Today, Andrew Sandoval announced on Facebook that Michael Nesmith will perform the songs from his 1972 album And The Hits Just Keep On Comin' with pedal steel guitarist Pete Finney for a series of shows on the West Coast throughout January 2019. Here is the text of Andrew's announcement:
"I am pleased to announce that in a few weeks, Michael Nesmith will return to the concert stage to perform his classic 1972 album, And The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ for a series of West Coast shows. Accompanied by just his trusty pedal steel guitarist, Pete Finney, these performances will mark the first time Nez has toured in a duo format since 1975. Tickets will go on sale Wednesday, November 21, 2018. VIP Meet & Greet packages will also be available in limited numbers.
"Although his recent performances have focused on his legendary 1970s albums recorded for RCA, this is the first time he will perform any of his albums in its entirety. And The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ is significant in Nesmith’s catalog, because it returned him to his roots as a singer-songwriter where his career began before The Monkees. Featuring just the accompaniment of Red Rhodes on pedal steel, his music and message achieved real purity on the album’s ten original songs.
"Hits served as the truest songbook that Michael would ever issue on record and it remains among his most satisfying albums. In addition to the album’s ten songs, you can expect to hear many of Nesmith’s other key tracks of the era, such as “Joanne,” “Silver Moon,” “Some Of Shelley’s Blues” and “Propinquity.” If I don't see you in January for these shows, I hope to catch up with you for the Mike & Micky Show, which is hitting the Northeast & Midwest in March!"
A complete list of venues and cities appears below, and tickets go on sale this Wednesday, November 21:
January 17: Neptune Theatre / Seattle, Washington
January 19: The Rogue Theater / Grants Pass, Oregon
January 20: Sofia Center For The Arts / Sacramento, California
January 22: Troubadour / West Hollywood, California
January 24: The Coach House / San Juan Capistrano, California
January 26: Sweetwater Music Hall / Mill Valley, California
Video: Micky Dolenz & Michael Nesmith celebrate the 50th anniversary of "Head" in Hollywood (UPDATED)
Thanks to Jodi Ritzen for live streaming last night's 50th anniversary celebration of Head at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, featuring special guests Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith. Be sure to spot Henry Diltz's photos featured in the video below that chronicle The Monkees rehearsing and performing in Salt Lake City, Utah on May 17, 1968, including some rare shots from their evening concert at Lagoon in Farmington, Utah.
Monkees archivist and producer Andrew Sandoval hosted a Q & A session with Micky and Michael after the sold-out screening which can be seen in this video, courtesy of Ed Heffelfinger:
Variety reported on the golden anniversary celebration of Head and the joint Dolenz/Nesmith appearance.
And here's a great photo from the night's festivities of Nez and Micky with Davy's daughter, Annabel, courtesy of the Davy Jones Equine Memorial Fund page on Facebook:
Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith will celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Monkees' feature film Head with a special screening in Hollywood on November 1 at the Egyptian Theatre. Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval will host a Q & A session with Micky and Michael after the screening.
More details are available below, courtesy of The Monkees' official Facebook page.
"We are pleased to announce that The Monkees in association with RHINO will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the motion picture, HEAD, with a special screening at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood on Thursday 11/1/18 - 7:30pm.
"Michael Nesmith & Micky Dolenz will appear in person to answer questions following the screening, which will be from an original 35mm print. Andrew Sandoval will conduct the Q&A and you are welcome to contribute your questions in advance online. That way everyone can join in!
"There will also be merchandise available inside the theatre - which is directly opposite the original venue that HEAD premiered in November 1968. You may also visit The Monkees star, which is on the walk of fame opposite the theatre. Please join us for this incredible event!"
Tickets are now available
Michael & Micky will also be holding a special meet & greet
UPDATE 10/25/2018: According to Andrew Sandoval, the 50th anniversary screening of Head is now sold out:
The last four dates of “The Monkees Present: The Mike & Micky Show” tour have been officially postponed.
