Saturday, March 31, 2012

West, Bruce and Laing: The Doctor

I am reminded of the old commercial for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that stated, “You’ve got peanut butter on my chocolate!” “You’ve got chocolate on my peanut butter!” Well for our bubbling under hit today, it may be fitting to say, “You’ve got Cream on my Mountain and you’ve got Mountain on my Cream” with the power trio of West, Bruce, and Laing. The band included Jack Bruce from Cream and Leslie West and Corky Laing from Mountain.

The combination of band members is not that unusual as the connecting piece to both bands was the late Felix Pappalardi. While not associated with West, Bruce, and Laing per se, he was the producer of several Cream albums where he contributed the arrangements, songwriting, and session musician talents beginning with “Disraeli Gears.” He later formed Mountain with Leslie West and performed as the bassist, songwriter, and producer of that ensemble.

West, Bruce and Laing was formed in 1972 after Mountain disbanded. Since the time of Cream’s breakup in 1968, Bruce had worked on a number of projects including some jazz and solo recording work. West, Bruce and Laing was Bruce’s first opportunity to rejoin a touring band. Their debut album, “Why Dontcha” was their best selling album in the US and it subsequently charted at #26.

“The Doctor” was one of those songs which album rock stations adored. It features great slide guitar work and vocals of Leslie West and the driving bass of Jack Bruce. Laing played both drums and rhythm guitar on the album. A revised version of West, Bruce and Laing was resurrected in 2009 with Jack Bruce’s son Malcolm joining Leslie West and Corkey Laing.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Joe Cocker: St. James Infirmary Blues

This was a busy week of which I spent a couple of days in Tennessee – so, I am quite behind on my blog posts. Today, I thought I’d make it up with a traditional tune that was released by Joe Cocker in 1972. While “St. James Infirmary Blues” was the flipside of “Pardon Me Sir,” the single was not a big national seller. I remember it getting airplay in Pittsburgh and I bought the single. The “A” side peaked at #51.

The song was originally based on an English folk song named “The Unfortunate Rake” and was adapted by Irving Mills who used the pseudonym of Joe Primrose on his published version. Louis Armstrong made the first recorded version of “St. James Infirmary Blues” in 1928. This live version comes from Cocker’s self-titled fourth (“Joe Cocker”), which is not to be confused with his similarly titled second LP “Joe Cocker!” that was released in 1969.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Moody Blues: Blue World

“The Present,” the 1983 album by The Moody Blues, was the final LP on the band’s label Threshold Records. It was the tenth album to feature the team of Justin Hayward and John Lodge who were not part of the original band and were not present on their first LP “The Magnificent Moodies” in 1965.

It is interesting to note that the first album, which is radically different from their later material, is not really counted in the scheme of things.  The later version of the band preferred counting the albums from 1967's “Days of Future Passed.”

The eighth album by the band was called “Seventh Sojourn” and the ninth as “Octave.” The information that this, the eleventh album (not counting the compilation) is subtlety identified on the cover as the tenth album.

The album’s artwork is inspired by Maxfield Parrish’s most famous painting “Daybreak”; however, the young lady standing has her arms crossed in an “X” pattern for the Roman numeral for 10.

The author with Patrick Moraz, 1986

This was the second LP to feature Patrick Moraz who was credited as a full member of the band, but was denied rights to future sales royalties under the premise that he was not actually a member of the band, but rather a sideman. This is despite crediting as such and fully participating in the band’s tours for over 13 years.  His work is all over today's feature cut.

US Promotional 12" Maxi Single

“Blue World” was the first of three singles to be released from this album; however, while it performed better on the Mainstream Rock chart at #32, it failed to crack the Top 40 and peaked at #62. Released in August 1983, the song also crossed over to the clubs, but failed to chart on the dance charts.

While the single was released in blue vinyl elsewhere in the world, it was not in the US. “The Other Side of Life,” released in 1986, would have that honor in the US. “Blue World” is a great tune that should have done better, but alas, there must have been a reason for its poor charting performance.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Beatles: Don't Let Me Down

Although credited to Lennon and McCartney, today’s Friday Flipside was a John Lennon composition that was written as a love song to Yoko Ono. Credited on the single to The Beatles with Billy Preston, “Don’t Let Me Down” was the “B” side to “Get Back” – another tune that featured Billy Preston. Preston is playing an electric piano on this cut.

Both songs were recorded on January 28, 1969 with “Get Back” charting at #1 and “Don’t Let Me Down,” which garnered significant airplay, peaked at 35. Two days after recording the studio version, the band re-recorded the on their roof top session that appeared in the film “Let it Be.”

