Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Michael Nesmith Week: The Older Stuff

He had always been known as "Mike" on the tube, but from here on out it's Michael Nesmith. So, the older stuff consists of his solo country-rock days from 'Magnetic South' in 1970 to about 'Pretty Much Your Standard Ranch Stash' in 1973. These are Nesmith's prolific years, and it marks his peak as one of the most important musicians of this genre. I don't want to hear about the Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers and the rest without Nesmith at least being in the conversation. Just as James Brown had his Bobby Byrd, Nesmith had his "Red" Rhodes. The pedal-steel aficionado appeared on all of Nesmith's albums during this period, and I don't think you'll find a better example of the duo's work than on the 1972 album 'And the Hits Just Keep on Comin'.' If you only buy one Nesmith album, this is the one I would recommend.

As with yesterday's picks during the Monkees era, it's tough to pick just five songs. Some of my favorite Nesmith moments are either standards or covers, such as "I Fall to Pieces" and "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," but I want these selections to be all Nesmith. If I was truthful, at least four songs from 'And the Hits Just Keep on Comin' would be on this mix, but I'll restrain myself and keep it to two. I guess it would be prudent to include Nesmith's biggest successes. Some of you may not know his charting singles. And how do I leave "Propinquity (I've Just Begun to Care)" off the list?

"Joanne" was Nesmith's biggest solo success. It peaked at No. 21 and can be found on 'Magnetic South.' "Silver Moon" also came out in 1970, but it was from 'Loose Salute,' Nesmith's second album from that year. The song peaked at No. 42. "Tomorrow & Me" was never released as a single, but the album opener is probably my favorite song from 'And the Hits Just Keep on Comin'.' It's an unusual LP in that it's all Nesmith and Rhodes... very intimate. Just about everyone will recognize "Different Drum." It was written by Nesmith in 1966 and recorded by a few bands before he did this version for 'And the Hits Just Keep Comin'' in 1972. Linda Ronstadt's take in 1967 was the big winner. It peaked at No. 13 on the charts. "Nevada Fighter" appeared on the album of the same name in 1971. It was Nesmith's last American single to ever chart. It peaked at a disappointing No. 70. Ask your parents why they didn't pick up the 45.

If you want to purchase any of the albums from this time period, I would first suggest rummaging for vinyl at your local record store or online. If you don't want to take the time, I'll recommend the well-done twofers put out by Camden. I think the art is lacking a bit. I prefer when twofers have both album covers, one on each side of the booklet. A good example is when Capitol reissued the Beach Boys catalog this way many years ago. Camden makes up for this poor judgment call with great liner notes. Don't believe what you have read about inferior sound quality. I own all of these, and I hear nothing but good things.

The Michael Nesmith Five (The Older Stuff)
Michael Nesmith - Joanne
Michael Nesmith - Silver Moon
Michael Nesmith - Tomorrow & Me
Michael Nesmith - Different Drum
Michael Nesmith - Nevada Fighter

Buy these twofers now!
'Magnetic South'/'Loose Salute'
'Nevada Fighter'/'Tantamount to Treason'
'And the Hits Just Keep on Comin'/'Pretty Much Your Standard Ranch Stash'

Here is Nesmith performing "Joanne" in 1993.

No comments: