Recorded during The Monkees' 30th Anniversary Tour in the summer of 1996, Two Man Band featured Peter Tork and his longtime friend, singer/songwriter/musician James Lee Stanley, performing selected covers and songs by Tork, Stanley, and The Monkees.
Peter and James first met in 1964 when Peter was a member of the Phoenix Singers during Peter's Greenwich Village days. In 1994, James Lee's Beachwood Records issued Peter's first solo album, Stranger Things Have Happened, and the duo began to perform together in the aftermath of its release. The intimate, acoustic nature of their shows inspired them to replicate that formula inside the recording studio, and Two Man Band was born.
In 2001, Peter and James released Once Again, which was followed by Live/Backstage at the Coffee Gallery in 2006.
Two Man Band is an excellent album that the Live Almanac highly recommends. Listen to an insightful interview with James Lee Stanley where he talks extensively about the album on the Texas Prairie Chicken Home Companion podcast:
AllMusic delivered praise for Two Man Band in its review of the album:
"Following the artistic success of his debut solo CD, Stranger Things Have Happened, Peter Tork teamed up with Beachwood labelmate James Lee Stanley. This pairing allowed Tork to further explore his acoustic, blues, and easy listening side. And, as with his first release, this is an excellent album. Both artists compliment each other and the music is very accessible. Tork has a wonderfully pleasing and distinctive voice, and Stanley's voice is a perfect blend. The two alternate lead vocals and composition credits and this, too, works. Stanley contributes more original tunes to the collection, while Tork is content to write a couple and choose suitable covers (such as the brilliant 'Milkshake,' a clear standout of the CD). 'Pleasant Valley Sunday' is outstanding and rivals the Monkees' version. One wonders what direction the Monkees would have taken had Tork had more control. That said, this album is a treasure. A perfect album for late summer nights while relaxing."
Two Man Band can be purchased on compact disc today through Amazon or CD Baby. The album is also available for downloading on iTunes and can be streamed on Spotify.
Thanks very much to Ben Belmares for sharing his scans of Two Man Band with The Monkees Live Almanac!
This past weekend, longtime fan Scott Erickson shared a very special item from his personal collection with The Monkees Live Almanac: a cassette tape of music sent to him by none other than Peter Tork.
Scott's story about the tape goes all the way back to the late 1980s when he had the opportunity to interview Peter for a radio show.
"When I was in my teens, I produced a radio show for a local AM station," Scott told the Live Almanac. "In 1989, I contacted Peter's 'people' to get an interview and he agreed. Peter later sent me a cassette containing 3 songs that I could use on the air. He had just finished mixing a live album recorded during his run at The Speakeasy in New York City in 1988. The live songs included on the tape were 'Sea Change,' 'Vagabond John,' and 'Miracle.' The live album was never released.
"Back then I was in the habit of always checking both sides of cassettes to make sure I didn't miss anything. And much to my surprise, there were 2 unused and unreleased backing tracks on the other side for 'Gettin In' and 'Sea Change'. I don't think Peter even knew they were there!"
Scott relayed that very few people have heard this unique tape, so the Live Almanac is honored to be able to share snippets from it in this very special audio sampler. Enjoy, and thanks again Scott!
Don't forget that Peter released official recordings of "Gettin' In" on The Monkees' 1987 album Pool It! as well as his 1994 solo album, Stranger Things Have Happened, which also included "Miracle" and "Sea Change."
This May, Friday Music will release two different vinyl editions of Greatest Hits, the very first compilation of Monkees music originally issued by Colgems Records in June 1969.
Here are the details, courtesy of Friday Music, and thanks to Scott Nelson for the heads-up!
In 1969, Colgems Records honored their hugely successful recording act The Monkees with their first smash hits album simply titled "The Monkees Greatest Hits." The 14 track masterpiece is loaded with hit singles like "Daydream Believer," "Last Train To Clarksville," "I'm A Believer," "Pleasant Valley Sunday," & "Valleri."
The amazing LP was only in print for a very short time, making it an instant collector's item five decades ago.
Now, Friday Music is pleased to announce 50th Anniversary super limited edition 180 gram orange audiophile vinyl release of "The Monkees Greatest Hits." Impeccably mastered by Joe Reagoso (The Monkees) from the Colgems Records tapes, the masterwork is also packaged in the original artwork design that was seen in record shops back in 1969.
