A big thanks to Jeremy Maine who shared on Facebook this article from the Sydney Morning Herald as published on September 22, 1968. Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith are interviewed, along with Monkees confidant Bill Chadwick, while the group is on tour in Australia in 1968. Thank you, Jeremy!
Monkees...and the science of noise!
Bill Chadwick, a young American who sports hippy gear and a Chico Marx hairdo, studied electronic technology at University.
Now, he says, what they taught him he has largely forgotten.
"That knowledge is pretty useless to me now," he said this week. "Mostly they taught me that what I'm doing now is impossible."
His impossible task: To make the Monkees heard in concert.
You couldn't really hear the Beatles when they were out here. Nor the Rolling Stones or even Bill Haley and the Comets. After the first two bars the audience screams would drown out the music.
But, for better or worse, you can hear the Monkees. The sound equipment pumps out about 150 per cent more power than any used in pop concerts here before.
"The other night in a concert back in the States," Bill said, "I measured the audience screams just before the Monkees went on stage.
"It was 110 decibels, scientifically recognized as being just a fraction below the threshold of pain. We amplified the Monkees over the top of that.
"At one concert recently with audience noises and the Monkees we hit 140 decibels."
He smiled contentedly and added: "You could still hear the Monkees. I wonder we didn't all go off our heads."
The Monkees normally carry about four tons of equipment with them. They imported 1455 lb on this tour and have hired more.
This scientific approach, however, does have its problems. Monkee Mike Nesmith, for instance, found last year that concert noise had destroyed the upper 10 per cent of his hearing.
"It wasn't really important," he said. "It just means I can't hear a few very high notes any more. But I don't want it to get any worse.
"We all wear ear plugs on stage now. It means we can't hear the audience, but we can hear each other. That means we play better."
The Monkee management takes the same commendably efficient approach to audience control as it does to noise. That way nobody gets hurt.
In a show of strength just before the Melbourne concerts this week 34 assorted white-coated attendants and policemen lined up in front of the stage before the Monkees went on.
And the audience was warned that anybody who left his seat would be ejected forthwith.
Vertical movement was condoned. Horizontal movement was out. It worked like a charm.
Meanwhile, back at the Pesident Motel, where the Monkees were kept more or less in a state of siege during their Melbourne stay, the Monkees talked more about the Monkees set-up.
"We're happy to let other people organize the concerts," said Mike Nesmith.
"But the one area we insist on keeping for ourselves is the actual show. We conceived the the whole thing ourselves because we think we know what the kids like."
The one thing the tour is proving is that the Monkees, individually and collectively, have talent. For years they've been plagued with rumors that they don't actually sing and play their own songs; they used stand-ins.
Well, they don't use stand-ins on stage. And they each do individual numbers which show off their talents.
Davy Jones sings a spiritual, Peter Tork performs with his banjo, Mike Nesmith does a rock 'n' roll send-up of Chuck Berry, and Micky Dolenz does a show-stopping impression of James Brown, the wildest of the soul singers.
The satire of Micky's number is largely lost on young Australian audiences who aren't yet switched on to James Brown, but it works as a performance in its own right.
Davy Jones, the one the kids scream for the most, displays the least stage talent.
Their audiences are barely pubescent, but certainly less scruffy than the usual pop crowds.
"We seem to be catering to a completely new audience," Micky Dolenz said. "They're between nine and 12 years old and they're suddently aware.
"They are often more aware than their parents because through television and things they've been exposed to so much, they know what's going on.
"But they're still too young to go to groovy clubs and things like that and they want something they can scream at.
"They scream at us."
Scream they do in Australia. Several hundred congregated outside the motel in Melbourne every day, jamming the switchboard, sending in presents, flashing mirrors and generally carrying on.
In Melbourne it was nothing compared with the Beatles debacle. But in Sydney on Friday the crowd of kids outside the Sheraton Motel was as large as one the Beatles attracted.
The Beatles, incidentally, are people the Monkees don't want to know about. They know and admire them, but they are fed up to the eye teeth of being compared to them, usually unfavourably.
"The Beatles are like gods," said Micky. "They started the whole thing. We started out simply as a television comedy team and we sort of just drifted into being a pop group which makes records and goes out on tour.
"We're simply entertainers. An act."
There is, however, rather more to the Monkees than that, and their outside activities show it.
Micky, for instance, is deeply interested in primitive societies and hopes to sneak a couple of days in the Outback so he can observe some Aboriginals.
His ultimate professional aim is to be a director of science fiction films.