This afternoon at the Keswick Theatre in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, site of what was to be this evening's sold-out performance by Michael Nesmith and Micky Dolenz, tour manager Andrew Sandoval addressed approximately 40 pre-show VIP attendees a little after 5pm and announced Michael was ill and that he was returning to Monterey, California to see his personal physician. The remaining shows in Philadelphia, New York, New York, Huntington, New York, and Red Bank, New Jersey, according to Andrew, will be rescheduled for January 2019.
I am leaving Philadelphia at the moment. More information later. The Monkees Live Almanac would like to extend well wishes to Nez for a speedy recovery!
UPDATE 6/21/2018 @ 7PM: Andrew Sandoval shared the following message on Facebook about the postponement of the remaining shows on the tour:
I was in the lobby at the Keswick Theatre this afternoon when Andrew addressed the fans gathered for the VIP soundcheck experience. Andrew handled what was obviously a very challenging situation with grace and poise. And the fans, while disappointed, were grateful to Andrew for coming to speak with everyone and vocally expressed their concern for Nez. A special thanks goes to the accommodating staff at the Keswick Theatre.
UPDATE #2 @ 8:30PM: Thank you to John Hughes of Rhino Records for submitting the following statement to The Monkees Live Almanac:
"Michael Nesmith had a minor health issue today in advance of his tour date in Philadelphia tonight. He visited a local medical facility and, although the issue was not serious, was advised to rest for the next week, so unfortunately the remaining four dates on The Monkees Present: The Mike & Micky Show tour have been postponed until a later date. Nesmith has been dismissed from the hospital and is traveling back to his home in Carmel Valley. He is in good spirits and thanks all the fans for their support and understanding. He looks forward to getting back on the stage again soon."
UPDATE #3 @ 9PM: Andrew Sandoval posted on Facebook for the second time this evening to dispute an article published by TMZ about Michael's condition:
TMZ later updated its original piece to clarify errors in their reporting.
UPDATE #4 @ 9:15PM: Various statements about the postponement of the final four shows have been shared on social media from Videoranch, the official Monkees Facebook page, and Peter Tork:
UPDATE #5 @ 9:40PM: Kyler Schwartz posted a photo on Facebook from inside the Keswick Theatre in Philadelphia after tonight's cancelation. VIP attendees were ultimately permitted to enter the theatre to use the restroom if needed. Band members John Billings and Rich Dart were mingling with fans inside. By the time I went to take a picture of the stage, the backdrop had already been removed and the stage was beginning to be cleared by the crew.
UPDATE #6 @ 10PM: The mainstream press are reporting about Michael's health issue and the postponement of the remaining dates on the tour:
UPDATE #7 on 6/25/2018:
UPDATE #8 on 6/26/2018: Micky Dolenz, in an interview with Billboard, speaks about Michael Nesmith, the postponement of the final four "Mike & Micky Show" dates, the potential for a live album from the tour, and more:
Micky Dolenz Talks The Monkees' Canceled Concerts Due to Mike Nesmith Illness: 'We're All Praying for Him'
UPDATE #9 on 6/29/2018: Michael's daughter, Jessica, posted the following message on her Facebook page:
UPDATE #10 on 7/3/2018:
UPDATE #11 on 7/12/2018: Michael's oldest son, Christian, posted the latest information about Nez on Facebook while also confirming that the previously announced First National Band fall tour will still take place:
UPDATE #12 on 7/25/2018:
UPDATE #13 on 7/26/2018:
From Andy Greene's Rolling Stone interview with Michael:
Nesmith says he’ll definitely make up the four postponed Mike and Micky shows early next year, including a Red Bank, New Jersey show at Count Basie Theater on March 5th. The other three rescheduled dates should be announced in the near future.
No plans are in place for additional Mick and Micky shows beyond the make-up dates, but Nesmith says he’s willing to book them should the market demand it. “I’m wide open in terms of what’s going to be,” he says. “I don’t have any reason to say no to anything.”
The Monkees are spotlighted in an exhibit now on display at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame entitled "Stay Tuned: Rock on TV." Monkees archivist, author, and tour producer Andrew Sandoval visited the exhibit today in Cleveland, Ohio, where "The Mike & Micky Show" will stop tonight at Cain Park.
