NOTE: Davy has had the second most prolific career out of all the Monkees, with an LP on Colpix records before his Monkees fame took hold, and many recordings after the Monkees flamed out; but when compared to Mike, his recordings pale in comparison. Davy's biggest problem has been in choosing material that is suitable for his unique blend of West-End Theater musicals, his pronounced Manchester accent, and a pleasant, instantly-recognizable baritone voice. Too often in his recordings he has relied on other's talents to hang his hat on, with lamentable results. But in his later years, Davy has discovered his own songwriting talents, and has produced some impressive solo works, which are available only through his website - DavyJones.net.
Davy Jones Solo Works
David Jones (1965) Colpix SCP-493 [LP]
REVIEW: Davy's first American LP, released a full year before he became a Monkee, was an attempt to cast him not as the "lost" Beatle, but as the successor to such late-fifties crooners as James Darren and Fabian. That's why he's given such gooey songs as "My Dad" (which was also a single by TV teen star Paul Petersen), and "This Bouquet" which was released as a single. Davy's clean-cut appearance and pixie-ish Manchester accent must have seemed a dream to marketing executives at Colpix, but the songs he's given are undistinguished at best, with the worst offenders, "Put Me Amongst The Girls", "Theme For A New Love", and "Dream Girl" almost prototypical examples of the kind of pop slush that was filling the airways during the mid-1950s. His one concession to the times, a cover of Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me Babe" is interesting if only how it's recast into a terrifying vegas/lounge hybrid. The producer even tries to shove Davy's 'Englishness' down the listener's throat with the none-too-subtle "Maybe It's Because I'm A Londoner". I'm not entirely sure who this album was aimed for, since teenage girls at this time were all hot over the Beatles; perhaps Colpix thought they could capture the teenage girl's mothers market? The album's one redeeming feature is Davy's personality, which sounds alternately bright and innocent, but the songs, almost without exception, let him down, and it's a shame; I mean, if Herman's Hermits could dominate the charts with inane ditties like "Henry The VIII", then Davy could've mowed over them with even a passible ballad. Just know that his album is nothing like Davy's Monkees recordings - it's a dull, colorless exercise in undistinguished songwriting, a jumping-off point for much better things to come.
Davy Jones (1971) Bell 6067 [LP]
REVIEW: Six years after his debut solo album on Colpix, and after the rise and fall of the Monkees phenomenon, Davy released this solo album on Bell in hopes of recaputuring his fan base. Unfortunately, this album is a low point, both from Davy's performing standard and from the songs he's chosen. The biggest problem here is the songwriting - mostly hack work from no-name composers, the two most interesting pieces here are from 'known' artists: David Gates, who contributes the dark, self-pitying waltz "Look At Me", and Neil Sedaka, who wrote the albums lead-off single "Rainy Jane", which has an unexpected melody change at the end of the chorus, but is otherwise a cheerful, bouncy tune with a cliche-ridden lyric. The rest of the songs are either highly-produced fodder, (the upbeat "Road To Love" with heavy brass and a churning, pedantic lyric), cheesy (the inane "Singing To The Music") or just plain wrong for Davy's personality (the grim chant-like "Take My Love"). But some of the blame has to go to Davy's performance as well, who lets loose all his worst instincts as a singer here - punching each syllable with his thick Manchester accent, treating these pop/rock songs as if they should be belted out in the worst West-End musical fashion - his voice sounds even more limited here, with him showing little change or range from song to song. Some songs are better than others - like "Love Me For A Day" which has a sound and production similar to the 5th Dimension's music, with thick backup vocals and an interesting melody, or "Say It Again" which is a corny, show-tune piece that suits Jones' over-the-top style. But for the bulk of this album, it sounds like nothing more than undistinguished AM radio slush, with horribly trite lyrics, cookie-cutter production, and far too many songs with the word 'love' in the title. A wasted opportunity for Davy to distinguish himself.
