Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2018 May 14 • Monday

While there's a tiny bit of "score" by Ken Thorne, the 517th Soundtrack of the Week really belongs to The Monkees. The title in question is Head.

It begins with "Opening Ceremony", an intentionally weird tape collage of snippets of dialogue and music from the movie with a layer of a man and a woman intoning "Head" on top of it. It's self-consciously trippy, like much of the movie itself, and if you're not high, you can skip it.

This is followed by a genuinely brilliant bit of sunshine psychedlia, "Porpoise Song (Theme from "Head"). This is actually one of my favorite songs, dreamy anbd laidback and groovy with a "Strawberry Fields" feel to it.

After this comes the goofy "Ditty Diego — War Chant", in which the Monkees make fun of themselves and their image has a prefabricated "phony" commercial band. They speed up and slow down the tape and, like with the movie itself, generally abandon caution and have fun.

"Circle Sky" is a suprisingly hard-driving song even though the texture of it is on the smooth and gentle side. There's something about the energy and structure of it that makes it proto-punk as well as psych garage.

Then there's a short chunk of "sound" called "Supplicio".

A real song follows that, the minor-key and vaguely Middle Eastern-sounding "Can You Dig It?", agreeably groovy and swinging.

You get a couple of tracks of dialogue from the movie after that, then a real Monkees-style song, "As We Go Along", a gentle and lilting number that plays with different meters.

Another bit of dialogue from the movie and then we hear Davy's black-and-white song and dance routine, "Daddy's Song", a sweetly old-fashioned song that Frank Zappa shows up to put down in the movie, and in the next track, "Poll", as "pretty white".

"Poll" is otherwise a mishmash of music and talking. These tracks, I'm not sure if they're just there to make the record long enough for a release of they're actually supposed to be something really interesting. I can live without them.

"Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again" is a great song, and just in time, lots of energy and great playing from everybody, with a special credit due to whoever's on bass. This is one of those songs where you really notice what the bass is doing.

The record ends with some pronouncements from a "swami" while there's more intoning of "Head" and overlayed fragments of talking, sound effects and music, plus some classical-style strings by Ken Thorne.

Watching the movie is a more rewarding experience than listening to the record is, but there are some great songs on Head and The Monkees are one of those few bands that are unusually and simultaneously really popular and under-rated.