You can now add another item to your Monkees holiday shopping list! The co-author of Long Title: Looking for the Good Times; Examining the Monkees Songs, One By One, Michael A. Ventrella, has confirmed with the Live Almanac that it's scheduled to be published before the holidays by BearManor Media. Long Title, co-authored by Mark Arnold, provides commentary and analysis of The Monkees' recorded work and more. The Facebook page for the book has been releasing excerpts for fans, but Michael has been kind enough to provide the Live Almanac with some exclusive previews yet to be shared. Long Title is now available for pre-order, and don't forget to follow their Facebook page for future sneak peeks.
Hot on the heels of yesterday's announcement of the More Of The Monkees super deluxe edition by Rhino Records, Michael Nesmith has unveiled his first concert engagements for 2018 with a brand new lineup of The First National Band.
The First National Band was Nesmith's initial post-Monkees outfit that consisted of Red Rhodes, John London, and John Ware. The group released three acclaimed albums between 1970 and 1971, but their live performance history was fairly limited. Sadly, both Rhodes and London have passed away. The 2018 edition of the First National Band will consist of Christian Nesmith (guitar), Jonathan Nesmith (piano/guitar/vocals), Circe Link (vocals), Christopher Allis (drums), Jason Chesney (bass), Amy Spear (vocals), and Pete Finney (pedal steel).
In January, for two dates in California, Nesmith will bring the music of The First National Band back to the live arena with a series of shows focused on his early 1970s RCA recordings, including a concert on January 25th at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, where he debuted the First National Band in March 1970. A press release on Monkees.com reported the following: "Songs like 'Different Drum' (a Top 20 hit for Linda Ronstadt & The Stone Poneys), 'Listen to the Band' (re-recorded by the FNB in 1970), 'Some of Shelly’s Blues' (covered by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), and 'Silver Moon' will join lesser-known but equally transcendent album sides in a rebirth of what was labeled by critics as 'the greatest music that you never heard.'" It is expected that dates will be added nationwide.
Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval confirmed on Twitter that he will be involved in these concerts, and that he hopes live recordings will become a reality. "For me personally, this is the music of Michael's that I always come back to - revelatory, heartfelt and transcendent," Sandoval wrote on Facebook. "The albums - Magnetic South, Loose Salute, Nevada Fighter, Hits Keeps Coming, Ranch Stash & Tantamount - are brimming with brilliance. Those of you who have followed his story know that 'Papa Nes' became Nez, and went in new directions after this phase of his solo career. For these shows he will at long last call back to these records with full-blown country-rock backing and I am so excited to hear the results." Sandoval also noted on Facebook that John Ware is contemplating a cameo appearance.
Tickets for the California shows will go on sale on Friday:
January 23, 2018: The Coach House / San Juan Capistrano, California
January 25, 2018: The Troubadour / West Hollywood, California
Here is the full press release about the new activities surrounding the First National Band, courtesy of Monkees.com:
Almost fifty years ago, in May 1968, Michael Nesmith ventured to Nashville to record a series of groundbreaking sessions with local musicians. What they produced is now recognized as the foundation of the country-rock and alt-country movements.
"I could just feel this happening, that there was this 'thing,'" recalled Nez. "So, I headed off to Nashville to see if I couldn't get some of the Nashville country thing into the rock'n'roll or vice versa."
Nez's intuition was correct; he was on the leading edge of a new genre. His exploratory work caught the attention of legendary RCA A&R man Felton Jarvis who had produced the Nashville sessions with Nez. In February 1970, Jarvis signed Nez and his new band, the First National Band (pedal steel virtuoso Red Rhodes, bassist John London, and drummer John Ware), to a deal with the venerable imprint and produced their first record, Magnetic South.
Despite the eight innovative country-rock LP's Nesmith created between 1970 and 1978, he is one of the less heralded architects of the genre. The First National Band's three classic albums -- Magnetic South, Loose Salute, and Nevada Fighter -- spawned four charting singles, including "Joanne" which reached #21 on the Billboard Top 100. However, live success for the fledgling band was harder to come by and the musicians Nez collected to bring his country-rock dream to market soon scattered. Nez played out his remaining RCA albums with Red Rhodes and toured with him throughout the '70s. Yet the full-blown sounds of the First National Band were never to be heard on the concert stage again.
