The Wichita Train Whistle Sings/Timerider
Please note, territorial restrictions may apply to this product.
• As a member of the first-ever manufactured group, Michael Nesmith needs little introduction. Aside from his ground-breaking projects in the field of music video and film production, he has enjoyed a solo career since he left the Monkees that has encompassed many styles of music, but has always been supported by his wonderful songwriting.
• The first album on this CD, digitally remastered and resequenced by Nesmith himself from the only recently rediscovered original multi-track tapes, was recorded in 1967 at the height of the Monkees’ fame. It features intriguing big band arrangements of Nesmith’s compositions (both Monkees and future solo songs), recorded with LA’s finest session musicians.
• The second album is Nesmith's first film soundtrack album, originally released in 2000, and featuring renowned LA session man Richie Zito on guitar. Neither of these albums has ever been issued outside of the US.
• The booklet features extensive newly-written annotation by Nez himself as well as his own Polaroid photos from the filming of “Timerider”.
|| ||Nine Time Blues|
|| ||While I Cried|
|| ||You Just May Be The One|
|| ||Tapioca Tundra|
|| ||Don't Cry Now|
|| ||Carlisle Wheeling (Conversations)|
|| ||Papa Gene's Blues|
|| ||You Told Me|
|| ||Sweet Young Thing|
|| ||Don't Call On Me|
|| ||The Baja 1000|
|| ||Lost In The Weeds|
|| ||Somewhere Around 1875|
|| ||Scared To Death|
|| ||Silks And Sixguns|
|| ||Dead Man's Duds|
|| ||Two Swanns At The Pond|
|| ||I Want That Machine|
|| ||Escape To San Marcos|
|| ||Claire's Cabin|
|| ||No Jurisdiction|
|| ||Murder At Swallow's Camp|
|| ||Claire's Rescue|
|| ||Up The Hill To Nowhere|
|| ||Out Of Ammo|
Birmingham Sunday Mercury
Michael Nesmith was the most musically talented of The Monkees, and went on to an eclectic solo career. Two CDs just released each feature a couple of bizarrely-titled albums. There’s From A Radio Engine To The Proton Wing paired with Infinite Rider On The Big Dogma, two albums which find Nesmith dabbling in all sorts of music to mixed effect. The other album combines big band set The Witcha Train Whistle Sings, with the country-rock themed instrumental soundtrack to a movir titled Timerider. His best-known, and only, UK hit Rio nestles amid this varied and interesting collection of songs.
The most talented musician in The Monkees, Michael ‘Mike’ Nesmith went on to release several acclaimed solo albums. This title combines a 1969 album of big band style versions of songs recorded by The Monkees and by Nesmith solo, with Timerider, a 1983 film soundtrack. Both are instrumental.
Mojo, April 08
“First release from country-rock’s poet paired with his first soundtrack”
Q, April 08
“One-time Monkee man’s chequered past”
The only Monkee with musical credibility, Michael Nesmith made some of the most neglected country-rock of the 70’s.
Uncut, April 08
“Exploration of former Monkee’s belfry yields battiness”
The four albums collected in this pair of reissues illustrate an artistic palette of a range and raging eccentricity regrettably unimaginable in the members of any of The Monkees’ contemporary descendants in the pre-fab pop field. Wichita Train…, recorded as a side project during The Monkees’ boom years, is a collection of orch pop arrangements; Timerider, originally released in 2000, is a fabulously awful gallimaufry of disco metal; Radio Engine, Nesmith’s 1977 solo album, is amiable Gene Clark-variety country; Infinite Rider, its 1979 successor, faintly demented pub rock. On the whole, intermittently inspired, often inexplicable, never dull.
Retro Music Review, March 08
Michael Nesmith has always been much more than a Monkee. A genuinely unique talent, Nesmith is responsible for some of the most intriguing songs released under the Monkees brand. In 1967, at the height of Monkees mania, Nesmith took 10 of his intriguing songs and turned them into an even more intriguing instrumental piece, The Wichita Train Whistle Sings. Monkees chartbusters such as “Sweet Young Thing” and “You Just May Be The One” are turned into big band showstoppers, under the able baton of arranger/conductor Shorty Rogers. Nesmith and Rogers collaborated on the arrangements, which run the gamut, from a Burt Bacharach style take on “Don’t Call On Me” to the George Martin-esque “Tapioca Tundra.” “You Told Me” is a feast for lovers of good horn arrangements. “Carlisle Wheeling (Conversations)” struts along smoothly, swinging out like a mod rocker with a Duke Ellington fetish. Falling somewhere between Benny Goodman and Frank Zappa, Nesmith’s Wichita Whistle is pure, mad genius. This is thanks in no small part to the incredible cast of musicians Nesmith assembled for this amazing two-day session. Doug Dillard’s banjo on “Don’t Cry Now” is an absolute kick. Larry Knechtel’s foreboding organ intro to “Nine Times Blue” would terrify the Phantom of the Opera. Earl Palmer and Hal Blaine, both contenders for the title of World’s Greatest Drummer, keep these tunes pumping along intensely, ably assisted by the inimitable Chuck Berghofer on bass. Cellist Edgar Lustgarten, trumpeter Jimmy Zito, trombonist Milt Bernhart, guitarists Tommy Tedesco and James Burton; the list of luminaries goes on and on. With this work, Nesmith demonstrated that he was writing above and beyond the pop song form. His compositions were, and still are, something special and unclassifiable. Edsel couples Wichita Whistle with an entirely different instrumental piece, Nesmith’s soundtrack to the 1982 science fiction film Timerider. A screaming metal guitar opus (Nesmith admits in the liner notes to being heavily influenced by The Scorpions), this record is coming from a whole ‘nother planet. While it may not bear repeated casual listenings, Timerider is an interesting ’80s period piece, and a testament to Nesmith’s versatility. The film, produced and co-written by Nesmith, was also an award winner, picking up the Best Screenplay trophy at the Fantafestival in Italy.
