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We'll pretend The New Monkees never happened
October 9, 2012 2:03 PM   Subscribe

Navigating late slash end career Monkees is a perilous minefield. HEAD (previously, previouslier) has with the luxury of time evolved from embarrassing boondoggle to a challenging and experimental piece of cinema admired for it's utter determination to be challenging and experimental. 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee has not enjoyed the same fate.

When HEAD proved to be a fizzle at the box office and the eponymous television series that set the machine into motion being cancelled in it's wake, the group was at it's breaking point. Some critics have accused the film of being the group trying to kill itself (as evidenced in the opening suicidal leap) but the film aged well enough to be seen a the statement of a band that was frustrated with its lot and trying to break free of their mold.

33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee on the other hand, shows a defeated group that has little left but loathing for themselves and even the audiences that made them famous. The story, ostensibly involving a quasi-Satanic duo of wizards brainwashing the boys so they may lull the public into a hypnotic state with their banal music and then.. take over the world? Any subtle allusions to the bands troubles with their image is done away with as they straight up play wind up robots without names.

Though there are still moments of greatness. Peter Torks number with a rare featured vocal from him is somber and pleasant with its tablas and sitars. And the closing number of Mike Nesmith's "Listen To The Band" features the band straight up playing a song and being recorded live in a manner when it all comes together you really get the sense was all they ever really wanted. And this moment of great music from them proved to be the final moment the band performed as a four piece for decades to come.
posted by mediocre (23 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
If the Monkees had never broken up, we'd have never gotten to hear Michael Nesmith's First National Band's Magnetic South.
posted by schyler523 at 2:18 PM on October 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wait, there was a group called the "New Monkees"?! *looks them up* I thought that after the New Mamas and the Papas and "A Mighty Wind", they had given up the whole premise of reinventing a group with new people. *sigh*
posted by Melismata at 2:19 PM on October 9, 2012


we'd have never gotten to hear Michael Nesmith's First National Band's Magnetic South

or Some of Shelly's Blues
posted by philip-random at 2:23 PM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


We'd also have never gotten to hear Nesmith's version of this classic.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:28 PM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought that after the New Mamas and the Papas and "A Mighty Wind", they had given up the whole premise of reinventing a group with new people.

The New Monkees happened long before "A Mighty Wind", but they were roughly contemporaneous with the New Mamas and the Papas.
posted by mykescipark at 2:33 PM on October 9, 2012


Hold on, everyone: there's a NEW Mamas and the Papas???

Why am I always the last to know about revolutionary musical acts?
posted by item at 3:01 PM on October 9, 2012


It took me a moment to figure out this wasn't a post about Monkees slash fiction.

Please nobody make that post.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 3:08 PM on October 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


I remember seeing an interview with one of the monkees in which it was said that the only reason for "Head" was so that a second film could be made, with the tagline "From the people who gave you "Head"". Sorry I don't have asource, but this is seared into my brain.
posted by efalk at 3:08 PM on October 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Though it's been a few years north of a decade since I've seen it, I really don't agree with this take on 33 1/3 RPM at all. I remember it being an interesting - if somewhat forced - slice of stoned late 60's weirdness, a half hour special that would've been too odd for television both when it was contemporary as well as in modern times. A mess? Certainly, but no more so than the belatedly-respected (and deservedly-respected) Head. It's an undeniably entertaining head-scratcher, if you happen to be into such psychedelic dodads, much like the entirety of the Monkees career.
posted by item at 3:16 PM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Towards the end of the program, my father wandered in while I was watching "33 1/3 Revolutions" and said "That's cacophony!" It was a new word to me, now I'd probably agree but my fifteen-year-old-self blamed the noise on the inclusion of Brian Auger and Trinity in a Monkees show.
posted by Rash at 3:17 PM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Welp, there went the last hour of my work day.

For those who get a bit of the way in and start watching hoping for something, let me let you down easily; at no point does anyone say the line, "I am not a number... I am a free Monkee!" which was, I'll admit, a disappointment.

Speaking of late 60s TV, fans of classic Doctor Who should not at all be surprised that this special existed within six months of the (awesome) serial "The Mind Robber" as they are pretty much cut from the exact same surrealist-fantasy-by-inexpensive-television-standards cloth (which is, of course, a selling point from my perspective)

At least for the first 20 minutes or so and Charles Darwin shows up. Then it gets even...something-er. Maybe weirder, maybe stranger, but that implies that weirdness and strangeness is a continuum. I will say that, despite some pretty neat musical moments (especially the aforementioned-in-post closing number), it doesn't really get better.

Julie Driscoll is pretty neat though. And Little Richard's outfit (about 29 minutes in) is too.

However, the ending ( mouseover for spoiler) was pretty intense for even the most drugged out of musical TV specials. I was traumatized enough when Toni Tennille stood on the beach in Hawaii, horrified when the Captain's hat washed ashore Captain-less. And that was resolved after the commercial break. I can't imagine what would have happened if I'd been alive to see this. I'm not sure I would have understood it -- but it would have been nightmare fuel nonetheless.

