Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Monkees: "Changes" (1970/1994 Reissue) CD Review

This was the final album by The Monkees until they reunited in the mid-1980s. Most of the songs were written by Jeff Barry, who also produced the album.

The cover of Changes shows just two Monkees: Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz. They were the only members left in 1970, when the bulk of this album was recorded. Incidentally, Davy and Micky were the two actors of the group and so it's interesting that they're the ones who stuck it out the longest after the television series had been canceled.

Peter Tork had left the group after the film Head. Michael Nesmith remained with the group for two more albums, Instant Replay (1969) and The Monkees Present (1969). There was a joke at the time that either Davy or Micky would leave the band and the other would carry on as The Monkee. Of course, that didn't happen. Changes did not do well, and that was the group's final album until they reunited in the mid-1980s.

"Oh My My" Is The Album's Single

The CD opens with "Oh My My," the one single from the album. It's certainly one of the best songs, but it reached only #98 on the charts. Micky sings, "You, you make my heart sing/You make my life worthwhile/I feel such there's so much to discover/To uncover it is gonna take a while." The single was released in April of 1970, two months before Changes. This song was also included on the compilation Daydream Believer And Other Hits.

"You're So Good To Me"

"You're So Good To Me" is a pretty cool song, written by Jeff Barry and Bobby Bloom. The chorus is "You're so good to me/I'm hooked on the things you do/You're so good to me/Tell me what can I do for you."

The song "99 Pounds" is a straight-forward rock and roll tune, really the only one of its kind on this album. "Do You Feel It Too?" is a fun, bright pop rock tune on which Davy Jones does lead vocals.

"I Love You Better"

"I Love You Better" is actually a seriously good and fun song. It's totally catchy. Sure, it's bubblegum pop in a way, but so was a lot of the great early Monkees material. It was written by Jeff Barry and Andy Kim, and included as the flip side on the "Oh My My" single.

"All Alone In The Dark"

The last three songs are among the best on this album, and none of these were written by Jeff Barry. "All Alone In The Dark" was written by Steven Soles and Ned Albright. It features a catchy goofy rhythm, some odd vocals and a kazoo. It's just a sweet, silly, loveable song.

"Midnight Train" by Micky Dolenz

"Midnight Train" is a very cool song written by Micky Dolenz. Micky sings, "Well don't you worry your pretty little head/'Cause you never gave a dang what I did or said/That's why I'm packin' to leave this place/Can't stand to look at your cheatin' face."

When The Monkees television program was revived, some of the songs from this album were mixed into the show, replacing the original songs. "Midnight Train" in particular was used this way in a hope to boost sales of this record. Sadly, it didn't work.

"I Never Thought It Peculiar"

"I Never Thought It Peculiar" is a song that Davy Jones sings lead on. It has horns and strings, and includes a quick waltz section and then some interesting guitar work. This one was written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, who penned many of The Monkees hits. The lyrics are simple, but they work in the same way that some of the early Davy songs worked. Here is a bit of the lyrics: "So I sent some flowers to your doorstep/And wrote on the card, 'I love you'/I don't know why, but I do know that I/Had a feeling that you liked me too."

"Midnight Train" and "I Never Thought It Peculiar" were recorded earlier than the other material. The first ten songs were recorded in early 1970.

Bonus Tracks

This re-issue contains three bonus tracks. The first is "Time And Time Again." Written by Bill Chadwick and Davy Jones, this song was also included on the "Missing Links" album.

"Do It In The Name Of Love" and "Lady Jane" are from The Monkees' final recording session with Jeff Barry in September 1970. They were later issued on Bell Records under the name Mickey Dolenz & Davy Jones. Yes, they spelled Micky's name with an "e." That was a single that was released in 1971, and which did not appear on the Billboard chart. Both songs were written by Bobby Bloom and Neil Goldberg.

Both Micky and Davy sing lead on "Lady Jane," each taking different lines. It's a pretty cool song, though it does get a bit repetitive.

Jeff Barry

This album in many ways is Jeff Barry's baby. He produced ten of the original twelve tracks. He wrote or co-wrote seven of those songs.

Released in 1970, this album did not originally chart at all (the only Monkees album to have this distinction). Not until it was re-released on vinyl in 1986 did it find a place on the charts.
This re-issue was released by Rhino Records in 1994.

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