Thank you for supporting The Monkees Live Almanac for another year. The loss of Michael Nesmith earlier this month was sorrowful, but it's especially heartening to know that he was able to bid a fond farewell during his performances with Micky Dolenz this fall. Listen to the band, indeed.
In tribute to Nez and in the spirit of the season, here's Michael's rendition of "Snowfall," the 1941 composition by Claude Thornhill and Ruth Thornhill, which has been recorded by a variety of performers over time. Nez's version, featuring his son Jonathan, was included on The Monkees' holiday album, Christmas Party.
Adam Schlesinger, who produced The Monkees' 2016 album Good Times! along with the group's first-ever holiday collection Christmas Party (2018), passed away on April 1, 2020 at age 52 from complications of COVID-19.
"As many of you are aware, Adam had been hospitalized with COVID-19 and although he had been making some small improvements over the last few days, Adam's condition was critical and he was ultimately unable to recover from COVID-19 complications," read a statement on April 2 provided to CNN. "He was truly a prolific talent and even more so, a loving and devoted father, son and friend."
Adam was a member of the bands Fountains of Wayne and Ivy, along with the supergroup Tinted Windows, whose song "This Is The Day" was featured in There's Something About Mary. His notable achievements also included TV and film songwriting, which stretched from That Thing You Do to Music and Lyrics to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
Fountains of Wayne was perhaps best known for the early 2000s hit single "Stacy's Mom," which was nominated for a Grammy. Schlesinger was also an Emmy-winning songwriter for the CW musical comedy series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, a show for which he composed more than 100 songs. He received an Oscar nomination for writing the title song to That Thing You Do, directed by Tom Hanks, as well as two Tony nominations for his work on the musical adaptation of John Waters' film Cry-Baby in 2008. In addition to his songwriting, Schlesinger produced recordings for such musical artists as They Might Be Giants, America, and Robert Plant.
Good Times!, The Monkees' first album of all new material since 1996's Justus, was produced by Schlesinger and included his own composition, "Our Own World," along with a song co-written with Micky Dolenz, a send-up of an oft-used phrase utilized by Dolenz over the years, "I Was There (And I'm Told I Had a Good Time)." The album peaked at #14 on the Billboard 200 in June 2016.
Schlesinger appeared onstage with The Monkees in New York City during the group's 50th Anniversary Tour, performing "I Was There" and "Steppin' Stone."
Micky Dolenz remembered Adam in an interview with WCBS FM. "He was such a great guy, a gentleman, and funny, and so smart. And obviously an incredible producer, writer, performer. I wrote a song with him on Good Times! I just can't believe it. That's by far the closest person to me that's been affected [by COVID-19] and I think about him all the time. What a loss."
Schlesinger was effusive in his praise of Dolenz in a 2016 interview with Fast Company when talking about the recording sessions for Good Times! "Micky was a real workhorse, and I think he did more hours in the studio than all the other guys, in total, because he sang most of the songs. He was a real trooper, and his voice is incredible – in most cases, when you’re working with older singers, you’re having to transpose things lower, and in Micky’s case, we’re actually having to transpose things higher, because he’s got this incredible range."
Adam's collaboration with The Monkees on Good Times! was seemingly a high point in his career. "They were all incredibly easy and fun to work with," he told Fast Company. "Everybody has the attitude of 'let us know what we can do to help - here are some ideas, take them or leave them.' They're very collaborative."
The Monkees' official website paid tribute to Adam Schlesinger after the announcement of his death, while also highlighting his work on Good Times! "Even the most optimistic Monkees fan couldn’t have guessed just how wonderful an effort Schlesinger would help put together. It wasn't just a comeback album, it was an instant classic that was – without question – the best thing the band had released since the '60s."
Ben Gibbard, lead vocalist and guitarist of Death Cab For Cutie, whose song "Me & Magdalena" proved to be a highlight from Good Times!, also commemorated Adam.
"I never got to meet Adam," Gibbard relayed during an at-home live stream concert after Schlesinger passed. "We had a lot of connective tissue - a lot of friends in common - but we never had a chance to meet. But I owe him a huge debt of gratitude because he was integral in picking 'Me & Magdalena' for The Monkees to record four years ago."
"I always thought as one does in life that you have plenty of time to say thank you, or I love you, or to give somebody a compliment or what have you, but that day obviously did not come," said Gibbard. "From the bottom of my heart, I'm so grateful to him for helping me realize a lifelong dream, which was to write a song that would be recorded by The Monkees, a band I grew up listening to."
Adam Schlesinger returned to the producer's chair for The Monkees on Christmas Party in 2018. Schlesinger co-wrote one of the standout tracks on the holiday collection, "House of Broken Gingerbread," with novelist Michael Chabon.
Adam was survived by his two daughters, Sadie and Claire, his girlfriend Alexis Morley, his parents Barbara and Stephen Schlesinger, and his sister Lauren.
Listen to the latest podcasts from Rhino, NPR's Fresh Air, Zilch, Nesmith, Tork, Goffin & King, and Rolling Stone as they honor the life and accomplishments of Adam Schlesinger.
Last week, in celebration of Record Store Day Black Friday 2019, Rhino Records issued Christmas Party Plus! featuring Monkees holiday songs past and present. The two 7" singles are pressed on colored vinyl (one red/one green) and housed in a gatefold: "Unwrap You At Christmas (Radio Mix)"/"Unwrap You At Christmas (Andy Partridge Demo)" along with "Riu Chiu"/"Christmas Is My Time Of Year (1976 Mix)."
