The Monkees – Good Times

the-monkees-good-times-cover-art-final-1200x1200

It goes without saying that I am one of those people that considers himself a Monkees fanatic. I have every album in various deluxe editions that have been released over the years. On lesser albums I’ve sifted through the filler to find the gems (there are not too many lesser albums though.) John Lennon may be one of my musical idols, but sometimes I just prefer to listen to The Monkees over The Beatles. Those late 60’s albums by the “Prefab Four” stand up to anything their peers were putting out at the time. Live, I’ve never seen all 4 at the same time. In 1997 I saw Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, and Peter Tork in Valley Forge, PA for the Justus tour. In 2012 I saw Micky Dolenz solo at a small casino just weeks after Davy Jones passed away. And in 2013 I saw Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork in downtown Seattle. All shows were memorable and expertly performed – the band members have come a long way from their origins as a make-believe band put together for a television show. A few months ago it was announced that The Monkees would be releasing a new album for their 50th anniversary. I wondered – would this be like The Beach Boys album from a few years ago (I can’t remember anything from that one) or would it be something special? The fact that the project was being produced by Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger gave me hope – I love Fountains of Wayne’s unique power pop perspective.

Continue reading

Badfinger – Without You

badfinger

Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

It’s hard to discuss anything relating to the band Badfinger without discussing the myriads of woes that plagued the band during their lifetime. Misfortune, mismanagement, and plaid old bad luck meant that the band never reached the pinnacle of success that they rightfully deserved. Originally signed to Apple Records and given a song by Paul McCartney that became a hit (you can watch Sir Paul discuss this at length in the Beatles Anthology video), the band was at its strongest when tapping into raw emotion. Power pop, classic rock, balladry – all hallmarks of the Badfinger signature sound. Without You was made famous by Harry Nilsson in 1971 and again by Mariah Carey in 1994, but both versions removed a bit of the muscle that is found on the original version by Badfinger. Originally a deep album cut on their 1970 record No Dice, it is now considered a classic, being covered by over 180 artists. Guitarist / vocalist Pete Ham had the verses, but couldn’t come up with a strong chorus. He had the perfect opening line “”Well I can’t forget tomorrow, when I think of all my sorrow, I had you there but then I let you go…”. Vocalist / bassist Tom Evans had a perfect chorus based on events in his life, but no suitable verses. The two worked together and found that “I can’t live, if living is without you, I can’t live, I can’t give any more” worked really well as the chorus to the song Pete Ham had worked on. A bit of nostalgia mixed with melancholy, it is a perfect song. Both principal songwriters would commit suicide – Pete Ham in 1975 at age 27, and Tom Evans in 1983 at age 36. Both gone too soon, making the emotional resonance of this song just a little more poignant.