Monday, August 2, 2010
The MONKEES STORY
I often wonder, does it seem strange to today's younger generation that there was such controversy over a pre-fabricated group that didn't play their own instruments. As the years have rolled on, there's been several hit bands put together under the same premise without any controversy. However, the late 60s were a different time in music: Wanting to be hip and cool and artistic instead of rich and famous were the norms not the exceptions; and of course, casting four young men, two of whom were actual musicians, into a scenario that caused them to appear fake to their peers was just asking for trouble.
Speaking of peers, unlike a lot of my own peers, I never had any trouble with The Monkees. They had a lot of great singles and their TV show was nice light entertainment. Of Course, having Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, and Neil Diamond writing songs for you gives you a big step toward having a great rock/pop song. Add in the promotional value of being on a weekly television show and showcasing some of these songs and you have a fast track to a hit song. Anyway, I never saw The Monkees as any more of a manufactured money making machine than KISS. Both groups have entertained me in their own ways and that's good enough for me.
I actually did see The Monkees once in concert in 1969, well I saw THREE Monkees, since Peter Tork wasn't touring with the band at the time. It has always surprised me that Peter was the first to initially quit the band, knowing how much Mike Nesmith disliked being a Monkee. While I don't remember anything memorable about the show, I don't recall being disappointed in the concert. I do remember that there were a few teenyboppers in the audience, but they were so few that they really stood out. The Monkees were almost upstaged by their opening act Sam and The Goodtimers (previously the backing band for The Ike and Tina Turner Revue....and with that pedigree there's no wonder they were so good). Sam and The Goodtimers also were the back up band for The Monkees during this concert, although Mike played guitar for the whole show and Mickey did a drum solo. Otherwise, Davy and Mickey just sang and banged on some tambourines from time to time.
Daydream Believers - the Monkees Story (DB) covers the group from their conception until the end of their TV show. As with any biopic, you can't look at this as a documentary. The movie is made to be entertaining with facts taking only a secondary role. The first part of DB is about the show's conception and casting for the parts, while the rest of the movie mainly concerns itself with The Monkees desire to be seen as real musicians and their struggle to gain control from the studio over their own music. What I came away with is that Davy and Mickey would have been happy just being actors playing musicians, even though they did join forces with Peter and Mike. Peter was your typical California airhead, always into TM or any other "groovy" fad and Mike was sort of a hard to get along with ass. I'm not saying any of these are correct, just that's what DB showed me about each of the characters.
All the actors did a good job with their lip synch, which sometimes is where these music biopics have a real problem. Another plus, while none of the actors were exact doubles, all four of the actors had enough of a resemblance to their real life counter parts to give an air of believability to the movie. Besides The Monkees, the only other musicians featured in DB were Jimi Hendrix (who unsuccessfully was an opener for The Monkees on one of their tours) and a brief segment where The Monkees meet The Beatles, although I only noticed John Lennon in this scene, mainly since he has a speaking part, but the credits also show Paul and George as characters.
The DVD is a real bargain since it's loaded with extras: Besides the movie and the trailer, there are three separate twenty plus minute interviews with Mickey, Peter, and Davy. I watched all three of these and found that I like the TV Mickey, Peter, and Davy MUCH better than I like the real life actors. There are also three separate commentaries by Mickey, Peter, and Davy, but by the time I had watched the interviews, I really didn't want to hear anything else these three might have to say. IF I decide I need anymore Monkees in my life, I'll stick to the TV show or the music.