In 1987, The Monkees released their first album of all new material since 1970. Pool It! arrived in August of that year from Rhino Records, preceded by the LP's first single and music video, "Heart and Soul," which made its mark on select channels and Nickelodeon (but famously not MTV).
The article below, "The Monkees: All New Tracks to Satisfy the Faithful," was originally published in Pulse!, a magazine that was available at Tower Records locations in the '80s. It includes comments from the album's producer, Roger Bechirian. Thanks to Keith Combs who shared the article on Facebook a while back, and I thought it would be nice to archive it in the Live Almanac's Pool It! category. Thanks, Keith!
This ad for Pool It! and "Heart and Soul" was included in the same issue of Pulse!:
While we're on the subject, here's a rare behind the scenes photo of Peter, Micky, and Davy during filming of the "Heart and Soul" video in Los Angeles in July 1987:
Finally, earlier this fall Henry Diltz shared this outtake from the Pool It! album cover photo session on his Facebook page:
In 1994, James Lee Stanley's Beachwood Records released Peter Tork's first ever solo album, Stranger Things Have Happened, featuring several notable guest musicians and friends including Stanley, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Laurence Juber (Paul McCartney & Wings), Mackenzie Phillips, and Timothy B. Schmit (The Eagles).
And now, in 2020, 7a Records has announced its first-ever Tork-related project as it will reissue Stranger Things Have Happened on compact disc and vinyl this December. The CD version includes a whopping 9 bonus tracks and a 32-page color booklet with sleeve notes by Mark Kleiner, who hosts the Nesmith, Tork, Goffin & King podcast and has written numerous superlative liners for previous 7a releases. The vinyl, limited to just 600 copies, features 6 bonus tracks and will be pressed on 180 gram Neon Magenta Splatter vinyl. The album cover has also been updated from its original pressing.
Dolenz and Nesmith provided backing vocals on "Milkshake," and Nez can also be heard on "MGB-GT," which was initially performed by Micky, Peter, and Davy Jones during The Monkees' 20th Anniversary Reunion Tour. Davy was present at the recording session for "Milkshake" with his fellow Monkees, but never got around to putting his vocal on tape. James Lee Stanley recalled the comedic circumstances that caused Davy to leave the session during this interview (at 27:30).
Bonus tracks on 7a's compact disc reissue of Stranger Things Have Happened include Peter's 1981 single with his band The New Monks, "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone"/"Higher and Higher."
7a Records is also currently producing another highly anticipated release, Dolenz Sings Nesmith, featuring Micky Dolenz covering the songbook of Michael Nesmith, produced by Christian Nesmith with Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval handling A&R duties.
Stranger Things Have Happened arrives December 4 in the United Kingdom and December 11 in the United States. UK fans can pre-order from Amazon while those in the US can pre-order the compact disc or vinyl from Deep Discount.
Stay tuned to The Monkees Live Almanac for further updates, and in the meantime, read another preview of this latest 7a release courtesy of The Second Disc.
UPDATE 11/24/2020: Listen to the latest Zilch podcast that covers the re-release of Stranger Things Have Happened, featuring an interview with 7a's Glenn Gretlund as well as Mark Kleiner.
* The CD Track Listing *
The final episode of the first season of The Monkees, "Monkees on Tour," was a documentary that chronicled the group's appearance at Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, Arizona on January 21, 1967 during their earliest live performances:
Have you heard the latest episodes of Mark Kleiner's podcast Nesmith Tork Goffin & King??? Mark's series on The Monkees' 1987 album Pool It!, as highlighted in a previous post on the Live Almanac's blog, continues below, along with much more!
Listen: Monkee Wash, Donkey Rinse
Mark is in conversation with New York Times writer John Leland about The Monkees in the 1980s, and Keith Allison recalls writing and recording "Auntie's Municipal Court" and explains why he's often uncredited. This episode also features a rare Peter Tork live performance of "Lady's Baby" from 1979, as well as a live rendition of "Right Now" as performed by Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart at the Cleveland Agora on June, 10, 1976. Finally, Mark talks to Matt Harris, who provided background vocals on Pool It!
In this episode, Mark continues his retrospective of Pool It! featuring exclusive interviews with producer Roger Béchirian and music supervisor Lou Maxfield, along with two integral musicians on the sessions, Mark Christian and Michael Egizi.
And, Rhino Records legend Bill Inglot offers insight into the podcast's ongoing inquiry of the "Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere" remix mystery. You can also hear a rare live "50s Medley" as performed by Davy Jones and Peter Tork during their 1986 Sounds of the Monkees Australian Tour.
Enjoy the third installment of NTGK's profile on Pool It! featuring never-before-revealed studio moments from producer Roger Béchirian, music supervisor Lou Natkin, session musicians Mark Christian and Michael Egizi, plus the world premiere of the demo for "The Weight of Love," an original Bobby Hart/Dick Eastman composition submitted for consideration for inclusion on the Pool It! album.