Davy Jones Live In Japan Japan Record Inc. JAL 1003 [LP]; Released 1981
REVIEW: A rare, captured concert performance by Davy from the early eighties, Davy Jones Live In Japan often shows up on eBay, and for those who still have their old phonograph record players handy, it's worth seeking out, since it's easily the best Davy concert out there, with plenty of Monkees' hits crammed into it's short running time to make every Davy fan happy. Recorded May, 1981 at Shiba Yuubin Chokin Kaikan (say that ten times fast!) with what sounds like a throng of teenage girls (who scream as if it's 1966, instead of fifteen years later), Davy is backed by a band of japanese musicians who call themselves "Ricky & The Revolvers" and who play extremely credible cover versions of the Monkees biggest hits, and, along with a crack group of backup vocalists, carry the show with enviable energy and verve. Davy is also in good spirits when this show was recorded, blithely chirping his way through "Last Train To Clarksville" and "I'm A Believer" (in fact, he seems to be laughing throughout the opening of the latter song) and introducing "Cuddly Toy" as having been the launching point of Harry Nilsson's career. For collectors, there's also the bonus of a previously unreleased (and not found anywhere else) track: the ballad "How Do You Know," which breaks in halfway through the opening set. Side one closes with hot takes on the driving "Steppin' Stone" and the tear-'em-up attitude of "Star Collector." Side two continues in much the same vein, with faithful covers of the Monkees biggest hits only broken up by the presence of one of Davy's own compositions, "It's Now" (also found on Just For The Record Vol. 4) and fitting in nicely with the rest of the pop singles which Davy is so comfortable performing. Since this show was recorded for Davy's own production company, I'm surprised that he hasn't released it on his own home label. It's a fantastic show, with Davy apparently very hot in the land of the rising sun. Worth seeking out for Davy fans with a taste for vinyl.
Davy Jones - For The Record Volume One Hercules Promotions [CD]; Released 1999
REVIEW: What should've been a treasure trove for fans of Davy Jones of early, rare and unreleased recordings instead is a frustrating hodge-podge of poor-sounding tracks, scattered interview fragments, and missed opportunities. What's baffling to me is how poor almost all of the tape sources sound; whereas the Beatles were able to clean up and preserve much of their early work for their own Anthology series, Davy apparently took no pains to archive his personal recordings in his Pre-Monkees days, and the result is incredibly shoddy-sounding, crackling, or muffled sources which are far below standards set for release. That he should charge twenty-dollars to his fans for this release is only adding insult to injury. That being said - I was surprised by much of the early stuff, showing Davy boasting an impressively powerful, expressive voice, even in his teen years, and singing with such confidence and authority, that his star presence is felt early on. What should have been an early recording of his big break in "Oliver" is substituted for a later 1983 recording, which is good, but even then the source isn't perfect, with skips and drop outs appearing. Between each track are interviews taken from various sources and times, with no regard for historical time-frame, since they're merely used as introduction to each song; so while there are some humorous moments to be found there, I would've much preferred to have time-appropriate interviews cut in, instead of hearing Davy discuss his Monkees fame, when there's no Monkees material on the entire disc. Also distracting is that most of the interview segments are in clear, bright sound, but the music sources are terrible, so that the sound varies widely from track to track. But fans who wish to shell out cash for this will hear tinny recordings of a young Davy singing songs like "Misty" and "I've Got A Lot Of Livin' To Do" before he comes to America and begins cutting singles that raise the bar, with the upbeat "Never Will I Ever", "Summertime Is Fun Time" and "Boy Can't Win" all showing Davy being cast in the role of Teen Idol, while the sound is very similar to the boy-meets-girl ethos of the early '60s girl groups. Unfortunately, Davy apparently either doesn't own, or couldn't acquire the masters for these singles, so we're left with acetates, demo discs, or worse, which seem to have been run through a salad shooter instead of a sound processor. I've heard bootlegs with far better sound that this release. For rabid fans only.
