Ever since Michael Nesmith reconstituted the First National Band for a series of exclusive concerts last month, I have received many inquiries asking where to find the music of the First National Band, and in particular, which releases were best to seek out. For my money, the late 1990s/early 2000s compact discs by BMG/Camden are the superior representations of Michael's RCA work. The label released the albums as two-in-one reissues. Below are scans of the Magnetic South/Loose Salute CD from 1999.
The BMG/Camden reissues of Michael's RCA albums are readily available on Amazon:
In an email to subscribers, Videoranch provided an early glimpse and chance to order their latest piece of merchandise highlighting last month's revival of the First National Band on the concert stage. Prints can be ordered signed or unsigned, and Videoranch provided this description for the item:
"The official 8x10 First National Band Redux Tour poster features Nez in his Nudie suit looking up at the First National Band logo. His Nudie suit was the mascot for the January tour. Nez explained that the suit represented much of what he wanted to achieve through the art of First National Band. Nudie celebrates the high art element of Americana culture that Nez also finds in bluegrass and country music. The American flag theme is an effort to reclaim patriotism from conservative reaction. Similarly, Nez hoped to reclaim country and bluegrass styles by combining them with psychedelia -- pulling them further into that high space. "
In 1994, Rhino Records began issuing the original Monkees albums on compact disc, digitally remastered with bonus tracks. Overseen by Andrew Sandoval and Bill Inglot, The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees was part of the first wave of the campaign, released on September 20, 1994, along with The Monkees and Changes. The package featured informative liner notes written by Monkees archivist Sandoval, along with detailed session credits for each song.
In 2010, The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees was once again reissued, this time by Rhino Handmade as a phenomenal 3-CD super deluxe edition box set in another project overseen by Andrew Sandoval. You can read much more about the album and its various editions in the archives of the Live Almanac, including the LP's original track listing.
Earlier this week, The Monkees Live Almanac announced that Sundazed Music was reissuing all three studio efforts by Michael Nesmith & The First National Band on colored vinyl. Aside from offering each LP for sale individually, Sundazed has collected the trilogy in one package. Pre-order directly from their website.
The upcoming First National Band reissues are also available to pre-order at Amazon. The Live Almanac has had a lot of questions about who was responsible for the mastering of these releases. Amazon pre-order links and mastering information can be found in an update of the original blog post.
"Star Collector" was a longtime feature in Monkee Business Fanzine. Monkees collector and author Ed Reilly would break down a wide range of Monkees memorabilia, including everything from toys, trading cards, records, and much more. In this column from the September 1991 issue of MBF, Ed examines Monkees song sheets from the 1960s through the 1980s.
A big thank you to Gina from Sundazed Music for sharing their upcoming press release announcing vinyl reissues of all three seminal albums by Michael Nesmith & The First National Band! Complete details can be found below. (UPDATE 1/27/2018: The Live Almanac can now report via Sundazed Music the following information about the mastering of these LPs: "Bob Irwin Mastering + Kevin Gray Cut + RTI Pressing = Audible Perfection." The description originally read "Bob Irwin Mastered Mono" but that has been amended.)
Sundazed Press Release
Sundazed is proud to present three country-rock cornerstones from Michael Nesmith & The First National Band! Recorded and released in a span of less than 12 months(!!!), these three longplayers feature the matchless rural rock of Nesmith and his First National Band. Long out of print, this trilogy from the Nez make their return on colored vinyl with beautifully restored artwork on March 23rd!