In January 2018, Michael Nesmith will bring this music back to the live arena with a series of shows focused on his RCA recordings, including a show on January 25th at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, where he debuted the First National Band in March 1970. Songs like "Different Drum" (a Top 20 hit for Linda Ronstadt & The Stone Poneys), "Listen to the Band", "Some of Shelly's Blues" (covered by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), and "Silver Moon" will join lesser-known but equally transcendent album sides in a rebirth of what was labeled by critics as "the greatest music that you never heard."
UPDATE 11/8/2017: Michael's Videoranch3D website has taken a moment to look back at the First National Band:
The Original Band
"[John] Ware wisely pointed out that if he and John [London] were my band, we could not only record but could tour in support of the records we made, something the Nashville first-call session guys seldom did for a new band. We would be a real band rather than a pure studio effort. ... [John] wondered who I might like to approach, and my first choice was Red Rhodes. I had no hope of him accepting, but he was my first choice. A pedal steel guitar player -- especially a magical-reality player like Red -- was critical-path for the music in my head."
-Michael Nesmith, Infinite Tuesday: An Autobiographical Riff
Pedal Steel Guitar
Nez first came across Red at The Palomino Club, a popular country western spot in North Hollywood, where Red was in the house band. Red played with Nez throughout the 1970s. It is impossible to imagine Nez's music without Red's playing. Red's final performances before his death were with Nez on his ...tropical campfires... album and tour in 1992.
John began working with Nez as a duo before they left San Antonio for Hollywood in the mid-60s. After joining The Survivors with Nez, he was Nez's stand-in on The Monkees. He met John Ware while working as a bass player for Linda Ronstadt.
Prior to joining the First National Band, John attended Pomona College in Claremont, CA, and met John London while playing in Linda Ronstadt's touring band. Years after the First National Band dissolved, he joined Nez for Live at the Palais, recorded at the Palais Theatre, Melbourne, Australia, in 1977.
UPDATE 11/21/2017: The concert at the Troubadour in Hollywood sold out in less than an hour, and as of November 21, there are no longer tickets available for the performance at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano.
After much anticipation, Rhino Records has unveiled details surrounding the release of the super deluxe edition box set commemorating The Monkees' second album, More Of The Monkees. Pre-orders for this 3-CD collection, produced by Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval and available on December 15, 2017, begin today at Monkees.com. (UPDATE 12/9/2017: Rhino is now showing a release date of December 22, 2017. UPDATE #2 on 12/18/2017: Rhino has alerted customers that the set will now ship on December 29, 2017. UPDATE #3 on 12/22/2017: Despite the previously announced setback in the release date, emails from The Monkees Webstore are now providing shipping notification and a tracking number for the More Of The Monkees super deluxe edition.)
Limited to 4,500 numbered copies and boasting 91 tracks (55 of them previously unreleased), including the original mono and stereo mixes, alternate takes, backing tracks, and remixes, the set also contains highlights from The Monkees' January 21, 1967 concert at Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, Arizona. "This is the most exciting archival dig through The Monkees' vault since 2009's The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees deluxe edition," Sandoval told Monkees.com. "Every track is newly mastered for this set; the live material is the most historically significant of their career." (Sandoval confirmed on Facebook that the Phoenix live material has vocals and is in stereo.) A special 7" vinyl single, "I'm A Believer" (remix) / "(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” (vocals only), will also be included.
Here is the first look at the hardbound 7"x7" box:
And a big thank you to Rhino's John Hughes for sharing these exclusive photos of the packaging with the Live Almanac:
Over the last seven years, many of the classic Monkees albums have been afforded lavish treatment by Rhino's specialty Handmade division, beginning with The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees in 2010. A box for Head arrived later that year (both now sold-out), and Instant Replay (2011) and The Monkees Present (2013) followed. Due to the success of those projects, Rhino Handmade went back to the beginning of The Monkees' catalog, issuing The Monkees in 2014 (which is currently unavailable).
