A recent eBay listing featured a sealed copy of the rare 8-track edition of The Monkees' final original studio album, 1970's Changes. Check out what was the starting bid, and for more about Monkees 8-tracks, visit John McCutcheon's wonderful Monkee45s website. And thanks to David Cox for sharing the eBay listing with The Monkees Live Almanac!
By Justin Rakowski
Salt Lake City – December 6, 1969. As The Monkees walked off stage, nothing would ever be the same. At least in terms of their original run as a quartet, that was unceremoniously reduced to a trio earlier in the year. Apart from a few contractual obligations, Michael Nesmith was no longer a Monkee. This left Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones to continue on in some capacity. In addition to making a few promotional appearances under the guise of The Monkees throughout 1970, Micky and Davy undertook what would be the final Monkees album of the original Colgems era. Released in June of 1970, Changes unfortunately did nothing to bolster their fading popularity. While the single "Oh My My" barely cracked the Billboard Hot 100, Changes failed to grab the attention of what remaining fans they had and did not chart in its initial production run.
As decades passed and different waves of Monkees reunions cropped up, leading to more positive reevaluations of their career and musical output, Changes still held a somewhat “black sheep” quality when compared to The Monkees' other Colgems records. Growing up in the 1990s, I was too young to remember the massive resurgence in popularity the group experienced during their 20th Anniversary in 1986. Luckily, I discovered the "Pre-Fab Four" through Nick at Nite reruns during the mid-90s, leading me to hunt down every album released through the Rhino Records reissues on CD. Even as a young Monkees fan, Changes carried a stigma like no other Monkees LP had and initially I barely gave it a listen. Over the course of the ensuing years, my appreciation of the album grew slightly, but it still never reached the level of importance as their other albums.
In 2012, I met the woman who I would fall in love with and ultimately marry a few short years later. On one of our first dates, I discovered that she was quite familiar with a good number of Monkees songs, albeit the ones that were featured on the show, as she too watched the Nick at Nite reruns. Naturally, I gave her copies of all their albums, excited to see which one she would hold dear to her heart. After making her way through everything, I was shocked to find that she adored Changes and had memorized the lyrics to every song featured on the album in only a few short days. Her love for the album was contagious and I now started to listen with a different set of ears and appreciate it for what it was – a solidly written and performed set of catchy bubblegum songs that acted as a perfect bookend to a period that started with an album (The Monkees) that was essentially a solidly written and performed set of catchy bubblegum songs.
Through all of this, as many Monkees fans know, the multitrack recordings for all of the Jeff Barry-produced songs from the 1970 sessions are missing. Unfortunately this also includes two tracks, "Which Way Do You Want It" and "Ride Baby Ride," that were recorded but ultimately left off the final pressing of Changes. Given all these facts, we’ve been told time and time again that a Super Deluxe set of the album would be impossible given the lack of content. Once a Super Deluxe set of Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd. is released in the coming years, the journey that Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval started nearly a decade ago will have ended. As a fan of both The Monkees and Andrew, I am incredibly grateful for the amount of dedication from them to bring us such wonderful sets and can’t wait to have a shelf with all the Super Deluxe sets next to each other, providing us with perhaps the most complete auditory history of a band’s output. But, the set will feel quite lonely if Changes isn’t there in some capacity to bookend everything as it did almost 50 years ago when it was first issued.
