The Minus 5: Of Monkees and Men
Until now, you had to buy the 5 LP limited edition Record Store Day set entitled Scott The Hoople in the Dungeon of Horror to hear these songs. On August 19, they are made available as a single disc. Minus 5 Of Monkees and Men is yet another unorthodox release from power pop’s eccentric uncle.
With contributions from an all-star lineup including Jim Babjak and Dennis Diken of The Smithereens, Peter Buck and Mike Mills (REM) and Joe Andragna, there’s some really fun stuff here. As with most Minus 5 releases though, there are some head scratchers. Let’s start with the highlights first.
Occasionally, Scott McCaughey’s lyrics read like the TV Guide on acid. His songs have an inexplicable but undeniably quirky charm. Such is the case with “Davy Gets The Girl”, one of four tribute songs on the disc (one for each member of The Monkees). In “A Song For Peter Tork”, McCaughey recalls a 2AM meeting with Tork and brings an interesting story to life for the listener. “Mickey Was A Cool Drummer” is one of those silly, catchy numbers that’s a Minus 5 trademark and simply irresistible.
“Never criticize a man until you’ve walked a season in his TV show. Never criticize a man without a better reason than what you didn’t know.” – from “Mickey Was A Cool Drummer”
The best tunes are yet to come. Telling the story of The Monkees famed songwriters, “Boyce & Hart” is bubblegum pop at its finest. “Blue Rickenbacker” is perhaps my favorite track, pure power pop made possible by contributions from Babjak on lead guitar and Diken on drums.
Now, the head scratcher. Clocking in at over 9 minutes, the seemingly endless “Michael Nesmith” is a marathon that grows tiresome about half way through. Living with “Michael Nesmith” for 3 minutes would have sufficed. But if felt like he moved in, raided the fridge and asked if he could crash on my couch until things blow over.
Bottom line: Minus 5 Of Monkees and Men is a guilty pleasure that may seem a bit kitschy but for the summer of 2016, it hits the spot. You can buy the physical CD at Kool Kat Musik. Street date is August 19.
NOTE: If you’re a fan of the Minus 5 song “Got You”, you’ll find the guitar chords here.