Originally released on January 10, 1967, More Of The Monkees became the biggest selling Monkees album (certified quintuple platinum by the RIAA) and was the longest to stay at #1 on the Billboard chart (an incredible 18 weeks). It contains the group's most successful single, "I'm a Believer," which spent 7 weeks at #1 throughout late 1966 and early 1967, along with songs that have long been associated with The Monkees ("Mary, Mary" and "Steppin' Stone," a Top 20 hit, to name two). The remainder of its tracks include selections that have been staples in the group's live show for decades, and it features contributions from songwriters like Michael Nesmith, Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart, Gerry Goffin & Carole King, Neil Sedaka, Jack Keller & Diane Hildebrand, and Neil Diamond. But the album also has a well-documented backstory that included a power struggle for creative control over The Monkees' music, one that pitted the band against music publisher Don Kirshner.
Kirshner, known as "The Man With the Golden Ear," was brought into the Monkees project in the summer of 1966. Initial rehearsals by The Monkees to play their music on record and as a live act had progressed through the spring of 1966, but deadlines were fast approaching to meet the pending debut of The Monkees television series on NBC in September of that year. The group's grueling schedule of filming, recording, and rehearsing caused Kirshner to streamline the process. He refused to allow The Monkees to play their instruments on record, instead having them provide only vocal work in the studio, and it was Kirshner who selected the songs The Monkees were to perform. Kirshner went on to supervise the first two Monkees singles and albums, a situation that built resentment, particularly on behalf of Michael and Peter.
Legend holds that in early 1967, Micky, Davy, Michael, and Peter discovered that More Of The Monkees had been released without their consultation, and went to a record shop to pick up a copy. Disliking the cover image (featuring The Monkees in J.C. Penney fashions for a cross-promotional effort) along with Kirshner's self-congratulatory liner notes, the stage was now fully set for a showdown between the two camps. An unsettled Michael Nesmith made his unhappiness clear about how The Monkees' music was being created in a January 1967 interview with the Saturday Evening Post, just as the group had started to appear live in concert. "The music had nothing to do with us," he said. "It was totally dishonest. Do you know how debilitating it is to sit up and have to duplicate somebody else's records?"
The Monkees quickly joined forces in the ensuing battle against Kirshner. During a tense meeting with the band and Kirshner in a Beverly Hills hotel room that same month, the situation between the two sides escalated. "The incident when Mike Nesmith put his fist through the wall at the Beverly Hills Hotel is very vivid and near and dear to my heart," Kirshner told Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval years later. "I had flown out to the Beverly Hills Hotel to give the boys a quarter of a million dollars apiece from some of the royalties on the first album. Mike had given me a lot of heat that he didn't like the records and he didn't like the albums. He wanted to do it his way. It was a little disconcerting to me because every album and single I put out was number one, but he had a right to his opinion." When Nesmith threatened to quit unless The Monkees were given some control over their musical output, Kirshner's attorney proceeded to remind Michael about his contract. Nez responded, by punching his fist through the wall, telling the attorney, "That could’ve been your face." "I was very impressed," Kirshner chuckled, "because I thought the Beverly Hills [Hotel] had pretty strong walls." Kirshner was later sacked and The Monkees soon began recording with a new producer, Chip Douglas, while also providing their own instrumental backing in the studio.
Looking back today, the "controversy" about who played what instrument on the earliest Monkees recordings seems trite as many of the top groups at that time (The Mamas & the Papas, The Beach Boys, The Byrds, etc.) also utilized ace studio musicians (The Wrecking Crew) just like The Monkees. But in 1967, along with the "manufactured" criticisms that had already befallen The Monkees, the infamous "they don't play their own instruments" story line became one that has, to this day, never fully dissipated.
But now, fifty years later and after the dust has settled, Rhino Records and Andrew Sandoval will afford us another opportunity to revisit the blockbuster More Of The Monkees album. Here is the complete track listing for the super deluxe edition, and you can listen to Sandoval go in-depth about the contents of the box on the latest episode of "Zilch."
