/14/12 - "Circle Sky"

This edition of misplaced songs features an inorganic band trying to make a hit out of a song multiple times.

The Monkees sprouted from the Beatles movie "A Hard Day's Night." The idea was to make a TV show in that vein - a handsome quartet finding itself involved in various hijinks. A casting call was done and 2 musicians and 2 actors were cast as the Monkees. Micky Dolenz and the recently deceased Davy Jones were the actors while Peter Tork and Michael Nesmith were the musicians. The producers got some talented songwriters and had one of the Monkees sing lead while backing vocals and music were provided by session musicians. Early on, the Monkees didn't work with each other at all in the studio and only spent time together filming the shows.

They got to know each other better and, led by Nesmith, eventually took over musical direction of the group. Micky was the drummer (and not a very good one, according to Mr. Wikipedia), Peter and Mike continued to improve as true musicians while Davy learned a few chords on the guitar and played various percussion instruments, like maracas and the ever-present tambourine.*

*Jenny wonders how his hands weren't permanently bruised.

They had great musical success under the original studio contract which continued when they took over musical direction. After two seasons of the show the boys thought the wacky hijinks had run its course and wanted to make the show more of a variety show with weekly guests. NBC agreed the show had run its course but decided to cancel it instead of changing formats. Unfortunately, the show was a great way for them to promote their records. They never had the same popularity after the cancellation.

Nevertheless, the next move was creating the movie "Head" which had little promotion and was a way for the Monkees to end their TV created persona. The movie bombed. In the next few years the group slowly dissolved.

They had a huge comeback in 1986 when MTV started showing Monkees reruns. This led to a greatest hits album and a few new songs that Mike didn't appear in. Some (well, at least Micky) think it was because he didn't need the money but I tend to think it was because he was enjoying producing too much.

So that brings us to 1996. What? Why? What happened in '96? Why wasn't anyone notified? Well, it just wasn't the right time. The boys actually got together and wrote an album, called Justus and a TV movie called Hey, Hey, It's the Monkees.  The record included mostly new songs and one remake. The movie was actually kind of clever. The concept was that they had continued to live as in the television show, in the same apartment, and had various adventures for the last 30 years. These adventures just hadn't been broadcast. Frequently someone would show up at the door with an issue and one of the boys would respond, "We already did that, in episode 316" or some other nonsense. It was a nice concept but the execution was, well, okay. It was clever but not very funny.

The movie didn't do so well, Mike quit the associated tour before it hit the US and it all fizzled out.

So why mention all this? Because I happen to love the version of "Circle Sky" that's on Justus and featured in the movie. This is a remake of the song originally on Head but I think this sounds better. It's a Mike song but it's not in Mike's usual country genre. Instead it's kind of punk with an inverted guitar sound and some great drumming (credited to Micky!) This was the single released with Justus and it did nothing. But because of my screwed up brain, whenever this song comes on I replay it.

I included both the original and the newer version. Most critics prefer the older version but I like the newer one. It sounds clearer to me. The Head version is first. If I didn't embed the second version correctly skip ahead to the 4:10 mark to start the song.

The Monkees - Circle Sky (From the movie "Head") from Andre Peniche on Vimeo.

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