In the last episode of the original Monkees TV series, a plant-like alien creature is introduced which emits a cloud of smoke that makes everyone who comes in contact with it…very…mellow. Mickey Dolenz was unambiguous about it. The Frodis was marijuana.
Nick Bertling is unambiguous about something as well. He’s a big Monkees fan. With the release of The Frodis Tape, he (performing as Bertling Noise Laboratories) pays homage to the once-derided “Pre-Fab Four” which, to the shock of all but pop music fans, turned right around and became bona fide stars. That was a long time ago, mind you – late 1960s. Here on the second chapter of the 21st Century, few would see a tribute to The Monkees as anything less than logical.
Arriving in two forms, The Frodis Tape is available through Bandcamp as the typical stream/digital download and as a literal cassette tape release. That’s fun. What’s even more fun is the way that Bertling has funneled his care and consideration into the effort.
The album sounds raw and terrific. Bertling, a one man band, plays everything on the release and does a fine job. What really stands out is the tracklist. There are only two tracks that could be expected: the obvious run-through of the theme song and the woefully underrated hit “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone.” Apart from these, the tape is loaded with deep cuts and oddities such as the replication of a Kellogg’s cereal jingle The Monkees recorded. If you were on the hunt for easier targets like “I’m A Believer,” “Daydream Believer,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” or “Valleri,” look elsewhere.
Instead, we are treated to “Your Auntie Grizelda,” “Circle Sky,” “You Told Me,” “She Hangs Out,” and more. It’s like Nick Bertling is taking you into his confidence, saying, “Yeah, yeah, I know, these are the songs you’ve always known, but can I interest you in a little bit of this over here?”
As passion projects go, you likely couldn’t go farther than this extra mile effort, and having a cassette tape of the release is nostalgia overload. The cassettes are deeply, truly limited, so if you want one you should jump on it. But even if you can’t snag a tape, The Frodis Tape is a worthwhile tribute recording in function, regardless of the form.
The Frodis Tape is available at Bandcamp: https://bertlingnoiselaboratories.bandcamp.com/album/the-frodis-tape