On this edition of THE RHINO PODCAST, host Dennis is in the booth with the one and only Micky Dolenz and Monkees reissue producer Andrew Sandoval to talk playing concerts in supermarket parking lots, Don Kirshner, JC Penney, long hair, Look Magazine, and why only 12 tracks originally made it on to MORE OF THE MONKEES. Find out what was left on the cutting room floor and how you can now hear those songs when you tune in.
In this interview with Ken Mills, Andrew Sandoval discusses a wide range of topics about the upcoming Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith tour and confirms that a live album will indeed be officially recorded:
Andrew Sandoval is The Monkees' archivist as well as a Grammy-nominated producer and author who will be producing "The Monkees Present: The Mike Nesmith & Micky Dolenz Show" this June. And don't forget that you can listen to Andrew's radio show Come To The Sunshine on demand!
The general on sale for tickets to "The Monkees Present: The Mike Nesmith & Micky Dolenz Show" began yesterday. In a message on Twitter, tour producer Andrew Sandoval relayed that he was pleased with the initial sales reports:
Here's the latest from Andrew Sandoval on Facebook:
It's official! Michael Nesmith and Micky Dolenz will commence a 16-city concert tour on June 1 in Chandler, Arizona. Produced by Monkees archivist and author Andrew Sandoval, here is the complete list of dates (which arrived first via Rolling Stone) for "The Monkees Present: The Mike Nesmith & Micky Dolenz Show."
June 1: Chandler Center For The Arts / Chandler, Arizona
June 2: The Orpheum / Los Angeles, California
June 3: Humphreys Concerts by the Bay / San Diego, California
June 5: The Grove / Anaheim, California
June 6: The Mountain Winery / Saratoga, California
June 8: Bob Hope Theatre / Stockton, California
June 9: Harrah's Lake Tahoe / Stateline, Nevada
June 12: The Paramount / Denver, Colorado
June 14: Copernicus Center / Chicago, Illinois
June 15: Rose Music Center / Huber Heights, Ohio
June 16: Cain Park / Cleveland, Ohio
June 18: Sony Center for the Performing Arts / Toronto, Ontario, Canada
June 19: Centre in the Square / Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
June 21: Keswick Theatre / Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
June 22: Beacon Theatre / New York, New York
June 23: The Paramount / Huntington, New York
June 25: Count Basie Theatre / Red Bank, New Jersey
Tickets and VIP packages will go on sale February 23 at Monkees.com. VIP Packages include access to soundcheck, a signed, hardbound copy of the tour book, early entry to the show, and a commemorative VIP laminate. (UPDATE 2/26/2018: A concert in Huntington, New York has been added to the tour schedule. The link to purchase tickets now appears above.)
"These 16 special performances will feature songs that span the group's entire career – from its 1966 eponymous debut to 2016’s Good Times," reads the press release, which appears in full below. "The shows will highlight many of Nesmith's compositions, including some that have never been performed live."
Both Michael and Micky also issued statements about the upcoming performances. "I love being onstage with Micky," Nesmith says. "We've been collaborating for over 50 years, so it's hard to believe it’s never been just the two of us. I'm excited to dust off some tunes that I haven’t played for a long time too." Dolenz agreed, adding: "Right from the get-go, I admired Mike's songs," he said. "When we used to get together around the campfire to sing in the early days, we were always doing his songs. We always had such a great a vocal blend; he was the one who encouraged me to write songs of my own. I've always been a big fan and now we finally get to do the Mike & Micky show that we riffed on back when we were shooting The Monkees."
The press release also discusses Peter Tork's absence from the tour. "Original Monkee Peter Tork will not take part in the tour," it reads. "Instead, he’s focusing on Relax Your Mind, a new album by Peter Tork and Shoe Suede Blues that honors the music of Lead Belly. The album is available now via CD Baby and Bandcamp. “I have in general made no secret of the fact that all these recent years of Monkees-related projects, as fun as they’ve been, have taken up a lot of my time and energy. Moving forward, I have blues projects that I want to give my attention to, hence Relax Your Mind. So, I’m shifting gears for now, but I wish the boys well, and I’ve learned to never say never on things further down the line.”