Davy Jones - For The Record Volume Two Hercules Promotions [CD]; Released 1999
REVIEW: Volume two of Davy's Just For The Record anthology covers the 1970s, in his post-Monkees wasteland. Beginning with the brash, countrified "Man We Lonely" I'm relieved to at last hear good sound quality, which continues with a punchy, accoustic version of "Rainy Jane" which is actually several steps above the version found on his 1971 LP - this version sounds like a hit, with Davy's multi-tracked voice just as good as anything on his last Monkees recordings. "King Lonely The Blue" is next, a chugging track hampered by ham-fisted lyrics; a demo of "Bye Bye Brown eyes is next, with poorer sound, and Davy singing with just strumming guitar accompianment. "Dragonfly is also just Davy and guitar, a grey mood piece that unfortunately is saddled with "Butterflies flying in the sun, butterflies just having fun" lyric and lack of hooks. Another demo, "Kansas" trips along faster, with a scuttling percussion and guitar that only lasts for a few seconds before fading out. "Leavin' Here This Morning" is another demo, which has an unitentionally hilarious 'doo-wakka, doo-wakka, doo" chorus which shows Davy flailing for revelancy. "Was It A Dream?" is better, with gentle MOR hooks that reminded me of America's singer/songwriter songs that were big during the mid-seventies. Davy continues in this direction with a guitar accompainied cover of James Taylor's "Fire And Rain" which works and reveals an introspection which Davy has never shown before. "Staying Here With You" also follows in a similar vein, and is similarly effective; in fact, I can easily see Davy releasing an entire album in the singer/songwriter genre and succeeding, but for whatever reason it never happened. "Blossom" is wonderful, with a ping-ponging melodic track and railroad train-sounding rhythm that sticks in the memory. "Rainmaker" is more urgent, and also has the folk flavor that most of these work tapes carry - it's quite refreshing for Davy. A simple, piano demo of "Opening Nite" is next - sounding like, so help me, a Barry Manilow saloon song; but the subject matter - dealing with stepping back into the spotlight - is a curious peek into David's state of mind. After an sugary instrumental "The Girl I Left Behind Me", another saloon weeper follows - the sythesizer driven "No Regrets"; followed by another sythesized demo "So In Love With You", a confessional story song that is more soap opera than pop music. "Fallen Hero" is much in the same self-pitying mode as what's came before; much of this music sounds like Davy is singing into his empty beer glass, and you know how much fun that can be to listen to. The turgid "Leaving It Up To You" is next, and finally the album picks up the tempo with "Baby Hold Out" with a tinny, synthesized percussive and sloppily sung track. But the album is dragged down again with the soggy "I'll Love You Forever" found here in a simple demo. "Proud Proud Man" is another keyboard/vocal demo, with a too-sensitive lyric that was rampant in the 70s, ditto with "Can't Believe You've Given Up On Me". But "I'll Survive" is better, with a Herb Alpert-like trumpet, and light disco rhythm filled out with a full arrangement. The albums last two tracks include a rough demo of "Thank Heaven For Little Girls" (what was Davy thinking?) and from the same session, the forgettable, mid-tempo "Yeah be Yeah". There's enough interesting tracks here for most fans, but be prepared for a lot of self-pitying music.
Davy Jones - For The Record Volume Three Hercules Promotions [CD]; Released 1999
REVIEW: Volume Three of Just For The Record is a boon for Monkees fans, since there are several new covers of Monkees songs to be found within, including live versions of "Star Collector", "I Wanna Be Free", "Cuddly Toy" and "Daydream Believer", as well as remakes of solo "Rainy Jane" and "Dance Gypsy". This particular volume has much more than that however, stuffed onto two CDs, starting out with the charming throwback of "Manchester Boy" before switching decades musically with the hard synth-pop of "Don't Go", a surprisingly effective change of persona for Davy. The next song is pure slush, with Davy intoning "Happy Birthday Micky Mouse" with a hyperactive