The influential trilogy of First National Band albums are now available on colored vinyl from Sundazed Music. As always, I'd like to say thank you to Ben Belmares for his fantastic scans that can't be beat. Great job, Ben!
Those who became fans during The Monkees' resurgence in 1986 (like myself) will no doubt have fond memories of the Arista Records compilation Then & Now...The Best of The Monkees.
Released in June that year, the album contained the group's greatest hits, along with three new tracks recorded just in time for The Monkees' 20th Anniversary Reunion Tour: "That Was Then, This Is Now," "Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere," and "Kicks." Then & Now peaked at #21 and became a million seller, aided by the "That Was Then, This Is Now" single, which peaked at #20 while its accompanying music video received heavy airplay on MTV.
Arista, however, had originally planned to release a 2-LP set entitled The Best Of The Monkees to celebrate The Monkees' 20th Anniversary, but plans were changed when it was decided to record new tracks. With the double LP already pressed, it was instead made available via mail order and was distributed by Silver Eagle Records:
The Silver Eagle release featured 24 tracks but unlike the Then & Now issue, there was no gatefold cover and the liner notes were not included.
The Silver Eagle version of the album was also issued on cassette. A combination of both the Silver Eagle Best Of and Arista's Then & Now was released on compact disc in August 1986 and became the first Monkees CD to be made available in the United States.
This commercial aired in 1986 and 1987 advertising the 2-LP Silver Eagle set:
In the fall of 1969, The Monkees television series premiered in syndication on CBS. Post Foods quickly conducted a cross-promotional exercise through their various cereal products like Alpha-Bits, Honeycomb, and Frosted Rice Krinkles by releasing Monkees cardboard singles that were printed onto the outside of the cereals' boxes.
Sometime in 1970, Post began a special offer for The Monkees Golden Hits, which collected all of the cereal box singles onto one exclusive vinyl LP that was unavailable in record stores. A coupon inside their cereal boxes advertised the album, which could be purchased for $1.50 and 2 box tops from any of the Post cereals.
Thanks a lot to Monkees collector Ed Reilly for sharing scans of the coupon found inside an Alpha-Bits box below:
Issued by The Monkees' label Colgems Records, The Monkees Golden Hits is hard to find nowadays in mint condition and is a sought-after collectible:
(The Monkees Golden Hits images courtesy of Monkee45s.net)
In 1994, Beachwood Recordings released Peter Tork's first ever solo album, Stranger Things Have Happened, featuring several notable guest musicians and friends including Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, James Lee Stanley, Laurence Juber (Paul McCartney & Wings), Mackenzie Phillips, and Timothy B. Schmit (The Eagles).
Michael and Micky provided backing vocals on "Milkshake," and Nez can also be heard on "MGB-GT," which was initially performed by Micky, Peter, and Davy Jones during The Monkees' 20th Anniversary Reunion Tour. Apparently Davy was present at the recording session for "Milkshake" with his fellow Monkees, but never got around to putting his vocal on tape. Laurence Juber, who was a part of the final incarnation of Wings, provided the guitar solo on "Milkshake." His guitar work can also be heard on "That Was Then, This Is Now," a Top 20 hit for The Monkees in 1986.
Peter contributed six originals to the set ("Get What You Pay For," "Sea Change," "MGB-GT," "Miracle," "Gettin' In" and "Tender Is"), and was also assisted by guest writers, including his brother Nick ("Pirates") and Martin Briley ("Milkshake"). Covers included Gerry Goffin and Carole King's "Take a Giant Step," originally recorded by The Monkees in 1966, and "Higher and Higher," a song made famous by Jackie Wilson in 1967 that Peter reimagined as a banjo-driven piece. The title track was co-written by Michael Levine, who also contributed "Since You Went Away" to The Monkees' 1987 album, Pool It!, which also featured "Gettin' In" in its original incarnation, while "Sea Change" had been performed during The Monkees' 1989 North American/Japanese tour. Peter talked about each song in the liner notes:
Peter's post-Monkees recordings were scarce until Stranger Things Have Happened. After leaving The Monkees in late 1968, Peter formed a new group, Release, but nothing was ever formally recorded. After laying low throughout most of the 1970s, Peter reemerged in late 1980 with The New Monks, and on February 13, 1981 they recorded a single, "Steppin' Stone"/"Higher and Higher." The 45 was eventually issued on the Claude's Music Works label, named after Peter's then-manager Claude Hayn. In 1982, Peter contributed "I Truly Understand" to the long-running CooP series.
Stranger Things Have Happened was produced by Peter and James Lee Stanley, who collaborated with Peter in the 1990s and 2000s on albums like Two Man Band and Once Again. Peter made multiple television and personal appearances to support its release.
AllMusic delivered praise for Stranger Things Have Happened in its review of the album:
"Tork reveals himself as a solid rocker, starting from a folk idiom but working with lots of wattage on the instruments and no trace of wimpy singer/songwriter affectation in the playing. A few notable friends are aboard in addition to his direct collaborator and co-producer, James Lee Stanley - Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Mackenzie Phillips, and Timothy B. Schmit among them. There are songs drawn from across the spectrum of Tork's career, including a gorgeous, folk-style cover of 'Take a Giant Step' that made this reviewer smile so emphatically it was mixed with tears of joy; the exquisitely funny 'Milkshake,' a delightfully wry account of life on the road that includes Nesmith and Dolenz and some of the most charmingly silly choruses ever heard in a legitimate rock song; 'MGB-GT,' a very personal car song that may be particularly potent to middle-aged survivors of the 1960s; and 'Higher and Higher,' a folk/gospel song on which Tork mostly plays acoustic banjo, and which is so beguiling that one wishes he'd do an entire album in that idiom, style, and sound."
In September 2017, 7a Records released Michael Nesmith at the BBC Paris Theatre on compact disc and as a limited edition picture disc LP. And now, the album is available on orange vinyl in limited quantities. A big thanks to Ben Belmares for sharing his scans of the orange vinyl issue with the Live Almanac!
A big thank you to Gina from Sundazed Music for sharing their upcoming press release announcing vinyl reissues of all three seminal albums by Michael Nesmith & The First National Band! Complete details can be found below. (UPDATE 1/27/2018: The Live Almanac can now report via Sundazed Music the following information about the mastering of these LPs: "Bob Irwin Mastering + Kevin Gray Cut + RTI Pressing = Audible Perfection." The description originally read "Bob Irwin Mastered Mono" but that has been amended.)
UPDATE #2 on 3/23/2018: Customers who have ordered from Sundazed are receiving the following notification: "Thanks for the order! Unfortunately, the Nesmith LPs are delayed in manufacturing and will not be available to ship for another few weeks. Please let us know if we should continue to hold your order or cancel. We are sorry for the inconvenience!"
UPDATE #3 on 5/21/2018: Those who ordered directly from Sundazed are beginning to receive their LPs. However, customers who purchased through Amazon are still waiting for a shipping notice, and Deep Discount currently shows a June 22 release date.
Sundazed Press Release
Sundazed is proud to present three country-rock cornerstones from Michael Nesmith & The First National Band! Recorded and released in a span of less than 12 months(!!!), these three longplayers feature the matchless rural rock of Nesmith and his First National Band. Long out of print, this trilogy from the Nez make their return on colored vinyl with beautifully restored artwork on March 23rd!
