The Monkees in concert this weekend. Recorded live at Budokan Hall in Tokyo on October 4, 1968 and broadcast by Japanese National Radio Network NHK-FM.
Coming just after my taste in music shifted – going from top-40 to FM underground, I wasn’t as thoroughly immersed in all things Monkees as many were in 1968. Don’t get me wrong; I liked the band, even though there was a part of me that wondered how valid the band actually were – they were the direct result of the TV series and therefore susceptible to somewhat jaundiced asides as “are they really playing their own instruments?” – There were all sorts of rumors around at the time – many concluding the band were put together based on what they looked like and could act like – whether they actually played their own instruments was an afterthought. That it was all good fun, endearing and totally harmless was an attractive plus.
But the detractors and the pooh-poohing was coming from the somewhat cynical minority – bordering on Rock snobbishness. The bottom line; The Monkees were an extremely popular band at the time and had a string of hits to prove it. Whether they could duplicate that sound in front of an audience didn’t really matter all that much, since the fans laid down a wall of screams that made actually hearing notes a practical impossibility. But I do remember the Record company and various Press outlets swearing up and down that Mickey, Peter, Davey and Mike were all accomplished musicians who only solicited a little “embellishment” from the Wrecking Crew in the studio.
You may have different information but I have always been under the impression that precious little exists of The Monkees as a live band during their halcyon days, and that this broadcast from NHK-FM in Tokyo is a pretty rare example. And for that reason, there is a goodly amount of frustration to be had from this concert. Namely – the Japanese announcers won’t shut up, and managed to ramble on over the introductions to many of the songs. Much like the practice done now with Italian Radio – the goal, it would seem, would be to dissuade bootlegging or to maintain exclusivity with other radio outlets around the world. Not sure which, or whether both cases are true. Bottom line – listening to this concert may require a bit of saintly restraint in places.
Needless to say – this comes about as close as you can get to hearing an un-varnished Monkees performance that still maintains the integrity and energy of the peformance while also giving a history account of a much loved band in a live concert setting.
With all that in mind – caveats and observations at the time, here is a Monkees concert during the height of their popularity performing to an audience in Japan who are screaming themselves hoarse.
All good, clean fun – hit the Play button and crank it up.