This past January during a 5-concert jaunt throughout California, Michael Nesmith brought new life to his initial post-Monkees outfit, The First National Band. Originally consisting of Nez, Red Rhodes, John London, and John Ware, the group released three albums between 1970 and 1971, but their live performance history was fairly limited. Ignored and almost shunned by audiences and peers during their heyday, the music of the First National Band has since been cited by critics and contemporaries as a pioneering influence in the country rock genre.
In one of the more unexpected moves of Michael Nesmith's career, a reconstituted First National Band hit the road in early 2018 with Christian Nesmith (guitar), Jonathan Nesmith (piano/guitar/vocals), Circe Link (vocals), Christopher Allis (drums), Jason Chesney (bass), Amy Spear (vocals), and Pete Finney (pedal steel). Sadly, original members Rhodes and London have passed away, but Ware gave his blessing to the project and wished everyone well.
The concerts by the First National Band Redux, as they were dubbed, were ultimately a critical and commercial triumph. And now, The Monkees Live Almanac is proud to be the first to share the details about a forthcoming live album from 7a Records that will document this unique event in Nesmith/First National Band history.
Since 2015, 7a Records and its proprietors Glenn Gretlund and Iain Lee have been producing Monkees-related releases, including a collection of Micky Dolenz's 1970s MGM singles, Bobby Hart's first solo album, various limited edition vinyl 45s (Dolenz/Davy Jones/Dolenz with Circe Link & Christian Nesmith), and more recently, vintage and new live recordings by both Nesmith and Dolenz. And now 7a has made an agreement with Michael Nesmith and the members of the First National Band to release a live album documenting their January 2018 performances.
"We are extremely proud and excited to be able to work with Michael Nesmith and the First National Band on this album," Glenn told the Live Almanac. "What I have heard so far literally gave me goose bumps. It's that good. By all accounts this will be a superb album and one of 7a Records' biggest releases to date."
Iain was just as enthused. "If you’d have told 15 year old me I’d be releasing a brand new First National Band live album on my own record label I’d have laughed in your face. This is a dream come true and is the culmination of years of hard work and dreaming from both myself and my business partner Glenn. We make it our business to only release records that we would buy and man, I’d buy a dozen copies of this. It’s a thrill and an honor to be working with Michael and the band on this. And you wait until you hear what Christian [Nesmith] has done with the production. Stunning."
As Iain said, Christian Nesmith is currently in the process of mixing and mastering the recordings, but at this moment, it has not yet been decided whether the album will consist of one full show or a compilation of the best performances from the various stops on the tour. Nez will have the final vote once everything has been mixed.
The following songs are very likely to be included on the album:
Be sure to check back with The Monkees Live Almanac as Glenn and Iain have promised more details about the upcoming First National Band live album release as they become available.
I would also like to take a moment to thank both Glenn Gretlund and Iain Lee for sharing this news with the Live Almanac and its readers, and for their constant support of the site.
UPDATE 4/22/2018: Iain Lee is reporting on Facebook that 7a hopes to release the First National Band live album in July 2018. It will be available on compact disc and as a 2-LP set.
7a Records co-founder and UK broadcaster extraordinaire Iain Lee will be interviewing Michael Nesmith tonight - live! Be sure to tune in to Iain's radio show at 5:30pm ET/2:30pm PT/10:30pm UK on talkradio.co.uk!
Ann Moses was the editor of Tiger Beat from 1966–1972, writing countless stories about The Monkees during their heyday. Ann also acted as Hollywood Correspondent to Britain's New Musical Express from 1968-1971. She has published a book which is now available on her website, and you can preview it on Amazon.
British radio broadcaster (and co-founder of 7a Records) Iain Lee recently spoke to Ann on his radio show:
I went to the 2014 Monkees Convention in New York and filmed what I saw and who I met. I am a huge Monkees fan and it was a real thrill to speak to like-minded, passionate people. I was also lucky enough to interview Micky Dolenz, Monkees songwriter Bobby Hart, and Monkees historian Eric Lefcowitz, who all appear in this documentary.
This evening on his UK radio show, Iain Lee spoke with Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze, the legendary new wave group responsible for songs like "Tempted," "Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)," and many more. Afterwards, Iain relayed details about the interview on Facebook, in which Tilbrook referenced The Monkees' 2016 album, Good Times!, while also hinting about writing for a future Monkees release:
"Um. How to say this. I literally just had Glenn Tilbrook from Squeeze on my show. I said it was sad he wasn't asked to write a song for Good Times. 'Oh we were,' he said, 'but we couldn't fit it in. But they're doing another record and we're writing one for that...'"
No further information is available regarding Tilbrook's comments, but it should be noted that in a March interview Micky Dolenz raised the idea of The Monkees working together in 2017:
"We’re talking about another Monkee project. Nothing to announce at this point, but it’s in the air because this year is the 50th anniversary of our first real tour. So there’ll be stuff going on this summer and fall and then, well you just never know."
Stay tuned to the Live Almanac, and for a link to the Tilbrook interview once it's archived online.
UPDATE @ 8:40pm EST:
Joe, who owns Joe's Record Exchange in Fort Myers, Florida, has informed the Live Almanac that he received an email today from a record distributor regarding a brand new Monkees compilation coming this summer from Rhino Records. Here's what Joe had to say:
"I own a record store in Florida. I received an e-mail today from one of the distributors I buy new vinyl from, and it was about an upcoming Rhino promotion called '1967 Summer of Love.' There are 19 releases scheduled, and one is by The Monkees called Summer of Love. The only information given is that it is a 'New 1 LP and 1 CD compilation' with a scheduled release date of July 18, 2017."
