By Justin Rakowski
Salt Lake City – December 6, 1969. As The Monkees walked off stage, nothing would ever be the same. At least in terms of their original run as a quartet, that was unceremoniously reduced to a trio earlier in the year. Apart from a few contractual obligations, Michael Nesmith was no longer a Monkee. This left Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones to continue on in some capacity. In addition to making a few promotional appearances under the guise of The Monkees throughout 1970, Micky and Davy undertook what would be the final Monkees album of the original Colgems era. Released in June of 1970, Changes unfortunately did nothing to bolster their fading popularity. While the single "Oh My My" barely cracked the Billboard Hot 100, Changes failed to grab the attention of what remaining fans they had and did not chart in its initial production run.
As decades passed and different waves of Monkees reunions cropped up, leading to more positive reevaluations of their career and musical output, Changes still held a somewhat “black sheep” quality when compared to The Monkees' other Colgems records. Growing up in the 1990s, I was too young to remember the massive resurgence in popularity the group experienced during their 20th Anniversary in 1986. Luckily, I discovered the "Pre-Fab Four" through Nick at Nite reruns during the mid-90s, leading me to hunt down every album released through the Rhino Records reissues on CD. Even as a young Monkees fan, Changes carried a stigma like no other Monkees LP had and initially I barely gave it a listen. Over the course of the ensuing years, my appreciation of the album grew slightly, but it still never reached the level of importance as their other albums.
In 2012, I met the woman who I would fall in love with and ultimately marry a few short years later. On one of our first dates, I discovered that she was quite familiar with a good number of Monkees songs, albeit the ones that were featured on the show, as she too watched the Nick at Nite reruns. Naturally, I gave her copies of all their albums, excited to see which one she would hold dear to her heart. After making her way through everything, I was shocked to find that she adored Changes and had memorized the lyrics to every song featured on the album in only a few short days. Her love for the album was contagious and I now started to listen with a different set of ears and appreciate it for what it was – a solidly written and performed set of catchy bubblegum songs that acted as a perfect bookend to a period that started with an album (The Monkees) that was essentially a solidly written and performed set of catchy bubblegum songs.
Through all of this, as many Monkees fans know, the multitrack recordings for all of the Jeff Barry-produced songs from the 1970 sessions are missing. Unfortunately this also includes two tracks, "Which Way Do You Want It" and "Ride Baby Ride," that were recorded but ultimately left off the final pressing of Changes. Given all these facts, we’ve been told time and time again that a Super Deluxe set of the album would be impossible given the lack of content. Once a Super Deluxe set of Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd. is released in the coming years, the journey that Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval started nearly a decade ago will have ended. As a fan of both The Monkees and Andrew, I am incredibly grateful for the amount of dedication from them to bring us such wonderful sets and can’t wait to have a shelf with all the Super Deluxe sets next to each other, providing us with perhaps the most complete auditory history of a band’s output. But, the set will feel quite lonely if Changes isn’t there in some capacity to bookend everything as it did almost 50 years ago when it was first issued.
With all of that in mind, I propose a solution. When the time comes to make a decision on the merits of a Super Deluxe set of Changes and the missing tracks that still have not been found, here is a track listing that could fill three CDs and properly tell the story of The Monkees' Colgems-era output, including Davy’s final contractual obligation for Colgems that resulted in his self-titled album released on Bell Records in 1971. With that being said, I present you with…
CHANGES (SUPER DELUXE EDITION)
23. Oh My My (Mono Promo Film Mix)
24. 99 Pounds (Stereo Remix)
25. Midnight Train (Demo)
26. I Never Thought It Peculiar (No Strings and Backing Vocals)
27. I Never Thought It Peculiar (Mono Mix without Overdubs)
28. I Never Thought It Peculiar (Mono Mix with Overdubs)
29. I Never Thought It Peculiar (Stereo Remix)
30. Time And Time Again (Take 1)
31. Time And Time Again (Mono Mix)
32. Time And Time Again (Stereo Mix)
33. Post Cereals "Monkees Cereal Box Records" Commercial
34. Kool-Aid "Nerf Ball" Commercial
35. Kool-Aid "Buzzer" & "Snake In A Can" Commercial
36. Together (Davy Jones With Sam & The Goodtimers - Live on Music Scene - December 22, 1969)
37. Interview With Davy Jones on Music Scene (December 22, 1969)
38. Oh My My (Live At The Palace Theater - Cleveland, Ohio - July 27, 1997)
39. Midnight Train (Live At The Mayo Performing Arts Center - Morristown, New Jersey - Aug. 27, 2015)
BONUS VINYL 45
"Acapulco Sun" EP by The Monkees
Oh My My
Do You Feel It Too?
Thank you very much to Justin Rakowski for submitting his essay to The Monkees Live Almanac! I would also like to acknowledge John McCutcheon's wonderful website Monkee45s for some of the scans seen above.
While prepping this piece for the Live Almanac's blog, I contacted longtime Monkees fan, collector, and author Ed Reilly to see if he could share some unique Changes-era pieces from his collection to complement Justin's work. The items below come from Ed's collection - thanks, Ed!
Bell Records released the original Monkees albums in Japan throughout 1973 and 1974:
In the fall of 1969, The Monkees television series premiered in syndication on CBS. Post Foods quickly conducted a cross-promotional exercise through their various cereal products like Alpha-Bits, Honeycomb, and Frosted Rice Krinkles by releasing Monkees cardboard singles that were printed onto the outside of the cereals' boxes.