Alternate Studio Take Synched to the Live Footage

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spandau Ballet: True

I heard today’s TV Thursday tune on a Chevy Malibu commercial. It may be the only non musical related commercial to make a direct reference to the artist and the song – Spandau Ballet’s “True.” I loved the album of the same name, and especially its title cut which was the biggest hit of their career. I was also partial to the third single, “Communication,” which didn’t fare nearly as well.

“True” was the third album for the band and provided a different sound for the band as Steve Norman, who had been playing guitar for “Spandau Ballet,” introduced saxophone and percussion – his new focus changed the band’s sound forever and for the better. As with the previous albums, guitarist and keyboardist Gary Kemp wrote all of the material. “True,” the song, was a perfect vehicle to show off Tony Hadley’s vocals.

“True” (the single) charted on four of Billboard's charts:  #76 on the R&B singles, #34 on the Mainstream Rock chart, #4 on the Hot 100, and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. The album peaked at #19.  For the its 20th anniversary, the album was remastered and reissued in 2003.

Chevy Malibu Commercial

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ali Thomson: Take A Little Rhythm

Here’s a one-hit-wonder that reminds me of my time at WAMX (the original one at 94.1) in Ashland, KY. Released in 1980, Ali Thomson’s “Take a Little Rhythm” was his only single to chart on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in the top 40. Thomson, a native of Scotland, was the younger brother of Dougie Thomson who played bass in Supertramp.

“Take a Little Rhythm” has a killer sax solo and the occasional usage of one my favorite percussion instruments – the vibraslap. The acoustic guitar is crisp, the bass engaging, and tasteful, yet occasional, fills from a Rhodes piano.

The overall production on this song is great. It’s too bad that it only peaked at #15. Thomson, who spends most of his musical time as a songwriter, re-recorded “Take A Little Rhythm” in 1996. Unfortunately, the remake failed in capturing the magic created by the original release on A&M Records.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Brian Auger's Oblivion Express: Happiness is Just Around the Bend

Back during my first month of this blog, I featured an exposé of WHAM jazz announcer Harry Abraham and his show “The Best of All Possible Worlds.” He didn’t feature a great deal of vocal jazz, but one he did play a number of times was Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express’ “Happiness is just around the Bend.” After hearing this cut a few times, I went out and purchased the album “Live Oblivion, Volume 2,” which included a version of the song recorded at the Whiskey a Go Go in Hollywood.

I eventually purchased the 1973 album “Closer to it!” that contained the original studio version of “Happiness is just around the Bend.” I think what attracted me to this song was Auger’s fantastic keyboard runs on his Rhodes piano. Having just purchased a Wurlitzer electric piano in 1976, I was interested in listening to other keyboardists.

Although I will never have the ability that Auger has in one pinky, listening to his music is as inspiring now as it was in the mid 1970s. In addition to the Rhodes on this cut, Auger plays a Moog synthesizer. Other musicians on this cut include Barry Dean, Jack Mills, Lennox Laington, and Godfrey McLean.

The original album cover had a blue texture cover that overlaid with silver foil. This was quite an expensive proposition for any record company and soon RCA would release the cover with a faux texture printed and silver ink where the foil once was located. The album charted at 64 on the Top 200 Albums chart, at #59 on the R&B Albums chart, and #6 on Billboard’s Jazz chart.

Live Version from Live Oblivion, Volume 2

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Hooters: All You Zombies

Today’s spiritual Sunday song has an unusual title – “All You Zombies.” It was recorded by The Hooters – a band that was named after Rob Hyman’s frequent use of a Hohner Melodica. While I’ve never heard the reason for the use of the term “zombies” in this song, I theorize that it is a reference to the spiritually dead that appear somewhat alive.  The song draws heavily on the Judeo-Christian stories of Moses and Noah. No doubt it was inspired by Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian’s own Jewish roots.

I picked this song for two reasons – the mandolin parts played by Eric on his Hohner mandolin.  Rob plays a clavinet – probably a Hohner as well, as they made the original clavinets. I had a chance to meet these guys in 1986 – they were quite pleasant fellows and I enjoyed the brief repartee we shared backstage when they opened for Journey in Charleston, WV. Oh yeah, the other reason – tonight concludes the second season of “The Walking Dead” on AMC. Get it – zombies. This live version was recorded in 2009.

