Alternate Title

Oct 12, 2010

I suppose I was around the age of 10 when I first joined the UK Monkees fan club. Years later I joined another Monkees fan club. In the 1970s and 1980s there were dozens !! Unsurprisingly the membership has long since lapsed but in fact, I never stopped being a fan. Oh, and being in a Monkees fan club in your late teens was a great way to meet girls !!. But they would say things like “Which is your favourite Monkee ?”. I didn’t really have an answer to that. I just saw them as a band that made great (and often under-appreciated) music. Music was most definitely of a secondary consideration to the girls. They were far more interested in the character and personality (and looks) of each of the pre-fab four and had umpteen pictures of their favourite fantasy in scrapbooks and on bedroom walls. So, eventually, if asked I would say my favourite Monkee was Micky. He sang all the best songs. One of the first songs he penned for the band was the album track “Randy Scouse Git” which appeared on the Monkees third LP “Headquarters” in 1967 and which obliquely referred to his visit to the UK and meeting the Beatles and his future wife.

She’s a wonderful lady and she’s mine all mine
And there doesn’t seem a way that she won’t come and lose my mind.
It’s too easy humming songs to a girl in yellow dress
It’s been a long time since the party and the room is in a mess.

The four kings of EMI are sitting stately on the floor
There are birds out on the sidewalk and a valet at the door.
He reminds me of a penguin with few and plastered hair
There’s talcum powder on the letter, and the birthday-boy is there.

Why don’t you cut your hair ?
Why don’t you live up there ?
Why don’t you do what I do
See what I feel when I care ?

Now they’ve darkened all the windows and the seats are naugahyde.
I’ve been waiting for an hour I can’t find a place to hide.
The being known as Wonder Girl is speaking I believe.
It’s not easy trying to tell her that I shortly have to leave.

Why don’t you be like me ?
Why don’t you stop and see ?
Why don’t you hate who I hate
Kill who I kill to be free ?

Repeat chorus, drum solo, drop drumsticks etc

The song was so catchy that it was released as a single in the UK (but never in the USA) and reached the top 10. But the powers that be thought that perhaps “Randy Scouse Git” wasn’t the most user-friendly title. Of course it was what Alf (Warren Mitchell) called his idle son-in-law Mike (Antony Booth) on the TV sitcom “Till death us do part”. Micky had heard the phrase and probably not even asked what it meant. You can just imagine the following conversation:-

Record executive 1: “What we need is an alternate title.”
Record Executive 2: “By jove that’s it !!”

Here is an alternate Alternate title.

As recently as the 1990s a friend from the USA was surprised to discover the track had been re-named in this way when I sent her a UK single.

It’s amazing to think they could sell a monthly magazine that just contained the lyrics of the current hits but they did. This magazine and similar ones like Disco 45 continued well into the 1980s.

PS: The “b” side of “Alternate Title” was “Forget that girl”. Sung by Davy it is one of the best tunes the Monkees ever recorded. You got value for your money in those days. Considering how many times I must have played that single on an old gramophone meant for 78rpm records I’m amazed it still sounds so good…and loud… There seems to have been a period around 1966/1967 when singles released on certain labels had the volume boosted. This made certain songs positively boom out of the jukeboxes of the time. It’s particularly noticeable on some Stones records, also DDDBM&T and a couple of Monkees singles…..especially this one and “A little bit me, a little bit you”.

PPS: Which as usual sent me off on a tangent hunting out some of those “loud” 45s and checking if they included any Tamla Motown singles. (As if I haven’t got far more important stuff to do….). Then I thought I’d look to see how many cover versions of “Alternate Title” had been made. Surprisingly few. The UK bands Bad Manners and Carter USM had a stab at it along with one or two bands no one has ever heard of on Monkees tribute albums and that’s about it. Of course, The Monkees sang it often enough on their TV show for the tune to still be so recognisable today.

3 Responses to “Alternate Title”

  1. dirigibledave Says:

    Having spent the best part of 2 days battling manually with a nasty filthy little virus that no anti-v software I’ve found managed to clear it was timely to be chanelled into thinking of one of my all-time favourite bands. Thanks!
    No matter how popular they remain, they’re still under-rated. Wasn’t only the girls had stuff on their walls, I had the complete set of bubblegum cards stuck over the firepace, both sides, front and back (oh to have 2 sets of them now, sigh). Still got about a dozen Monkees magazines though.

    As to favourite, well I’ll just say that I still treasure the memory of Mike Nesmith arriving for a gig in 1975 or 1976 at the local Uni and being very surprised that a hundred or so people would want to hear him play – he was over to discuss with his record company and played only three small UK gigs, the other two in London. Sat on a stool at the bar for an hour before going on stage, talking to anyone about anything and playing pretty well anything requested from ‘Loose Salute’, ‘Nevada Fighter’ etc, and then played a top set which was almost entirely requests, including any Monkeees song anyone wanted. One of my most treasured gigs and a sign of a fine man. Oh, yes, and if I ever find Brian W who never returned my tapes of the whole thing years later he’s for a serious talking to, I’ll tell you.

    While I’m gibbering, might as well mention that ‘Porpoise Song’, one of the best psych-period songs The Beatles never recorded, was quite rightly but surprisingly voted as one of the best songs ever by one of those musicians polls years ago. OK so it was a Goffin and King composition, but nobody other than Dolenz or Lennon could have sung it quite like that. And I still think side 2 of Nesmith’s ‘The Prison’ is as wondrous as the first time I heard it.

    I’ll have a cup of cold gravy with a hair in it, thanks.

  2. Says:

    In the interests of completion – and as an example for students everywhere of
    1) anal retentivity
    2) the effects of age on memory
    3) the importance of trivia to the individual in the 21st century

    I’ve come across the answer to when the gig was, purely by accident while grazing on last months Record Collector.

    The Nesmith gigs were in April 1974. He was part of the Zig-Zag celebrations at The Roundhouse now immortalised on disc, and played in Sussex as an extension of this (several Zig Zag people, Chilli Willi personnel, Ian from Starry Eyed and Laughing and the promoters all lived there, hence the reason for gig I remembered).

    What this adddled brain forgot many centuries ago was I actually there at the Roundhouse as well. I blame the chemicals, but at least the puzzle is solved and in digital form forever.

    Can’t have anyone reading this blog in a hundred years thinking ‘if only he’d remembered exactly when it was we could archive Human Knowledge Archive X-UK-MUSIC-1970s-Mike Nesmith-Bureau22122446656565a’

  3. Although I never saw Nesmith solo live I saw umpteen bands/singers that toured in the mid 1970s. I think I may still have some Nesmith bootleg tapes from those days when I was a different person living in a different place doing different things. Was that me with the long coat with the furry collar and the long hair going miles to gigs without any thought about if/when I’d get back or how ? Guess it must have been.

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