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PISCES, AQUARIUS, CAPRICORN & JONES LTD.
Micky Dolenz - Lead and Backing Vocals, Keyboards, Synthesizer,
Guitar, Drums on Cuddly Toy
Additional Personnel: Chip Douglas - Bass Guitar, Piano, Keyboards; Larry Taylor - Bass Guitar; Kim Copli - Drums, he also plays all the instruments on 'Hard to Believe'; Eddie Hoh - Drums on 'Star Collector'; Harry Nilsson - Piano on 'Cuddly Toy'; Bill Chadwick - Guitar; Bill Martin - Piano and Percussion on 'Door Into Summer'; Bob Rafelson - Piano on 'Don't Call On Me'; Doug Dillard - Banjo on 'What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round'; Paul Beaver - Synthesizer on 'Star Collector'
I received a new CD of this album on October 2, '00 and played it that day. It had been at least 30 years since I last heard it. I had a copy of the album when it first came out 33 years earlier and loved it. Some of the songs now sound dated, but Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd is still a very good album. By the time of its release, the group was a true band, still, this album along with it's predecessor Headquarters would be the only two albums that the Monkees would play most of the instruments on.
In 1967 it seemed every rock band was putting out a psychedelic album and this is what the Monkees offered. Really its only half psychedelic, that being the second half of it. The best Psychedelic song found on this album, "Star Collector", is also one of the best ever Psychedelic songs. A Gerry Goffin/Carol King song written about groupies. It was the second rock song to feature the newly invented synthesizer, which would soon boot out the old mellotrons. Yet the best part of this song is the frenzy organ. The very first rock song to use a synthesizer is also found on this album on "Daily Nightly". Michael Nesmith wrote this song but it was Micky Dolenz who played the synthesizer and sang the lead vocals. One hell of a great job at it, I might add. The synthesizer was a hit and here to stay.
"Words" is another excellent number and the third best song on the album, mainly because of Dolenz's great lead vocals, along with some well placed vocal samples added in, sung by Peter Tolk.
This album is also part Country-Rock and clean Pop. The overall best song on the album is "Pleasant Valley Sunday". I could identify with this one as a kid since it described the street I grew up on. Turns out lots of other baby boomers could identify with it too, as it was a smash hit that year. I would call the song true Pop but yes, there is a little bit of Psychedelic Pop to it, especially with its spaced-out ending. "Cuddly Toy" was another song that seemed on the surface to be clean Pop too. But it wasn't at all. Written by Harry Nilsson (before anyone really knew who he was), the lyrics weren't what they seemed to be. The song was really written about the aftermath of a Hell's Angel's gang bang.
The Country-Rock songs are all sung by Nesmith and he does a real good job with them. "What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round?" is the best one. Overall, this album is perhaps their best one, as far as a group/band effort goes, it is their best. They may have played most of the instruments on Headquarters, as there is a bit more help on this one from session players, but this is still a better album than Headquarters
Note: On the reissued CD by Rhino Records, there are a few added tracks. One of them is "Goin' Down". A great little number that was supposed to be on the album but taken off and replaced with the album's weakest song "Love Is Only Sleeping". Why? Because "Goin' Down" was the 'B' side to the hit single "Daydream Believer" which also at first was meant for the album and not used. When it was determined that they didn't want the hit single on the album, they also dropped it's flip side too. Too bad, the album would have been that much better with these two songs.
- Keno 2000