THE PRESS RELEASE
LOS ANGELES – Michael Nesmith and Micky Dolenz of The Monkees will hit the road in June for their first-ever national tour as a duo. Billed as “The Monkees Present: The Mike & Micky Show,” these 16 special performances will feature songs that span the group’s entire career – from its 1966 eponymous debut to 2016’s Good Times. The shows will highlight many of Nesmith’s compositions, including some that have never been performed live. The tour also includes two shows in Canada, which represent Nesmith’s first “Monkees” concerts since the band played there in 1969.
Tickets and VIP packages will go on sale February 23 at Monkees.com. VIP Packages include access to soundcheck, a signed, hardbound copy of the tour book, early entry to the show and a commemorative VIP laminate.
"I love being on stage with Micky,” says Nesmith. “We’ve been collaborating for over 50 years, so it’s hard to believe it’s never been just the two of us. I’m excited to dust off some tunes that I haven’t played for a long time too. These are going to be some fun shows.”
"Right from the get-go, I admired Mike's songs. When we used to get together around the campfire to sing in the early days, we were always doing his songs,” says Dolenz. “We always had such a great a vocal blend; he was the one who encouraged me to write songs of my own. I've always been a big fan and now we finally get to do the Mike & Micky show that we riffed on back when we were shooting The Monkees."
Original Monkee Peter Tork will not take part in the tour. Instead, he’s focusing on Relax Your Mind, a new album by Peter Tork and Shoe Suede Blues that honors the music of Lead Belly. The album is available now via CD Baby and Bandcamp.
“I have in general made no secret of the fact that all these recent years of Monkees-related projects, as fun as they’ve been, have taken up a lot of my time and energy. Moving forward, I have blues projects that I want to give my attention to, hence Relax Your Mind. So, I’m shifting gears for now, but I wish the boys well, and I’ve learned to never say never on things further down the line.”
“The Monkees Present: The Mike & Micky Show” is the latest chapter in Monkee-mania, a saga that began in 1965 when four young men were cast in a television show about a struggling rock band that was inspired by the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night. Few could have predicted the impact the Monkees would have on music and pop culture at large, one that still reverberates more than 50 years later.
Formed in Los Angeles for the eponymous television series, the quartet of Dolenz, Nesmith, Tork and the late Davy Jones brought a singular mix of pop, rock, psychedelia, Broadway and country to their music. The Monkees’ first single, “Last Train to Clarksville,” was released in 1966 and quickly headed for the top spot of the Billboard charts, where it would ultimately sit for 13 of the 78 weeks it remained in the Top 200. (Two decades later, in the midst of a new burst of Monkee-mania, The Monkees popped back onto the charts, bringing the total number of weeks to 102.)
By the time the series aired its final new episode on March 25, 1968, the Monkees had seen three further albums top the charts --More of the Monkees, Headquarters, and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd. All were released in 1967, staggeringly enough, racking up several more hit singles, with “I’m A Believer,” “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone,” “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You,” “The Girl I Knew Somewhere,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” “Words,” “Daydream Believer,” “Valleri,” and “Tapioca Tundra” all finding their way into the Billboard Top 40. The final tally: 16 million albums and 7.5 million singles sold in a mere 2 1/2 years.
After the series’ two-season run, the group went on to star in the cult feature film Head (co-written by Jack Nicholson) and a TV special (33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee) while also continuing to record new material. But as the ’60s gave way to the ’70s, the members of the Monkees eventually gave in to their individual musical interests and went their separate ways . . . for awhile.
In February 1986, after MTV broadcast a marathon of The Monkees, Dolenz, Jones, and Tork reunited for a 20th anniversary tour, with Nesmith joining them onstage for the Los Angeles date of the tour. In 1996, all four members of the group reunited for a new album (Justus) and TV special (Hey, Hey, It’s the Monkees).
In the wake of Jones’s death on February 29, 2012, the surviving members of the Monkees reunited and performed a series of concerts. The shows were received so triumphantly that Dolenz, Nesmith and Tork returned the following summer for a tour dubbed, “A Midsummer’s Night With the Monkees.”