With all of that in mind, I propose a solution. When the time comes to make a decision on the merits of a Super Deluxe set of Changes and the missing tracks that still have not been found, here is a track listing that could fill three CDs and properly tell the story of The Monkees' Colgems-era output, including Davy’s final contractual obligation for Colgems that resulted in his self-titled album released on Bell Records in 1971. With that being said, I present you with…
CHANGES (SUPER DELUXE EDITION)
23. Oh My My (Mono Promo Film Mix)
24. 99 Pounds (Stereo Remix)
25. Midnight Train (Demo)
26. I Never Thought It Peculiar (No Strings and Backing Vocals)
27. I Never Thought It Peculiar (Mono Mix without Overdubs)
28. I Never Thought It Peculiar (Mono Mix with Overdubs)
29. I Never Thought It Peculiar (Stereo Remix)
30. Time And Time Again (Take 1)
31. Time And Time Again (Mono Mix)
32. Time And Time Again (Stereo Mix)
33. Post Cereals "Monkees Cereal Box Records" Commercial
34. Kool-Aid "Nerf Ball" Commercial
35. Kool-Aid "Buzzer" & "Snake In A Can" Commercial
36. Together (Davy Jones With Sam & The Goodtimers - Live on Music Scene - December 22, 1969)
37. Interview With Davy Jones on Music Scene (December 22, 1969)
38. Oh My My (Live At The Palace Theater - Cleveland, Ohio - July 27, 1997)
39. Midnight Train (Live At The Mayo Performing Arts Center - Morristown, New Jersey - Aug. 27, 2015)
BONUS VINYL 45
"Acapulco Sun" EP by The Monkees
Oh My My
Do You Feel It Too?
Thank you very much to Justin Rakowski for submitting his essay to The Monkees Live Almanac! I would also like to acknowledge John McCutcheon's wonderful website Monkee45s for some of the scans seen above.
While prepping this piece for the Live Almanac's blog, I contacted longtime Monkees fan, collector, and author Ed Reilly to see if he could share some unique Changes-era pieces from his collection to complement Justin's work. The items below come from Ed's collection - thanks, Ed!
Bell Records released the original Monkees albums in Japan throughout 1973 and 1974:
Micky, Mike, and Davy filmed a Kool-Aid commercial in February 1970 at a San Diego amusement park. Photos of Micky and Davy driving bumper cars will later appear on the back cover of Changes.
The Monkees' last original single, "Oh My My," was released in April 1970. The group's fanbase had shrunk considerably by this time, and the song received limited airplay and suffered even worse sales figures. Debuting on the Billboard chart on June 6, 1970 at #99, it peaked at #98 the following week.
Here's "Oh My My," "The Girl I Knew Somewhere," and "Good Clean Fun," courtesy of The Monkees Tour Facebook page:
This afternoon, The Monkees polished off 1970's "Oh My My" during soundcheck in Englewood, New Jersey, site of the final US stop on the 50th Anniversary Tour. The song, which was the last original Monkees single, has not been performed live in concert since the group's 1997 US summer tour.
A big thanks to Derek Miner who shared his awesome reimagination of The Monkees' last original album Changes, based on the premise that Michael Nesmith was still a member of the group at the time of its release in June 1970.
Before you check out the images below, there is some backstory about the photo used for the cover of Changes, and the fact that Michael was cropped out of it:
Here's Derek's take on the front cover:
The back cover, complete with Derek's own track listing for a Nesmith-infused Changes:
Derek's artwork without the title treatment:
And finally, the actual cover art for Changes as released on Colgems Records in 1970. "There is the theory that the color background image was done with Mike originally and he was just cropped off," Derek said, adding that "the evidence being a small purple spot on the left that could have been Mike's guitar headstock."
This is the sixth in a series of guest articles that have been submitted to The Monkees Live Almanac in celebration of the group's 50th Anniversary.
In Part 1 of this series, I constructed a new version of The Monkees Present, the second LP released after the departure of Peter Tork. In doing so, I created a track listing that combined songs which appeared on the album in its original form in 1969, but then substituted some of what I considered to be weaker tracks with those that were available at the time, but remained unreleased.
When the Missing Links albums appeared in the late 1980s and 1990s, showcasing songs The Monkees recorded during their original incarnation but were never issued, it baffled me how many great tracks were left in the Monkee vaults in the 1960s. And although we've now heard all of those songs thanks to subsequent archival releases through the years, I was still inspired to take another look at the 1969-1971 era of The Monkees' recorded history and put my own spin on it. Having been pleased with Instant Replay, (the first post-Tork Monkees album), and with a revamped Present LP now complete, next up is Changes, released by Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones in 1970. The sessions for Changes also marked the return of Jeff Barry, the producer of "I'm a Believer" and most of More of the Monkees.
