On October 1, 1968, The Monkees were greeted rapturously as they arrived in Japan to perform a series of live concerts in that country for the very first time. One of these historic shows was filmed (most likely during the two day, three-concert stay at Budokan Hall in Tokyo on October 3 and 4, 1968) and later broadcast on Japanese television. The audio recording and video footage, however, has never been officially released. The audio (straight from the video) has long existed as a bootleg (complete with Japanese voice introductions before each song), but much to the chagrin of Monkees fans, the video footage is presumed lost or destroyed.
Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval has confirmed that multiple attempts have been made to find the missing video footage. "It was definitely broadcast and there has been communication with TBS [Tokyo Broadcasting System] in Japan to retrieve anything they had," he wrote on Facebook in 2017. "We asked many times and have been told they have nothing. Unless they made a film print of the video, it is unlikely it survived."
I first acquired a cassette tape of this particular concert in the late 1980s that ultimately relayed a sprightly and resolute performance by The Monkees, exhibiting just how far these four individuals with disparate musical backgrounds had come to achieving a "group" sound in a relatively short amount of time.
For years, Monkees fans have clamored for some sort of official release of this concert, even if it was just the audio portion as it seems the video footage has seemingly been lost to time. In the latest twist of this long-sought after piece of Monkees history, Live Almanac contributor Justin Rakowski has commenced a project to restore the original Japanese concert bootleg. In an effort to present the cleanest audio possible while also removing the invasive voice introductions before every song, Justin has "demixed" the audio. For those that aren’t familiar with "demixing," Justin relayed some details to the Live Almanac. "It’s essentially the process of using specific programs that can run a algorithm on a mono track and separate out individual signals like vocals, guitars, bass, and drums," Justin said. "The inherent problem with the Japan concert is not only the mono mix but the narrator that talks over the beginning of each song."
Justin talked more about the challenges of his project. "Obviously the parts where the announcer talks is the hardest area to fix. It's easier when the announcer is not talking over The Monkees' performances. Even when there is commentary over the instrumental beginning of each song, I can remove the announcer, but the music underneath sounds like someone is playing with the volume knob so the music cuts in and out, leaving some bars with no recoverable information. So what I’ve done is flown in other parts of the song in to fix those areas."
And now, here are the initial results of Justin's experiment! While we're all doing our best to hunker down during this international health crisis, take a listen to Justin's work and keep your fingers crossed that the video of this concert finally emerges!
UPDATE 4/16/2020: Justin has completed this project and has uploaded the entire 1968 Japanese concert. Thanks again, Justin! (Individual clips still appear below.)
The Monkees Live in Japan 1968 - Complete Show (Stereo Demix)
"Last Train to Clarksville" (Live in Japan 1968 - Stereo Demix)
"I Wanna Be Free" (Live in Japan 1968 - Stereo Demix)
"Johnny B. Goode" (Live in Japan 1968 - Stereo Demix)
"D.W. Washburn" (Live in Japan 1968 - Stereo Demix)
"It's Nice To Be With You" (Live in Japan 1968 - Stereo Demix)
"I'm a Believer" (Live in Japan 1968 - Stereo Demix)
"(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" (Live in Japan 1968 - Stereo Demix)
"Salesman" (Live in Japan 1968 - Stereo Demix)
For "Salesman," Justin has offered up something special:
"Enjoy this 'what if' video using my newly demixed track of 'Salesman' synced up with edits of the 8mm Australia tour footage posted by Iain Lee's RareMonkees YouTube page."
Check out this fantasy album artwork that appeared in the Live Almanac's Facebook feed today, courtesy of Frank Jason Rhoden. Inspired by the cover of the Live 1967 LP, Frank took a shot at creating album art for a Live 1968 release, which would have documented a 1968 Monkees concert in Japan.
Here's what Frank wrote on Facebook:
I have great nostalgia for the "Live 1967" album, and its cover that just screams 1987 retro reissue. I never liked the commonly seen low-res yellow cover for the 1968 Japan boot, so I decided to use the 1967 album as a template to make something that looked like 1988 vomited all over 1968 - a tacky explosion of color and neon using images from that tour. I’m mostly happy with it, so I thought I’d share.
Take a moment to listen to The Monkees live in Japan in October 1968, courtesy of the Live Almanac's YouTube channel:
The latest entry on The Monkees Live Almanac's YouTube channel is audio from the group's tour of Japan in 1968.
