Thanks to Brian Marchese for alerting the Live Almanac about his latest podcast, featuring a unique interview with Michael Nesmith:
"Episode 23 of Where's That Sound Coming From? has been a long time coming, basically due to life getting a bit derailed. But I hope you'll agree that it was worth the wait. What we have here is not your average interview with Michael Nesmith. This is sort of grad-level Nez. Spirituality. Metaphysics. Creativity. Psychedelics. Turning away from the darkness of that era. Not a word about The Monkees. No MTV. No Country Rock Pioneer. No Liquid Paper. Have you noticed that most bios and interviews with Nez seem to gloss over The Prison (1974) and his life at the time? As a long time fan of Nez, The Prison for a long time was this mysterious work that I kept trying and failing to get into. Eventually I realized I wasn’t hearing the original work - I was hearing the touched up version Nez released in the 90s. A few years ago I finally heard the 1974 original, and it all came together. Plus, I sensed a psychedelic influence which turned out to be accurate. In this podcast, my long-winded intro is followed by Nez onstage in 1975 telling the plot of The Prison, and finally, the main course: my conversation, recorded in April 2019. Stuff gets very deep, very spiritual, puzzling, funny and always fascinating. Enjoy."
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.
Elephant Parts is a collection of comedy skits and music videos made in 1981 by Michael Nesmith. Nez produced and distributed the one hour long video through his company Pacific Arts. In 1982, Michael was the first to be awarded a Grammy for Video of the Year for Elephant Parts. The award was reserved for "video cassettes or discs in any format created specifically for the home video market."
Videoranch announced on Facebook today that Elephant Parts will soon be restocked featuring a new digital video transfer from the master tapes, along with new bonus features. Videoranch is taking a poll on Facebook asking fans which format is preferred: DVD or Blu-ray. Take a minute to vote in the poll below!
Live at The Palais was released by Michael's company Pacific Arts in August 1978. Recorded in Melbourne at the Palais Theatre during a brief tour of Australia in 1977, the set reunites Nez with First National Band drummer John Ware. Notably, some of the songs on Live at The Palais featured new arrangements in comparison to their studio counterparts.
Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork performed at the Palais this past December during a stop on The Monkees' 50th Anniversary Tour.
The LP cover features a photo of Nez with his Black Gibson Les Paul custom guitar. This is the same guitar he played when The Monkees recorded "Pleasant Valley Sunday" in 1967, producing the classic riff that became the cornerstone of the song. The guitar was also seen on 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee during The Monkees' performance of "Listen to the Band," and again in 1969 when Micky, Davy, and Michael performed live on The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. Nez was last seen using the Les Paul with The Monkees at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles in 1986.
Live at the Palais can be downloaded on iTunes or at Videoranch.
A big thanks to Ben Belmares who supplied the scans seen below:
After browsing through my back issues, I'm excited to present this interview with Michael Nesmith that appeared in the June 1989 issue of Monkee Business Fanzine, which, of course, was published by Maggie McManus from 1977-2002. Music journalist and New York Times bestselling writer Ken Sharp spoke to Nez while promoting Tapeheads, a movie he produced in 1988 that starred John Cusack and Tim Robbins. Sharp talks to Michael about his solo career, the 1989 compilation The Newer Stuff, music videos, heavy metal, his company Pacific Arts, reuniting with The Monkees onstage in 1986, the 1968 Nashville sessions, recording "The Girl I Knew Somewhere," and much, much more. Nez also reimagines The Monkees' lineup as a band, which includes discussion of Peter as the drummer and Micky as the bassist. Enjoy!
Michael talks about a lot of topics in this interview, including the movies Tapeheads, Square Dance, and Repo Man; The Monkees; his days at the Troubadour in the 1960s; Linda Ronstadt; hanging out with The Beatles; Jimi Hendrix; and much more. Michael's comments on The Beatles and Hendrix are a fun listen...those remarks start at 8:23.
Infinite Rider on the Big Dogma was released in May 1979 and is Michael Nesmith's ninth studio album as a singer/songwriter during his post-Monkees career. The LP was Nesmith's third to be released on his own label, Pacific Arts. To continue developing Pacific Arts' multimedia projects, Nesmith originally developed Infinite Rider as a "video album." It peaked at #151 on the Billboard chart.
To promote the release of Infinite Rider, Pacific Arts issued a promotional album entitled "The Michael Nesmith Radio Special." The program intertwines an interview with Nesmith with the anticipated slate of songs for the LP.
A big thanks to Ben Belmares who supplied the scans seen below:
From a Radio Engine to the Photon Wing was released in 1977 and is Michael Nesmith's eighth studio album as a singer/songwriter during his post-Monkees career. The LP was Nesmith's second released on his own label, Pacific Arts.
Michael experienced a moderate worldwide hit with the lead-off track "Rio" (including a Top 30 placing in the United Kingdom), and later produced a promotional video for it. The video for "Rio" helped spur Nesmith's creation of a television program called PopClips for the Nickelodeon cable network. In 1980, PopClips was sold to Time Warner/Amex, who ultimately developed PopClips into MTV.
