Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Rant #857: Oh My My

I am still on the Monkees bent. The show was so good on Saturday night that I can't get off of it just yet, so bear with me.

In 1970, the Monkees were just about over.

The show had been cancelled by NBC in 1968, and while the group continued to spew out records, and still toured, the interest just wasn't there anymore.

After cancellation, the show went into reruns, and it was picked up by CBS, which ran it as part of its Saturday morning lineup of kids shows.

Although the Monkees' original fans, including me, were growing up, CBS knew that there was another generation to mine with the show, the kids born in the mid 1960s who were just getting old enough to know what they liked on TV.

With that in mind, the show was placed on the Saturday morning schedule, and years before MTV tapped into the Monkees' magic for another generation, they had another hit on their hands with the small fry generation.

Decisions had to be made about how to extend the Monkees' brand, and some wry choices were made to tap into this resource.

Although Mike Nesmith had, for all intents and purposes, left the band in 1969--and Peter Tork had left earlier--Nesmith still was contractually obligated to appear in some commercials with the band.

The newly formed Nerf line of products was first promoted by the Monkees in a series of commercials linked in with long-time sponsor Kool Aid. Nesmith--with Monkees lifers Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones--pushed this new product, and, well, Nerf has been part of our culture for more than 40 years now. This was the product line at its very beginnings.

The group also appeared on several cereal box records. Buy a Post Cereal, get a Monkees record on the back of the box. It was as simple as that, and thousands of records were produced in this way, probably a whole lot of them being the first Monkees' records--and the first records period--that these youngsters ever owned.

But the big ploy was to put out a record to appeal to this young segment.

Thus, the Monkees' last original record on the Colgems label was born.

"Changes" features just Micky and Davy. In fact, the cover photo is from their appearance on "The Joey Bishop Show," when Mike was still part of the band, but his part of the photo is cut.

Davy always referred to this record in negative terms as "our Andy Kim" record, and that singer/songwriter's stamp is, in fact all over the record, as a writer and producer.

It is a record for little kids, eons beneath the music the Monkees put out for their film, "Head," which probably most of their then current audience didn't see until they were in their 40s.

Even though it is a really bad record, it does have its moments, maybe two of them.

Micky's "Midnight Train" is a song that could have found its way onto any of the previous Monkees records. It is a spare production, but Micky's vocals rise it up to another level. I have heard that his sister, Coco, is also on this song, and if so, she adds to its attractiveness.

"Oh My My" was the Monkees' final, official single on the Colgems label. It is sort of a then-new amalgam of bubblegum and soul, and it features one of Micky's finest vocals.

It should have been a hit, and probably two years earlier, it would have reached the upper echelon of the singles chart. As it is, in 1970, it barely scraped into that chart at No. 98.

It wasn't for lack of trying, though. An original video was put out to run with the show to promote the single and LP. It showed Micky and Davy on motorcycles. It was the Monkees' first promotional video in two years, and it is a pretty good one, directed by Micky himself.

The album didn't even chart in its original form, but it did years later during the 1986 Monkees revival.

CBS soon dropped the show from Saturday mornings, it was picked up by ABC, ran on that network for awhile, and then went into syndication, only to be revived by MTV in 1986 ... and the rest is history.

Once woefully out of print, "Changes" today can be found today pretty easily.

As an artifact of its time, it is an LP to listen to, probably once, and put away for another time.

And that is it on the Monkees from me, at least for now.

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