More hit tracks like "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone," "Valleri," "She," and "Shades Of Gray" are included as well as a super rare stereo mix of "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" to further enhance your Monkees listening experience.
The Monkees - Greatest Hits (180 Gram Audiophile Translucent Gold Vinyl/Limited Anniversary Edition)
Songs, a 12-CD collection that brings together Michael Nesmith's works for both RCA and Pacific Arts, is scheduled to be released by UK-based Edsel Records on April 5, 2019.
The box set, however, is not a complete representation of Michael's solo output as the following albums are not included: The Wichita Train Whistle Sings, Live at the Palais, The Michael Nesmith Radio Special, Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann (soundtrack), Live at The Britt Festival, Rays, and The Ocean.
Four RCA-era bonus cuts are included in the track listings ("Rose City Chimes," "First National Dance," "Cantata & Fugue in C&W," "Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette") and 7a Records co-founder Iain Lee has penned liner notes for the booklet.
In June 2018, Michael Nesmith's 1970s RCA albums were issued digitally with previously unheard bonus tracks.
Amazon provides the following description of the box set:
As a member of the first-ever manufactured group, Michael Nesmith needs little introduction. Aside from his ground-breaking projects in the field of music video and film production, he has enjoyed a solo career since he left the Monkees that has encompassed many styles of music, but has always been supported by his wonderful songwriting, alongside some very astute choices of songs he has covered. Nez signed to RCA in 1970 and in quick succession made three albums with The First National Band, which featured pedal steel guitarist extraordinaire O.J. 'Red' Rhodes. All three featured, in the main, his own compositions (including some he had tried out in Monkees sessions) plus some interesting covers, including both well-known country songs and songs by the likes of Harry Nilsson and Eric Clapton. Alongside the contemporary output of The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers, these albums form the foundation of Country Rock. Nesmith continued in this vein with three more albums for RCA in 1972 and 1973, the ironically-titled "…And The Hits Just Keep on Comin'" containing his own version of "Different Drum," a huge hit for Linda Ronstadt back in 1967. He formed his own production company, Pacific Arts, in 1975, the first release being "The Prison," "a book with a soundtrack," with songs to compliment the reading experience. A second example of this, "The Garden," was issued in 1994. 1977 saw the release of "From A Radio Engine To The Photon Wing," which featured the hit single "Rio." The video for this was instrumental in the birth of MTV. Moving away from country rock, follow-up albums further showcased Nesmith's songwriting, accompanied by songs by Cole Porter and others. This box set is the first time that Michael Nesmith's solo albums from both his RCA and Pacific Arts periods have been brought together in one compendium. The albums are in CD-sized facsimiles of the original sleeves, along with a booklet that compiles all the credits and liner notes from those sleeves. There are also four bonus tracks across the RCA albums. Booklet notes by broadcaster Iain Lee.
Instant Replay, The Monkees' seventh album and the first to be released in the post-Peter Tork era, was issued by Colgems Records on February 15, 1969:
Congratulations to Renny Simno on getting married last evening, and take a look at the groom's cake!
Micky's early 1970s singles, originally released on the MGM label, were collected for the first time ever in 2015 courtesy of Iain Lee and Glenn Gretlund of 7a Records, both longtime Monkees fans and co-producers of Micky Dolenz - The MGM Singles Collection.
The set, originally available as a gatefold vinyl and digital download but later released on compact disc, featured the A and B-sides of Micky's tenure at MGM as well as his collaboration with Michael Lloyd (Starship) that yielded the 1972 single "Johnny B. Goode"/"It's Amazing to Me." The CD version contained a plethora of bonus tracks, including Micky's late '70s/early '80s singles and collaborations with Christian Nesmith and Circe Link.
Micky placed his stamp of approval on the project, and conducted several interviews in support of it. "It's really a great package," Dolenz 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."
The MGM Singles Collection is a stellar release that is highly recommended by the Live Almanac. Bolstered by the photography of Henry Diltz and superb liner notes (by Mark Kleiner Biggar) and mastering, the set is available on Amazon US and Amazon UK and is also downloadable on iTunes. You can take a look inside the compact disc package below, thanks to Ben Belmares, and read more about Micky's career at MGM in the archives of the Live Almanac.