To celebrate the Monkees’ 50th anniversary in 2016, the surviving members of the band recorded the critically acclaimed album Good Times. Much like the Monkees’ early albums, it featured tracks written for the band by a group of gifted songwriters, including Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie), Rivers Cuomo (Weezer), Andy Partridge (XTC) and more. To support the album, Dolenz and Tork launched a successful tour that featured Nesmith on four shows.
An announcement of "The Monkees Present: The Mike Nesmith & Micky Dolenz Show" is imminent. Earlier this afternoon, two dates appeared on Ticketmaster/Live Nation, with tickets advertised as going on sale this Friday, February 23:
June 1: Chandler Center for the Arts / Chandler, Arizona
June 9: South Shore Room at Harrah's Lake Tahoe Resort and Casino / Stateline, Nevada
Speculation about Michael and Micky hitting the road was confirmed by Nez himself last month in an interview with Rolling Stone. "This isn't Monkee Michael and Monkee Micky going out," Nez told Andy Greene. "If we go out on another tour and we do it and use the Monkees logo and name to promote it, it will be very different than a Monkees show. I mean, it'll be Monkees music, but there's no pretense there about Micky and I being the Monkees. We're not. We're the remnants, but we'll have a good time if we do it."
The article also featured a quote from Peter Tork explaining his absence. “I’m shifting gears for now, but I wish the boys well,” Peter said, noting his desire to focus on current projects with Shoe Suede Blues. “And I’ve learned to never say never on things further down the line."
Stay tuned to the Live Almanac for more details coming soon!
UPDATE #1 @ 4:20PM EST: Ticketmaster is listing a pre-sale for the Chandler, Arizona show that will begin tomorrow, Tuesday, February 20 at 10am MST.
Ticketmaster is also listing a pre-sale for the Stateline, Nevada show that will begin on Wednesday, February 21 at 10am PST.
The Chandler Center for the Arts in Arizona has the following description on their website about the show:
"Join Mike Nesmith & Micky Dolenz of The Monkees as they present an intimate evening of hits, deep cuts and magical harmonies. Backed by a full band, the duo will touch on every era of their fifty-year-career: from their 1966 debut hit, 'Last Train To Clarksville,' to their 2016 Billboard Top 10 album, Good Times. In their first-ever tour as a duo, Mike & Micky will bring to you all of their classic songs including 'I'm A Believer,' 'Daydream Believer,' 'Pleasant Valley Sunday,' 'Listen To The Band' and so many more."
UPDATE #2 @ 5:25PM EST: The listing for the Stateline, Nevada concert, along with the pre-sale link, has been removed from both Live Nation and Ticketmaster websites.
UPDATE #3 @ 6:30PM EST: Tour dates and venues, along with information about VIP packages, are expected to be released tomorrow morning at 10am EST.
UPDATE #4 @ 9PM EST: Andrew Sandoval, Monkees archivist, Grammy-nominated producer, and author, will be producing the tour:
UPDATE #5 ON 2/20/2018 @ 9AM EST: Tour dates have been announced early by Rolling Stone.
Last night at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, California, Micky Dolenz participated in a benefit concert for the Autism Think Tank. The show was presented by the Wild Honey Foundation and spotlighted the music of Buffalo Springfield. Richie Furay, Buffalo Springfield co-founder, was also part of the event, and Monkees archivist and producer Andrew Sandoval played in the band.
In 1994, Rhino Records began issuing the original Monkees albums on compact disc, digitally remastered with bonus tracks. Overseen by Andrew Sandoval and Bill Inglot, The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees was part of the first wave of the campaign, released on September 20, 1994, along with The Monkees and Changes. The package featured informative liner notes written by Monkees archivist Sandoval, along with detailed session credits for each song.
In 2010, The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees was once again reissued, this time by Rhino Handmade as a phenomenal 3-CD super deluxe edition box set in another project overseen by Andrew Sandoval. You can read much more about the album and its various editions in the archives of the Live Almanac, including the LP's original track listing.