Due to the success of "Rio," Nez returned to the stage, making a series of concert appearances in Australia and recording the Live at the Palais album during his visit there. The success of "Rio" didn't translate into swift sales for From a Radio Engine to the Photon Wing, which bottomed out on the Billboard charts at #209.
Thanks a lot to Ben Belmares who supplied the scans for the inner sleeve and the back cover of the LP.
'Elephant' Innovator Serves Up Some 'Duck'
By Andy Wickstrom
As the first recording artist to win a Grammy Award for a video production, Michael Nesmith has a reputation as an innovator in the field. In the introduction to the award-winning made-for-video program Elephant Parts (1981), he referred to it as his first video album - in fact, the first video album ever. It was a spectacular blend of highly original music videos, skits and commercial spoofs.
Now comes another blend, under the painfully coy name of Dr. Duck's Super Secret All-Purpose Sauce (82 minutes, Pacific Arts Video, $39.95). If that title strikes you as trying too hard to be clever, you'll probably not find the concoction to your taste. Five years have passed in the brief history of home video, but Nesmith seems not to have noticed. His Dr. Duck is hardly more than warmed over Elephant Parts, and not the choicest cuts at that.
The charge that Dr. Duck is serving leftovers is lamentably accurate. The advertising and packaging for this tape are careful to mention the hallowed Elephant Parts, but they avoid naming the program's true predecessor, a fizzled network television show.
In the summer of 1985, NBC aired half-a-dozen installments of Michael Nesmith in Television Parts, a comedy-variety show trading on the cachet of the cassette. This led in turn to its own cassette, Television Parts Home Companion. If Dr. Duck has a "super secret," it's that some of this material was conceived for, and in some cases was shown on, the TV show. One segment (Jay Leno describing a '55 Buick) even begins in front of the Television Parts graphic.
Dr. Duck is unmistakable television fare. In contrast to the virtual one- man show of EP, this venture is awash in a guest celebrity roster fine-tuned to the hippest of demographics. Appearing in song or comedy bits (besides Leno) are Whoopi Goldberg, Jimmy Buffett, Roseanne Cash, Gary Shandling, Martin Mull, Jim Stafford, Jerry Seinfeld, Bob Goldthwait and Ed Begley, Jr. (Perhaps Nesmith's nom de video on this program comes from his ducking the camera.) It's a veritable list of Johnny or Joan's guests next week.
The mere fact that this is a TV retread is no reason to dismiss it entirely. It has some very entertaining moments. Nesmith figures in one as a Fassbinder-esque film director being interviewed by Dick Cavett. Puffing intently on short cigarettes, Nesmith expertly parodies the pretense of foreign "art" directors. In another fine bit, Lois Bromfield works herself into a frenzy while recounting the details of a slasher movie to her cowering date.
Other segments have a decidedly stale air. Goldberg does a turn as a surfer chick, a variation on the airhead Valley Girl that may have been funny two years ago but has since been worked to death by every talk-show comic. Goldberg contributes nothing new.
Even more boring is Goldthwait, who does his "Bobcat" routine introducing animal escape artist Houdini the Pig. Goldthwait is another in the current rash of comedians - such as Pee-wee Herman and Emo Phillips - who affect personas so geeky that the viewer squirms. It's funny at first but it's strictly one-note humor. After a minute's time, you've seen the entire repertoire of tics and grimaces.
There's one big music video production number that recalls the glories of EP. In Buffett's "La Vie Dansante," a Caribbean beach bum imagines a dreamy world of tap-dancing people in white tails, culminating in the appearance of a huge top hat that goes soaring among the stars with a line of dancers on its brim. That's just the kind of outlandishly beautiful image that Nesmith is known for, but has it become a trademark or a cliche?
This article was originally published by the Philadelphia Inquirer on December 7, 1986.
Here's a flashback from the Live Almanac's YouTube channel where Nickelodeon's music countdown show, Nick Rocks, profiles Michael Nesmith in a January 1987 episode. Speaking with Martha Quinn in an interview that originally aired on MTV, Nez discusses his most recent project, Dr. Duck's Super Secret All-Purpose Sauce (a 90-minute montage of sketch comedy with a variety of stars and music videos including Bobcat Goldthwait, Ed Begley Jr., Jimmy Buffett, Rosanne Cash, Whoopi Goldberg, Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, and Garry Shandling), and reuniting with The Monkees in 1986.
Micky Dolenz was among the directors who worked on Michael's Television Parts in 1985 on NBC.
A big thanks to Jeff Gehringer for submitting this September 1986 article to the Live Almanac! It covers a wide variety of topics, including the 1986 Monkees revival; Nez seeing Micky, Davy and Peter in concert in Texas that year; MTV; Elephant Parts; Television Parts; the video magazine Overview; as well as the movies Square Dance, Timerider and Repo Man. For easier reading, click on each image and then click on it again.
If you wrote to Nez in the mid-1980s during the second wave of Monkeemania, this is the postcard you received back via the Pacific Arts Corporation.
Live in 2021