The Monkees

The Best of The Monkees (Rhino)

I’m a big fan of rule-breaking and the Monkees break rule-breaking rules. Having missed them the first time around, I only heard their punk rock story — humans asked to fake, fighting to be real — when Rhino’s The Best of the Monkees was released in 2003, one of the few Monkees compilations that includes only material recorded in the ’60s. Literally turning actors and prop instruments into a band, they didn’t write all their own songs (and Meryl Streep didn’t write all her own lines). While the Beatles played themselves running from screaming teenage girls, the Monkees played themselves as losers who couldn’t get a gig or a girlfriend. And showed that pop is only lousy when musicians don’t respect the listener. In their hands? Pop music was a touching, irresistible and unpretentious genre adept at sneaking complexity in under the radar.

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