Infinite Rider on the Big Dogma was released in May 1979 and is Michael Nesmith's ninth studio album as a singer/songwriter during his post-Monkees career. The distinct country rock sounds heard prominently on Nez's albums with the First and Second National Band in the early 1970s (and on subsequent solo works) were less prevalent on Infinite Rider, whose songs featured more electric guitars than pedal steel. "I adopted a much 'heavier' sound on this record because the band had those capabilities and we went exploring," Nez wrote in the liner notes of a 2008 compact disc reissue of Infinite Rider. "The sound was driven by their skill more than anything else. It was a conscious decision to abandon the country stylings."
Michael's pioneering work in the realm of music video continued to progress during the Infinite Rider era. In an attempt to develop multimedia projects under the umbrella of his Pacific Arts corporation, Nez originally envisioned Infinite Rider as a "video album," which ultimately resulted in several music videos being produced. Those clips (seen below) were featured in Elephant Parts, a home video collection of comedy skits and music videos produced by Nesmith that won the first-ever Grammy Award for Music Video in 1981.
The album's second single, "Cruisin'", saw its video receive airplay during the early days of cable music television shows. Nez looked to the groundbreaking video production of his 1977 single, "Rio," as a guide. "Cruisin' was the basis for the second video we made, and where we used the same techniques we had tried on 'Rio' - just to verify they were in fact techniques, and would work in broad application."
In promotion of Infinite Rider, Pacific Arts produced The Michael Nesmith Radio Special and sent it to radio stations in 1980. The program intertwines an interview with Nez along with select songs from the album.
Each track on Infinite Rider has only one word in its title. However, on the LP's labels and its inner sleeve, every song is denoted with a parenthetical subtitle. "The one-word titles for the songs on the outer sleeve just worked out that way - unplanned," Nez said in 2008. "The longer titles on the inner sleeve title are the way I had titled them while I was working on them."
Infinite Rider on the Big Dogma peaked at #151 on the Billboard chart, but "Cruisin'" received frequent airplay on rock radio stations in the summer of 1979.
"'Cruisin' was very confusing to the band," Nez recalled. "I was essentially reciting the lyric over the backing track, and only sang the refrain. It seemed odd at the time, and the musicians all counseled against it. Now, however, as we all know, this is very much the norm."
Years later, Michael performed the song live in concert with The Monkees during the group's 1989 appearance at Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles.
In the liner notes he penned for the late 2000s CD reissue of the album, Nez discussed some of the tracks on Infinite Rider. "With regard to individual songs, my musings in 'Tonite' are about my history in TV, while 'Horserace' is not simply about a horse race, it is metaphysical."
"I'm not aware of any other song that deals with the subject matter of 'Capsule,' which is one of the reasons I wrote it. To date, nobody has sampled its backing track, but I may just do it myself!"
Micky Dolenz Live
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