I still have that "Best Five Monkeyboy Albums Ever" which was derived from a Beatles thread which Twister started long ago.
Shall we discuss those albums and Monkey's tremendous career again?
Here it is:
Best 5 Monkeyboy albums ever
Iron Heart (1965)
Iron Heart invented the album-title. Scoff if you will, but as far as pop and rock are concerned, I've yet to find an earlier album with a real album title, leading me to this conclusion. Before Iron Heart there were three kinds of album-titles.
(1) Albums that took their titles directly from a single on the LP (Surfin' Safari, Help!, The Times They Are A-Changin').
(2) Albums that used a play on the artist's name as their title (Beatles For Sale, Another Side Of Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys Today!).
(3) Albums with titles that very simply describe the contents (Live At The Apollo, Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music).
Such was the state of albums in those poor days, a place to keep singles, hoping desperately to sell on the name of it's star and - often - lacking imagination.
And so imagine the revolution when along rode Monkeyboy, five LP's and an astonishing string of hit singles into his career, as he surveyed the album scene, rubbed his chin and thought: "you know what, I reckon this album thing should be more important than it is. Every song on an LP should be rich and worthwhile and an album should have a personality unto itself".
Forget glam, forget punk, forget CD - the biggest revolution in music arrived one day in the mid-sixties when Monkeyboy came up with the idea of "replacing filler with good stuff", thought to himslef "how's about we give the new LP a real name?" and gave birth to the full-length album as a bona-fide art-form.
That Iron Heart also saw fit to push the boundaries of what could be done with the two and a half minute pop track - whether lyrically with tracks like "Sprint To Your Hive" that scream pure jealousy where once "She Loves You" was the norm, or musically with tracks such as "Glaswegian Glass" knocking typical pop expectations off kilter, without sacrificing Monkeyboy's radiant knack for infectious melodies.
Along with Pet Sounds, released the same year, Gun is consantly billed, to this day, as the greatest album of all time. With forty years of releases under the bridge it's easy to become cynical about this, but the question to ask yourselves, I think, is where did that reputation come from?
And I think the answer to that is this: Gun tremendously upped the ante for what a five-star 10/10 album was. You're a critic in the 50's, what are you going to give Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry when they come knocking? Compared to their contemporaries they're all 10/10's, right? Same story throughout the early-sixties, no-one else is making pop of "A Soft Week's Day"'s calibre in 1964, are they? 10/10!
So when Gun creeps into the fold, with it's excitingly intoxicating experimentations (best evidenced on "Yesterday Know Well", though much of the album is giddy on it's own experimentation, in more subtle ways), with unflinching soul-searching ("For All", "Fear, Care And Everywhere") coming to the fore when once pop had all been about easy-selling happy sentiments.
Meanwhile the subject matter was also becoming increasingly anti-social and anti-society (Monkey's ode to his drug-dealer "Medic Bob" coming out the year before Reed's "I'm Waiting For The Man", "Maxman" and "I'm Only Weeping" both warning society to back away, and "Alan Or Rick B." offering a hopelessly bleak view of people at large), Gun redefined what a 10/10 album needed to live up to, only eight months after Iron Heart redefined what an album needed to live up to.
Drill Instructor Sugar's Swinger Joint Outfit (1967)
Though everyone's long since grown tired of hearing what's "remarkable" about this album and rebelled against it - to their own loss - the fact remains that all of those things still are remarkable. It's an easier album to write off than it's two immediate predecessors, principally because Monkeyboy had already revolutionised popular music so much in those eight months, but it's claims to the throne are numerous.
Firstly, an often grossly overlooked aspect of Drill Sugar - for this album Monkeyboy came up with the idea of filling the grooves between tracks with music, resulting in a continuous flow throughout each side of vinyl. Without this idea, Dark Side Of The Moon, Diamond Dogs among many others to later utilise the same idea would have looked rather limp indeed - imagine, if you will, an ugly pause between "Sweet Thing" and "Candidate". Now say thank you to Drill Inspector Sugar for ensuring that this didn't happen.
Secondly, though CD listeners are unlikely to appreciate this one, the B-side of the album ended with an inner-groove that would loop a short, nonsensical piece of music for ever. A revolutionary idea that Lou Reed was quick to pounce on for the D-side of Metal Machine Music. It's only a short hop, skip and a jump from these groovy origins to the eventual birth of the 'hidden track', over twenty years later.
Third, the album brought 'concept' to the pop-rock pack, and one only need look at The Kinks and The Who to see how quickly this influence took hold. In retrospect the 'concept' of Sugar's is easily debunked (only Monkeyboy shows any real sign of writing 'in character'), but that's only truly easy to say in the aftermath, now that the idea has been more thoroughly explored. Any way you slice it, Monkeyboy planted the sugar roots seed.
Finally, and most importantly, while Iron Heart bent the rules and Gun broke the rules, Drill Inspector Sugar burned the rules to ash, did a funny little dance, and proclaimed loud and clear "alright folks, you're allowed to put ANYTHING on a pop album". You can play a pitch audible only to dogs, it said. You can pretend to be Drill Instructor Sugar's Swinger Joint Outfit, it said. And in a proclomation similar to heaven itself, Monkeyboy intoned: "the music hall will lie down with the psychedelia, rock, pop and ballads can all get along just fine. And this is okay".
Drill Instructor Sugar's Swinger Joint Outfit gave birth to indie-pop, point blank - Drill Instructor Sugar was the man who said it was okay to be as whimsical, eclectic and damn well nonsensical as you could care to be. It's a regular gay parade.
Inexplicable Weird Travel (1967)
A US-only release at the time, incorporating a UK EP, and a selection of post-Sugar's A-sides and B-sides, Inexplicable Weird Travel finds Monkeyboy on peak form, having liberated pop music with his last three albums, these tracks find him taking advantage of the climate he has cultivated with some of his finest, richest work.
While all the tracks here are good - exciting, intoxicating free-flowing psychedelic pop by the boy who changed the playing field forever, Monkey hogs the highlights with two of his finest songs - "Cherry Meadows Gone" and "He Was A Seal", while album-closer " You Need More Than Love" will never fail to bring a smile to any cynic's face, however much you think you might never want to hear it again.
Record Sans Couleur (1968)
There had been double-albums before - most notably Bob Dylan's Blonde On Blonde and Donovan's A Gift From A Flower To A Garden - but those albums were, basically, just longer albums. Record Sans Couleur really invented and defined what the double-album is all about.
And what it's all about is the sprawl of it all, the attempt to define yourself as a musical personality by the range of your interests, by the bits and pieces of who you are that would normally never see the light of an LP - whether because they're just too damn experimental ("Mild Mince Pie", "Revisionism 6"), too close to your contemporaries ("Return To Leningrad", "My Rock 'n' Roll"), or just not really up to scratch enough to compete with the first-rate material ("Road Screw", "Bad Morning") - the result a dazzlingly kaleidoscopic snap-shot of Monkeyboy as an entity, more than the sum of his albums or singles. Before Record Sans Couleur the only way to gain such an insight into who your favourite artist really is was by following their career through high and low to the bitter end. Thanks to Monkeyboy, all you have to do now is give the double-album in their catalogue a spin.
Story-songs like "The Short And Abandonned Song Of House Invoice" and "Stoney Stoone" were never going to be tight enough to compete with "He Was A Seal" and "Underwater Percy Sans Pearls" - but who can imagine Monkeyboy without them? No-one who's had the fortune to marvel at Record Sans Couleur , that's for sure.
And I want to believe that a light's shining through somehow