Liner Notes by Mark Kleiner Biggar
Updated Liner Notes for Compact Disc Release by 7a co-owner Glenn Gretlund
The Compact Disc
Thanks a lot to Ben Belmares for sharing his scans of The Monkees Greatest Hits, the 1976 compilation that Rhino Records has just reissued on orange vinyl as part of their "Start Your Ear Off Right" promotional campaign. Thanks again, Ben!
By 1976, Arista Records had inherited The Monkees' music catalog from Colgems (later Bell Records) and proceeded to release The Monkees Greatest Hits. This Arista collection was in reality a repackaging of Re-Focus, an earlier Monkees compilation produced by Bell in 1972. Arista's Greatest Hits featured the same track listing as Re-Focus but with brand new cover art, and could be purchased as an LP, cassette, or 8-track.
As Monkees albums were hard to come by in the mid-1970s, and possibly due to other factors like the return of the group's TV show in syndication and the activities of Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart, Greatest Hits sold well and peaked at #58 on the Billboard chart in 1976. It was later certified Gold in 1986 and Platinum in 1991, and remained in print through the 1980s when it first appeared on compact disc.
And now in 2019, The Monkees Greatest Hits is being treated to yet another release, this time by Rhino Records as part of their annual "Start Your Ear Off Right" campaign. Available exclusively at participating music shops beginning on January 8, Greatest Hits has been pressed on orange vinyl and is limited to 4,500 copies.
Looking for that perfect gift or stocking stuffer for your Monkees fanatic? Well, The Monkees Live Almanac is here to help! Beginning with the group's brand new album, Christmas Party, the Live Almanac highlights the best items available for Monkees fans this holiday season. Simply click on each image below to order away!
"Christmas Party" Sweatshirts
When you order from Monkees.com through Monday, November 26 at 11:59pm PT, you can receive free domestic shipping and a sheet of Monkees wrapping paper when you spend $50 or more.
"The Monkees: The Complete Series" (along with "Head," "33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee," and Bonus Materials) on Blu-ray
Various CDs, LPs, 45s, and DVDs from 7a Records
Holiday Ornaments from the Davy Jones Equine Memorial Foundation
"More Of The Monkees" 3-Disc Super Deluxe Edition Box Set
Micky Dolenz Direct eBay Store
Michael Nesmith & The First National Band Trilogy on Colored Vinyl
Peter Tork & Shoe Suede Blues - "Relax Your Mind"
The Monkees' 2016 album "Good Times!"
Michael Nesmith Wool Hats
T-shirts & Sweater
"Instant Replay" Deluxe Edition
Monkees Button Pack
Michael Nesmith Merchandise and Collectibles from Videoranch
Happy Holidays from The Monkees Live Almanac!
The Monkees famously closed their second season Christmas episode with a performance of "Riu Chiu," a traditional Spanish carol dating from the 16th century:
A big thanks to (who else?!) Ben Belmares for sharing his scans of the Target version of The Monkees' new holiday album, Christmas Party.
Last week, the Japanese label Oldays Records reissued The Monkees' classic fourth album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. on compact disc with bonus tracks. Read more about this release and take a look inside the package at Monkee45s:
A look inside the vinyl edition of "Live at The Troubadour" by Michael Nesmith & The First National Band Redux
This August, the ever-prolific 7a Records issued Live at The Troubadour by Michael Nesmith & The First National Band Redux as a limited edition 2LP gatefold on 180g opaque gold vinyl. The set also happens to feature a special bonus performance of the song "Rio." A compact disc version was also released.
And now, thanks (as always) to Ben Belmares, you can take a look at the LP version of Live at The Troubadour below. Thanks, Ben!
Before you do, don't forget to order your copy of Live at The Troubadour on Amazon US or Amazon UK!
On June 29, Rhino Records released An Introduction to The Monkees Volume 1 as a budget-priced compact disc with ten tracks:
And this week, Rhino issued An Introduction to The Monkees Volume 2:
Target will carry an exclusive bonus tracks edition of The Monkees' forthcoming holiday album, Christmas Party, beginning on October 19 (a week after the release of the standard edition). Target's compact disc will feature two additional songs:
1) "Ríu Chíu" (group version as heard on the 1967 "Christmas Show" episode with improved audio from its previous CD appearance on the 2007 deluxe edition of Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.)
