Sunday, 29 June 2014

The Monkees 'Daydream Believer'

Chart Peak: 5
A perfect Summer Hit in every way... apart from the fact that it was in the chart at Christmas(!) 1967, 'Daydream Believer' actually peaked at No. 5 in January 1968. The track was an American No. 1 and did return to the U.K. Top 40 in April 1980 as part of The Monkees EP.
I'm not sure why it's only 29 tracks in that the sleeve notes spot that some of these "summer" tracks were charting at the wrong time of year, but they are indeed correct on both that and the song's re-emergence on their EP that peaked at 33 in 1980.  In fact the song was back in the US Top 100 later in 1986 in connection with a hits collection, and I guess that would have been the time I remember hearing it on the radio a lot in my primary school days. Whilst this particular retrospective coincided with a reunion of the three members who weren't independently wealthy, Monkees best-ofs seem to emerge on an almost fortnightly basis. Perhaps this is a sign of the odd position they now occupy in pop history, both terribly cool to the knowledgeable and yet still carrying a burden of naffness to others, whilst also massive pop faves who induce nostalgia to many of a certain generation. Indeed, my mum was a (very) young Monkees fan back in the 1960s, whilst I had a boss who was only slightly older and hated them because they were a manufactured band. That of course they were but to be honest, in those days there weren't many who weren't.

Certainly, even though they were only a couple of years into their career, the group were already chafing at the limitations of their original roles, particularly the two who were actually experienced musicians. This particular track was of course a showcase for Davy Jones who wasn't an instrumentalist nor even a notably good singer, though he still had standards, as the testy studio talk on the intro (not included in the video, but it is on the edit used on this album) demonstrates. Apparently he thought this was the wrong key for his voice and wasn't a fan of the song either, perhaps unfairly. To be sure, they were making more interesting music in this era under their own steam, with the likes of 'Goin Down' and 'Randy Scouse Git', but they weren't really the Beatles and didn't really have the ability to sustain a serious pop career without outside help, certainly not at the work-rate required of them. Taken on its own merits, this song is OK but not brilliant, a slightly hokey attempt to play on Davy's English charm which still mentions a "homecoming queen" in the chorus. There's an audible jadedness beyond the initial dialogue, both from the singer and the backing musicians, but if you don't listen too carefully it sounds cheery enough and it's clear how the song had a second lease of life as a football chant.

Available on: Monkeemania: The Very Best Of The Monkees

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