As The Monkees’ 50th anniversary Australian tour approaches, we’ve teamed up with Mornington Peninsula Brewery, David Roy Williams and a slew of Australian artists to capture the magic of an outfit who’s soundscape of bubblegum pop to wigged-out psychedelia still finds traction in music today.
Despite being a manufactured band (according to the boys themselves) and regardless of whether you personally love them or cringe at them, you cannot deny The Monkees established a legacy that matches, if not surpasses those of their contemporaries from the era.
What more proof is there than The Monkees Effect? A series of out-of-the-box, left-side-of-the-brain, inspired renditions of some of the group’s classic offerings. Each week we will feature a new tribute to the band from a whole slew of Australian artists.
Taking a trip to Melbourne’s Furstock Studios alongside ARIA awarding winning sound engineer Doug Brady, each of the acts have recorded their own interpretations of classic Monkees tunes, paying homage to the pop legacy of the outfit. And these aren’t your standard covers. Each act have put their very unique spin on these 1960s classics, resulting in a series that traverses genres.
We’re celebrating boundary-breaking, televised pop music, served up in a time prior the Idols, The X-Factors and the Got Talents. Sure, there were haters even back then, but when you have friends like Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Neil Young and Jack Nicholson, you’re pretty much objectively cool.
This article will be updated each week with a groovy new cover, so make sure to check back to see which of your favourite Aussie artists have covered which of your favourite Monkees tunes. Then, go grab yourselves a copy of the covers, available via Spotify and iTunes.
Now then, sit back and enjoy!
Woodlock – Last Train To Clarksville
Fans may recall the 1966 uber-hit Last Train To Clarksville as a bubbly, grinning jam with ‘Dos-dos’ and ‘oh-ohs’ to spare. But not anymore. Melbourne trio Woodlock have man-handled the track into a gritty, punctuated acoustic number with a hefty amount of stomping and clapping. Check it our for yourselves, alongside a gallery of the band in full studio action!
Woodlock are currently on tour, and will be playing Last Train To Clarksville and their new single ‘The Only Ones’ at The Northcote Social Club this weekend.
The Cactus Channel Feat. Laneous – Can You Dig It
The Monkees’ 1968 hit Can You Dig It was a sprawling affair. Multiple layers of instrumentals which took the listener on a trip around the world. Surely it was no easy task for North Carlton crew The Cactus Channel to take on, but the small crowd of musicians make it look effortless.
The already big jam was made even bigger with the 11-piece’s rendition. Historically, the band are an instrumental act, recruiting singers for special occasions. Previously, they’ve tagged the artist formally known as Chet Faker and they’re currently working on a release with Ball Park Music’s Sam Cromack. This time, they’ve teamed up with Brisbane native Laneous.
The band got special assistance from the team at Hopestreet Recordings, to make the below feat possible.
Chris Watts – The Monkees Theme Song
Melbourne’s son Chris Watts has been making a name for himself rather quickly in the national scene. Earlier in the year, he won over the public with his charming folk sensibilities and his spin on indie pop that was Wrong and Right, a collaboration with Sheppard’s Amy Sheppard.
Now, Chris has taken his aforementioned folk charm and indie-pop spin, draping it over the iconic Monkees theme song for The Monkees Effect. Whereas other offerings for The Monkees Effect have been noticeable departures from the original tracks, Watts and co have remained true to the original theme song, sounding pretty damn close to The Monkees themselves.
Give it a spin here below.
Tinpan Orange – The Girl I Knew Somewhere
Melbourne’s Tinpan Orange have added a brilliant dose of female-fronted major to The Monkees Effect, expanding on, and dare I say, improving The Monkees hit The Girl I Knew Somewhere. Originally released in 1967, the track has been around for some time, yet Tinpan Orange have managed to flesh it out with more soul, more thought, and even more heart.
The brother/sister combo are now in their 10th year as an outfit, officially making them a legacy act. Armed with a guitar, a violin, and a voice, Tinpan Orange is equal parts melancholy and playful, as is their cover if The Girl I Knew Somewhere.
My Dynamite – (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone
Melbourne rockers My Dynamite have taken to The Monkees 1966 hit (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone. The swinging sensation caused quiet the ‘public scene’ when it was released, telling the story of a too-good-to-be-true love interest. My Dynamite must have had their fair share of such drama, given the brilliant cover retains plenty of that sweet, sweet swing.
You can be a fly on the wall for their recording session right here.