children's chorus - as if the "It's A Small World" ride got on an adrenaline rush (scary thought). The regretful "Hanging By A Thread" is next, a mediocre power ballad that's OK, but not top drawer. "When I Look Back On Christmas" is a nice seasonal ballad, and "She Believes" is a bright, up-tempo song which works very well. "If I Knew" is a guitar-driven demo that is a throwback to his late-seventies slush, while "How Can Tell You" is the same song with re-written words. "Dance Gypsy" is a sleek, disco-fied update of the original track performed live in front of a screaming audience. "Star Collector" is also live in a high-energy rendition, segueing directly into "I Wanna Be Free" and then hitting "Rainy Jane" followed by the ridiculously over-emotive "You're A Lady", during which Davy seems to channel Tom Jones. "Cuddly Toy" is also live - it's hard to believe the sheer amount of screaming that the audience is putting out; screaming out "DAVY!" during each of the pauses in the song, as if it were the 60s again. Disc Two continues the live performances with the audience favorite "I'll Love You Forever" and hits a high with (of course) "Daydream Believer" with the entire audience joining in on the chorus. Also live are the wonderful 50s pastiche "You'll Soon Be Sixteen" and the brand-new "It's Now" - which is a nice 80's power-pop piece which has disappeared from Davy's repetoire. The final live piece is the driving "Baby Hold Out". Next comes the strange, moody "Bluebird (In My Garden)" in demo form, which seems to be a return to his early 70's experiments, ditto for "Butterfly", "I'm Coming Home", "Makes Me Feel Fine" and the uptempo "Cried My Heart Out" none of which seem to continue the momentum of his early 80s tracks. In fact, Davy seems particularly melancholy on these last tracks, from "Goodbye Old Friends", "Photograph" (of Someone That I Knew)", and "Please Believe Me" all in the same blue mood, as if Davy had gotten no satisfaction from his wildly successful return with the Monkees. Clasing the album on a jarring note is a remix of "Don't Go" which although posessing a killer hook, was never released as a single.
Davy Jones - For The Record Volume Four Hercules Promotions [CD]; Released 1999
REVIEW: Volume Four of Just For The Record is unique in all of Davy Jones' repetoire, since it's not studio outtakes we're treated to, but an actual album of Davy's own songs, fully produced and recorded around the same time as The Monkees Justus album was created. It begins with a dance-floor arrangment of "What A Night" - completely reshaping the song from the version found on Justus. Next is a live take of "You And I" which strangely incorporates street noises and accordian in the light, european arrangment which brings in an incongruous heavy drumbeat. Next comes a tack-piano driven, overdone rendition of "I Miss You" which makes the song sound like a parody, rather than a sincere plea. "You're In My Heart" is an evocative piano pop song, with interesting harmonic changes and subtle background vocals. "I Wanna Fall In Love With Someone..." is a straight-ahead pop-rocker that doesn't have a memorable hook to sell it and too much sythesizer for my tastes. "Couldn't Have Been Love" is a dull, pedantic song that just ambles along without any direction; "It's Not Too Late" takes its lead from Pachabel's "Canon in D", and doesn't do it any favors with a ill-thought gospel chorus and a clunky lyric. "Rough To The Touch" boasting that it's the "Robert Mitchum mix" is a wanna-be country-swinger that sounds like a thin rewrite of Kenny Rogers' "Coward Of The County". Next is yet another live version of "I'll Love You Forever" recast as a smoky bar room ballad; no song deserves this many remakes by the same artist. "Just A Matter Of Time" is a low-key, mid-tempo pop song which Davy sings in his lower register, with vacuous dum-dee-dee" background vocals. Another live song, "It's Now" comes across sounding like a television sitcom theme song from the 1970s; "If I Knew" brings the lights down with the third rendition of this so-so melody. The album's final song "The Only Thing Left" is a soppy "you said, I said" song that leaves me with the distinct impression that as a songwriter, Davy Jones has a long way to go.
