Wednesday 4 May 2011

Monkees: Budokan Hall, Japan, October 4th 1968

Now what right minded, free thinking individual doesn't like The Monkees? What started off as a pretty cynical exercise in creating an American Beatles circa 'Help!' turned into a cultural phenomenon. And a pretty hot live act, too. We all know the story don't we?..and all the apocryphal stuff (Charlie Manson, Stephen Stills' teeth blah blah blah) but the music gets forgotten sometimes, which is a shame. Regardless of who played on the records, they’re still great and they’ve lasted the test of time remarkably well. Whether or not they’re worth seeing in 2011, I’m not sure - maybe someone can enlighten me on that one.

On to the recording…it’s 1968 and our four loveable moptops (US Division) are inevitably playing the Budokan in Japan. They’re also being filmed for a TV special. Sadly, the video seems to have vanished which is a goddamn tragedy, but the audio is still intact – complete with the enthusiastic interjections of a couple of Japanese presenters. It won’t impair your enjoyment, Monkeefans. The recording quality is pretty decent for such an aged show – it’s a bit crunchy in parts, but generally it’s fine and dandy. Check out the sample video below.

(Last Train To Clarksville)

What is special about this recording is that it sees the band as a ‘real band’. That means that they play (almost) everything themselves. Apparently Davy Jones was taught to play the Bass from scratch, which shows real character. He does a bang up job, playing when Peter Tork switches to Organ, Guitar etc. They sound like a garage band. This is a good thing. They’re helped out by their support act (The Floral) on three tracks, but other than that, it’s Monkees all the way. Smart.

Contextually, this was almost the last throw of the dice for the band. Tork was to leave the band a few months after this gig and the band was still licking it’s wounds after the kicking that ‘Head’ got. We all love it now don’t we? The key word in that last sentence is the word ‘now’. So the guys we’re pretty fired up and deliver a great, broad show including all the hits, some solo spots and a tasty rarity or two. I could have lived without ‘Peter Percival Pattersons Pet Pig Porky’ (and the accompanying mains hum), but hey, watchyagonnado? It was the 60’s after all.

This is a great show and a fascinating curio from a different world.

Japan 1968

The Monkees: Live In Japan.
Recorded Live at Budokan Hall, Tokyo, Japan - October 4, 1968.
01. Last Train To Clarksville
02. I Wanna Be Free
03. DW Washburn
04. Daydream Believer
05. Cuddly Toy
06. Salesman
07. It's Nice To Be With You
08. Mary, Mary
09. Cindy, Cindy
10. Peter Percival Patterson's Pet Pig Porky
11. Johnny B Goode
12. Gonna Build A Mountain
13. I Got A Woman
14. I'm A Believer
15. (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone

Micky Dolenz: Drums, Vocals
Davy Jones: Percussion, Bass, Vocals
Michael Nesmith: Guitar, Vocals
Peter Tork: Bass, Organ, Banjo, Vocals .
Tracks 11-13 Feature Musical Backing By The Floral (Opening Act That Night)


  1. Yay. Thank you for this. ::cue memory lane stroll::

  2. This was a great find. I only wish they had some audio from the post-Tork shows out there...

  3. these are at 96 kbps ... higher bitrates are available ...

    at 192 kbs :

    at 320 kbps :

  4. They are the last gasp of the Brill Building era, and therefore a fascinating mix of the old pop establishment and the counterculture. Aside from Boyce and Hart, the songwriters the tapped included Carol King & Gerry Goffin, Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil, Jeff Barry, Harry Nilsson, Neil Diamond, Neil Sedaka, and Jack Keller, aside from all the material they wrote themselves. 40+ years on, the session musician issue seems so trivial. In the CD reissue era that saw Bacharach and Brian Wilson suddenly get a lot of overdue attention, the marketing gals and guys missed an opportunity to cull the best of this material, anthologize it, and sell it on the songwriting. No one would have gotten rich, but it would have framed the band a little differently.