1. Yellow Butterfly
2. Laugh Kills Lonesome
3. Moon over the Rio Grande
6. Brazil (Aquarela Do Brasil)
7. In the Still of the Night
8. Rising in Love
9. Begin the Beguine
10. I Am Not That
11. ...For the Island
12. Twilight on the Trail
The best since Infinite Rider...though distinctly different.
Michael Nesmith is the most inventive genius of 4 Monkees. Yes, I'm always going to be a "Davy girl", but I appreciate the supreme genius that is Michael. First off, "Tropical Campfires" is NOT country. It is a marriage of calypso and Western cowboy music, much like a Jimmy Buffett album.
All you need to do is look at that title, and that's the entire sound of the album. The big plus to this album is that Michael remade "Brazil", "In the Still of the Night" (Cole Porter, not the '50s version), and "Begin the Beguine" (also Cole Porter); they are the best versions I've ever heard. Another favorite on here is "Yellow Butterfly", which Michael described as transcendental (I THINK that was the word, though I may be missing the exact word.)--a belief that somewhere in the world a certain thing is happening that causes something to happen where we are, in this case it is raining, so "somewhere sails a yellow butterfly." Everytime I see a yellow butterfly, I smile and think it is raining somewhere.
"Juliana", my favorite all-time love song, other than Michael's "Propinquity" from the Complete albums, is also on here. Men have no patience for the slow-going, peacefully tender exclamation of intense love (such as my husband, who likes the phrases I quote him from it, but has yet been able to listen to the whole thing.), but women listening everywhere melt, wishing that there was a man who wrote them a song with the words: "How your name brings me awake like the first light of dawn....You're my sweet heart's desire, you're the face of a dream I have drawn." This song is so beautifully rendered that I even plan to name our daughter, should we ever have one, Julianna. As a writer myself, I know that love has never been expressed this way ("the face of a dream I have drawn"...wow!) which makes it all the more brilliant that Papa Nez continually finds ways to freshen up old ideas and make them his own.
Do I urge you to buy this? YES! Give Nez a chance. And now that I've reviewed this, I'm going off to listen to "Begin the Beguine".
Papa Nez is back - and still a genius
This is without a doubt one of the most beautiful country albums of the 90s. Nez - after his romance with the Sythie-Pop of the 80s - got back home to his roots in the C&W; area. In comparison with his golden work from the 70s, where he practically founded countryrock ("Nevada Fighter" just possibly being the best countryrock album of all times), the older Nez sounds relaxed and almost swinging, with clear tropical influences - as the title suggests. Especially wonderful are "Moon Over The Rio Grande" and "Twilight On The Trail" for beautiful melodies and poetic lyrics, and "I Am Not That" for the neztypical sense of humour. "One..." and "...For The Island" are an absolute innovation: the same song in two parts, once as a fascinating instrumental, then as breathtaking choir. "In The Still Of The Night" is in my humble opinion the best version of a Cole Porter song there is, and it is a pleasant surprise to hear that it is possible to sing "Begin The Beguine" with a winking eye, and without any kind of corniness - everyone aquainted with the Iglesias-version knows what I mean ;) Further on it should be noted that this the last regular album with the late pedal steel legend Red Rhodes. A perfect album for friends of good, intelligent, and sophisticated music - and the best about it is that it's still perfectly light and easy-going, in the very best sense!
As a huge fan of Michael Nesmith's solo work, Tropical Campfires gets my enthusiastic recommendation as one of Nez's best works...Even if you've only heard one or two of Nesmith's songs, like Joanne, this is the CD that I think defines whether the casual listener becomes a fan or not. The songs are intricately crafted and beautifully performed. My particular favorites are Yellow Butterfly and Moon on the Rio Grande. The latter is a song that never fails to relax and send me to a comfortable plane...a high compliment for any song or songwriter! Every track on this CD is worth a listen, although I wasn't particularly crazy about Julianna.
The only album of Nesmith that surpasses this one in quality is Live at the Palais, sadly also out of print (I own three copies)! I highly recommend that you go out and buy a copy of Tropical Campfires while it can still be had!