If anyone thinks that The Monkees have no musical abilities beyond being pretty faces and pretty voices, their 1996 reunion album Justus should put those doubts to rest.
record is their first written, produced, and performed entirely by
themselves, and they function as an extremely tight unit. All four of
them do a great job on their instruments – Micky Dolenz on drums,
Davy Jones on percussion, Peter Tork on bass and keyboards, and
Michael Nesmith on guitars.
real revelation here is Nesmith, who, aside from playing acoustic
rhythm guitar as a solo singer-songwriter and leaving the fancy stuff
to his backing bands, has dabbled over the years as an electric
here, in addition to playing acoustic rhythm guitar, Nesmith totally
lets loose with rip-roaring electric guitar leads, riffs, and solos,
proving himself adept in a variety of styles from pop and rock to
progressive and new wave.
to Nesmith grind his axe on Justus makes me wish that he had
done more guitar-based instrumentals on his own albums, or even
entire guitar-based instrumental albums, especially since as a
vocalist he’s more prone to generally laid-back, country-style
crooning (although he can really belt out some tunes when he wants
Nesmith still has time to record at least one guitar-based
instrumental album if he so desires, as he is still very agile and
active at this stage of his life.
Justus will have to do for now – as it has for the last 20
years – as the one definitive showcase of what Nesmith is really
capable of as a six- (and more)-string shredder.
Justus is a very good Monkees album.