Also, I was going to mock the Wikipedia line:

The title is a play on 33 ⅓ Revolutions Per Minute. as obvious, until I remembered how many people wouldn't even know what the original phrase meant and had no reason to do so. And then I died a bit inside.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:19 PM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


the only reason for "Head" was so that

There have been a lot of urban legends and misconceptions about the film over the years. Almost all of them certainly originating from a source who probably genuinely remembers reading something like that.. but the memories aren't quite reliable.
posted by mediocre at 3:22 PM on October 9, 2012


I really don't agree with this take on 33 1/3 RPM at all

Well, that's the beauty of psychadelic storytelling, it's vague enough for everyone to project whatever they see as the best (or worst) interpretations. I see it as a band raging against the machine that.. ah hell, I just accidentally typed.. that phrase.. so I'm going to just stop now before I devolve into any further pretentious nonsense.
posted by mediocre at 3:27 PM on October 9, 2012


Oops, I went through the trouble of taking a screen shot of Little Richard's outfit but forgot to link it.

(Quality isn't great though - I really suggest taking a look at it in video in motion. On a related note, ll GIFs would be much appreciated.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:46 PM on October 9, 2012


I've watched the first three-and-a-half minutes and am struck by several things. First, in the olden dayes, an hour-long show actually had over 51 minutes of content. What's it now, 35? Second, though I've never been a fan of her Joan of Arc bowl cut, Julie Driscoll sure was purty.

Oh, and Brian Auger as demented wizard mit Tcherman accent why?
posted by the sobsister at 4:23 PM on October 9, 2012


the only reason for "Head" was so that

There have been a lot of urban legends and misconceptions about the film over the years. Almost all of them certainly originating from a source who probably genuinely remembers reading something like that.. but the memories aren't quite reliable.
posted by mediocre at 3:22 PM on October 9 [+] [!]


This was on a late night talk show, Conan most likely, but possibly Letterman. It's one of the few things about the Monkees I am sure of. It may have well been a joke, but I thought it was a pretty good explanation for the whole thing.
posted by efalk at 4:24 PM on October 9, 2012


Its funny... I haven’t thought of The Monkees in a long time. Then this photo of F1 drivers Nico Rossberg and Lewis Hamilton as kids in carting came up this morning, and it made me think of Mickey Dolenz.
posted by Huplescat at 4:35 PM on October 9, 2012


It took significant restraint from me to wait as long as I did to make this post. Since the most recent previously mentioned in-post, I have had a straight up obsession. My journaling for the last two weeks or more has just been essay after essay about the brilliance of HEAD, the anger of 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee, an absurd examination of HEAD vs Yellow Submarine (both were released in 1968, one of them a revolutionary film from a prefab fourpiece, one of them a prefab film from a revolutionary fourpiece), all of the ravings made more insane by the fact that they are handwritten on paper so I don't even have the luxury of saying I was bored and typing mindlessly requries no effort..
posted by mediocre at 5:47 PM on October 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is the world I was born into.

Well that explains quite a bit actually.
posted by mazola at 7:01 PM on October 9, 2012


an absurd examination of HEAD vs Yellow Submarine (both were released in 1968, one of them a revolutionary film from a prefab fourpiece, one of them a prefab film from a revolutionary fourpiece),

I'm just glad I was born into a universe that seems to have allowed for both. Quoting one of my Facebook friends ...

apparently aired opposite the Academy Awards that year. From Amazon commeter: "There weren't any bad reviews for this TV show because no one saw it in 1969 and the critics could care less about The Monkees at that time. It was too far-fetched for the normal public and too uncool for the hippies to watch."

Sounds about right. So it was just ten year olds like me.
posted by philip-random at 7:58 PM on October 9, 2012


I prefer my Julie Driscoll sans Monkee.
posted by sonascope at 8:17 PM on October 9, 2012


I prefer my Brian Auger more feline, less simian.
posted by mazola at 8:35 PM on October 9, 2012


I remember seeing an interview with one of the monkees in which it was said that the only reason for "Head" was so that a second film could be made, with the tagline "From the people who gave you "Head"". Sorry I don't have asource, but this is seared into my brain.

Monkees co-creator and Head writer/director Bob Rafelson: "We called it three different things at three different times," recalls Rafelson. "The first title, Changes, seemed best because changes meant something at that time - to do with hallucinations, and the cliche that the only thing you could rely on is change. And, of course, this picture was constantly changing throughout. Then we called it DASturb for a while. Today, everybody misspells words, but it was very new at the time. The third title was Head. Why? First of all, it took place in somebody's head, in Victor Mature's hair. The Monkees were dandruff. A lot of head imagery. Secondly, we knew the next movie we were making was Easy Rider. We wanted to bill that as 'From the producers who gave you Head!' Unfortunately, nobody saw Head so we couldn't use that line."
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 9:20 PM on October 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


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