Monday, April 17, 2017

And the Hits Just Keep on Comin' for Nez

After a false start last summer, I'm finally finishing up Elvis Costello's autobiography. I always like to have a book going, particularly one about music, and my next read will be Michael Nesmith's 'Infinite Tuesday: An Autobiographical Riff,' out this week via Crown Archetype. Like other recent biographies from musicians, there is a companion CD. 'Infinite Tuesday: Autobiographical Riffs The Music' came out on Rhino last week. This is the kind of disc that barely scratches the surface, but it's a nice introduction, particularly if you have always wanted to dip your big toe into his '70s country-rock solo work.

I'm sure the book will have plenty of anecdotes around Nesmith's time as a Monkee, and there must be some time devoted to his single mother's brilliant invention of Liquid Paper, but I'm most interested in his ground-breaking later work in television, film and video. His 'PopClips' program more or less paved the way for MTV, and the long-form video 'Elephant Parts' nabbed him the first ever Grammy in that category. Blink and you missed it, but if you're an old timer like me, you may even remember his off-the-wall show 'Television Parts' on NBC too. As the head of Pacific Arts, his contentious legal battle with PBS rivaled the very war Ken Burns chronicled for the network... and got the lawyers choosing sides. There's so much more that makes this Renaissance man a fascinating figure, but I'll add just one more. Nesmith was executive producer of 'Repo Man.' Enough said. I'm buying 'Infinite Tuesday.'

To whet your appetite for the book, here are two from the 1972 album 'And the Hits Just Keep on Comin''. Obviously, no hits on this one, but it's a low-key LP that's beautiful in its simplicity and my personal favorite from Nesmith's entire discography. Think Roddy Frame's 'Surf'. The personnel is limited to Nesmith on guitar and Red Rhodes on pedal steel. In hindsight, I'm surprised RCA let him make it.

"Tomorrow and Me"
"The Upside of Goodbye"

12 comments:

friend of rachel worth said...

Slightly related , just finished one of tbe best music autobiographies ive read. Grant and I by Robert Forster. Story of the gobetweens but much more than that a story of friendship and the coming to terms with grief and rememberence.

Brian said...

FORW, Was very excited at Forster's book and wrote about it last year. Sadly, still not available in this country, but I recently read the paperback will finally make its way here this summer. So happy to hear its as good as expected.

JTFL said...

Brian, are you hearing the comparison between these early tunes and the stuff Father John Misty is releasing now?

Brian said...

JTFL, Did a little rooting around, and this is an opinion held by others from as far back as 2012. Good ear, my friend.

C said...

Apropos of something else - lovely surprise to see the Someloves featured as your current week's classic record recommendation. Back in the '80s a good friend taped some for me - swapping tapes and letters was our 'thing' and I looked forward to everything that came my way - and I fell in love with this band. Every so often I revisit my favourite Someloves' tracks and just get that lovely overall feeling of a special time and place. I've not met many others who've heard of them, though!

Brian said...

C, thought of that album because it was produced by my hero Mitch Easter. Planned to use it on Sunday but didn't get it ripped in time. Will try again next year. Great album by unheralded Aussies. Love it too.

Rol said...

I'd forgotten all about the Elvis autobiography, so thanks for the reminder. I'm tempted by the Nesmith one too, but at my current reading speed, I probably won't get round to it for the next 5-10 years...

charity chic said...

What did you think of the Elvis autobio Brian?
Interesting in I'ver 500 pages Cait O'Reardon merits only a couple of paragraphs

Brian said...

Hi CC. Not completely finished but I have enjoyed it immensely. The stuff about his father was fascinating. Like his songwriting, he's incredibly gifted. Like his albums in the Warner Bros. years and beyond, he could stand to write a little shorter and edit himself a bit. As for Cait, that was a little disappointing, but I don't feel like he has held back too much in other places.

JC said...

"Nesmith was executive producer of 'Repo Man.'"

I'd forgotten all about that fact. I remember seeing it on screen at the time and thinking 'wow....how did that happen?' His post-Monkees career isn't that well known over here.

If I can add my tuppence worth to the EC autobio. I read it but didn't review it as I would have been quite unkind. Don't get me wrong...I really enjoyed a lot of the book, especially the stuff about his dad; but much of the post-Attractions stuff seemed to be very much 'Didn't I Do Great?' and awash with a ridiculous amount of name-dropping that grated. He loves being feted by his peers does he not???

Brian said...

That's just about where I am in the book, JC. I have been warned.

The Swede said...

As JC points out, aside from the hit 'Rio', Nesmith's post Monkees career isn't too well known over here - I knew virtually none of the information contained in your second paragraph. The tunes are absolutely sublime though.