Sometime in 1970, Post began a special offer for The Monkees Golden Hits, which collected all of the cereal box singles onto one exclusive vinyl LP that was unavailable in record stores. A coupon inside their cereal boxes advertised the album, which could be purchased for $1.50 and 2 box tops from any of the Post cereals.
Thanks a lot to Monkees collector Ed Reilly for sharing scans of the coupon found inside an Alpha-Bits box below:
Issued by The Monkees' label Colgems Records, The Monkees Golden Hits is hard to find nowadays in mint condition and is a sought-after collectible:
(The Monkees Golden Hits images courtesy of Monkee45s.net)
By 1970, The Monkees were comprised of Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones, with Michael Nesmith having departed the group earlier in the year. Micky and Davy are only known to have made two appearances as a duo, the first in Philadelphia in May at a concert festival sponsored by radio station WFIL, and then in June on Upbeat, a syndicated musical variety show produced in Cleveland, Ohio. Scant details exist about these two appearances.
One of the revelations about The Monkees' activities in 1970 documented in Andrew Sandoval's book, The Monkees: The Day-by-Day Story of the '60s TV Pop Sensation, was that Micky, Davy, and Peter Tork had performed on November 21, 1970 at the Valley REC Center in Van Nuys, California. The show itself was billed as "Freaky, Foxy, Funky Revival," but through the years, no set list, photographs, or further details have surfaced about this event.
And now thanks to Jim Tinder, we can see a preview of this mysterious appearance that was originally published in the Van Nuys Valley News on November 20, 1970. Thanks, Jim!
Micky and Peter, however, had performed together at least once before this gathering when they were joined by Coco Dolenz at the Troubadour in Los Angeles in September 1970. This performance was likely the first time Peter had been onstage with one of his former bandmates since his final live appearances as a member of The Monkees in Australia and Japan in late 1968. Years later while on tour with Peter in 2015, Micky shared the name of this impromptu group as DDT - Dolenz, Dolenz & Tork. At the time, Fave magazine had reported on the trio's unannounced show, saying it was "experimental" and "unique."
Micky, Mike, and Davy filmed a Kool-Aid commercial in February 1970 at a San Diego amusement park. Photos of Micky and Davy driving bumper cars will later appear on the back cover of Changes.
The Monkees' last original single, "Oh My My," was released in April 1970. The group's fanbase had shrunk considerably by this time, and the song received limited airplay and suffered even worse sales figures. Debuting on the Billboard chart on June 6, 1970 at #99, it peaked at #98 the following week.
This photo is making the rounds, and it's currently being auctioned on eBay. I've never seen this one before!
On June 13, 1970, Micky and Davy were guests on Upbeat, a syndicated musical variety show produced in Cleveland, Ohio. No other details are available regarding this television appearance. It is possible that the promotional clip for "Oh My My," featuring Micky and Davy riding motorcycles and horses, is screened during their time on the program. Thanks to Fred Velez for this submission!
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.]
This picture, 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 (with his sister Coco joining along) as DDT - Dolenz, Dolenz & Tork.
Andrew Sandoval documented this event in his book, The Monkees: The Day-by-Day Story of the '60s TV Pop Sensation, writing that Fave magazine reported on the unannounced performance, saying it was "experimental" and "unique."
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.
On June 2, 1970, Micky made his stage debut in Remains To Be Seen at the Pheasant Run Playhouse in St. Charles, Illinois, playing a jazz drummer.
Last summer, JD at Monkee45s.net alerted me that a 1970 program for Atlantic City's legendary Steel Pier was being auctioned on eBay. In it, The Monkees are advertised to appear in person on September 5, 6, and 7. Thanks to Kevin Schmid, I was able to obtain high quality scans of the program. The picture of The Monkees used inside of it, however, shows all four members in a late 1965 publicity photo. As we know, only Micky and Davy were working under the Monkees banner in 1970, so the whole thing immediately peaked my interest.
I searched Google to see if I could find anything about this event. (Andrew Sandoval's book does not make mention of this potential appearance.) I turned up a few internet posts that reference The Monkees at the Steel Pier, and one that mentions just Davy.
I also found a scan of a Pennsylvania newspaper from August 19, 1970 that is archived online (with an article titled "Monkee Business Paying Off"), but the print was too small to read and further attempts to obtain a superior copy were unsuccessful. I wondered if the article was promoting an upcoming appearance in nearby New Jersey at that time.
I gathered all of these items and submitted them to Andrew Sandoval, and he was able to shed a little light on this event. Andrew doesn't believe The Monkees performed at Atlantic City's Steel Pier that summer, and he thinks instead that it was a solo appearance made by Davy alone.
The search for other live appearances made by The Monkees in 1970 goes on!
As 1970 drew to a close, Micky and Davy conducted one more recording session in September with producer Jeff Barry. The bubblegum-esque single "Do It In The Name of Love" (backed with "Lady Jane") would be officially credited to Dolenz & Jones and not to The Monkees. Issued in April 1971 on Bell Records (which had absorbed Colgems, The Monkees' now defunct record label), the single failed to make a dent in the charts. Below is the Japanese picture sleeve for "Do It In The Name of Love" (courtesy of Monkee45s.net). The single was released under the Monkees banner in Japan.