When reimagining Changes today, let's say Michael Nesmith decided to soldier on as a Monkees instead of leaving the group as he did in early 1970. Let's also allow the songwriting partnership between Davy Jones and Bill Chadwick to play out, too. (Their songs "If I Knew" and "French Song" appeared on The Monkees Present, and "You and I" on Instant Replay.) Unlike my version of The Monkees Present, the newly retooled Changes is meant to be more rollicking and less serious.
Perhaps this mock cover of Changes with Nez included (created by Michelle_66 in her series of Alternate Reality Monkees albums) will help you get ready for a fresh look at an old album.
Side 1: Changes (Reimagined)
1. Oh My My
(Written by Jeff Barry & Andy Kim / Produced by Jeff Barry)
2. You're So Good To Me
(Written by Jeff Barry & Bobby Bloom / Produced by Jeff Barry)
3. Little Red Rider
(Written & Produced by Michael Nesmith)
4. If You Have the Time
(Written & Produced by Davy Jones and Bill Chadwick)
5. Down the Highway
(Written by Carole King & Toni Stern / Produced by Michael Nesmith)
("Down the Highway" was mislabeled upon its release on Missing Links Volume 2 in 1990 as "Michigan Blackhawk.")
6. Tell Me Love
(Written & Produced by Jeff Barry)
In the same vein of my fantasy track listings, Michelle_66 created her very own picture sleeve for "Oh My My" (the first and only single from Changes), with Nez still a part of the group at that time:
Side 2: Changes (Reimagined)
7. I Love You Better
(Written by Jeff Barry & Andy Kim / Produced by Jeff Barry)
8. Do You Feel It Too?
(Written by Jeff Barry & Andy Kim / Produced by Jeff Barry)
9. Good Clean Fun
(Written & Produced by Michael Nesmith)
10. Midnight Train
(Written & Produced by Micky Dolenz)
11. Oklahoma Backroom Dancer
(Written by Michael Martin Murphey / Produced by Michael Nesmith)
12. Time and Time Again
(Written & Produced by Davy Jones and Bill Chadwick)
Stay tuned for Part 3 which imagines an album that never existed: a final Jeff Barry-produced Monkees LP featuring Dolenz & Jones that was released in 1971.
Jeff Barry is an award-winning songwriter and record producer. Among the most successful songs that he has co-written are "Da Doo Ron Ron," "Then He Kissed Me," "Be My Baby," "Chapel of Love," and "River Deep - Mountain High" (all composed with his then-wife Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector); "Leader of the Pack" (written with Greenwich and Shadow Morton); and "Sugar, Sugar" (written with Andy Kim).
In the 1960s, Barry would partner, both professionally and personally, with Ellie Greenwich to form one of the decade's most prolific songwriting and producing teams. By 1966, he was part of Don Kirshner's Brill Building team. Barry produced a plethora of tracks on The Monkees' second LP, More of the Monkees, along with their most successful single, "I'm a Believer," and its follow-up, "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You." After The Monkees seized control of their musical output in early 1967, Barry wouldn't participate in a Monkees recording session until 1970 when he produced the group's final album, Changes, recorded with Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones. The album included numerous songs written by Barry like "Oh My My," "Ticket on a Ferry Ride," "Do You Feel It Too?," and "Tell Me Love."
In this 1990 interview with Paris Stachtiaris and John Di Maio on the Headquarters radio program, Barry talks about his career in the music business, working with The Monkees, and his relationship with Michael Nesmith.
Last week, the Live Almanac reported that online retailer Bull Moose was advertising two new Monkees products, Cereal Box Records and Complete Album Collection. Despite no official announcement from Rhino Records or Monkees.com (Cereal Box Records is now also available for pre-order via Barnes and Noble), more details about these items continue to be revealed by Bull Moose, who have shared track listings for each disc in the Complete Album Collection box.
For The Monkees' ninth LP, Changes, the songs are denoted as "2015 Remastered." Changes was first issued on compact disc in 1994 by Rhino and then again in 2011 by Friday Music. Due to missing tapes and a lack of outtakes from the early 1970 sessions that culminated in the final original Monkees LP, Changes has not received the expanded deluxe treatment by Rhino Handmade like so many of the group's other albums.
The track listing of the bonus disc of singles is also available, and for the first time, the 1986 remix of "Daydream Believer" will be released on CD.