The heralded solo debut of Michael Nesmith, Magnetic South features the artist’s hybrid of cowboy-’n’-western country music and rock sensibilities on eleven country-rock classics. Recorded at RCA’s Hollywood Studios in February 1970 directly after his departure from The Monkees, Magnetic South is brimming with songs Nesmith stockpiled during The Monkees’ heyday, highlighted by “Joanne,” one of the earliest singles with the California-country sound to become a major hit record. (Pre-order "Magnetic South" from Amazon)
The second LP from Michael Nesmith and the First National Band features the country-rock pioneer’s hit single “Silver Moon” alongside dreamy, near-psychedelic studies on western motifs and melodies, funky swamp sounds, and straight-up country readings in the inimitable Nesmith style. Loose Salute continues on the country-rock road of Magnetic South, rocking even harder in places, while adding a tinge of Latin rhythm. Recorded from April through July of 1970, the album catches Nesmith in his transition from honky-tonk hitmaker to studio born perfectionist across ten tracks. (Pre-order "Loose Salute" from Amazon)
The third LP from a Nudie-suit wearing father of country-rock, Nevada Fighter completes the trilogy of LPs by Michael Nesmith and the First National Band, augmented by members of Elvis’ ‘70s touring band and other Wrecking Crew heroes. Recorded from August 1970 through January of 1971, Nevada Fighter revisits one of Nesmith’s earliest compositions “Propinquity (I’ve Just Begun To Care),” which was penned back in 1965 prior to Nesmith becoming a Monkee, ultimately producing Nesmith’s fourth and final post-Monkees chart hit. The album’s first side is all Nesmith originals, while side two features covers of Harry Nilsson, Bob Wills, and others. (Pre-order "Nevada Fighter" from Amazon)
Earlier today, Peter Tork and Shoe Suede Blues issued their third studio effort, Relax Your Mind, as a digital download via CD Baby. (A physical compact disc release is coming shortly.) The album was inspired by American folk and blues musician Lead Belly, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.
Peter's brother, Nick Thorkelson, features as a guest on Relax Your Mind, playing piano while also providing lead vocals on "He Never Said a Mumblin' Word" and "On a Monday." Thorkelson also composed "A Better World," a bonus track originally featured on the exclusive f.y.e. CD of The Monkees' 2016 album, Good Times!
Peter has released three other albums under the Shoe Suede Blues banner: Saved By The Blues (2003), Cambria Hotel (2007), and Step By Step (2013).
Below are Peter's liner notes as posted on CD Baby, where you can preview and download the album:
Huddie Ledbetter, known as Leadbelly, (or Lead Belly as his family prefers to spell the name), was a singer-guitarist of unusual power and authenticity. His legendary adventures and his collection of field hollers, chain gang songs, blues, children's ditties, and, yes, pop songs, brought him eventually to live and perform in and around New York City among a crowd of folk singers and minstrels of various stripes, including Pete Seeger, Burl Ives, Josh White, and, maybe most notably, Woody Guthrie.
My brother Nick and I grew up with Lead Belly records, and these songs have been a part of our musical lives and inspiration for us since we were in our early teens. When we get together, whether family gatherings or performances, we still play Lead Belly songs.
I dived into the Lead Belly archives this year picking out favorites for a tribute CD with Shoe Suede Blues, and we even got to include Nick for a day during our recording. That's him, in case you couldn't tell, singing “On a Monday” and “He Never Said a Mumblin' Word,” and on keys throughout; any piano and organ you hear is him.
As I worked on the demos for the songs, I paid a lot of attention to the rhythm. So in some cases songs of hardship, heartbreak, mayhem, and death are pretty upbeat. Incidentally, on one of Lead Belly’s standards, “Irene,” we think we’ve done something original. None of the band members had heard, or even heard of, reggae in three quarter time.
I'm sorry I couldn't include more Lead Belly songs. There are so many he wrote or collected and arranged, and so many stories he could tell, that there will never be a satisfactory short collection. He was a giant in the folk and blues world.
The latest release from 7a Records, Micky Dolenz & The Metropole Orchestra: Out of Nowhere, is now available on both compact disc and as a limited edition 180 gram vinyl picture disc. 7a co-founders Iain Lee and Glenn Gretlund recently posted audio samples on SoundCloud.
On April 15, 2017, Micky performed with the American Metropole Orchestra at Rice Auditorium in Salem, Oregon, as part of the Smith Fine Arts Series. The orchestra was led by conductor Keller Coker, and he was assisted by Wayne Avers (Monkees/Dolenz musical director and guitarist). The show was recorded by 7a in order to preserve this unique performance and commemorate it with a special live album release.
And now, thanks (as always) to Ben Belmares, you can take a look at the LP version of Out of Nowhere below. Thanks, Ben!
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.
The LP and CD editions of Michael Nesmith At the BBC Paris Theatre are now available from 7a Records. Remember that the vinyl picture disc is limited to 500 copies, so don't wait to order! A big thanks, as always, to Ben Belmares for providing the scans of the picture disc LP below to the Live Almanac.
