In October 1971, Bell Records released Davy Jones' second solo album. The eponymous effort arrived during a challenging period in Davy's career. The Monkees last LP, Changes, had failed to chart a year before, and the group's television series (despite being a hit in syndication in the early 1970s), had been canceled in 1968. With a considerably lower profile, Davy struggled to find an audience in the immediate post-Monkees years.
Produced by Jackie Mills and arranged by Al Capps, the album yielded a couple of singles (and two more additional non-LP singles would follow on Bell). "Rainy Jane" was issued in May 1971 and backed with "Welcome to My Love." The lead single ended up achieving moderate success, peaking at #52 on Billboard, #32 on Cash Box, and #31 on Record World.
The second single taken from the album, "I Really Love You"/"Sitting In The Apple Tree," was less successful, peaking at #107 on Billboard, #96 on Cash Box, and #106 on Record World. The B-side was written by Doug Trevor of The Cherokees, the group that opened for The Monkees in Australia in 1968.
Outside of Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield's "Rainy Jane," the album featured songs written by largely unknown songwriters, an exception being the brooding "Look at Me," composed by David Gates of the 1970s band Bread. (Gates also wrote "Saturday's Child" for The Monkees in 1966.)
The opening track, "Road to Love," easily qualifies as a highlight from the album. It was later selected as the B-side of the non-LP single "I'll Believe In You," released by Bell in early 1972. The single failed to chart.
It's well known that Davy did not enjoy his association with Bell Records. He often vocalized his disdain for the Bell experience, claiming his talents were misused and that he was never given the opportunity to grow as an artist while under their auspices. He ultimately left Bell and later recorded for MGM Records throughout 1972.
In Davy's 1987 autobiography, They Made a Monkee Out of Me, he says next to nothing about the Davy Jones album, leaving co-author Alan Green to discuss this era of Davy's career. After assessing Changes (another effort Davy always publicly disowned), Green summarized the 1971 Bell album this way:
"Davy still had one more disaster to go before he finally broke with Screen Gems in 1971. They got him a deal to do one album on Bell, with Screen Gems publishing. He was teamed up with Jackie Mills, Bobby Sherman's producer, who still saw Davy as a bubblegum singer. He wouldn't allow him to break out of that mold into something a little more challenging, in the way that he was attempting to do with his live shows. The result was one more unoriginal piece of vinyl, from which four singles were released. Only the first, 'Rainy Jane,' made any impression on the charts.
"Davy was very upset with the way the whole thing was handled. He didn't have a manager at the time and was therefore at the mercy of the record company executives. He asked for just his picture and name to be on the cover, but he obviously didn't ask loudly enough. They put out a cheap-looking thing that had the song titles and company logo on the front cover. Davy complained, but to no avail."
The Davy Jones Bell album was eclipsed in time by Davy's iconic appearance later in 1971 on The Brady Bunch, where he sang the song "Girl." Despite being promoted by Davy's guest spot and in the movie The Star-Spangled Girl, as a single it failed to chart. But the song's legend has grown to iconic status through the years thanks to countless reruns of the "Getting Davy Jones" episode and its inclusion in Monkees concert set lists in the 1990s and early 2000s. Davy also appeared in the 1995 cinematic version of The Brady Bunch where he sang "Girl," albeit in a new, grunge-like version.
In 2012, Friday Music released The Bell Recordings on compact disc, which collected the original 1971 Bell album and the singles recorded during that era. It is currently available to download on iTunes and can be streamed on Apple Music.
Thank you very much to Ben Belmares for the scans of Davy's Bell album!