The Monkees visited Australia and Japan in September and October 1968. In Japan, one of the concerts was filmed (most likely during the two day, three concert stay at Budokan Hall in Tokyo on October 3 and 4, 1968) and later broadcast on Japanese television. The audio recording and video footage, however, has never been officially released. The audio (straight from the video) does exist as a bootleg, but the video footage is presumed lost or destroyed.
Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval has confirmed that multiple attempts have been made to find the missing video footage. "It was definitely broadcast and there has been communication with TBS [Tokyo Broadcasting System) in Japan to retrieve anything they had," he wrote on Facebook in 2017. "We asked many times and have been told they have nothing. Unless they made a film print of the video, it is unlikely it survived."
Interestingly enough, in an earlier, separate video posting of "Cuddly Toy" from this same concert on the Live Almanac's YouTube channel, "Rock Channel Archives" left the following comment:
"The concert was videotaped and wasn't broadcast until Monkeemania hit for a 2nd time in 1983. After that one airing, the video tape was labeled "re-use" and has never been seen again. This according to Mr. Udo who is like the Dick Clark of Japan. This audio is a cassette copy from broadcast TV."
The comment above refers to the resurgence in popularity of The Monkees in Japan in the early 1980s. Japan experienced the first rebirth of The Monkees in the '80s even before Micky, Davy, and Peter reunited for the mega-successful 20th Anniversary Tour of North America in 1986. When "Daydream Believer" was used in a Kodak commercial in Japan in 1980, Monkeemania was rekindled as the television show returned to the airwaves and Monkees albums were reissued, causing them to chart in that country once again. Demand for The Monkees was so high in Japan in the early '80s that Micky, Davy, and Peter all toured the country individually between 1981 and 1982, playing to near-hysterical audiences.
If the comment left by Rock Channel Archives is indeed accurate, it could explain the origins of the Japanese 1968 audio, which has circulated throughout Monkees tape trading circles since the '80s. (I first acquired a copy from a tape collector in the late 1980s.)
Below is the audio recording of The Monkees live in Japan in 1968 that has survived, and please note there are breaks between each track:
Between October 3 and 4, 1968, The Monkees performed three shows at the famed Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan. The photo below was originally published in Andrew Sandoval's book, The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story of the '60s TV Pop Sensation.
Here's a color photo from one of the shows at the Budokan:
In late 1968, The Monkees toured Australia and Japan. On September 30, 1968, The Monkees left Australia and traveled to Tokyo, Japan for the second leg of the tour. The group and their tour party were forced to stop in Hong Kong when their flight hit severe weather, and this picture was taken by Monkees associate Bill Chadwick during the layover.
"Peter's a real buster...a real musician's musician. Whenever we'd go anywhere...we could go into a lobby and there'd be a four-piece group or a cello and string section - wouldn't matter what - and he'd be up there with his banjo or whatever instrument was close by, and he'd be jamming with them. He's that kind of guy."
This article was originally published in the January 1969 issue of Tiger Beat. Click each image and then click again to enlarge...
Listen to the bootleg recording of The Monkees while on tour in Japan in early October 1968, along with a rare interview with Peter Tork that was recorded during their visit, all courtesy of the We Want The Monkees podcast.
Here's a highlight from the Live Almanac's YouTube channel: a live version of "Salesman," a track from The Monkees' fourth LP, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. It was most likely recorded during one of the shows at Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan on October 3 or 4, 1968. One of the concerts in Tokyo was filmed and later aired on Japanese television, complete with Japanese overdubs introducing each song.
Mike Nesmith: lead vocal/guitar; Micky Dolenz: drums/backing vocals; Davy Jones: bass; Peter Tork: keyboards
Monkees Monthly was a British magazine published by Beat Publications between February 1967 and September 1969. Subscriptions were available to those outside of the UK, and each issue (led by editor Jackie Richmond) contained rare black and white photos, exclusive features, news, a mailbag, and more.
Every issue of Monkees Monthly also contained a news update, and this one, from September 1968, is particularly interesting. Take note of the original plan to tour Australia, Japan, the Philippines, New Zealand, and Hawaii in late 1968. In the end, only concerts in Australia and Japan were scheduled.
You will also notice the report of "Daddy's Song" as a single in the UK, along with the misspelling of Harry Nilsson's name!