In advance of Michael Nesmith's string of concerts with his reconstituted First National Band, Andrew Sandoval has been sharing some wonderful essays about Michael's RCA albums through his Instagram account. They appear in full below, and be sure to click on the album covers for a look around each LP.
“Row upon row of man after man. Let this music be their music” – original liner notes to Magnetic South, 1970
In his solo debut as a recording artist, Michael Nesmith broke new ground with his new band, the First National Band. Taped at RCA’s Hollywood Studios in February 1970 directly after his departure from The Monkees, the album thematically opens Nesmith’s American trilogy of blue, red and white albums (with a trademark needle point sleeve designed by Dean Torrence of Jan & Dean). Magentic South brims with songs Nesmith stockpiled during The Monkees’ heyday. Five of the album’s songs had previously been taped in versions for The Monkees – “Calico Girlfriend,” “Nine Times Blue,” “Little Red Rider,” “The Crippled Lion,” and “Hollywood” – while “The Keys To The Car,” “Mama Nantucket,” and the Top 40 hit single, “Joanne,” reflected Nesmith’s most recent songcraft. Covers of “One Rose” and “Beyond The Blue Horizon” topped off this spirited and infectious long player.
As Nesmith reflected in the original liner notes for Magnetic South: “When Johnny Ware, now the drummer of the First National Band, first suggested I start a band my reaction was distant and a little negative. But he continued to talk and through the conversation I sensed some of the same spirit of the men who so profoundly influenced me. So, two days later Red Rhodes [pedal steel], John London [bass], Johnny and myself got together for a trial run and it all seemed to fall into place. Effortlessly and freely the music poured forth. And it was fun. Great fun. We played and sang and laughed for two weeks.” Issued in July 1970, Magnetic South was the first of two albums issued by The First National Band that year to critical accolades: "The music feels so good that you can just tell the musicians were smiling when they recorded it" - The San Diego Underground.
Michael Nesmith’s sophomore solo release, Loose Salute, continues along the country-rock road, rocking even harder in places than the First National debut, while adding a tinge of Latin rhythm. Taped from April through July of 1970, the album catches Nesmith in transition from honky-tonk hitmaker to studio born perfectionist. Side two of the album continues what was later tagged as the “saga of the Old West” that runs through the second half of all three First National Band long players.
Featuring ten songs, Nesmith revisits “Listen To The Band” and “Conversations” (originally titled “Carlisle Wheeling”) from his days in The Monkees, and explores proto-outlaw attitude on tracks like “Bye, Bye, Bye” and “Dedicated Friend.” His remarkable voice truly shines on the transcendent “Lady Of The Valley” and the unexpected “Tengo Amore.” Meanwhile, the album opens with his second hit single, “Silver Moon,” a winning and upbeat follow-up to “Joanne.” The song was actually a late addition to the album, being recorded in September specifically for the singles market. It ultimately found favor in both the Pop and Easy Listening charts.
Featuring guest musician Glen D. Hardin on “side” piano, Loose Salute is notably the first fully-produced album by Michael Nesmith since his 1968 experimental instrumental project on Dot, The Wichita Train Whistle Sings. Released in October 1970, hot on the heels of Magentic South, it drew a rave review from Rolling Stone (who called it, “…one of the hippest country rock albums in some time, certainly the most listenable”).
The final installment in Michael Nesmith’s American Trilogy, Nevada Fighter, chronicles not only our great nation, but the fragmentation of his First National Band. Recorded from August 1970 through January of 1971, the album augments the original band’s line-up (Red Rhodes, John London & John Ware – who had disbanded before release) with guest musicians such as James Burton, Ron Tutt, Joe Osborn & Glen D. Hardin (all Elvis Presley alums). Packaged in a sleeve designed by Dean Torrence, the album opens with the brooding “Grand Ennui” and revisits one of Nesmith’s earliest compositions, “Propinquity (I’ve Just Begun To Care).” This track was penned back in 1965 prior to Nesmith becoming a Monkee, and ultimately produced Nesmith’s fourth and final post-Monkees chart hit (issued in October 1971). The album’s title track, “Nevada Fighter,” was also a charting single in April 1971, reaching #70.
