DAVY SINGS THE MONKEES & MORE was a 1988 release of a concert recorded May 1st, 1981, at Shiba Yubin Chokin Kaikan, Japan. This special download edition includes bonus material from a 1982 concert laserdisc, HELLO DAVY (DAVY JONES LIVE) released in Japan on the Pioneer label.
Besides the abundance of Monkees' hits, Davy's set includes then-current singles, such as "How Do You Know?" (written by Eurovision Winner Bob Heatle), "Dance Gypsy Dance," post-Monkees hits like "Rainy Jane," and other in-demand rarities.
IT’S NOW, IT’S THEN: DAVY-MANIA COMES TO JAPAN (Notes by Johnny J Blair, with thanks for info and notes from David Jones, Christopher L. Pick, Yoko Sugisaki, Ellie Sumiyoshi, Michiko Tsubaki, and Kirk & Sue White):
It was 1980. One of the last things on David Jones’ mind was a resurrection of Monkeemania. Back then he was engrossed in horses, family and theatre. What got him off the horse and back behind the microphone was a Japanese television ad which used “Daydream Believer” as the music bed. Only Kodak knows if that sold more film, but it triggered a demand for “Davy Davy Davy.” Off to the Land of the Rising Sun.
(A similar occurance took place in the early 90s. Interest in The Hollies resurged after their hit “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” was used in a British TV ad. The agency loved it, the band loved it, the publisher loved it...who said jingles don’t pay? Just ask Barry Manilow.)
Japan re-birthed Monkeemania. Seven reissued Monkees’ albums sold briskly. David toured Japan five times between 1981 and 1982, even headlining a music festival in Tokyo. Three of his singles charted and he released a pair of concert albums.
DAVY SINGS THE MONKEES AND MORE is the first of two live albums. This well-produced gem is an excellent examination of what it took to reactivate a pop culture phenomenon.
Granted, David and his former mates have matured and refined their material over the years. Arrangements, musicianship and production values may have changed by a quantum leap. David now claims his voice “wasn’t quite in shape” for this concert, but, listening to it years after the fact, the performance sounds fresh and the band plays with bravado, cheerfulness, and precision.
The main purpose of the ‘81 tour was to promote David’s single “It’s Now,” backed with the sprightly “How Do You Know?” The single sold upwards to 100,000 units in Japan—a blockbuster in that country and not bad by American standards.
“It’s Now” is built on a solid bank of keyboards, bluesy guitar and clever chord transitions. The verse has a Memphis r’n’b walk in the bass, while the harmony-laden chorus has a London pop sheen. Co-written with Peter Doyle, the song compares to The Who in the best moments of their WHO ARE YOU phase. In recent years David has pumped up the arrangement with sassy saxophone.
“How Do You Know?” was a finalist in a EuroVision song contest. “That’s a very important contest held in Europe every year,” David explains. “Many big names have come through with that. People like Olivia Newton-John and Cliff Richard have picked up songs from EuroVision. I don’t know what happened to Bob Heatlie that year. He should’ve won.” The song sets a high standard of sophisticated Europop.
The set is “Monkees heavy” (especially with Boyce & Hart tunes). What struck me about this show is how familiar Monkee titles are treated by Ricky & the Revolvers. It’s like entering a parallel universe. R&TR took a remarkably different approach to song structures, sounds and tempos. Jones/Monkee-ologists will concur. My orientation goes back to the post-1986 Jones/Monkees’ live arrangements (from hours logged in researching David’s huge backlog of concert footage on audio and video) and playing this material as an occasional sideman in his shows (since 1995).
Not to take anything away from the way R&TR approached these songs. It’s interesting to listen to longer versions of “Little Bit Me,” “Steppin’ Stone” and “Valleri.” Their playing is clean and clear, with ungimmicky instrumentation, good rock’n’roll instincts, and respect for the material. If they were having a ball playing this stuff, it certainly came through in this recording. (R&TR went on to record another album with David the following year. Even as recently as January 2000 they were hired to back David for a concert and television special in Japan).
David may have said his voice “wasn’t in shape,” but on this set he turns in renditions of “I Wanna Be Free” and “Cuddly Toy” that should be numbered amongst the best of his recorded performances.
This chapter of Japanese Monkeemania could be considered a dress rehearsal for the incredible comeback the Pre-Fab Four would experience in America in 1986, as they re-entered the charts with new hits while the world rediscovered the 60s catalogue.
In retrospect this album has been unfairly dismissed as a “nostalgia product,” but realize that, at the time, the Japanese audience was still finding out about The Monkees. To them it was a “new group.” In essence, David was framing his new single with “new Monkees” music.
The bonus cuts (from the 1982 Pioneer laserdisc) on this reissue feature songs he'd demo'd with Alan Green and Andy Sears as well as the hit single "Dance Gypsy Dance."
Obviously he sings “It’s Now” and “How Do You Know?” with as much vigor as it takes to sing the older songs. He’s still out there singing like that.
April 25, 2000
Hello, Mr. Blair :
I'm Ellie Sumiyoshi, a Japanese fan of Davy and The Monkees. I've been a fan since 1980 and was 11 years old at that time. But I remember clearly what had happened and how we felt about The Monkees’phenomenon...I still keep Davy's singles, albums, books, posters, autographs, lots of small articles from newspapers and magagines, tickets and pamphlets of his concerts I went to, tapes of the radio programs that he appeared or featured Monkees.
I can tell you that we - then fans whose ages were about 10 to 18 - thought of The Monkees as a totally "new" group...So we could enjoy his"own" songs without comparing them to Monkees....
"It's Now" was shocking to us, in fact. Because it was not only a lovely song, but also totally "new" for both young and old Monkees’ generations. It had become first No.1 song at the radio stations in Kanto districts (specially for 19 weeks at Tochigi radio station).
And its best chart was No.14 in the nationwide...
Despite his big success as a real artist, Davy didn't become arrogant like other singers did. On the contrary, he was always very kind to each fan and of course, very charming! That's why I do love him truly.
The happiest thing for me now is that Davy still continues performing for us. How I appreciate him for the joy he gives me! I admire him as one of the best artist/entertainers in the world...I'm looking forward to listening to his new CDs.
I wish you every happiness and success sincerely. And please give my best regards to Davy.
released January 1, 1988
Back Up Musicians: Ricky & the Revolvers—
Fumio Hamada - drums
Masakatsu Hayashi - bass guitar, backing vocals
Ryuji Hirota - acoustic guitar, backing vocals
Takeshi Kobayashi - keyboards
Yukiyasu Nagao - lead guitar, backing vocals
Executive Producer: David Jones
Produced by Doug Trevor and Larry White for Davy Jones Productions
TECHNICAL NOTE: This album was previously released 1981 from Japan, in different form, as DAVY JONES LIVE (Japan Records JAL 1003). Same master was issued in 1983 from Australia as DAVY JONES SINGS THE BEST OF THE MONKEES (K-Tel Records NA 587). These earlier issues used a combination "house mix" with audience bleed-through. The results were listenable but sonically mediocre.
An improved and remixed version (with two more tracks e.g. "The Monkees Theme" twice) appeared in 1988 from America as DAVY SINGS THE MONKEES AND MORE (HM Management SS 8808). This version used tracks taken directly from the mixing board—a much cleaner source.
2010 online reissue supervised by Johnny J Blair for Fire Inside/Davy Jones Productions.