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.]
The picture below of Peter Tork, Coco Dolenz, and Micky Dolenz, taken at the Troubadour in Hollywood in September 1970, has been a part of the multimedia show during Micky and Peter's concerts this year. Micky shared the name of this impromptu group as DDT - Dolenz, Dolenz & Tork.
Here's footage of this unique trio many years later at last Thursday's show at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, New Jersey, courtesy of Cindy Ferrier. Micky, his sister Coco, and Peter perform Micky's composition "Midnight Train," which originally appeared on The Monkees' 1970 album Changes, a version that also featured Coco on backing vocals.
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!
Recap: Monkees Farewell Tour
Dolenz sings Nesmith