Thanks to Brian for alerting the Live Almanac about these new details.
Here's AllMusic's three star (out of five) review of Changes, which was released in June 1970:
Calling their final album Changes made sense for The Monkees. Mike Nesmith had just departed, leaving only Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones to hold down the fort. The other big change was that after years of struggling to have their voices as songwriters and musicians heard, the remaining duo basically gave up and let the producers take over. The musical reins were given to legendary producer Jeff Barry (who had just come from a huge success with the Archies) and he and his cronies like Bobby Bloom wrote and performed the songs. Apart from one track written by Dolenz (the goofy country rock novelty "Midnight Train"), The Monkees were on hand to provide vocals only. While this could be seen as some kind of defeat and the end of The Monkees as an actual rock band, Changes ends up being a very good bubblegum record. Barry’s production is light and frothy, the songs are hooky and fun, and both Dolenz and Jones perform admirably given the likely somewhat humiliating situation. There are songs that rock harder than you’d expect ("99 Pounds," "Oh My My"), very sweet ballads (the gospelly "Tell My Love" and "You’re So Good to Me"), silly novelty songs ("I Love You Better"), a fun tropical-themed love song ("Acapulco Sun"), and even a vaudeville-y a Boyce & Hart number tacked on the end of the album (the wickedly out of place "I Never Thought It Peculiar"). There are even a couple songs that might make a discerning fan’s homemade best-of comp, namely the achingly pretty Dolenz-sung ballad "Ticket on a Ferry Ride" and "Do You Feel It Too, " a heartfelt love song that shows Jones at his sincere best. It may not be an incredibly inspired album, but it is a lot of fun and if they had stuck together (and with Barry), they could have had a nice little run of albums. Sadly, though, the record tanked completely and the Monkees name was retired soon after its release. [Rhino's 1994 reissue of the album added three very good bonus tracks, two of which ("Do It in the Name of Love" and "Lady Jane") were taken from the duo’s final sessions with Barry (and were eventually released under Dolenz and Jones’ own names on Bell Records in 1971. The other track ("Time and Time Again") is a Jones co-write that was supposed to be on the record but was cut. Possibly because its hazy folk-jazz feel was too out of place. It is one of Jones' stronger efforts and shows that had he stayed serious about making music, he could have done some interesting things.]
Here's some footage from last Thursday's show at the Mayo Performing Arts Center, courtesy of Cindy Ferrier.
Micky, Peter, and the band performed tonight (Thursday, August 27) in Morristown, New Jersey at the Mayo Performing Arts Center. Thanks to Andrew Sandoval for passing along the night's set list to the Live Almanac.
Last Train to Clarksville
Your Auntie Grizelda
A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You
The Girl I Knew Somewhere
I'll Be Back Up On My Feet
For Pete's Sake
Randy Scouse Git
Tear The Top Right Off My Head
Take a Giant Step
Sometime in the Morning
Papa Gene's Blues
I'll Spend My Life With You
Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again
Sugar Sugar (Micky solo)
Alvin/Saved by the Blues (Peter solo)
Listen to the Band
That Was Then, This Is Now
Pleasant Valley Sunday
I'm a Believer
"A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You," which returned to the set earlier this month, remained in the show, and "Porpoise Song" has also resurfaced.
The big news of the night, however, is that Micky's "Midnight Train" (from the 1970 album Changes) was played for the first time ever at a Monkees concert, appearing during the acoustic set. Coco joined her brother and added a harmony vocal (as she did on the original recording). Peter's official Facebook page posted footage of the performance.
Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones traveled to New York City in February 1970 to begin recording what became the last original Monkees album, Changes. "By that time it was pretty obvious that The Monkees were over," Micky was quoted in the liner notes of the 1990s compact disc release of the album. "Davy and I were still getting along, but we were mainly fulfilling a contractual obligation to the record company – that's what Changes is all about. I was quite happy to do it as long as somebody wanted to record me."