Peter Tork, now sporting a nine-weeks-old beard, is involved in a complicated record venture. The record, an LP, is slowly being accumulated and he and the musicians he wants are available.
And Mike Nesmith recently wrote and produced a pop LP with 57 musicians. "It took me a couple of years to do," he said. "I'd hum all the instrument parts into a tape recorder and send them to Shorty Rogers to arrange.
"We used 14 violinists, seven of them came from symphony orchestras. One of them is regarded as the best violinist in the world and I can't even remember his name. He has to do studio work to make a living."
The record was only moderately successful.
"The trouble was that no one takes the Monkees seriously," he said bitterly.
Davy Jones guest-starred on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In on February 10, 1969, in an appearance that had been taped the previous month.
Mike's American flag shirt brings heat, Monkees on Vietnam, and Davy reveals the story behind "Head"
In the January 1969 issue of Tiger Beat, editor Ann Moses brings you the latest about The Monkees:
In its December 27, 1966 issue, Look magazine published a feature on The Monkees with quotes from each member of the group as well as Raybert co-founder Bert Schneider. The article also includes photos from an October 18, 1966 recording session at RCA Hollywood staged for reporter Betty Rollin. With Michael in the producer's chair flanked by Don Kirshner and Lester Sill, an attempt was made to add Micky, Davy, and Peter's backing vocals to Michael's song, "Mary, Mary," but things quickly unraveled. Andrew Sandoval documented this event in his book, The Monkees: The Day-by-Day Story of the '60s TV Pop Sensation, and audio from it will finally see the light of day on the upcoming super deluxe edition box set for the group's sophomore album, More Of The Monkees:
"The Monkees wisecrack their way through a series of rehearsals - labeled 1A-4A and noted on the box as 'no good' - and seven 'real' takes. The antics of Davy and Micky are legitimately funny, but after 20 taped minutes, Nesmith says, "Honest to God, no shit - let's cool it."
The overdub session would eventually come to a halt, and no group backing vocals for "Mary, Mary" would be included in the final take of the song.
In an August 2016 interview with Rolling Stone, Peter talked about The Monkees' third #1 single, 1967's "Daydream Believer":
"This comes from what I called the 'mixed-mode' period. The first one was the Don Kirshner mode where he oversaw the records and everything was under his control. Then we did Headquarters where it was just us. 'Mixed' was us and some pros in the studio. With 'Daydream Believer,' I was on the piano and I came up with this opening lick which I thought was just sparklingly original. When you play it today, everyone thinks of 'Daydream Believer.'
"What really makes the song work, I think, is the chord change on 'Jean' in 'Cheer up sleepy Jean.' It goes from a IV chord to a V chord to a III. That's a very unexpected and sweet chord change. It really grabs your attention. Then there's the line, 'What can it mean to a daydream believer and a homecoming queen.' It doesn't go right in your face, but when you think about it you figure it out. You're like, 'Okay, the guy is in a workaday world and he's got his head in the clouds. His girlfriend was a homecoming queen, but they're still scratching.' You don't get all that until you think about it for a long time.
"Davy sings this one, and he was such a talented guy, and a good actor. He was probably the best actor among us. He probably had the best musical mind, too. The best brain and maybe the best heart. "
On November 14, 1967, Colgems Records issued Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.:
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.)
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 one of the biggest selling Monkees albums (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) 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
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":
In an August 2016 interview with Rolling Stone, Peter spoke about a track he wrote for The Monkees' 1996 album, Justus:
"Michael was becoming involved with [his future wife] Victoria [Kennedy] at the time. He played her the soundtrack to Head. She asked who was playing bass and he said, 'That's Peter.' Then she said, 'Who wrote that part?' And he went, 'Oh, that was Peter too.' Then he had the idea that the theme song to Friends sounded exactly like Headquarters. He just caught a charge and wanted to see it through, so he asked me and Micky to come jam with him. It was the first time we'd played together like that since 1969.
I played bass. Micky was on drums and Michael was on guitar. We sounded just the same. It was really amazing. We had a jam, and as a result we brought in Davy and did Justus. I think the whole album is entirely under-appreciated. Nobody else was in the studio besides us and the engineer. I wrote 'Run Away From Life.' It's about fantasists. It's sarcastic as all hell, really pretty nasty. But with the album, I think we were operating under some limits we didn't need to. Mostly, I think it was a big mistake for me to not play more guitar. Micky's drumming is just ferocious on that record though."
The Live Almanac broached this topic last year - what are your choices?