October 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 !!”
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.