52 Songs #15 - The Monkees, Angel Band
This week: The Monkees, Angel Band, from the lp Missing Links Vol. 3, released in 1996.
You knew we'd get around to the Monkees eventually, didn't you? Or at least Nesmith. Anyway, this Michael Nesmith production comes from the compilation of unreleased stuff called Missing Links Vol 3. As you might guess from the title, they were really scraping the bottom of the barrel to find enough shit to make a record, so this comp includes things like "Kellogg's Jingle" and "Love to Love (Alternate Mix)", for which no one waited with bated breath. However, there are a few Nesmith gems on it, and this is one.
Note that he didn't write Angel Band; it's a traditional Appalachian/bluegrass hymn and has been recorded many times by many artists, including the Stanley Brothers and Emmylou Harris. Nez' version is rather overblown here, with too much orchestration, but I like his vocal performance. I don't know why he chose to do this song, but it's an interesting exercise in production and you can see what he was aiming for: a grand, showy song without a trace of subtlety.
Now, on the other end of the spectrum, listen to this version, recorded in 1969 in Arkansas as part of a folk song collection. Nez only wishes he could be this honest. I still get chills every time I hear it.
Come back next Monday for another of the 52 songs!