1. She (Remastered) [Mono Mix] 2.40
2. When Love Comes Knockin' (At Your Door) [Remastered] [Mono Mix] 1.48
3. Mary, Mary (Remastered) [Mono Mix] 2.20
4. Hold On Girl (Remastered) [Mono Mix] 2.28
5. Your Auntie Grizelda (Remastered) [Mono Mix] 2.36
6. (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone [Remastered] [Mono Mix] 2.34
7. Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow) [Remastered] [Mono Mix] 2.16
8. The Kind Of Girl I Could Love (Remastered) [Mono Mix] 1.54
9. The Day We Fall In Love (Remastered) [Mono Mix] 2.25
10. Sometime In The Morning (Remastered) [Mono Mix] 2.31
11. Laugh (Remastered) [Mono Mix] 2.29
12. I'm A Believer (Remastered) [Mono Mix] 2.49
13. She (Stereo Mix) [Remastered] 2.42
14. When Love Comes Knockin' (At Your Door) [Stereo Mix] [Remastered] 1.50
15. Mary, Mary (Stereo Mix) [Remastered] 2.19
16. Hold On Girl (Stereo Mix) [Remastered] 2.31
17. Your Auntie Grizelda (Stereo Mix) [Remastered] 2.32
18. (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone [Stereo Mix] [Remastered] 2.26
19. Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow) [Stereo Mix] [Remastered] 2.18
20. The Kind Of Girl I Could Love (Stereo Mix) [Remastered] 1.54
21. The Day We Fall In Love (Stereo Mix) [Remastered] 2.27
22. Sometime In The Morning (Stereo Mix) [Remastered] 2.32
23. Laugh (Stereo Mix) [Remastered] 2.31
24. I'm A Believer (Stereo Mix) [Remastered] 2.49
25. I'll Be Back Up On My Feet (First Recorded Version) [Remastered] 2.38
26. Of You (Mono Mix) [Remastered] 1.58
27. I Don't Think You Know Me (Second Recorded Version - Mono Mix) [Remastered] 2.20
28. Words (First Recorded Version - Mono Mix) 2.51
29. Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow) [Mono TV Mix] 2.56
30. Tear Drop City (1966 Mono Mix) [Remastered] 2.18
31. Sometime In The Morning (Alternate Mono Mix) 2.32
32. Valleri (First Recorded Version - Mono TV Mix) [Remastered] 2.32
1. Whatever's Right (Backing Track) 2.32
2. Valleri (First Recorded Version - Backing Track 1 & 2) 3.02
3 . (Theme From) The Monkees [Second Version - Backing Track - Take 1] 1.06
4. Words (First Recorded Version) [Mono TV Mix][Remastered] 2.49
5. She (Mono TV Mix) 2.36
6. I Love You Really (Version One) 0.13
7. I Love You Really (Version Three) 0.13
8. I Love You Really (Version Two) 0.12
9. Ladies Aid Society (Backing Track - Part One - Take 22) 2.40
10. Ladies Aid Society (Backing Track - Part Two - Take 1) 1.19
11. Ladies Aid Society (Original Mono Mix) [Remastered] 3.25
12. Kicking Stones (Backing Track - Take 11) 2.57
13. Kicking Stones (Original Mono Mix) 2.21
14. I Don't Think You Know Me (First Recorded Version - Mike's Vocal - 2017 Stereo Remix) 2.21
15. Mr. Webster (First Recorded Version - 2017 Stereo Remix) 2.52
16. Hold On Girl (First Recorded Version - 2017 Stereo Remix) 2.46
17. Through The Looking Glass (First Recorded Version - 2017 Stereo Remix) 2.34
18. Different Drum (TV Version) 0.39
19. Undecided 0.30
20. Sometime In The Morning (Backing Track - Take 1) 2.43
21. Sometime In The Morning (2017 Stereo Remix) 2.30
22. I Don't Think You Know Me (Backing Track - Take 4) 2.22
23. I Don't Think You Know Me (2017 Stereo Mix) 2.24
24. Your Auntie Grizelda (Session Excerpt) 0.54
25. Your Auntie Grizelda (Mono TV Mix) 2.37
26. Hold On Girl (Alternate Backing Track) 2.44
27. Hold On Girl (2017 Stereo Remix) 2.34