2) "Christmas Is My Time Of Year" (the one-off 1976 Christmas single recorded by Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, and Peter Tork and produced by Chip Douglas - this will mark its first official appearance on a Monkees album)
UPDATE 9/22/2018: Target's website shows that pre-orders for the bonus tracks edition of Christmas Party are now sold out. John Hughes of Rhino Records, however, has stated on Facebook that they are looking to replenish Target's stock to allow for additional pre-order sales. In the meantime, keep checking Target's site as well as this space for additional updates and information.
UPDATE #2 on 9/27/2018: Online pre-orders are once again being taken by Target for the exclusive bonus tracks edition of Christmas Party.
UPDATE #3 on 9/28/2018: Online pre-orders via Target, for the second time, are sold out!
UPDATE #4 on 10/2/2018: Online pre-orders have returned as of 5pm!
Subscribers to the Videoranch email list were given a heads-up today on some of the items that will be available at the merchandise booth during this September's Michael Nesmith & The First National Band Redux tour. The photos and descriptions provided in the email appear below. And don't forget to sign up for updates from Videoranch!
Limited Edition Hand Screen Printed Poster ($35)
In October 1971, Bell Records released Davy Jones' second solo album. The eponymous effort arrived during a challenging period in Davy's career. The Monkees last LP, Changes, had failed to chart a year before, and the group's television series (despite being a hit in syndication in the early 1970s), had been canceled in 1968. With a considerably lower profile, Davy struggled to find an audience in the immediate post-Monkees years.
Produced by Jackie Mills and arranged by Al Capps, the album yielded a couple of singles (and two more additional non-LP singles would follow on Bell). "Rainy Jane" was issued in May 1971 and backed with "Welcome to My Love." The lead single ended up achieving moderate success, peaking at #52 on Billboard, #32 on Cash Box, and #31 on Record World.
The second single taken from the album, "I Really Love You"/"Sitting In The Apple Tree," was less successful, peaking at #107 on Billboard, #96 on Cash Box, and #106 on Record World. The B-side was written by Doug Trevor of The Cherokees, the group that opened for The Monkees in Australia in 1968.
Outside of Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield's "Rainy Jane," the album featured songs written by largely unknown songwriters, an exception being the brooding "Look at Me," composed by David Gates of the 1970s band Bread. (Gates also wrote "Saturday's Child" for The Monkees in 1966.)
The opening track, "Road to Love," easily qualifies as a highlight from the album. It was later selected as the B-side of the non-LP single "I'll Believe In You," released by Bell in early 1972. The single failed to chart.
It's well known that Davy did not enjoy his association with Bell Records. He often vocalized his disdain for the Bell experience, claiming his talents were misused and that he was never given the opportunity to grow as an artist while under their auspices. He ultimately left Bell and later recorded for MGM Records throughout 1972.
In Davy's 1987 autobiography, They Made a Monkee Out of Me, he says next to nothing about the Davy Jones album, leaving co-author Alan Green to discuss this era of Davy's career. After assessing Changes (another effort Davy always publicly disowned), Green summarized the 1971 Bell album this way:
"Davy still had one more disaster to go before he finally broke with Screen Gems in 1971. They got him a deal to do one album on Bell, with Screen Gems publishing. He was teamed up with Jackie Mills, Bobby Sherman's producer, who still saw Davy as a bubblegum singer. He wouldn't allow him to break out of that mold into something a little more challenging, in the way that he was attempting to do with his live shows. The result was one more unoriginal piece of vinyl, from which four singles were released. Only the first, 'Rainy Jane,' made any impression on the charts.
"Davy was very upset with the way the whole thing was handled. He didn't have a manager at the time and was therefore at the mercy of the record company executives. He asked for just his picture and name to be on the cover, but he obviously didn't ask loudly enough. They put out a cheap-looking thing that had the song titles and company logo on the front cover. Davy complained, but to no avail."