Monkee Flips was a 1984 compilation album issued by Rhino Records. Labeled as the "Best of The Monkees, Volume Four," it followed the two Arista compilations (released in 1976 and 1982, respectively) and Rhino's 1982 Monkee Business picture disc. Monkee Flips was available in both LP and cassette formats, and was one of the first Monkees albums I owned. It was reisused in 1986 during The Monkees' 20th Anniversary.
Thank you very much to Ben Belmares who provided the scans seen below.
This afternoon I'm featuring two albums that I purchased as a brand new Monkees fan after watching the Pleasant Valley Sunday MTV marathon in February 1986. Monkee Business and Monkee Flips were the earliest Monkees-related releases on Rhino Records. I've profiled both albums previously on the blog, but thanks to Ben Belmares, I can post upgraded scans of each LP. Let's take a look at Monkee Business first.
Monkee Business was a singles and rarities compilation issued by Rhino Records in 1982 as a picture disc, and the first Monkees collection on the Rhino label. A cassette version was also made available.
The album was reissued in 1986 during The Monkees' blockbuster 20th Anniversary Reunion Tour. The second pressing contained a mono mix of "Someday Man" with studio chatter at the beginning, which wasn't heard on the 1982 edition. (This chatter can now be heard on CD via the Instant Replay deluxe edition). Copies from 1986 can be identified by "RE-1" in the runoff groove. The first and second pressings also featured other variations.
Thanks again to Ben Belmares for the great scans!
7a Records co-founder Iain Lee has delivered the scoop to The Monkees Live Almanac regarding their first ever Michael Nesmith-related release!
Michael Nesmith at the BBC Paris Theatre will be issued as a limited edition 12" vinyl picture disc and as a CD digipak. The compact disc version will be accompanied by a 12-page booklet that includes a rare 1975 interview with Michael, an essay by Iain, and an interview with Dave Pegg from the Fairport Convention, who played with Nez in the past.
Recorded in London on November 27, 1975, the concert had been tucked away in the archives of the BBC until 7a licensed the master tapes, which have been digitally remastered. Nesmith has approved its release, too. The album features Nez performing alone with his guitar, singing First National Band-era songs along with cuts from his then upcoming LP, The Prison. Here is the complete track listing:
Silver Moon (5:11)
Some of Shelly's Blues (4:18)
Dance Between the Raindrops (8:35)
Marie's Theme (7:10)
Closing Theme (Lampost) (4:51)
At The BBC Theatre will arrive on September 15, 2017 in the United Kingdom and a week later in the United States. Pre-order links are available below.
A big thank you to Iain and his partner at 7a, Glenn Gretlund, for sharing these details with the Live Almanac. Don't forget to follow 7a Records on Facebook and Twitter. You can read more about 7a's past releases in the archives of The Monkees Live Almanac.
As always, Ben Belmares delivers with scans of the vinyl edition for the newly issued Summer of Love collection. Thanks, Ben!
Originally advertised as being pressed on "red & white splatter vinyl," note that the sticker of the official release denotes the color scheme as "pink & green splatter."
As previously reported, Summer of Love, advertised as a collection highlighting the psychedelic side of The Monkees, will be released on July 18, 2017. It will be available on both Red/White Splatter Vinyl and Compact Disc. Rhino Records issued an official press release to announce the compilation.
Here's the track listing for the LP and CD, both of which are slated (at least initially) to be a brick & mortar retail exclusive:
Reaction to the Summer of Love compilation from the Monkees fan community has been mixed, with a sizable portion taking issue with certain songs ("She" and "Saturday's Child," in particular) being selected to represent the group's "psychedelic" output in lieu of other options, such as "Daily Nightly," "The Door Into Summer," "Do I Have To Do This All Over Again," "Auntie's Municipal Court," etc. Rhino's John Hughes commented on Facebook about the track listing:
"This [the Summer of Love compilation] was meant to satisfy a few different masters - a marketing focus on 1967 specifically, leaning towards the psychedelic side to make it somewhat unique from other comps,
but it had to have enough 'familiar' songs for the casual fan. We did our best."
On this day in 1967, The Monkees' third album, Headquarters, was released. Read more about this landmark Monkees LP in the Live Almanac's archives.