All The Colours – So Goes Love
Melbourne peddlers of progressive vintage rock n’ roll All The Colours are the latest act to feel the force of The Monkees Effect. For a three-piece, All The Colours sure know how to fill a studio and their rendition of So Goes Love is no exception. The band throw a thick coating of drowsy rock over the formerly chirpy tune, winding back the fuzzy lovey feeling and instilling some straight up sex appeal.
To perfectly capture their vibe, the band brought along their own engineer Malcolm Besley, who no doubt has gotten to know the band’s sound fairly well as they whittle away on new material.
Didirri – Randy Scouse Git
He may be new to the scene, but Didirri is fast making a name for himself. 5 seconds into his rendition of The Monkee’s 1967 jam Randy Scouse Git, it becomes abundantly clear why. Stripping back the song to just the bare bones, Didirri has created an entire new meaning for Randy Scouse Git replacing the cheese factor with some serious indie integrity.
Already, Didirri has turned heads with his stunning live performance, which many have labeled as simply captivating. Didirri has further plans to tour and release so best keep your finger on this pulse.
APES – She
For their entry, the small crowd that is APES have tackled The Monkee’s 1967 ode to heartbreak, She. The band decided to stay true to the original classic, refining and polishing it just a smidge.
APES have only just exited their studio hibernation where they were whittling away on their debut album. You may have already heard the first cut, If You Want It, with She, essentially being their next output. They’ll be celebrating the launch of If You Want It and more new material from the forthcoming debut coming album in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane in November.
‘She’ by APES will be available on Spotify, iTunes, and Apple Music on Friday 4th November.
Jordie Lane & The Sleepers – Daydream Believer
Fresh from a stint peddling his wares Stateside, Jordie Lane has returned to combine talents with The Sleepers as they tackle perhaps the biggest Monkees hit of all time, Daydream Believer.
The swells, fanfare, smoke and mirrors have all been removed, leaving just the bare bones of the track, exposing its true beauty. Who knew that the riotous, good-time jam had so much soul? The simple, but powerful rendition also features stunning, goose-bump inducing harmonies.
Jordie Lane & The Sleepers are now puttong the final touches on their long-awaited new album, the first of its kind in 5 years, GLASSELLLAND.
‘Daydream Believer’ by Jordie Lane & The Sleepers will be available on Spotify, iTunes, and Apple Music on Friday 11th November.
Cousin Tony’s Brand New Firebird – Someday Man
Melbourne outfit Cousin Tony’s Brand New Firebird are just as much fun as their name implies. While they currently chip away on their next body of original work, the gang have been caught up in The Monkees Effect, sharing their rendition of the 1969 hit Someday Man.
While the song remains airy, aloft and light on its feet, Firebird have kitted it out with a snazzy new outfit. The cover is synthy, nimble and most of all, fun – an operative word when it comes to Firebird, their recordings and their shows.
Ashley Naylor feat. Talei Wolfgramm – Porpoise Song
Ashley Naylor of Aussie indie rock three-piece Even is a legend of the ’90s guitar pop scene. Now the singer and guitarist has taken on The Monkees iconic 1968 track Porpoise Song. The cover of theme from The Monkees film HEAD is especially timely after The Monkees today announced that their forthcoming tour of Australia would be their last.
Naylor has teamed up with Talei Wolfgramm of Melbourne industry darlings and sisterly trio The Wolfgramm Sisters. The two have recorded a heartfelt and clean rendition of the song both at Furstock and in a home studio, with Naylor and Wolfgramm’s wistful harmonies injecting new life into the track.
‘Porpoise Song’ by Ash Naylor and Talei Wolfgramm will be available on Spotify, iTunes, and Apple Music on Friday 16th December.
Davey Lane – Through The Looking Glass
The Monkees’ second full-length album More Of The Monkees was released in 1967 and remained at the top of the Billboard 200 for 18 weeks (the longest of any of their albums). Through The Looking Glass didn’t make the original version, instead appearing on a 2006 re-issue, but it nonetheless captures that peak Monkees sound.
Now You Am I’s Davey Lane has put his own spin on the song, adding another dimension of timbre with new harmonies and by using sliding guitar effects to bring it forward into the new century, whilst undoubtedly still maintaining that inimitable Monkees sonic aesthetic.
‘Through The Looking Glass’ by Davey Lane will be available on Spotify, iTunes, and Apple Music on Friday 16th December.
The Monkees Effect: Aussie Artists Pay Tribute To The Culture-Defining Band Ahead Of Their Australian Tour - Music Feeds