The album’s first side is all Nesmith originals, while side two features all cover songs that Michael made his own. These included Harry Nilsson’s “Rainmaker,” Bob Wills’ “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” and Derek & The Dominoes’ “I Looked Away.” “Texas Morning,” a true standout, was penned by Michael Martin Murphey and Owen Castleman, who previously endowed Nesmith with the classic “What Am I Doing Hangin’ ‘Round?” for The Monkees (when they were in a group featuring First National Band bassist, John London, The Lewis And Clarke Expedition). Despite a rave review in Record World (“His albums, always beautifully produced, just get better and better”) and two charting 45’s, Nevada Fighter (issued in May 1971) quickly faded with no band to tour behind the release. The First National Band were no more.
“The master of reverberation, sound effects & good humor strikes again. On Volume 1 (of another trilogy?) the Second National Band brings it all together.” – Billboard review of Tantamount To Treason
Issued in Jan ‘72 (and recorded during the back half of ’71), Michael Nesmith presents The Second National Band’s only long player: Tantamount To Treason, Vol. 1. An epic production that neatly bookends its predecessor, Nevada Fighter, it once again pairs a side of Nesmith originals with a contrasting side of covers.
Nesmith is backed on this “home brew” by the ever-faithful Red Rhodes on pedal steel, the one hold over from the First National Band (other than Papa Nes himself), in addition to Johnny Meeks on bass (of Gene Vincent’s Blue Caps), Michael Cohen on keyboards (a friend from Nesmith’s pre-Monkees past), Jack Panelli on drums, and RCA labelmate Jose Feliciano on congas. The results are more joyous than the wasteland of liberty depicted in Wilson McLean’s cover art, but it is once again an ever-changing American landscape on display.
The LP opens with “Mama Rocker,” a thunderous start to an often-languid album of mood music. “You Are My One” is Nesmith’s most succinct lyric, containing only a repetition of the title over a series of mindbending changes. Richard Stekol’s “Wax Minute” is a standout (& fan favorite), the writer having also contributed to country rock innovator Rick Nelson’s Garden Party album in this era. “Talking To The Wall” recalls Nesmith solo production for Bill Chadwick (another pre-Monkees performing partner) on Dot, but reimagines the song for electric 12-string, pedal steel, and Michael Cohen’s Rhodes. Cohen himself contributes to the sound collage/song “Highway 99 with Melange.” Though the LP failed to find a home at FM radio, it has become one of Michael's best-loved cult albums. Many of the faithful have wondered what became of Volume Two? Though several more songs were taped at these sessions, including new versions of “Listen To The Band,” “Circle Sky,” and the Dave Dudley country classic, “Six Days On the Road,” there wouldn't be any seconds for the Second National Band. Indeed, Papa Nes would never have a fixed band (in name) again.
“One of the great advantages of being an artist is that I am able to utilize my craft periodically to write messages to myself. Basically that is what this album is all about.” – Michael Nesmith in the original liner notes to And The Hits Just Keep On Comin’
Seen plaintively holding a copy of Dee Brown’s 1970 book, Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee (which chronicled the struggle of Native Americans during frontier times) while surrounded by four women, Nesmith depicts a Felliniesque portrait of his contemporary success in the gatefold spread for And The Hits Just Keep On Comin’. In reality, March 1972 found Nesmith back on the road as a performer albeit with just the accompaniment of Red Rhodes on pedal steel. Still, as his footprint got smaller, his music and message achieved real purity. The singularity and simplicity of his circumstances ultimately created one of Nesmith’s most satisfying works.
