The Monkees

33 1/3

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This hour-long network television special was the final project from the four original Monkees during the '60s. By late 1968 the group had ceased touring, their revolutionary weekly sit-com had been cancelled and their feature-length motion picture Head was bombing at the box office. In essence, the concept behind this musical fantasy was to poke holes in the band's prefabricated origins as hired actors portraying musicians. Brit-blues organist Brian Auger plays a Dr. Frankenstein-like character that transforms them into his test tube musical Monkee robots. But wait ... it gets even weirder. Auger ultimately creates a living rock and roll jukebox and while under his influence the quartet perform in a variety of genres. 33 & 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee also includes an all-star guest list of pop music icons. Auger's band The Trinity performs a funky version of "I'm A Believer" -- which features a cluttered duet between Julie Driscoll and Micky Dolenz -- as well as a rousing R&B take on the Rascals' "Come On Up"." Perhaps the most bizarre scene involves an all-star medley of '50s rockers. Little Richard raves through a few choruses of "Tutti Fruitti," while a piano thumpin' Jerry Lee Lewis pounds into "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On," and as if that weren't enough, Fats Domino simultaneously strolls through the creole soul of "I'm Ready"." The Monkees' contributions of "At The Hop" and "Little Darlin'" are nominal at best. The individual members do shine however during their respective solos: Peter Tork's cover of "Prithee (Do Not Ask For Love)" as well as his harpsichord solo on C.P.E. Bach's "Solfeggietto" are ironically among his finest musical moments during his involvement with theMonkees. Likewise, Michael Nesmith's biting satire "Naked Persimmon" and the "Listen To The Band" grand finale are among the programme's highlights. In 1996 33 & 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee was issued on VHS from Rhino Home Video. Potential viewers should note that although the best available elements were accessed, no master video tapes or celluloid prints have been found. As such, the audio and video quality is not pristine, but definitely viewable.