The Minus 5, led by Seattle singer-songwriter Scott McCaughey, have released “Of Monkees and Men,” an album of original music composed in the spirit of the ‘60s pop band.
Seattle singer-songwriter Scott McCaughey, best known as the leader of the Young Fresh Fellows, was 11 years old when he first heard the Monkees classic “Last Train to Clarksville.”
That was 1965. More than 50 years later, McCaughey and his band Minus 5 have released “Of Monkees and Men” (Yep Roc), an album inspired by the famous made-for-TV group. It is not an album of covers, however, but a creative tribute focused on reinventing the past, not merely regurgitating it.
McCaughey is known for bringing music and musicians into the studio that have long inspired him. Previous albums saw collaborations with Wilco, The Decemberists and R.E.M.’s Peter Buck — all essential ambassadors of boomer-friendly pop/rock. Though “Of Monkees and Men” doesn’t bring any living Monkees on board, Minus 5 attempts to capture their quintessential sound and image through modern work.
Side one features songs written for each Monkee or close associates, such as songwriters Boyce & Hart. “Michael Nesmith” and “Song for Peter Tork” capture the groovy spirit of these ‘60s icons, while also embodying the lyrical depth of a biography.
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Side two is a bit more varied. “Robert Ryan is Among Us” nods to that tough-guy actor, while “Richmond Fontaine” glowingly describes the sound of the songwriter’s favorite Portland, Ore. alt-country band. McCaughey even throws his old “Blue Rickenbacker” a bone, showing how this classic guitar helped solidify his path as a career rock n’ roller.
Note: The Monkees play the Moore Theatre on Sept. 25.