I've got a secret that I've been keeping for almost twenty years, and I finally think it is time I tell someone. For a long, long time, it has been a closely guarded secret, one that I have not wanted to reveal for fear of what people might think. Scared of being mock or ostracized, I have kept part of my life safe for so many years. But, a few weeks ago, I decided that the time has come for me to step out of the closet, and let the world see me for who I really am.
Yes, it is true. I'm a closet New Monkees fan. What? Why are you looking at me like that? What'd you think I was going to say?
Although I'm a fan of the original Monkees, I'm not talking about Davy, Mickey, Peter, and Mike. I'm talking about Larry, Dino, Jared, and Marty - The New Monkees. Never heard of them? Let me fill you in.
In 1986, the original Monkees were celebrating their 20th anniversary, and making a huge comeback because of it. At the time, Columbia Pictures Television decided to capitalize on the Monkees resurgence by trying to "strike gold" twice by creating a new band as had happened with the original quartet. A grueling set of interviews and auditions were held with thousands of people trying out for the new band. In the end, it was announced that the New Monkees would be Jared Chandler (bass and vocals), Dino Kovas (drums and vocals), Marty Ross (guitar and vocals), and Larry Saltis (lead guitar and vocals). Unlike the original band, musical ability played a key factor in the selection process, which meant that the new band played their own instruments.
With the New Monkees assembled, Columbia Pictures Television recorded a new TV show and a self-titled album. The TV show was intended to aired in syndication for twenty-two episodes. The rating on the TV show were lower than expected so the show was cancelled after only thirteen episodes. The album, which was distributed by Warner Bros. Records, never made any headway on the charts.
Now, I will be the first to say that the TV show was pretty bad. Unlike the original Monkees TV show (which ran for two seasons), the New Monkees was bizarre and almost a little creepy. I don't miss the show. But, at the time, and even now, I thought their music was fantastic. You have to keep in mind that this was the late 1980s so the music had that synth pop rock sound to it. Like every band from that time, there were some great songs on the album as well as a few not so great songs. But, in my opinion, there were a few that really could have been hits if given the chance.
In all honesty, I don’t think the band was ever given a fair chance. There was a stigma around them from day one, possibly because they were being touted as another "manufactured" band, like the original Monkees. Although "manufactured" boy bands are commonplace today, this was the 1980s when there was no American Idol or X-Factor or The Voice on television. Bands were expected to "pay their dues" before making it big.
So, why have I hidden this for so long? Well, when the show first aired, I rushed out and bought the album, recorded the show on VHS tapes, and was generally pretty excited about the New Monkees. To my surprise, none of my friends seemed to care. I would never mention any names, Brian Edwards, but I do seem to remember being heckled a bit for it. So, I quietly slipped away with my cassette tape, and kept my enthusiasm for the band a secret. About ten years ago, long after the cassette tape died, I stumbled across a CD of the band's only album in a used record store, and snatched it up. A few weeks ago, while driving to a weekend kayaking trip, I was jamming in my car to some of my favorite tracks from the album, and decided I've hidden this for far too long.
There you have it, my deep dark secret. Mock and heckle away, I don't care anymore. I'm going to put on my head phones, and crank up the music!