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Magnetic South

Michael Nesmith

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Album Review

Anyone who'd been listening closely to the songs Michael Nesmith wrote while a member of the Monkees (or heard his hard to find 1968 solo debut for Dot) already knew that Nesmith had a soft spot for country music. But when Nesmith left the pre-Fab Four to form the First National Band, he dove head first into the twangy stuff, and if he wasn't the first guy to merge country and rock (Gram Parsons easily beat him to the punch on that), he was certainly doing it well before country-rock became the next big thing, and Magnetic South made it clear he had his own distinct way of bringing the two genres together. Nesmith put together a top-flight band who sound at once relaxed and thoroughly committed, whether easing through a laid-back number like "Joanne" or kicking up some dust on "Mama Nantucket"; O.J. "Red" Rhodes' pedal steel work is superb throughout, while bassist John London and drummer John Ware offer strong, unobtrusive support (the great Earl P. Hall also sits in on piano). And though the phrase "cosmic cowboy" wasn't coined for Nesmith, it could have been; here, he indulges himself in a consciously poetic and philosophical lyrical style that's a good bit more abstract than one would expect from a former Monkee, though Nesmith's dry sense of humor is always lurking around the corner, ready to rescue him when he slips too deep into pretension. Mixing a country sound with a rocker's instincts and blending airy thoughts on the nature of life and love with iconography of life in the West that brought together the old and the new, Michael Nesmith reveled in contradictions on Magnetic South, making them sound as comfortable as well-worn cowboy boots and as fun as a Saturday night barn dance. It's a minor masterpiece of country-rock, and while the Eagles may have sold more records, Nesmith yodels a hell of a lot better than any of them.

Customer Reviews

Magnetic South

This album is amazing. Mike Nesmith is most definately the most important and talented member of The Monkees. His solo work has the most beautiful lyrics and melodies. I highly suggest buying this album. Totally worth it.

Biography

Born: December 30, 1942 in Houston, TX

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The comparatively level-headed member of '60s teen sensation the Monkees, Michael Nesmith was the most proficient instrumentalist in the group and wrote their best in-house songs, rootsy pop numbers like "Papa Gene's Blues," "You Told Me," "You Just May Be the One," and "Tapioca Tundra." In fact, he had written many songs before even joining the group, and one of his compositions, "Different Drum," was a hit for Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys in 1968. After he left the Monkees one year later,...
Full bio