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The Monkees Tale Paperback – August 1, 1989
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An insightful study of an often misunderstood pop phenomenon. --Goldmine Magazine
It looks fine to me! --Michael Nesmith
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However, the story goes on from this book and it would be nice if Lefcowitz updated it. In 1996, the Monkees reuinited again (this time with Mike), released one album (Justus), went on tour, and in 1997, had a hilarious hour-long TV special.
Simply put...if you want to know the story behind The Monkees, you would be MUCH better off reading either Davy or Micky's autobiography, or the excellent book by Maggie McManus & Ed Reilly "A Manufactured Image".
that being said, it truly boggles the mind what a half-assed job it turns out to be. author Eric Lefcowitz himself recently rendered it obsolete with a much more comprehensive book called Monkee Business. in this one he corrects a number of mistakes. in Tale, for instance, he states for The Record the urban legend that Charles Manson auditioned to be a Monkee. having apparently done more thorough research in the interim, he sets said record straight in Business: Manson was, let's just say, not at personal liberty at the time.
although curiously, Lecowitz does cling fast to a few other misconceptions, such as his assertion that every Monkees episode featured "two new songs." any Monkeephile can tell you...
A: songs were frequently repeated, some a little too frequently. "Last Tran To Clarksville" and "I'm A Believer" were both in about six episodes in row for no more substantial reason than to sell records.
and B: there were as many episodes with only one song, and occasionally three. a couple even managed to accommodate four!!
a similar breaking even occurs with Lefcowitz' quality judgments. take their tv special 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee. in Tale he sort of tap dances around the matter and pretty much filibusters his way out taking any sort of stand. in Business, however, he cuts to the chase and acknowledges what an unfocussed mess the thing was.
on the other hand, however, his altered stand goes wrong with one of their best songs, "Your Auntie Grizelda." for some twisted reason this delightful burlesque goes from "inspired lunacy" in Tale to "an embarrassment" in Business. your guess is as good as mine what happened there.
another misfire is his reviews of Pisces Aquarius Capricorn & Jones Ltd. while rightfully acknowledging it to be their finest album, he just sort of glosses over in Tale, and ignores completely in Business, it's two best tracks, "Love Is Only Sleeping" and "Star Collector." this is not unlike omitting "Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad" and "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" from one's review of Bat Out Of Hell.
you get the idea there. both versions are peppered with Lefcowitz' own opinions of their work. they may not always be accurate or even consistent, but you do have to admire Lefcowitz on some level for refusing to give in to the myth of objectivity.
when it comes to the story itself, Lefcowitz is an adept yarn-spinner who keep the story vibrant and the reader riveted. it's simply that Business is the better of the two efforts. if only because of how much there was to the story that Tale somehow missed. take the since oft-told tale of how one Hank Cicalo served as engineer for their first album in their own right, Headquarters, and was thanked with a songwriter credit for the band's composition "No Time." or how the instigators of the whole thing, producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, considered the phenomenon to of run it's course with their film Head, and so pretty much left the band for dead at that point. Tale literality leaves you with NO IDEA that happened!!
so ultimately, Monkee Business is the one to go for. much of the same text and even photographs made the transition from the first book. oh yes, and it does update the story by a couple of decades.