Allmusic.com, July 08
This two-fer — on the UK-based Edsel imprint — contains a pair of Michael Nesmith's most diverse non-pop music projects. The Wichita Train Whistle Sings (1968) is the artist's solo debut LP as he put together a star-studded 52-piece ensemble of studio musicians to perform 10 big band orchestral arrangements of his own compositions. Timerider (1982) is the Motion Picture Soundtrack Recording to the film of the same name, which Nesmith not only scored, but also co-wrote and acted, albeit as an uncredited extra. Although both titles had been issued on CD before, Nesmith took the time to personally remaster each and provide an essay for the package. In terms of audio fidelity, The Wichita Train Whistle Sings sounds better than all previous incarnations thanks to the recovery of the master tapes. In fact, Nesmith comments in his liner notes that " … the mix on the [original] record was poor … ," adding " … this mix is really the first time I have heard the pieces close to the way I hoped they would sound." Owners of the … Dot Records pressing might also note that the sequence has been altered to reflect his initial intent. Some of the titles had been on Monkees' albums, while others would turn up as part of his solo fare. The off-the-wall and slightly schizophrenic "Nine Times Blue" — marked by a Doug Dillard banjo solo — "Tapioca Tundra" and the otherwise unavailable Nesmith composition "Don't Cry Now" are all standouts. Timerider is a comparatively different experience with a 1980s heavy metal motif which — as Nesmith indicates — was influenced by the German-based iconic combo, The Scorpions as "Michael Schenker's guitar sound was ringing in my head." While the plot of the movie deals with time travel, along for the ride on the soundtrack are another impressive cache of instrumentalists. These included Nesmith's oft-collaborators Joe Chemay (bass) and John Hobbs (keyboards) with the sizable string work split between electric fret wiz Richie Zito (guitar), whose modern '80s sound and approach would aurally represent the present (circa 1982). David Mansfield (slide guitar/mandolin) was used for the acoustic-based selections that would indicate action in the past. While the melodies are excellent, it essentially remains as incidental music from the early '80s and with that associated baggage comes self-indulgent, rambling and synthesiser-riddled leads that practically defined the era. However, tracks such as "Scared To Death," "Dead Man's Duds," "I Want That Machine," "Escape To San Marcos," "Murder At Shallow's Camp" and "Up The Hill To Nowhere" are well worth enduring the rest.
Michael Nesmith Facts
- He had already released two singles under the name Michael Blessing before he auditioned successfully for The Monkees.
- He was the first Monkee to have his compositions recorded for the group’s albums.
- He is the only Monkee to have a solo hit in the UK, with “Rio”.
- He has written several songs that do not feature the title anywhere in the song: Papa Gene’s Blues, Good Clean Fun, Some Of Shelly’s Blues, Propinquity, Carlisle Wheeling.
- Linda Ronstadt recorded “Different Drum” and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band recorded “Mary Mary” while he was still in the Monkees.
- His mother invented Liquid Paper, the correcting fluid. Figures vary as to how much he inherited when she died…
- He is considered to be one of the pioneers of country rock (along with Gram Parsons), a style adopted by The Eagles and many others.
- He invented the notion of making pop videos with a storyboard. He misunderstood Island Records’ boss Chris Blackwell’s request for a “film of ‘Rio’” in 1977, when the single climbed into the UK Top 30. Blackwell simply wanted a film of Nesmith singing the song, but Nez interpreted it as a request for a film dramatising the lyrics.
- He invented the concept of MTV. After making several films for songs from the “From A Radio Engine” and “Infinite Rider” albums, he noticed that there were very few outlets for these films to get shown more than once. He also noticed that the growth in record companies making increasingly more expensive promo videos coincided with the growth in cable TV channels in the US, with hours of airtime to fill. The promo videos represented hours and hours of content, already created and sitting on a shelf. Nesmith created a programme called “Pop Clips” for Nickelodeon – the concept was then sold to Time Warner who developed it into MTV.
- He won the first video Grammy for his programme “Elephant Parts”.
- He spent much of the 80s in TV and film production – notable films include “Repo Man” and “Tape Heads”.
- He has written and recorded two “books with soundtracks” (“The Prison” and “The Garden”). The listener plays the record while reading the book.
- He was a good friend of “Hitch-Hikers Guide To The Galaxy” author Douglas Adams.
- His website (www.videoranch.com) is home to his current project Videoranch 3D, a virtual environment on the internet that hosts live performances at various virtual venues inside the Ranch.