Saturday, October 27, 2007

MONKEE-ING Around...
WARNING: If you are BRITISH, and SENSITIVE, proceed with caution!

I don't just collect Beatles' records. I collect all kinds of stuff; especially, obscure stuff I've read about, or items of musical notoreity, that have left their respective marks in the vast hallways of The Potentially Offensive...(no, I won't provide a picture of my "Two Virgins" album here, featuring a NUDE John and Yoko...suffice it to say, "it just ain't pretty.") I also collect Monkees' items; unfortunately, there isn't a whole lotta stuff out there to collect. I have three CD's (released by Rhino Records) that feature many, many of their previously-unreleased tracks (those three CD's total about 80 Monkees Unreleased Tracks); in addition, I have all of their albums, and all of their little 45rpm records. Unlike Beatles' U.S.A. singles, not all of the Monkees' 45's were issued with picture sleeves, but I have all of the picture sleeves that were issued with Monkees' 45's. And if you have to ask me what a '45' is, STOP READING NOW. You're not OLD enough to be reading this malarkey.

Back to the story: The Monkees were not allowed to play their own instruments on their first two albums, "The Monkees" and "More Of The Monkees". That didn't sit well with Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith, who were honest-to-goodness musicians. However, after much aggression between the group and the record company, they were allowed to play their own instruments, on their third album, "Headquarters", pictured here..

...and it's a great album, and one any group would be proud of. However, it did NOT contain any U.S. singles. Shows ya how DUMB the record company was. "Headquarters" contained some great songs, including several written by the Monkees themselves; Mike wrote three, and Micky, the drummer, wrote one, but ah, what a sweet little tune it rants and raves in an abstract manner (sorta like me); one of the lyric lines is "why don't you hate what I hate, kill who I kill to be free"...yep, that line was in a MONKEES' song. In that same song, Micky/The Monkees refer to the Beatles thusly: "The four kings of E.M.I. are sitting stately on the floor." EMI is the big worldwide conglomerate that the Beatles recorded for; the Beatles' English label (Parlophone) and American Label (Capitol) were included within the benevolent (or not) EMI corporate umbrella.

Back in '67, a couple of the Monkees actually went to England around the time the Beatles were recording "Sgt. Pepper"...I have a video of the sessions during the recording of Sgt. Pepper's closing song, "A Day In The Life", and it pictures Monkee Mike Nesmith and John Lennon sitting side-by-side, talking about who knows what (maybe they were swapping song lyrics, ha ha). Anyway, The Monkees' "Headquarters" album was released about a month after "Sgt. Pepper", back in the summer of 1967. The very last track on the "Headquarters" album is the one written by Micky (which I wrote about I'll write some more about it). The title of the song is (British folks, look away if you must) "RANDY SCOUSE GIT". The phrase is nowhere in the song, but that's the title, and this left the British record industry in a sort of a dead-end time-warp continuum...

For, you see, "Randy Scouse Git" was a very popular song in England. The record company wanted to put it out as a SINGLE. It was popular, in part, quite possibly because it mentioned the Beatles (who knows?), and we know that ALL British people, whether they know it or not, think of the Beatles as "Fab". "Gear", even. But, the phrase, "Randy Scouse Git" (the Monkees' song, remember?) is evidently patently OFFENSIVE to the British public. I hadn't known that until I read about it in a Monkees' biography several years ago. And then I found that English single on Ebay and I bought it, which re-awakened my sensibilities (what few of those are left) and I needed to find out MORE about this Monkees/Great Britain musical conflict...

Luckily for me, I knew just where to turn...way back when I first began going on the internet, I was heavily into instant-messaging, communicating with people of different cultures. (Now, I'm just a stodgy old hermit.) Back then, I made a good friend on the internet; she lives in England, and sends me all her wacky corporate jokes and forwards and I send her what little original stuff I am capable of coming up with. And she informed me as to the meaning of "Randy Scouse Git". I mean, we're going right to the SOURCE here...a genuine English Lass, with her feedback on this huge Monkee Musical Mystery...

She tells me the term "Randy" (which I had always thot of as meaning "somewhat wild") actually means one is in a state of, er, well, "intimate physical activity". Tho it's been a "long time", I haven't totally forgotten what "that" means. Next, she informed me that 'Scouse' refers to the Liverpool area of England, some sort of non-offensive descriptive, used in the same way a Texan would refer to someone from the Northern part of our nation as a "Yankee". (My Mom, who was a Texan, used that term ALL THE TIME.) And, finally, Ms. English Lady tells me that "Git", as applied to womenfolk, is somewhat analagous to calling your antagonistic Mother-In-Law a 'stupid old cow'. Okay, put 'em all together ("Randy Scouse Git"), and what you have is a horny, deranged person from the Northwestern part of England! Naturally, RCA (which issued Monkees' records in England) wasn't gonna use THAT for a, in a 1967 incident of 'Political-Correctness', here's what the record label did to "Randy Scouse Git":

...this is the ACTUAL RECORD I have in my collection. Now that I know it's OFFENSIVE, I'll treasure it always!

Yep, that's right. Instead of actually LISTENING TO THE RECORD, and coming up with a new title from another portion of the lyrics, some old "bum steer" (or 'cow', I guess) at "RCA England", gave the record the moniker, "Alternate Title"! Not very imaginative, but I guess that's par for the course for a a shirt-and-tie executive who writes memos and makes business deals in a drab London office all day long, while pretending that his boss' jokes are funny, all the while wondering what he's doing working there in the first place when the thot comes to him, "right, I've gotta keep the TAXMAN in filet mignon and Chateau Laffite '59." Add to all of this the fact that RCA was about the most conservative record labels on the planet at the time; it was a company that was totally INCAPABLE of promoting rock and roll. The "Jefferson Airplane", The "Guess Who" and The "Monkees" were pretty much all RCA had going for it in the world of Rock and Roll. Oh yeah, they had Elvis, but that's another thing entirely. So there ya go. The Monkees, The Big Corporation, and Early Political-Correctness. Who'dve thought???


I can just imagine, lurking out there are several English extremist groups armed with bombs, grenades and plastic explosives just dyin' to find out where I live so they can come over here, have a cup of tea, and then BOMB MY HOUSE as a result of reading this piece of idiocy. And, for that reason, I'll keep the name of my English source confidential as well. Although, I do wanna say, "thanks, dear, you know who you are!"


Blogger raymond pert said...

This is a great piece on the Monkees. I think the Monkees' American hits are beautiful songs, especially "Daydream Believer". I was, well, kind of thrilled, believe it or not, to read that you are such a fan and have gone so far as to collect Monkees' stuff. You taught me more about the Monkees than I have ever known in this one blog post. Good job!

10:55 AM  
Blogger Idaho Escapee said...

Hey, "Ray"...The Monkees had access to great songs written by a whole lot of good songwriters. John Stewart wrote "Daydream Believer". "I'm A Believer", written by Neil Diamond. "Last Train to Clarksville", written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. And, the Monkees themselves also wrote some great stuff. I think it's really interesting to read about obscure rock and roll history. I seem to readily grasp it and retain it...and then I 'regurgitate' it.

8:01 PM  
Blogger Starbaby said...

Dude, Great story about Randy Scouse Git. However as a Monkees Rhoades Scholar may I point out the correct way the song was renamed in merry olde,, lolly olde. While you are entirely correct that RCA wanted an Alternate Title for RSG, they went to the song writer Micky Dolenz and told him in no uncertain terms that he HAD to come up with an alternate title for the sone so they could release it in England. He wasn't particularly happy with their tone, so Micky told them Eff it, call it 'Alternate Title'. Thought you might like that little Monkees' tale.. (sorry).

2:22 PM  
Blogger Lil ol' me... said...

Starbaby, I should have known that but I didn't when I wrote it, obviously. I can just hear Micky..."alternate title, what the heck do I care"...

Kinda like Stephen Stills. In his Buffalo Springfield Days, he had a new song he wrote, and at a recording session, he said, "here's another song for you, for what it's worth"...and that's what they called the song, which explains in part why the title wasn't anywhere in the song lyrics!

12:29 AM  
Blogger jxnfan said...

Nice, tying Stephen Stills, who wanted to be a Monkee, into this Monkee story!

7:54 AM  

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