1980s Arista Records executive Roy Lott shares a behind-the-scenes perspective on the alleged second single from Then & Now ... The Best of the Monkees ("Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere") that threatens to rewrite the entire historical record, and culminates in a party at Quincy Jones' mansion for Whitney Houston.
The former Monkeesmixography website, which classified every Monkees track by mix/master/remaster, and more, is being converted into a book by Craig Smith and Derek Miner. Mixing Links: The Monkees on Disc doesn't have a release date, but fans can now review another excerpt that was recently revealed on their website! Featured in this update is "Goin' Down," originally issued as the B-side to "Daydream Believer" in October 1967. And don't forget to follow Mixing Links on Facebook!
"Goin’ Down" started life as a jam following a take of "She Hangs Out" on June 21, 1967. Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork played electric guitar with a rhythm section of "Fast" Eddie Hoh on drums and producer Chip Douglas on bass. The original tracking was recorded to 4-track tape, though it is most likely the recording was transferred to 8-track for later overdubs. The brass parts were recorded September 15, 1967, both a 12-piece accompaniment (which may have been recorded to just one mono track!) plus saxophone and trumpet solos. It is unclear if the vocals were added before or after this instrumentation.
Thanks to John at Monkee45s.net for the images seen above!
Adam Schlesinger, who produced The Monkees' 2016 album Good Times! along with the group's first-ever holiday collection Christmas Party (2018), passed away on April 1, 2020 at age 52 from complications of COVID-19.
"As many of you are aware, Adam had been hospitalized with COVID-19 and although he had been making some small improvements over the last few days, Adam's condition was critical and he was ultimately unable to recover from COVID-19 complications," read a statement on April 2 provided to CNN. "He was truly a prolific talent and even more so, a loving and devoted father, son and friend."
Adam was a member of the bands Fountains of Wayne and Ivy, along with the supergroup Tinted Windows, whose song "This Is The Day" was featured in There's Something About Mary. His notable achievements also included TV and film songwriting, which stretched from That Thing You Do to Music and Lyrics to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
Fountains of Wayne was perhaps best known for the early 2000s hit single "Stacy's Mom," which was nominated for a Grammy. Schlesinger was also an Emmy-winning songwriter for the CW musical comedy series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, a show for which he composed more than 100 songs. He received an Oscar nomination for writing the title song to That Thing You Do, directed by Tom Hanks, as well as two Tony nominations for his work on the musical adaptation of John Waters' film Cry-Baby in 2008. In addition to his songwriting, Schlesinger produced recordings for such musical artists as They Might Be Giants, America, and Robert Plant.
Good Times!, The Monkees' first album of all new material since 1996's Justus, was produced by Schlesinger and included his own composition, "Our Own World," along with a song co-written with Micky Dolenz, a send-up of an oft-used phrase utilized by Dolenz over the years, "I Was There (And I'm Told I Had a Good Time)." The album peaked at #14 on the Billboard 200 in June 2016.
Schlesinger appeared onstage with The Monkees in New York City during the group's 50th Anniversary Tour, performing "I Was There" and "Steppin' Stone."
Micky Dolenz remembered Adam in an interview with WCBS FM. "He was such a great guy, a gentleman, and funny, and so smart. And obviously an incredible producer, writer, performer. I wrote a song with him on Good Times! I just can't believe it. That's by far the closest person to me that's been affected [by COVID-19] and I think about him all the time. What a loss."
Schlesinger was effusive in his praise of Dolenz in a 2016 interview with Fast Company when talking about the recording sessions for Good Times! "Micky was a real workhorse, and I think he did more hours in the studio than all the other guys, in total, because he sang most of the songs. He was a real trooper, and his voice is incredible – in most cases, when you’re working with older singers, you’re having to transpose things lower, and in Micky’s case, we’re actually having to transpose things higher, because he’s got this incredible range."
Adam's collaboration with The Monkees on Good Times! was seemingly a high point in his career. "They were all incredibly easy and fun to work with," he told Fast Company. "Everybody has the attitude of 'let us know what we can do to help - here are some ideas, take them or leave them.' They're very collaborative."
The Monkees' official website paid tribute to Adam Schlesinger after the announcement of his death, while also highlighting his work on Good Times! "Even the most optimistic Monkees fan couldn’t have guessed just how wonderful an effort Schlesinger would help put together. It wasn't just a comeback album, it was an instant classic that was – without question – the best thing the band had released since the '60s."
Ben Gibbard, lead vocalist and guitarist of Death Cab For Cutie, whose song "Me & Magdalena" proved to be a highlight from Good Times!, also commemorated Adam.