Years later, Davy expressed frustration with the sessions, producer Jeff Barry (who was also responsible for "I'm a Believer"), and generally refused to comment on what he called his least favorite Monkees album. The first and only single released from it, "Oh My My," limped to #98 on Billboard, and when the album was issued in June, it became the first Monkees LP to miss the charts completely. With the cover showing just two members of the group remaining, Peter Tork years later recalled an anecdote from that time period. "I read this joke in the trades someplace...They thought that either Micky or Davy was going to quit, and the other was going to go on as The Monkee."
Two tracks recorded during the sessions for Changes remain long lost outtakes. No tapes or session credits have survived for "Ride Baby Ride." "Which Way Do You Want It?," a song that was replaced on the album by Micky's "Midnight Train," is also a mystery.
With the multitracks and session tapes still missing for the last original Monkees album, Changes, the 1990s Rhino Records compact disc version may be the final word on this effort by Micky and Davy, who were the two remaining group members at the time of its release. Initially landing in record stores in June 1970, Changes failed to chart until 1986 when it made its Billboard debut during the Monkees revival of that year, peaking at #152. (Changes had been reissued on vinyl by Rhino in June 1986.)
After purchasing the rights to the Monkees catalog in the early 1990s, Rhino Records undertook a huge Monkees campaign starting in 1994, releasing a limited edition VHS box set of the television series plus the original Monkees albums on compact disc, digitally remastered with bonus tracks. Below are scans of the 1994 Changes CD (including Andrew Sandoval's liner notes), which was part of the first wave of CD releases along with the debut album, The Monkees, as well as The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees.
Goldmine magazine reviewed the Changes compact disc release in its March 17, 1995 issue:
From 1970, Changes features just Dolenz and Jones and was the last original album released under
The Monkees’ name until 1987′s Pool It!
Changes has long been considered the low point of The Monkees’ recording career, but it has its moments. The opener, “Oh My My,” is a splendidly soulful single that should have been a hit. And “I Love You Better” is a good example of radio-ready bubblegum, vaguely reminiscent of Neil Diamond’s early singles.
Meanwhile, Jones rocks out half-convincingly on the dumb-but-endearing “99 Pounds,” while “I Never Thought It Peculiar” fulfills the dreaded Guilty Pleasure spot: it’s a gawky, guileless Boyce-Hart pop tune, devoid of definable merit yet utterly, utterly charming. Dolenz’s bubblesoul vocals almost save “Tell Me Love” (why didn’t this guy have AM radio hits in the ’70s?!), and Jones’s essential cuddliness redeems “Do You Feel It Too?”
But too much of this stuff is lame and faceless, more suited to the bland pop stylings of Andy Kim and Bobby Bloom (both of whom were involved in making Changes) than to The Monkees. It’s no real surprise that this album was effectively The Monkees’ swan song.
Changes’ bonus tracks are all previously-released; attempts to come up with unreleased tracks from the vault – specifically, “Which Way Do You Want It” and “Ride Baby Ride,” which were recorded during the Changes sessions – came up empty. Instead, we have the appealingly atmospheric “Time
And Time Again” (previously issued on Missing Links) and both sides of a 1971 Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones single, “Do It In The Name Of Love” and “Lady Jane,” the latter of which has never been reissued before.
These photos come from The Monkees Present deluxe edition booklet courtesy of Andrew Sandoval.
This one comes from the Music Box booklet:
You might recognize the photo above - it was cropped to exclude Michael and became the cover of the last original Monkees album, Changes, in 1970.
Here's the audio of the entire 1969 Joey Bishop Show performance with Sam & The Goodtimers. Micky, Mike, and Davy showcase "I'm a Believer," "Someday Man," and "Listen to the Band" during their April 24, 1969 guest appearance.
Here's a radio station survey from WKLO in Louisville, Kentucky for the week ending May 30, 1970. It shows the last original Monkees single, "Oh My My," coming in at #10 on their countdown for the week. You'll also see that singer/songwriter Paul Williams is on the chart with his own version of "Someday Man," which was a single for The Monkees in 1969.
In the United States, "Oh My My" peaked at a lowly #98 on the Billboard singles chart on June 13, 1970.
A big thanks to Gilbert Matthews for sending this piece to the Live Almanac. Be sure to check out his internet radio station!
An Evening With The Monkees 2020