Earlier Version from 1983

“All you Zombies” was originally released as a live cut on a single in 1982; however, I am unable to find a copy of that particular version to feature. In 1983, a studio version was recorded and released on the band’s first album “Amoré.”

This arrangement is quite different from the one they later recorded for Columbia Records in 1985.

The Hit Version

With Rob Hyman’s co-authorship of Cindy Lauper’s hit “Time After Time,” The Hooters were in position for a major record deal and were signed to Columbia Records in 1984. “All You Zombies,” the first single from 1985’s “Nervous Night,” only charted at 58; however, it was a favorite of album radio in the mid 80s.

Personally, I like this version best. I remember Columbia Records promoting me on it and giving it some airplay, but it was the follow-up of “And We Danced” that really pushed the album to gold status. In 1986, Columbia awarded me with a gold album/cassette award for my early belief in this band from Philly.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Horslips: Speed the Plough

Well since I’m 1/32 Irish via my McAnulty ancestry and 1/32 Scots-Irish through my Jamison forebears, I am claiming my right to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day today. What better way to celebrate this auspicious day than to wear the green and play one of the most underrated bands from the Emerald Isle: Horslips.

I credit two individuals for sparking my interest in this band that is little known in the US. In 1979, Joyce Burley McCracken, a fellow graduate assistant in the speech department at Marshall University, gave me some promo copies of albums that her brother, who had worked in a WEA (Warner-Elektra-Atlantic) warehouse, had given to her. Among those four of five albums, three stand out in my memory Casey Kelly’s “For Sale” on Elektra, Greenslade’s debut album on Warner Brothers, and Horslips’ “Happy to Meet – Sorry to Part” on ATCO.

A few months later Dave Alley on West Virginia Public Radio turned me onto the rockier side of Horslips with cuts from their legendary LP, “The Book of Invasions.” This particular LP was the first of a trilogy of concept albums that told the history of the Irish people over the centuries. This first album which discussed the various invasions of Eire was followed by an album dealing with the potato famine immigrants called “Aliens.” The third album was from the perspective of the Irish in the US and was titled “The Man Who Built America.” I have all three and have featured cuts from the first two.

Today’s tribute to the Irish people comes from the second of this rock trilogy, “Aliens.” The album produced several singles; however, in America only “Sure the Boy was Green” was the only 45 release. We featured this about a year ago. In Ireland, the instrumental “Exiles” was released as a single with “Speed the Plough” as its “B” side. In the UK, however, “Speed the Plough” was the pick release. It is that song with its iconic guitar riffs and leads that I am featuring today as our “Bubbling Under” hit. By the way, “Aliens” was the band’s bestselling album in the US. It charted in 1977 at #98.

Live Version of Speed the Plough and Sure the Boy was Green

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Crabby Appleton: Go Back

A few weeks ago at work we were talking about the “Tom Terrific” cartoon that appeared on Captain Kangaroo. Tom’s sidekick was “Mighty Manfred the Wonderdog” and their common enemy was “Crabby Appleton.” I hadn’t thought of this very rudimentary cartoon for years and began thinking of the band that was named for the cartoon’s antagonist.

Crabby Appleton (the band) was formed in Los Angeles when the band Stonehenge added Michael Fennelly to their lineup. Fennelly, who had performed with The Millennium and Sagittarius, became Crabby Appleton’s principal vocalist, songwriter, and guitarist.

The band scored one hit – a one-hit-wonder in 1970 with the tune “Go Back.” This really was a formula record with a recognizable hook and a great sound – it’s a shame that it did not chart higher than #36. I love the lead guitar on this number.

Bad timing, bad promotion, and a thousand other reasons could be given for why “Go Back” wasn’t a top 20 hit. Pity.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Jeff Beck & the Jan Hammer Group: Freeway Jam

I’ve mentioned before about the record store in Huntington, WV that was selling promo copies of new recordings and that eventually landed the proprietor in prison. The prices were well below retail on these albums that sometimes had stickers hiding the stamp stating “Promotional Copy – Not for Sale.”

As a poor college student – eh, let me rephrase that – as a college student with limited financial resources, I often frequented this store. In 1977, I picked up a white label copy of “Jeff Beck with the Jan Hammer Group Live.” What a great album that stretched the bounds of Jeff Beck’s guitar and Jan Hammer’s keyboard techniques.