It's unknown, of course, if this collection will contain any new Monkees music, and I'd like to stress that Rhino Records has yet to officially announce such a compilation. It's interesting nonetheless, on top of Iain's interview with Glenn Tilbrook. Thanks, Joe!
UPDATE #2 @ 10:30pm EST:
Andrew Sandoval, Monkees archivist and concert tour producer, spoke exclusively with the Live Almanac about the initial report above:
"No comment on recording, but we await any new Difford & Tilbrook song. Here's hoping."
Chris Difford is Glenn Tilbrook's songwriting partner in Squeeze. Thanks, Andrew!
UPDATE #3 on 5/10/2017 @ 4:15pm EST:
You can now listen to Iain Lee's interview with Glenn Tilbrook, and the Monkees discussion begins at the 2:00 mark.
UPDATE #4 on 5/23/2017:
Rhino Records has announced a new Monkees compilation, Summer of Love, as referenced in the first update above.
Glenn Gretlund and Ian Lee Talk About Working With Micky Dolenz On The MGM Singles Collection, New Music and More!
In this episode, Mike, Micky and Peter talk a California date, James Grant Interviews Peter Tork. Iain Lee and Bobby Hart talk some cool new releases & "Good Times!" Monkees news & Monkees Mailbag! Love one another! Thank you for listening to & for being part of this show. We love you. It is THE YEAR OF THE MONKEES!
Click the image below to listen!
7:30PM EST: Earlier this evening on his radio show, British broadcaster and 7a Records producer Iain Lee played "You Bring the Summer" from The Monkees' new album, Good Times! Iain is going to air the track once more before the end of his show. Tune in by clicking the "talkRadio" link below!
UPDATE 7:55PM EST: Iain has now replayed the song - thanks, Iain! It features Micky Dolenz on lead vocals.
UPDATE 8PM EST: A big thanks to Walter Herwig who submitted a sample of "You Bring the Summer" to The Monkees Live Almanac's Twitter feed:
Iain provides some great news for those waiting for Micky Dolenz: The MGM Singles Collection to be released on compact disc, along with a special project featuring Micky, Christian Nesmith, and Circe Link.
Purchase the August 2015 issue of Record Collector
Micky's early 1970s singles, originally released on the MGM label, were recently collected for the first time ever courtesy of Iain Lee and Glenn Gretlund of 7a Records, both longtime Monkees fans and co-producers of Micky Dolenz - The MGM Singles Collection.
Released in the summer of 2015, the set (made available as a gatefold vinyl and digital download) featured the A and B-sides of Micky's tenure at MGM, including his collaboration with Michael Lloyd, dubbed Starship, that yielded the 1972 single "Johnny B. Goode"/"It's Amazing to Me." Micky placed his stamp of approval on the project, and conducted several interviews in support of it. "It's really a great package," Micky told Examiner.com. "Over the years, I've had versions of those songs, one on a tape here, on a disc here, on a demo here," he said. "It's nice to have them all in one package."
Despite the lack of chart success for Micky's output during this era, the tracks are remarkably diverse and have stood the test of time. In the most recent Live Almanac poll, fans were asked to choose their two favorite songs from the collection, and "Oh Someone" took top honors. Written by Monkees associate (and Davy's stand-in on the TV show) David Price, the song is notable as the first collaboration between Micky and Peter since Peter left The Monkees in late 1968. Coincidentally, "Oh Someone" came together after a chance encounter Price had with Peter in 1971. The superb liner notes of the MGM Singles Collection, written by Mark Kleiner Biggar, elaborated on the meeting. "I was walking down the street in Hollywood when I looked up and there was Peter," said Price. "We hadn't seen each other in a while, and he said, 'I'm recording up at Micky's; why don't you come up?'" The song took a few hours to record, and featured Price on rhythm guitar, Peter on bass, and Micky behind the drums. A scorching lead guitar part by Price's friend B.J. Jones finished off the proceedings.
"Daybreak" was composed by Micky's close friend, Harry Nilsson. Nilsson, of course, had contributed "Cuddly Toy" and "Daddy's Song" to The Monkees years before, and both he and Micky were members of the infamous late night Los Angeles party group The Hollywood Vampires in the early 1970s. "Daybreak" featured former Monkees producer Chip Douglas on bass, who also compiled a video for the song that ultimately was not circulated at the time of the single's release in 1973. It surfaced on YouTube this past summer via Iain Lee as a promotional vehicle for the MGM Singles Collection.
You can order Micky Dolenz - The MGM Singles Collection on a couple of different formats. The gatefold vinyl LP is available on Amazon UK and via Amazon in the United States. The vinyl is also for sale (at a great price) through online retailer Ernie B's. You can also download it digitally on both Amazon and iTunes, with bonus tracks. And even better news, the MGM Singles Collection is slated for release on compact disc in the future!
The latest project from 7a Records showcases Bobby Hart's first solo album, which is also now available.
Here's the first email newsletter update from upstart record label 7a Records, which specializes in rare Monkees and Monkees-related releases. Subscribe to their newsletter! You'll see the opportunity to sign up at the bottom of their website.
I say morning because it is 5.47am here in the UK where 7a Records are based!
Thank you so much for signing up for our irregular newsletter about upcoming releases and events...yes, events!
We have 2 very exciting 7" vinyl singles coming soon....and an old favourite on CD...but as you probably know, our next release will be an expanded CD debut of 'The First Bobby Hart Solo Album' the lost Bobby Hart classic that had limited vinyl release in 1980.
We are hoping to have this exciting CD out BEFORE CHRISTMAS! Fingers crossed.
Right...have to go and do my radio show, this is a little testette to make sure the technology works.
More updates soon....
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