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New Michael Nesmith "best of" collection coincides with release of new memoir

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4.5 Rustys

ALBUM REVIEW: Michael Nesmith – Infinite Tuesday: Autobiographical Riffs (The Music) (Rhino Records) 2017

Fifty years ago this month, The Monkees were in the studio, recording what would be Headquarters, the first truly Monkees-crafted album.

And it was Michael Nesmith, he of the wool hat and Texas drawl who was the musical and creative force who got the ball rolling, fighting to make TV’s The Monkees a real, live band!

It’s the old Pinocchio story, but in real life. To have been a fly on the wall when Nesmith punched a hole in the wall demanding creative control of the Monkees’ music. Wow!

But that is the sort of person Michael Nesmith was and is – up to this very day, as Rhino Records releases a 14-track “best of” collection of songs that highlight “Papa Nez’s” best-known and most-loved songs over the past five decades – even including his folk-rocking, anti-war number “The New Recruit,” recorded under the name “Michael Blessing.”

This collection, titled Infinite Tuesday: Autobiographical Riffs, is accompanying a Nesmith memoir with roughly the same name – although we have not read it yet, but look forward to doing so and featuring a review here at Red Dirt Report.

On the CD, three Monkees songs that Nesmith wrote are featured: “Papa Gene’s Blues” (1966); “The Girl I Knew Somewhere” with Nesmith on lead vocal, rather than Micky Dolenz (1967); and “Listen to the Band” (1969), the song that really helped kick-off what would become the smooth country-rock explosion of the subsequent decade with groups like the Eagles, Poco and Firefall.

The track “Different Drum,” featured in more acoustic folk form here is the same song that was a hit for Linda Ronstadt & The Stone Poneys in 1967, along with “Some of Shelly’s Blues,” which Nesmith wrote and recorded in 1968 with Nashville session musicians and meant for the Monkees, but would end up on his 1973 album Pretty Much Your Standard Ranch Stash.

And with the 1970’s comes Nesmith’s forays into top-shelf country-rock songs like the criminally-underrated “Joanne” and the achingly-beautiful “Silver Moon” (both with the First National Band).

Although critics hated Nesmith’s The Prison concept album back in 1974, a track from that recording, “Opening Theme: Life, The Unsuspecting Captive,” is a beautiful song full of yearning and was thankfully included here. It’s my favorite of the Nesmith-penned tracks included on this collection which is missing Nez faves like “Tapioca Tundra,” “Nine Times Blue” and “Circle Sky.”

But perhaps one must read the memoir while listening to this disc – and synchronize them together. That would be very Nez.

Again, this song and others like the yacht-rocky “Rio” (which was accompanied by a promotional video) and the Zappa-esque “Cruisin’” show a guy who was always willing to try new musical ideas and concepts – and all with a healthy dose of humor.

Nesmith’s later material – “Light” (from 1979’s Infinite Rider On The Big Dogma), “Laugh Kills Lonesome” (from 1992’s Tropical Campfires) and “Rays” from his “New Century Modern” album Rays from 2006) – sound great as well and show a man who is comfortable in his own skin, despite his reputation as being demanding and difficult at time.

He’s an intellectual giant working within a crass industry always looking for that next “hit.” Nesmith can write hits and he can write curious and weird stuff that somehow works. I’ve always said the guy is a genius. I’m biased.

While I would give it 5 Rusties under normal circumstances, I felt the packaging was flimsy and thin. No photos or additional info included. Guess I gotta read the book soon!

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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