The heralded solo debut of Michael Nesmith, Magnetic South features the artist’s hybrid of cowboy-’n’-western country music and rock sensibilities on eleven country-rock classics. Recorded at RCA’s Hollywood Studios in February 1970 directly after his departure from The Monkees, Magnetic South is brimming with songs Nesmith stockpiled during The Monkees’ heyday, highlighted by “Joanne,” one of the earliest singles with the California-country sound to become a major hit record. (Pre-order "Magnetic South" from Amazon)
The second LP from Michael Nesmith and the First National Band features the country-rock pioneer’s hit single “Silver Moon” alongside dreamy, near-psychedelic studies on western motifs and melodies, funky swamp sounds, and straight-up country readings in the inimitable Nesmith style. Loose Salute continues on the country-rock road of Magnetic South, rocking even harder in places, while adding a tinge of Latin rhythm. Recorded from April through July of 1970, the album catches Nesmith in his transition from honky-tonk hitmaker to studio born perfectionist across ten tracks. (Pre-order "Loose Salute" from Amazon)
The third LP from a Nudie-suit wearing father of country-rock, Nevada Fighter completes the trilogy of LPs by Michael Nesmith and the First National Band, augmented by members of Elvis’ ‘70s touring band and other Wrecking Crew heroes. Recorded from August 1970 through January of 1971, Nevada Fighter revisits one of Nesmith’s earliest compositions “Propinquity (I’ve Just Begun To Care),” which was penned back in 1965 prior to Nesmith becoming a Monkee, ultimately producing Nesmith’s fourth and final post-Monkees chart hit. The album’s first side is all Nesmith originals, while side two features covers of Harry Nilsson, Bob Wills, and others. (Pre-order "Nevada Fighter" from Amazon)
I still have a soft spot for the very first Monkees box set ever issued by Rhino Records on September 24, 1991. Listen to the Band was a 4-CD collection that included a memorabilia poster and a detailed booklet written and compiled by Andrew Sandoval, and it featured many songs that had not been previously released on compact disc. The September 1991 issue of Monkee Business Fanzine, which celebrated The Monkees' 25th Anniversary, previewed the box with comments by Sandoval and more. Note the discussion about live tapes from the 1969 tour. You can read a more current take of those tapes on the '69 tour page here on the site.
This 12-month calendar features newly restored, groovy pin-up photos of Davy. Monkee & Davy related birthdays as well as many important dates in Monkee history are noted. Approved by The Estate of David T. Jones.
*Proceeds benefit DJEMF*
The super deluxe edition of The Monkees' sophomore album, More Of The Monkees, is now available! 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.
Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval, who produced the box for Rhino Records, was enthused about its release when speaking to Monkees.com last month. "This is the most exciting archival dig through The Monkees' vault since 2009's The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees deluxe edition. Every track is newly mastered for this set; the live material is the most historically significant of their career."
A special 7" vinyl single with accompanying picture sleeve, "I'm A Believer" (remix) / "(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” (vocals only), is also a part of the package and is shrink-wrapped inside the box.
Below you can see the front and back cover of the expansive booklet, featuring a newly written essay by Andrew Sandoval. You can order the More Of The Monkees super deluxe edition from Monkees.com.
As you can see, I received box #788:
UPDATE 1/25/2018: This exclusive limited edition comic is now sold out.
Monkeemania: The True Story of The Monkees was authored by Glenn A. Baker, Tom Czarnota, and Peter Hogan. Published in 1986 at the height of The Monkees' 20th Anniversary Reunion Tour, many fans (like me) who discovered the group on MTV that year inevitably purchased the first edition of the book:
Baker also produced and compiled the legendary 1979 compilation Monkeemania: 40 Timeless Hits.
The third edition of Monkeemania, pictured below, was published in 1997 with alternate front and rear covers:
Here's what I believe to be a fairly rare item that comes from my personal collection, and one that I've never previously seen online - a 1969 Monkees Christmas card that was sent to members of the group's fan club. The card features the signatures of Michael Nesmith, David Jones, and Micky Dolenz on the front, along with their manager at the time, Brendan Cahill. A big thanks to Monkees collector and expert Ed Reilly for confirming the details of this piece of memorabilia.
The card opens to reveal a color picture of The Monkees in holiday-themed attire while having "snow" poured on them by Ric Klein (left) and David Pearl (right), two friends of the group who also acted as stand-ins on The Monkees television series and traveled with the band while on tour. Pearl co-managed The Monkees with Brendan Cahill throughout 1969. The message reads, "Let there be Peace on Earth and let it begin with me."
A black and white copy of this photo appeared in the December 2000 issue of Monkee Business Fanzine.
Another picture from this Christmas-themed shoot was published in the December 27, 1969 issue of the music industry trade magazine Cash Box: