The Monkees were a bubblegum pop band, however, they also had an influence on a classic rock song. Specifically, “Pleasant Valley Sunday” influenced the instrumentation of a classic 1980s rock track. Here’s the story of the 1980s song — and how it performed compared to “Pleasant Valley Sunday.”
This 1980s track ‘borrowed’ a riff from The Monkees’ ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’
“Pleasant Valley Sunday” sticks out among the Prefab Four’s hits for a number of reasons. First, it’s one of their most socially conscious hits, with its cheeky criticism of suburbia. In addition, it’s closer to being a hard rock song than The Monkees’ other classics, even if it isn’t exactly hard rock itself. It’s also notable for having an influence on the British band XTC.
XTC frontman Andy Partridge told Goldmine he’s a big Monkees fan. He especially enjoys their album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. He noted that the album was more avant-garde and psychedelic than The Monkees’ other LPs.
When asked to name some favorite Monkees tunes, Partridge replied “Oh man, impossible. ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday.’ Great song, delivered with spunk, great guitar riff and harmonies, wonderful production… and I loved that ending where everything was pushed deep into the reverb chamber. A trick I ‘borrowed’ for the end of the XTC number ‘Great Fire.’ ‘[Last Train to] Clarksville,’ of course; man, that guitar intro. I still can’t play that quite right. Oh, ‘Zor and Zam’ was another goodie. Actually, all in all ‘Randy Scouse Git’ is probably my all-out fave…Too many, too many.”
How the world reacted to ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’
So did “Great Fire” perform as well as “Pleasant Valley Sunday”? “Great Fire” was not a single, so it didn’t chart on the Billboard Hot 100. “Pleasant Valley Sunday” reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. However, it’s not fair to compare the success of the two songs since one wasn’t a single.
Andy Partridge wrote this song for The Monkees
Partridge’s connection to The Monkees didn’t end with “Great Fire.” In 2016, The Monkees released Good Times!, an album with songs written by a number of rock stars. Partridge contributed a song to Good Times! called “You Bring the Summer.”
Partridge told Goldmine he wanted “You Bring the Summer” to sound like an archetypal Monkees song, with a “Twanging guitar line, a la ‘Clarksville,’ ‘Love is Only Sleeping’ and ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday,’ that was a must. Also, a cheeky kind of lyric with a dash of surrealism, like [Micky Dolenz’s] for ‘Randy Scouse Git.’” He also allowed the Prefab Four to have input on “You Bring the Summer,” saying “I didn’t flesh out my demos with harmonies, as I didn’t want to dictate to them. I was really excited to hear what they’d come up with in that department. It had to have joy.” XTC took influence from The Monkees — and they later used a song from Partridge.
[Correction: An earlier version referred to Andy Partridge as Alan.]