The Davy Jones Bell album was eclipsed in time by Davy's iconic appearance later in 1971 on The Brady Bunch, where he sang the song "Girl." Despite being promoted by Davy's guest spot and in the movie The Star-Spangled Girl, as a single it failed to chart. But the song's legend has grown to iconic status through the years thanks to countless reruns of the "Getting Davy Jones" episode and its inclusion in Monkees concert set lists in the 1990s and early 2000s. Davy also appeared in the 1995 cinematic version of The Brady Bunch where he sang "Girl," albeit in a new, grunge-like version.
In 2012, Friday Music released The Bell Recordings on compact disc, which collected the original 1971 Bell album and the singles recorded during that era. It is currently available to download on iTunes and can be streamed on Apple Music.
Thank you very much to Ben Belmares for the scans of Davy's Bell album!
This past June, Davy's daughters Talia Jones Roston, Sarah Jones McFadden, Jessica Cramer Jones, and Annabel Jones formed Along Came Jones Media to assist in the preservation of their father's legacy. The organization's initial Facebook post designated a book as their debut project, and fans will be happy to know that When the World & I Were Young: Snapshots from the Collection of Davy Jones will be available this September! The cover appears below, and a description of the book follows.
UPDATE 9/5/2018: When the World & I Were Young: Snapshots from the Collection of Davy Jones is now available from Amazon.
From the back cover:
In the summer of 1967, The Monkees hit the road for their first major concert tour. With the success of their hit TV show energizing fans, they were greeted with screams, hysteria, love, and applause everywhere they went.
It was a lot for four young guys to take in. Fortunately, they all had cameras—Kodak Instamatic 104s, to be exact!
From June through August, The Monkees were on the go-go. Beginning at the Hollywood Bowl, the tour took them from LA to London and everywhere in between. Along the way, they introduced the US to one of their most ground-breaking opening acts: The Jimi Hendrix Experience!
Whether you were there, or just wish you had been, this rare collection of candids brings the summer of 1967 back to life. Featuring many never-before-seen images of The Monkees, their friends, and even some of their fans, When the World & I Were Young - Snapshots from the Collection of Davy Jones is a treasure that captures the excitement and spirit of the Summer of Love as only The Monkees could have experienced it.
Enjoy this groovy trip down memory lane with one of the hottest groups of the era, The Monkees!
Live Almanac reader Andrew Lenahan recently acquired a Headquarters LP at a thrift store, and inside was a ticket stub from The Monkees' appearance at the Hollywood Bowl! The Monkees performed in front of a sold-out audience of over 17,000 at the historic venue on June 9, 1967. Just one day after this triumph, the group recorded "Pleasant Valley Sunday" at RCA Hollywood.
The latest release from 7a Records features two long lost tracks by Davy Jones. "Rainbows" was written and produced by Chip Douglas (who was also at the helm for The Monkees' Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. LPs along with singles like "The Girl I Knew Somewhere," "Pleasant Valley Sunday," "Daydream Believer," and "Goin' Down") and recorded by Davy in 1981. The song has long circulated in tape trading circles of Monkees/Davy fans, but this single marks its first official release.
"You Don't Have To Be A Country Boy To Sing A Country Song" was written by Davy and Tommy Boyce (who co-wrote some of The Monkees' biggest hits with Bobby Hart) and appeared as the B-side to "(Hey Ra Ra Ra) Happy Birthday Mickey Mouse," the official theme song for the 50th birthday celebration of Mickey Mouse. That single was released by Warner Brothers in 1978 in England only, and neither side has ever been officially issued on compact disc or been made available digitally. 7a previously provided fans with a sneak preview of the A-side.
This release is available as a 7" red vinyl single, and only 500 copies have been pressed. Of note, after speaking with 7a co-founder Glenn Gretlund earlier this week, only 50 copies remain in their stock. Deep Discount had the best pricing option, but they are currently sold out! (Check back later, however, for ordering options.) There are still limited quantities available from Amazon. And for UK customers, Amazon UK has the single listed but it's currently out of stock. Clearly this item is in demand, so be sure to get your copy soon!
The ever dependable Ben Belmares has supplied the Live Almanac with scans of his copy of the single below. As always, Ben, thank you! And another thanks must go to both Iain Lee and Glenn Gretlund at 7a Records for working so hard to preserve the legacy of the works of the individual Monkees. Don't forget to follow 7a Records on Facebook and Twitter. And you can read more about 7a's past releases in the archives of the Live Almanac.