The album kicked off with a song written by the Jeff Beck Group’s keyboardist Max Middleton. While the album is great in its entirety, “Freeway Jam” received a modicum of airplay on the progressive stations. It’s a cut you never hear today, and if you’ve never heard it before, I hope you enjoy. The keyboard created horns at the beginning are reminiscent of Kraftwerk’s “Autobahn.” That’s where the similarities end.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Cactus: Evil

Here’s one for all of you 1970s hard rock (i.e. the term before heavy metal was coined) fans. Cactus was formed from the rhythm section of Vanilla Fudge: Tim Bogert on bass and Carmine Appice on drums. They were joined by guitarist Jim McCarty and vocalist Rusty Day who also played harmonica. McCarty is not to be confused with the musician of the same name that played drums for the Yardbirds and later acoustic guitar in Renaissance and Illusion. Different strokes – different folks.

Our bubbling under hit, “Evil” was released as a single from their third album “Restrictions.” I believe it is the only one of theirs I have, although over the years I’ve been tempted to get “‘Ot ‘n’ Sweaty,” which featured a new lineup of the band, yet retaining their classic rhythm section. It was the last album by the band until they reformed in 2006 with Bogert, Appice, McCarty, and new vocalist Jimmy Kunes. The original vocalist, Rusty Day, was killed in a triple homicide in 1982 that was related to a drug deal gone wrong.

Cactus was to be a new super-group featuring Bogert and Appice from Vanilla Fudge and Rod Stewart and Jeff Beck from the Jeff Beck group. Unfortunately, Beck was injured in a car accident that disabled him for a year and in the meantime Stewart and Ron Wood joined forces with the remaining members of the Small Faces to become Faces.

This setback caused Bogert and Appice to look for a new crew and they asked McCarty who had been with Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels and The Buddy Miles Express to replace Beck. Day, Stewart’s replacement, was another Detroit area musician having recently been the vocalist with Ted Nugent’s band The Amboy Dukes. Bogert and Appice eventually did get to join up with Jeff Beck in the power trio appropriately known as Beck, Bogert, and Appice.

The Original by Howlin’ Wolf

Although “Restrictions” lists Chester Burnett (Howlin’ Wolf) as the author of “Evil,“ Chess Records’ session bassist Willie Dixon actually composed this 1954 hit for Howlin’ Wolf. Howlin’ Wolf’s remake of the tune also incorrectly lists him as the writer.

On the original 78 of the single, the song is title “Evil is Goin’ On.”

Howlin’ Wolf’s Psychedelic Remake

In 1968, the Wolf went back into the studio and re-recorded “Evil.” It was released on the LP, “This is Howlin’ Wolf’s New Album . . . He doesn’t Like it . . . He didn’t like his Electric Guitar at First.” Because of such a long title, it is generally known as “Howlin’ Wolf’s New Album”; however, Chess cataloged the LP as “The Howlin’ Wolf Album.”

Hate it he did – especially the wah-wah guitar, but Howlin’ Wolf complained that Marshall Chess’ characterization of him hating his electric guitar was incorrect, as Howlin’ Wolf considered himself an early adopter of the electric guitar.

“Evil” proved to be Howlin’ Wolf’s last charting single as it made it to 43 on the Hot 100. You can tell which version influenced Cactus to record.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Creedence Clearwater Revival: Who'll Stop The Rain

Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Who’ll Stop the Rain” was the “B” side of a double sided hit record. It’s “A” side was “Travelin’ Band” and both peaked on Billboard’s Hot 100 at #2 in 1970. Its associate album, “Cosmo’s Factory,” sported three top 5 double sided singles – that’s quite a feat.

John Fogerty wrote the song as a subtle protest against the Vietnam War that also included the reference to the pouring rain at Woodstock in 1969. The rocking “Travelin’ Band” and its flip, the acoustic driven “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” couldn’t be two different sounding songs to be featured on the same single.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Bo Diddley: Road Runner

Our TV Thursday, we feature the song used in the latest Mazda Skyactiv commercial. While the commercial didn’t use the original recording of “Road Runner” that Bo Diddley released in 1960, they used a faster tempo and higher pitched version of the song. I believe it is the same live version that appears to be filmed in Europe that provided the commercial’s backing track. In fact, in the 90 second version has a clip from this video.

Bo’s original charted at #75 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and #20 on the R&B chart. In this video, Bo is playing his signature rectangular Gretsch G6138 guitar. The guitar is fitted with Gretsch's famous FilterTron pickups - their answer to Gibson's Humbucker.

Mazda Commercial

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Malo: Suavecito

About a month ago, my old college friend Greg Rector asked me to feature this great one-hit wonder from 1972. You may not remember the group or the name of the tune, but you will remember the song. I remember when I was at WCIR in Beckley, WV and Ron Hill played this on the air - one of the part time jocks (who shall remain nameless) said to me, "I really love that song, Mamacita." I didn't have the heart to correct her. Malo’s “Suavecito” is a beautiful tune that sadly only made it to #18 on the US charts.

Founded by Arcelio Garcia and Jorge Santana, the younger brother of Carlos Santana, Malo was a cross between Latin music and the horn bands like Chicago and The Tower of Power, Blood, Sweet, and Tears and others who were wildly popular during the early 1970s. Like Santana, they were based in San Francisco, which happens to be one of my favorite cities to visit. 

The original version of the song was love poem written by Richard Bean for a girl in his high school algebra class. Bean, the band’s timbale player, sang the lead with guitarist Abel Zarate and percussionist Arcelio Garcia adding harmonies.

You’ll notice this album version of this song is a bit different from the original single. Besides the obvious difference of three minutes in length, the bridge found in the album version was completely eliminated. It is almost a surprise to hear it for the first time. In addition, there is a real ending to this song unlike the fade on the single.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Baskery: Here to Pay My Dues

It’s Tasty Licks Tuesday and one of my indy favorite bands is Baskery from Sweden. The three Bondesson sisters have been termed as rockabilly, punkabilly, and “mad country music.” Whatever they’re called, I like their rockin’ beat and impeccable harmony vocals.

Today’s song, “Here to Pay Our Dues” features oldest sister Greta playing the amplified, distorted six-string banjo. If you call it a banjar, banjitar, ganjo or guitar banjo, I understand that she’ll correct you – “It’s a six string banjo.” This is one of the few cuts where she doesn’t play slide on this marriage between a guitar and a banjo. The instrument was created for guitarists who wanted to add a banjo sound to their repertoire without learning a new instrument.

As always, Greta handles the percussion. Middle sister Stella rocks out on the dog house bass and the youngest sibling Sunniva plays the guitar. Enjoy. This version was recorded live in Germany in March 2009.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

David Bowie: Cat People (Putting Out Fire)

It’s Saturday and once again we feature a bubbling under song from the past – in fact David Bowie’s “Cat People (Putting out Fire)” may be one of the few songs to be released four times within an 12 month period. The highest chart position this dark theme to the movie “Cat People” ever reached was #67 in 1982.

Three’s Company

For the 1982 remake of the 1942 horror movie “Cat People,” Georgio Moroder was contracted for the film score and after writing the music for the theme song, he asked David Bowie to write lyrics and sing the theme which he did.

The soundtrack was released on MCA’s Backstreet Records label and the single was released three different times to support the film. It was first released as an “A” side with “Paul’s Theme” as the “B.” The single was released a second time with “Cat People” flipped to the “B” side. It’s third release saw “Cat People” again as the “A” side.

Fourth Time’s a Charm

With the release of Bowie’s monumental “Let’s Dance” album in 1983, he re-recorded “Cat People” and it appeared as the “B” side to the album’s title cut. Bowie’s intention was to use the original cut, but MCA would not license the recording to him – so he did it again.

I actually prefer the remake to the original. It has a killer solo guitar by Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Monkees: Words

I vacillated on what I wanted to do with today’s post as I thought about doing another Monkees’ tune in the wake of the death of Davy Jones. Good idea, bad idea – I couldn’t decide until I saw Mike Nesmith’s post on the death of his former bandmate. I have recreated Mike’s post below.
‘All the lovely people. Where do they all come from?’ So many lovely and heartfelt messages of condolence and sympathy, I don't know what to say, except my sincere thank you to all. I share and appreciate your feelings.

While it is jarring, and sometimes seems unjust, or strange, this transition we call dying and death is a constant in the mortal experience that we know almost nothing about.

I am of the mind that it is a transition and I carry with me a certainty of the continuity of existence. While I don’t exactly know what happens in these times, there is an ongoing sense of life that reaches in my mind out far beyond the near horizons of mortality and into the reaches of infinity.

That David has stepped beyond my view causes me the sadness that it does many of you. I will miss him, but I won't abandon him to mortality. I will think of him as existing within the animating life that insures existence. I will think of him and his family with that gentle regard in spite of all the contrary appearances on the mortal plane. David’s spirit and soul live well in my heart, among all the lovely people, who remember with me the good times, and the healing times, that were created for so many, including us.

I have fond memories. I wish him safe travels.

That was a beautiful sentiment from a true friend. I have decided to include the “B” side of “Pleasant Valley Sunday” as our Friday Flip Side.

While Davy Jones only sang backup on “Words,” it’s still a great tune that features Mickey Dolenz on lead vocals and Peter Tork on the answer parts. While “Pleasant Valley Sunday” peaked at #3, “Words” made it a double sided hit as it charted at #11.

Original Version

The band recorded the tune twice with the first recording in August 1966 under the direction of the songwriters and producers: Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. It was originally intended for the LP “More of the Monkees,” but was not released at that time.

The original appeared in the episode “Monkees in Manhattan.” Different from the later released version, the original is quite nice with extra lead guitar, a flute lead, and a backwards guitar part.

Hit Version

In 1967, The Monkees returned to the studio and rerecorded “Words” and it was subsequently released on the LP “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, and Jones Ltd.”

Peter Tork played a Hammond organ on this cut in place of the flute lead on the original. This second version was featured in two episodes: “Monkees in Texas” and “Monkees’ Paw.”

Thursday, March 1, 2012

In Memory of Davy Jones

Yesterday, it was an end of an era as one of The Monkees, Davy Jones, passed away at the age of 66 from an apparent heart attack. The Monkees spoke to an era and not just to the American populous – in fact, The Beatles were fans of the zany humor of this made-for-TV band.

I remember hearing “Last Train to Clarksville” in 1966 in Grayson, Kentucky. I’ve told that story on this blog at least once and it was memorable occasion for a 10 year old who had also just visited a radio station for the first time in his life. On Monday nights, I begged to watch the TV show.

Davy Jones was part of this quartet of contrived performers that later morphed into musicians in their own right – all had been singers, but only Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith were musicians prior to The Monkees project. Much of the TV series was based on unusual film techniques – some of which had been previously used by The Beatles in their first film “Hard Day’s Night.”

While all four had gone through the audition process, Davy Jones current contract with both Screen Gems and Columbia Pictures’ COLPIX Records label, the forerunner to the COLGEMS label, may have pushed him to the top of the list. His boyish charm, good looks, and English accent didn’t hurt either. The former jockey and actor from the stage production of Oliver would gain international renown with teenage girls everywhere. His five feet three inch stature wasn’t a hindrance – it only put him closer in size to his adoring fans.

A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You

While Mickey Dolenz was the primary lead vocalist, Davy Jones contributed his voice to several of the band’s biggest hits. Written by Neil Diamond, “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit Me” was the first single to feature Davy Jones. Although charting at #1 on Cashbox’s charts, it just missed the #1 slot on Billboard’s Hot 100 by peaking at #2.

 Released in early 1967, “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You,” did not appear on any of the original album releases by The Monkees. Although The Monkees’ name appears on the single, Davy Jones is the only member of the group appearing on the recording which was produced by Jeff Barry. Some sources suggest that Neil Diamond appears as a back-up vocalist on this hit.

Daydream Believer

“Daydream Believer,” Davy Jones’ second single release with the band, proved to be The Monkees’ second biggest single as it held the number one slot for four weeks. It was only eclipsed by “I’m A Believer,” which held the top slot for seven weeks.

Originally intended for release on the album “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones Ltd,” the song was shelved for release in late 1967. It appeared on the album “The Birds, The Bees, & The Monkees,” and was the only cut on that album that included Peter Tork. Tork plays piano while Mike Nesmith played the lead guitar.

“Daydream Believer” was composed by John Stewart of the Kingston Trio and who later had a 1979 hit with “Gold.” The 7A in the banter at the beginning of the cut was the take number of the song. Chip is the producer Chip Douglas.


“Valleri” was written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart at the behest of Don Kirshner to have a song with a girl’s name for the TV show. Boyce and Hart brought in The Candy Store Prophets to provide the backing music and Louie Shelton provided the flamenco inspired guitar leads. The song was featured in season one of the show.

The song was so popular from season one, that COLGEMS, The Monkees’ label, insisted that “Valleri” be rerecorded. Although Boyce and Hart’s arrangement was not used, it was nearly copied by hiring The Candy Store Prophets and Louie Shelton to recreate the backing track. The label felt the song needed additional punch and added the brass section.

Following its March 1968 release, “Valleri” was the last Top 10 hit for The Monkees. It was a number one record in Cashbox and peaked at #3 on the Hot 100. Like “Daydream Believer,” “Valleri” appeared on “The Birds, The Bees, & The Monkees.”

While Davy Jones only had the opportunity to have three hits with The Monkees, it proves that he had the ability to go beyond a contrived TV role to real superstardom. RIP Davy Jones – you’ll be missed.