28. I'm A Believer (Backing Track - Take 4) 3.17
29. I'm A Believer (Alternate Vocal Take - 2017 Stereo Remix) 2.41
30. Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow) [Backing Track - Take 3] 2.10
31. Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow) [Unedited Version - 2017 Stereo Remix] 2.55
32. Mary, Mary (Vocal Overdub Session) 11.04
1. (I Prithee) Do Not Ask For Love [2017 Stereo Remix] 3.18
2. Tear Drop City (Original Speed - 2017 Stereo Remix) 2.22
3. Looking For The Good Times (Backing Track with Backing Vocals) 2.04
4. I'll Spend My Life With You (First Recorded Version - 2017 Stereo Remix) 2.32
5. Apples, Peaches, Bananas And Pears (2017 Stereo Remix) 2.18
6. Don't Listen To Linda (First Recorded Version - 2017 Stereo Remix) 2.29
7. I Never Thought It Peculiar (Mono TV Mix) 2.13
8. Laugh (Mono TV Mix) 2.33
9. The Day We Fall In Love (2017 Stereo Remix) 2.30
10. The Girl I Left Behind Me (Backing Track) 2.34
11. Mary, Mary (2017 Stereo Remix) 2.20
12. Valleri (First Recorded Version - 2017 Stereo Remix) 2.38
13. Words (First Recorded Version - 2017 Stereo Remix) 2.52
14. Your Auntie Grizelda (2017 Stereo Remix) 2.36
15. Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow (With Peter's Narration - 2017 Stereo Remix) 2.50
16. I Never Thought It Peculiar (2017 Stereo Remix) 2.27
17. Laugh (2017 Stereo Remix) 2.46
18. She's So Far Out, She's In (Live In Arizona, 1967) 2.44
19. You Just May Be The One (Live In Arizona, 1967) 2.06
20. I Wanna Be Free (Live In Arizona, 1967) 2.54
21. Sweet Young Thing (Live In Arizona, 1967) 2.25
22. Papa Gene's Blues (Live In Arizona, 1967) 2.14
23. I Can't Get Her Off Of My Mind (Live In Arizona, 1967) 3.00
24. Cripple Creek (Live In Arizona, 1967) 3.08
25. You Can't Judge A Book By The Cover (Live In Arizona, 1967) 4.25
26. Gonna Build A Mountain (Live In Arizona, 1967) 3.17
27. I Got A Woman (Live In Arizona, 1967) 6.27
Now available from Friday Music is Headquarters: Stack-O-Tracks on 180 gram clear vinyl. The LP features the instrumental backing tracks for each song from The Monkees' third album.
Thank you very much to Ben Belmares for providing scans of his copy that arrived today.
Long Title: Looking For The Good Times; Examining the Monkees Songs, One By One by Michael A. Ventrella and Mark Arnold, is now available for pre-order. A release date is not yet confirmed, but you can follow their Facebook page for further updates.
After all four Monkees visited the United Kingdom in early 1997, the group embarked on a tour of the United States throughout the summer and fall of '97, but this time without Michael Nesmith. The September 1997 issue of Monkee Business Fanzine highlighted summer dates on the tour, which featured songs from The Monkees' 1996 album, Justus, and some rarely performed songs like "Oh My My":
Recently, John at TwoMorrows Publishing shared with the Live Almanac an advance copy of their upcoming book, Groovy: When Flower Power Bloomed in Pop Culture, written and designed by Mark Voger. Available November 15, it includes an extensive section on The Monkees, featuring color photos and interviews with Micky, Davy, Michael, and Peter. The whole book is a highly entertaining read for fans of both '60s pop culture and The Monkees. Pre-orders are now available through Amazon, and you can take a closer look inside at TwoMorrows Publishing.