Davy Jones - Just Me Hercules Promotions [CD]; Released 2001
REVIEW: Just Me, an obvious reference to The Monkees Justus (even including the look-alike cover logo) where the Monkees sang, wrote and played everything is a little deceiving, since Davy recieves lots of help on this album, but its all to the good, with interesting arrangements, better songs, and a sense of unity that ties it all together. "Hold Me Tight" recieves a dark, winding arrangement that throws in accordian, scattershot percussion and slide guitar to create a moody, nightmarish landscape. "When You Tell Me That You Love Me" has a sweeping melody that stretches Davy's voice, and although he sounds older here, it's an uplifting, romantic song that's one of the best he's ever written. "I Wanna Be Me" is a slow duet with Cassie Blair which has a nice dreamy quality; "My Love (She Means Everything)" has duet duetting with himself, but the arrangement is clunky, and the vocals don't mesh well, with the echoing chorus sounding like escapees from Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody". "Hurry Up Slow Down" is a great song, with an intimate lyric that comes straight from the heart and features a simple, summery arrangement. "It's Not Too Late" shows up again in a stronger, faster arrangment and a tighter vocal from Davy which plays down the Canon In D theme and adds tasteful electric guitar and piano. "I'm Still In Love With You" has Davy growling the verse before transitioning into a light samba on the chorus - it's an effective change as he laments his misfortune before singing the hopeful chorus. Jamaican rhythms make an appearance on "If Only For One Moment" but it's not a terribly strong song - the tropical arrangement helps to keep it interesting, however. Justus's "What A Night" shows up in a techno-dance rave-up which is very fun; "So Goes Love" however is a dreary song which seems to be a minor-key variation of "Three Blind Mice" with harpsichord and sythesized strings; yes, it's just as bad as it sounds. "I Ain't Gonna Love You No More" begins with a solo string bass leading into a fine melody, which Davy sings over and over, apparently unable to come up with a second verse or bridge, so the song simply changes into a hard-rock grinder (?) half-way through. With more harpsichord and churning power chords, I felt like I'd stumbled into a David Cassidy concert. The album closes with two reprises; the first a crackling, low-fi version of "I'm Still In Love With You", which leads into the final song: a spoken word version of "Hold Me Tight" with a too-serious Davy intoning over a cheery Caribbean-flavored calypso track. Very strange. The album is undoubtedly an artistic high point for Davy's solo career, but that's not really saying much, is it?
Davy Jones - LIVE!!! Hercules Promotions [CD]; Released 2004
REVIEW: Davy has always been a better entertainer than songwriter, so this full-length live show may very well be the only Davy Jones product you need to buy. Featuring his long-time touring band, whom he immediately begins ribbing with a fine, funny reparte. Serving a heaping helping of Monkees covers, including many not associated with him, this concert is great showcase for Davy's performing chops. He tears into "Little Bit Me, Little Bit You", chews his way (seriously, he sounds like he graduated from the 'William Shatner school of emoting') through "Valleri", "Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)" and a surprising cover of Mike Nesmith's "Papa Gene's Blues". He blows through 'the Marcia Brady' song "Girl" (telling the audience to join him on the dance moves), raves up "She Hangs Out" and pulls out "I'll Love You Forever" for the umpteenth time (let it DIE, Davy!). Then things get seriously weird with the country-swinger "Bright Side Of The Road" with enthusiastic backing vocals by the band and Davy almost grunting out parts of the song! Davy let's his band take center stage with the skit "Archie & Edith On The Road" before digging into the swoozy "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights", which sounds like a Dean Martin throwaway. He again lets the band take the spotlight with a parody of Meatloaf by music director Dave Alexander. Then sings "a nice little Monkees ditty" "Nice To Be With You", then after the band introductions he rips into another Nesmith tune, "Listen To The Band", and a rocking version of "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone". He tells the well-worn story of listening to his Mom's old records and singing the old chestnut "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby" for the audience. For the encore, Davy pulls out the Monkees songbook and finishes in high style with "Daydream Believer", "No Time" (which is usually taken by Micky on Monkees tours), "I'm A Believer" (where he muffs the opening), and finishes with "I'm A Believer". This is prime Davy - and great fun for his many fans.