Live Almanac contributor Ben Belmares scanned his copy and shared it with the site. Thanks, Ben!
Last year, The Monkees released Christmas Party, the group's first collection of holiday songs. This past September, the album made its debut on vinyl. And now, an official trailer for the LP was just uploaded on The Monkees' YouTube channel!
Last month, The Monkees’ first-ever holiday album, 2018's Christmas Party, was issued on 180-gram vinyl by Rhino Records in multiple formats:
Black 180-gram vinyl (at most retailers)
A limited-edition red or green version (exclusive to independent record stores)
A red and white "candy cane" exclusive (available only at Monkees.com)
Each version of the LP is tucked into a gatefold sleeve designed by comics legend Michael Allred. The Monkees’ stunning version of "Riu Chiu (TV Version)" as performed live a capella on the second season episode, "The Christmas Show," is tacked on as a bonus track.
Christmas Party is also available on compact disc and for streaming on Spotify.
Thanks very much to longtime Live Almanac contributor Ben Belmares for providing his scans of each version of Christmas Party on vinyl!
"Candy Cane" vinyl and labels
Green vinyl & labels
Red vinyl & labels
Black vinyl labels
Record Store Day was founded in 2007 and has become an annual tradition that takes place every April and on Black Friday in November. With a stated purpose of celebrating the culture of the independently owned record store, bands and labels will press unique items that are distributed exclusively to shops participating in the event. Thanks to Rhino Records, The Monkees made their Record Store Day debut with multiple releases in 2016, which are collected in the archives of The Monkees Live Almanac.
Upon its arrival late last year, Christmas Party became The Monkees' first-ever holiday album, featuring classics like "The Christmas Song," "Silver Bells," and "Wonderful Christmastime" alongside brand new material. And now, the good times continue as Rhino will issue Christmas Party Plus!, a package that highlights Monkees holiday songs past and present, on November 29 for Record Store Day 2019. This special release will include two 7" singles on color vinyl (one red/one green), all housed in a gatefold sleeve and limited to 5,000 copies.
The first record features two versions of the lead single from Christmas Party, "Unwrap You At Christmas." It will be heard here in its radio mix, and is accompanied by a previously unissued demo version by XTC's Andy Partridge, a longtime Monkees devotee who also penned this chestnut for the group.
The second record will include the classic performance of "Riu Chiu" (originally seen on "The Monkees' Christmas Show" episode in 1967), and is partnered with "Christmas Is My Time Of Year," which appears in its original 1976 mix for the first time in decades.
Be sure to check out Record Store Day's website to locate participating stores near you! And all things Christmas Party, including music videos, reviews, photos from the recording sessions, and more, can be found in the archives of the Live Almanac.
“Unwrap You At Christmas (Radio Mix)"/ "Unwrap You At Christmas" –Andy Partridge (featured vocal by Holly Partridge)
"Riu Chiu (Original TV Version)"/ "Christmas Is My Time Of Year (1976 Mix)"
Coming this September: Limited edition of The Monkees' "Christmas Party" on red/white vinyl (and more)
OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE FROM MONKEES.COM:
Yes, we’re a little late for Christmas in July, but hey, we’re early for Christmas in general! The Monkees’ first-ever Christmas album, CHRISTMAS PARTY, is coming to 180-gram vinyl for the very first time on September 13 in a few different formats:
Good ol’ black 180-gram vinyl at most retailers
A limited-edition red or green version exclusive to independent record stores
A red and white “candy cane” exclusive, available only at Monkees.com!
Our Monkees.com red and white “candy cane” version is strictly limited to just 1,000 copies, so don’t wait for Santa to snag it for you.
CHRISTMAS PARTY is pressed on 180-gram vinyl tucked into a beautiful gatefold sleeve by comics legend Michael Allred. It includes all the new holiday favorites from last year’s collection, with the addition of The Monkees’ shining moment “Riu Chiu (TV Version)” as performed live acapella on the Christmas episode of their show.
PRE-ORDER THE LIMITED EDITION RED/WHITE VINYL BY CLICKING THE IMAGE BELOW:
BUNDLE SET ALSO AVAILABLE TO PRE-ORDER:
"The Christmas Song," the classic holiday standard performed by Michael Nesmith on The Monkees' new album Christmas Party, debuted in music video form today on RollingStone.com. Produced, directed, and animated by Jonathan Nesmith and Susan Holloway, the clip features newly recorded dialogue by both Michael and Micky Dolenz.
The Monkees' official Twitter account has been sharing these images over the last week or so in promotion of Christmas Party. Enjoy!
SNEAK PEEK! The Monkees' version of "The Christmas Song" to be highlighted with brand new music video
John Hughes of Rhino Records has shared with The Monkees Live Almanac a few screen shots from the upcoming music video for "The Christmas Song," the classic holiday standard performed by Michael Nesmith on The Monkees' new album, Christmas Party. The video, directed by Jonathan Nesmith and Susan Holloway, will debut on Monday, December 17! Jonathan and Susan were also responsible for the music video for "You Bring the Summer" in 2016, and based on their previous efforts, Monkees fans are in for a treat. Thanks, John!
Micky Dolenz discusses the two most recent Monkees albums, "Head," Adam Schlesinger, and "Instant Replay"
A new Rolling Stone article examining this season's holiday albums finds The Monkees' Christmas Party clocking in at #8:
Adam Schlesinger, producer of The Monkees' two most recent albums Good Times! and Christmas Party, breaks down the tracks on the group's new holiday LP and much more on The Nightfly with Dave Juskow podcast. Thanks to Tracy Robison for the heads-up!
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