"I never got to meet Adam," Gibbard relayed during an at-home live stream concert after Schlesinger passed. "We had a lot of connective tissue - a lot of friends in common - but we never had a chance to meet. But I owe him a huge debt of gratitude because he was integral in picking 'Me & Magdalena' for The Monkees to record four years ago."
"I always thought as one does in life that you have plenty of time to say thank you, or I love you, or to give somebody a compliment or what have you, but that day obviously did not come," said Gibbard. "From the bottom of my heart, I'm so grateful to him for helping me realize a lifelong dream, which was to write a song that would be recorded by The Monkees, a band I grew up listening to."
Adam Schlesinger returned to the producer's chair for The Monkees on Christmas Party in 2018. Schlesinger co-wrote one of the standout tracks on the holiday collection, "House of Broken Gingerbread," with novelist Michael Chabon.
Adam was survived by his two daughters, Sadie and Claire, his girlfriend Alexis Morley, his parents Barbara and Stephen Schlesinger, and his sister Lauren.
Listen to the latest podcasts from Rhino, NPR's Fresh Air, Zilch, Nesmith, Tork, Goffin & King, and Rolling Stone as they honor the life and accomplishments of Adam Schlesinger.
"I thank you. The banjo thanks you."
- Peter Tork
Milwaukee, Wisconsin at Shank Hall / May 4, 1997
If you are fan of The Monkees' 1987 album, Pool It! (and even if you are not), this edition of the Nesmith, Tork, Goffin & King podcast will be sure to please! Listen as host Mark Kleiner inquires about the seemingly long-lost second version of "Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere" with the song's co-writer Dick Eastman and chats with '80s Monkees manager David Fishof about record label interest for Pool It! Mark also speaks with former Rhino Records graphic artist Lisa Sutton, who discusses the album cover photo session, and finally, there's a revealing interview with the LP's producer, Roger Bechirian.
But wait, there's more! Mark also debuts the previously unheard demo for "Heart and Soul," the first single issued from Pool It!
This article, submitted by longtime friend of the Live Almanac Al Bigley (who is also co-host of the Texas Prairie Chicken Home Companion podcast), features a conversation with The Monkees during a West Coast promotional tour for their 1968 feature film, Head. Peggy King reports in the December 7, 1968 edition of the Oakland Tribune on The Monkees' feelings about the end of their NBC television series, including what King calls their "famous Flying Saucer episode," Michael Nesmith's ruminations of future Monkees activities, discussion of a double album (that never came to fruition), filming the TV special that became 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee, and more. A highly recommended read for Monkees fans!
This photo of The Monkees, previously seen on social media and various online outlets, was seemingly taken during this Oakland Tribune interview:
And don't forget to listen to the latest episode of the Texas Prairie Chicken Home Companion!
On October 1, 1968, The Monkees were greeted rapturously as they arrived in Japan to perform a series of live concerts in that country for the very first time. One of these historic shows was filmed (most likely during the two day, three-concert stay at Budokan Hall in Tokyo on October 3 and 4, 1968) and later broadcast on Japanese television. The audio recording and video footage, however, has never been officially released. The audio (straight from the video) has long existed as a bootleg (complete with Japanese voice introductions before each song), but much to the chagrin of Monkees fans, the video footage is presumed lost or destroyed.
Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval has confirmed that multiple attempts have been made to find the missing video footage. "It was definitely broadcast and there has been communication with TBS [Tokyo Broadcasting System] in Japan to retrieve anything they had," he wrote on Facebook in 2017. "We asked many times and have been told they have nothing. Unless they made a film print of the video, it is unlikely it survived."
I first acquired a cassette tape of this particular concert in the late 1980s that ultimately relayed a sprightly and resolute performance by The Monkees, exhibiting just how far these four individuals with disparate musical backgrounds had come to achieving a "group" sound in a relatively short amount of time.
For years, Monkees fans have clamored for some sort of official release of this concert, even if it was just the audio portion as it seems the video footage has seemingly been lost to time. In the latest twist of this long-sought after piece of Monkees history, Live Almanac contributor Justin Rakowski has commenced a project to restore the original Japanese concert bootleg. In an effort to present the cleanest audio possible while also removing the invasive voice introductions before every song, Justin has "demixed" the audio. For those that aren’t familiar with "demixing," Justin relayed some details to the Live Almanac. "It’s essentially the process of using specific programs that can run a algorithm on a mono track and separate out individual signals like vocals, guitars, bass, and drums," Justin said. "The inherent problem with the Japan concert is not only the mono mix but the narrator that talks over the beginning of each song."
Justin talked more about the challenges of his project. "Obviously the parts where the announcer talks is the hardest area to fix. It's easier when the announcer is not talking over The Monkees' performances. Even when there is commentary over the instrumental beginning of each song, I can remove the announcer, but the music underneath sounds like someone is playing with the volume knob so the music cuts in and out, leaving some bars with no recoverable information. So what I’ve done is flown in other parts of the song in to fix those areas."