Stripped of an overarching concept, what remained was just the singer and his songs. And nowhere were they better showcased than on the ironically titled And The Hits Just Keep On Comin’. Featuring ten Nesmith originals, the most he would offer on any LP until 1979’s Infinite Rider On The Big Dogma, the music served as the truest songbook album that Michael would ever issue (and his first to feature printed lyrics). The earliest numbers – “Two Different Roads” and “Different Drum” (both written pre-Monkees) – had been covered by Mary McCaslin & The Stone Poneys respectively. Songs from the back half of 1971 – “Tomorrow & Me,” “Lady Love,” “Listening,” “Harmony Constant,” and “Roll With The Flow” – could be the philosophical messages to himself, that Nesmith hints at in the liner notes. However, there is something of a tongue in cheek edge to the entire package. Papa Nes' quip, “I did it for me,” could in fact be the voice of the character he portrays on the gatefold. Certainly, the front cover view of a mansion with a rented Mercedes convertible juxtaposes the real sensitivity contained in his compositions.
A song from 1972, the eerie “Candidate,” is a political commentary in the Nixon era. While it sounds more like his work on Tantamount To Treason, it carries Hits through line of direct messaging. Ultimately, RCA pulled two newer songs – “Roll With The Flow” and “Keep On” – as a single in August 1972 to accompany the release of the album. “RCA has been really good to me,” he told John Griffin in the Forest Park Review after a March 1972 performance. “I’ve put out four, no five albums, none of which have been commercial successes and RCA has stuck with me all the time. I’m talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Nevertheless, Nesmith and his label had indeed found by year's end that the “hits” had ebbed. In July 1972 it was announced that Nesmith had formed a new union with Elektra Records to produce other artists and form his first label, Countryside. His three-year odyssey with RCA would play out on one more album in 1973.
“This is my sixth album since the whole Monkees trip went down, and I think I’m beginning to finally understand that it doesn’t make any difference at all….Once the superstructure is built, it’s very difficult to get past it into substance.” Recorded over four days in 1973, Pretty Much Your Standard Ranch Stash marked the end of Michael’s obligations to RCA. The joy that was his escape from The Monkees in 1970 and into the First National Band dispelled into the harder realities of standing on his own in the shadow of his past. Michael’s liner notes to the album reveal that it was music, rather than logic, that kept him in the game.
Ably backed by a solid combo featuring the ever-faithful Red Rhodes, Nesmith delivers a solid, albeit succinct, eight songs as his fade out from the Big Victor. Songs like “Continuing” and “Release” speak to his ongoing efforts to transcend without significant public support. As the Stanford Daily wrote quite seriously in their review of the album, “It’s about time we forgave him for his past mistakes and crimes against rock music.” The balance of the Stash was a perfect blend of covers and Nesmith originals like “Some Of Shelley’s Blues” (which itself had been successfully covered by the Stone Poneys and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band). Cindy Walker’s “Born To Love You” (a hit for Jimmy Newman in 1968) is brought down to earth in Nesmith’s rendition (when compared with the original). While “Prairie Lullaby” revives a 1932 recording by “the singing breakman,” Jimmie Rodgers. Nes also reimagines the bluegrass legend Bill Monroe’s “Uncle Pen” in a unique conceptual medley with “The F.F.V.” (or Fast Flying Virginian). A rare collaboration with writers Linda Hargrove and James Miner produced, “Winonah.” Michael would also write one of his most popular songs, “I’ve Never Loved Anyone,” with Linda Hargrove. Though he would never record it, it became a hit in 1975 for Lynn Anderson, reaching #14 on the Country charts. Instead, Nesmith’s focus during this period turned to producing artists for his newly minted Countryside label (his subliminal message on the cover - “BUY THIS RECORD” – notwithstanding).
Nesmith told Billboard that his goal was to “…learn to run a record company from [Elektra founder] Jac Holzman.” Michael put forth a model of making albums on Countryside with a house band (in a house provided by Elektra) for just $5k. “I’ve really become a habitué of the beer-bar and bowling alley circuit in L.A. and Orange County. And I’ve found there’s some excellent talent working these places because they can’t get jobs.” Ultimately, only two albums – Pure Country by Garland Frady & Velvet Hammer In A Cowboy Band by Red Rhodes – and six singles made it out before another kingpin, David Geffen, called time on the project post merging his Asylum label with Elektra. In 1974, Nesmith would in turn form his own independent label, Pacific Arts, and release The Prison, a book with a soundtrack.
"Mike & Micky Show" in 2019
"And The Hits Just Keep On Comin'" Tour