Davy Jones - Daydream Believin' - Time-tested hits and rarities Hercules Promotions [CD]; Released 2004
REVIEW: During 2004, Davy Jones released four albums through his Hercules promotions website, but these next two are mostly compilations, with some new songs thrown in to sweeten the deal. Taking the spoken word intro from Just For The Record Volume One, next comes a 1994 studio version of "Daydream Believer" which is a good, faithful version - if heavily synthesized; followed by two songs taken off of Just Me: "Hold Me Tight" and "When You Tell Me That You Love Me" neither of which belong on a compilation that is supposed to be 'time-tested hits and rarities' since these songs are neither. Next comes a great rendition of "Valleri" taken from Davy's aborted 1986 Incredible! album, which, based on this track, might be Davy's best album ever, boasting full-on production, super vocals from Davy, and powerhouse playing by the band. In fact, I would've much rather Davy had released that album here in its entirety than this hodge-podge of stuff that most hard-core fans will already own. But moving on, "It's Not Too Late" shows up in a piano-chorus version that pre-dates the Justus version, and the rare 1982 Japanese single release of "Dance Gypsy Dance" which is probably the best arrangement of the song you'll find. Another previously released track, "You're In My Heart", taken from JFTR Vol. 4 is here, followed by the rare 1986 track "After Your Heart" and the previously unreleased 2003 studio track "Leavin It Up To You". An alternate mix of the unreleased single "Don't Go" is here, showing what a fine song this is. Next is a live version of the "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia" song "Girl (Look What You've Done To Me)"; followed by another fine cover from the Incredible! album "I'll Love You Forever" (I'm really sick of this song by now, but this is the best version I've heard); and finishing off the album is a techno-remix of "Daydream Believer", which is OK, but hardly necessary listening. A little bit of everything - it's not quite the treasure trove of rarities I'd want, but it's better than the next album:
Davy Jones - Just Me 2 Hercules Promotions [CD]; Released 2004
REVIEW: This sad excuse for an album tries to pass itself off as a successor to Davy's critically acclaimed (well the reviewer at AllMusic Guide liked it) Just Me album, but all it is is an album full of remixed songs from Just Me and JFTR Vol. 4, with four new songs added to the listing. Beginning with the interminable spoken word version of "Hold Me Tight" from Just Me, and followed by one of the weaker songs on that album - "When You Tell Me That You Love Me" next comes a cover of the Bee Gees "Run To Me" which starts off with an uninspired children's chorus, before Davy comes in with a dreary cover with his voice heavily multi-tracked and the clunky tempo making this one of the least-necessary cover songs ever. The awful "Hurry Up Slow Down" is next, with annoying electric guitar and a heavy vocal dragging it down. The fine "Hurry Up Slow Down" from Just Me shows up again, with no discernable changes in the mix, so why is it here? Same goes for a nearly identical take of "I Ain't Gonna Love You No More" - and Just For The Record Vol. 4's "You're In My Heart" is also included. "If Only For One Moment In Time" is here with all it's synthesized caribbean rhythms. Next on the album is an original song "Leaving It Up To You" which also shows up on Daydream Believin' above, and "It's Not Too Late" makes it's umpteeth appearance. Davy switches from Pachabel to Vivaldi for the introduction to "I Wanna Be Me", which is OK, but doesn't change the song in any significant way. Next is another new song, "When All Else Fails" which sets Davy's voice far back in the mix, but that's OK, since the song is a clunky power ballad with overheated background singers nearly overpowering diminutive Davy. The album closes with the previously released "Hold Me Tight". I was extremely disappointed with this release, which I suppose Davy meant to be a solo greatest hits album, but his solo output doesn't really justify it's presence, and the inclusion of a few unreleased tracks is meant only as a hook for his fans to shell out more money for the same old tracks.
Studio Versions Of Monkees Songs
Paradise MusicWerks [MP3 DOWNLOAD]; May 9, 2006
REVIEW: Unlike Micky Dolenz's digital download album, it appears that all of the tracks on Davy's first mp3 album are all previously released, latter-day versions of hits that he's re-recorded for other projects, and all of which have been avialable for sale on traditional CDs from his website. Of these, the first two tracks are worth hearing, if only to see how nicely Davy has matured as an interpreter of pop songs. "Valleri" (the 'Incredible Version') is a highly produced upgrade of the original track, with rich harmonies, an incredible lead vocal by Davy, and a hot, rocking backup band laying down the track. The second track, a re-recorded "Daydream Believer" shows Davy giving a light, genial performance of this trademark song, in a lighter, more easy-going arrangment and tempo than the original. But the remix of "Daydream" is singularly awful, with a horribly misjudged hip-hop beat overlaid on top of a vocal performance that sounds like its on a completely different song. These songs are all available on fuller discs than you can get here, and I wouldn't recommend purchasing them unless you haven't heard them already.
|This page design and content © 2007 Bret Wheadon|