And now, here are the initial results of Justin's experiment! While we're all doing our best to hunker down during this international health crisis, take a listen to Justin's work and keep your fingers crossed that the video of this concert finally emerges!
UPDATE 4/16/2020: Justin has completed this project and has uploaded the entire 1968 Japanese concert. Thanks again, Justin! (Individual clips still appear below.)
The Monkees Live in Japan 1968 - Complete Show (Stereo Demix)
"Last Train to Clarksville" (Live in Japan 1968 - Stereo Demix)
"I Wanna Be Free" (Live in Japan 1968 - Stereo Demix)
"Johnny B. Goode" (Live in Japan 1968 - Stereo Demix)
"D.W. Washburn" (Live in Japan 1968 - Stereo Demix)
"It's Nice To Be With You" (Live in Japan 1968 - Stereo Demix)
"I'm a Believer" (Live in Japan 1968 - Stereo Demix)
"(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" (Live in Japan 1968 - Stereo Demix)
"Salesman" (Live in Japan 1968 - Stereo Demix)
For "Salesman," Justin has offered up something special:
"Enjoy this 'what if' video using my newly demixed track of 'Salesman' synced up with edits of the 8mm Australia tour footage posted by Iain Lee's RareMonkees YouTube page."
In this sequel to Long Title: Looking for the Good Times; Examining the Monkees Songs, One By One, authors Michael A. Ventrella and Mark Arnold look at the careers The Monkees had outside of the TV show and the band: From Micky’s early appearances as "Circus Boy" through Peter’s financial and legal problems to become a respected performer with his band Shoe Suede Blues, to Davy’s frustration with record labels and his many solo albums for his fans, to Michael’s evolution from country rock founder to the creator of MTV and video technology ahead of many others. They look at the various reunion concerts, the movies and plays, and the ups and downs of their varied careers, all with insight and humor.
Below is commentary found on the back cover of Headquartered: A Timeline of the Monkees Solo Years, courtesy of Dean Friedman:
"Some people are so ignorant as to imagine that The Monkees are not a 'real' band. That’s crazy! That’s like saying that lemon meringue pie is not 'real' food. They’re both an inspired synthesis of disparate wholesome, delicious, natural ingredients combined, orchestrated and executed with expert skill and sublime results. What this book makes irrefutably clear is that all four Monkees were consummate professionals – talented musicians and skilled performers, all – producing strong, creative, original, yet inexplicably unheralded, music recordings and video content before, during and after their frenzied 'Monkees' moment. Never underestimate a 'pop star.' There’s always more to them than you could ever imagine. This book proves it. I will always love lemon meringue pie. And I will always love The Monkees."
Longtime Monkees fan Mark Kleiner, whose name you might recognize from the stellar liner notes that have accompanied various releases by 7a Records, has premiered a new podcast entitled Nesmith Tork Goffin & King. If you are curious about the origins of the podcast's name, check out a recent interview with Mark on Canadian morning television:
You can listen to the debut episode of the podcast below, which features remarks from Peter Tork's brother, Nick Thorkelson, an interview with Dick Eastman, who along with Bobby Hart penned the 1986 Monkees reunion track "Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere," the rarely heard demo of that Hart/Eastman song, along with much more:
Episode 2, "Escape from L.A.," dives deep into Peter Tork's early 1970s activities, including his affiliation with the Fairfax Street Choir. You'll also hear a live performance of "Sometime in the Morning" from the early 1986 "Sound of The Monkees" tour featuring Peter and Davy Jones:
This past Saturday, Liverpool Tours and Charles Rosenay sponsored "The Peter Tork Memorial Convention" in New Haven, Connecticut to commemorate Peter's birthday month and the one year since his passing. Michael Nesmith remembered Peter in a special video that was screened at the event and published on the Videoranch YouTube channel:
An official tribute video was also produced for the convention, featuring appearances by Micky Dolenz, Bobby Hart, Valerie Kairys Venet, Wayne Avers, John Billings, Sandy Gennaro, Fred Velez, Ed Reilly, Rich Dart, and many more:
Monkees fans set to gather in Connecticut to honor Peter Tork (UPDATED with convention schedule & Governor's proclamation)
The Peter Tork Memorial Convention for Monkees Fans will take place on Saturday, February 8 in North Haven, Connecticut. Check out this previous Live Almanac blog post for more details and to purchase tickets!
UPDATE 2/1/2020: Thanks to convention producer Charles Rosenay for sharing the official schedule of the event with The Monkees Live Almanac:
UPDATE 2/3/2020: The Governor of Connecticut, Ned Lamont, has officially proclaimed the date of the convention, February 8, as "Peter Tork and The Monkees Day" in the State of Connecticut:
Live in 2021
Coming Soon from 7a Records