Wednesday, November 4, 2015

David Jones - David Jones

David Jones
David Jones
Colpix Records 493

David Jones is of course Davy Jones of the Monkees.  This was his debut album which predated the Monkees by a year.  I'd seen the record in the bins for years without ever considering buying it even though I'm a big fan of the Monkees.  I just assumed it would not be very good.  Then when Jones died in 2012, I finally bought a copy in a fit of sentimentality.  I hate to admit it, but my first instincts were correct.  I was appalled the first time I played it.  I expected bubblegum or sunshine pop, but most of what I heard sounded like show tunes or music hall type songs all sung in an exaggerated English accent that made Peter Noone sound like John Wayne.  Once I overcame my initial disappointment, I came to appreciate the album more, but I still don't like it all that much.  "What Are We Going to Do" was the single off the album.  It is a jaunty tune that sounds like Herman's Hermits.  It was a stiff on the charts but I think it is one of the more appealing tracks on the record.  It is followed by three straight music hall songs.  "Maybe It's Because I'm a Londoner" dates from the 1940s, "Put Me Amongst the Girls" goes back to 1907 and "Any Old Iron" is from 1911.  "Any Old Iron" is given a rock treatment, but the other two sound old-fashioned.  Jones excelled at this sort of stuff but it is not my cup of tea.  I do like the energy of "Any Old Iron" which Jones sings with a lot of enthusiasm.  It is back to the modern world for "Theme For a New Love" which is a corny love song that Jones recites rather than sings not unlike his Monkees' song "The Day We Fall in Love."  I hate it but I imagine the teenyboppers liked it.  Side two begins with a cover of Dylan's "It Ain't Me Babe" that is modeled after the Turtles' folk-rock version.  It is better than I would have expected, Jones sings it convincingly.  "Face Up To It" sounds like early 1960's pop that builds in a "Bolero" like structure.  The arrangement is overblown but Jones' vocal performance is strong.  Van McCoy's "Dream Girl" is what I originally expected the album to be like.  It is an inane song with a very poppy sound, very commercial sounding.  Jones was always good at this sort of pop fluff and I think it is one of more successful tunes on the record.  It is back to the music hall for a cover of Tony Hatch's "Baby It's Me" which Petula Clark released in 1963.  The old fashioned arrangement makes it sound older than that.  It is followed by a cover of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil's "My Dad" which was a big hit for Paul Petersen in 1962.  Jones version is just as sappy as the original.  The album concludes with "This Bouquet" which is a welcome return to bubblegum pop that reminds me of Gary Lewis and the Playboys.  This album is an obvious effort to manufacture a pop star.  Jones was being manipulated and groomed by record company lackeys which was probably ideal training for his early career with the Monkees.  The record flopped largely I think because the songs were so pedestrian and out of touch with the 1965 music scene.  Most of it sounds more like 1960 or even earlier.  Nonetheless Jones' talent is evident throughout the album.  He sings with verve and charisma.  I'm not sorry I bought it, but I doubt that I'm going to be playing it very much.  Recommended to Herman's Hermits fans whose favorite song is "I'm Henry VIII, I Am."