In a recent email to subscribers, Andrew Sandoval, author of The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story, provided a detailed update on the shipping status of his new book, which is now expected to arrive in early September. As an added bonus, Andrew takes us back to the fall of 1966 with a compelling account of the initial recording session for The Monkees' signature hit single, "I'm a Believer."
Andrew's message appears below, and there's still time to pre-order a copy of Day-By-Day!
Greetings Beatland Readers!
As July 1966 ended, only Don Kirshner was sure of the Monkees’ success. When his trusted record makers – Snuff Garrett, Mickie Most, Carole King & Gerry Goffin – fell away, he remarkably switched gears to pull together an exceptional album – The Monkees – in just four weeks. And should the resulting release have any kind of success, he also had twelve songs (“All The King’s Horses”; “The Kind Of Girl I Could Love”; “I Don’t Think You Know Me”; “So Goes Love”; “I Won’t Be The Same Without Her”; “You Just May Be The One”; “I Can’t Get Her Off Of My Mind”; “Mary, Mary”; “Of You”; “(I Prithee) Do Not Ask For Love”; “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone”; “Whatever’s Right”) already in progress to comprise a second album.
“Everybody seemed enthusiastic, except Mike Nesmith. [He had] a big attitude right from the beginning and he said at one point, ‘I’m a producer too, and that ain’t no hit.’ So, it was like, ‘Oooo.’ To break the tension I made what I thought was an obvious joke. I said, ‘Well, Mike, it’s not finished. You’ve got to picture this with the strings and the horns.’ Which I thought there wasn’t going to be strings and horns [on it, but he would understand that] and he goes, ‘Well, maybe it could be something with strings and horns.’ Then he realized everybody laughed and the relationship goes down from there.”
It is unknown if allowing Nesmith to sing at all was a bit of psychological theater staged by Kirshner and Barry to get what they ultimately wanted (Micky on lead vocals). Either way, Donnie would later learn he was playing with fire if his intention was indeed to play Nesmith. “We got in the studio,” recalled Davy in May 1967, “and Mike didn’t sing it the way Donnie wanted him to sing it and Donnie asked Mike to sing it a certain way and Mike didn’t sing it that way. And during a break Mike just split; he just left…He wasn’t taken off lead. He chose to be taken off himself by leaving.”
Last month The Monkees Pad video podcast debuted and was a resounding success, welcoming its first-ever guest, Monkees historian and author Andrew Sandoval. Now host Joe Russo has returned in Episode 2, featuring none other than Chip Douglas!
Long revered by Monkees fans, Douglas acted as producer of two of the group's most acclaimed albums, Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., along with some of their best single sides, including "Daydream Believer," "Goin' Down," "Pleasant Valley Sunday," "Words," and "The Girl I Knew Somewhere." Joe's brand new interview is all the more special since Chip has granted relatively few interviews in recent years. Highlights include an inside look at the recording sessions for Headquarters, original video, plus an exclusive airing of an unreleased vintage Davy Jones recording, "Bright Sunny Day."
Listeners can look forward to a "Part 2" of the interview where Chip discusses his work on the Pisces album and much more. For now, enjoy Joe's conversation with Chip Douglas below, and don't forget to follow The Monkees Pad podcast on Facebook. You can also read more about Chip in the archives of The Monkees Live Almanac.
By the time The Monkees' fifth million-seller album The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees was issued by Colgems in April 1968, stereo had become the preferred listening experience and albums issued in mono were quickly being phased out of production. As a result, the mono mix of the Birds album was extremely limited in quantity and today is a highly, highly sought-after collectible due to its exclusive mixes and all around unique listening experience. The mono mix of The Monkees' eclectic 1968 LP was finally issued on compact disc in 2010 as part of Rhino's 3-CD deluxe edition.
To delve further into the uniqueness of the mono mix of The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees, check out this recent episode of Mixology: The Mono/Stereo Mix Differences Podcast hosted by Frederick James French-Pounce:
"The Girl I Knew Somewhere" has long been considered one of the most significant songs in The Monkees' canon. It was first attempted at RCA Hollywood on January 16, 1967, a significant day in Monkees history as it marked their first true "group" recording session and helped fuel an already bourgeoning internal power struggle between The Monkees and Don Kirshner.
Written by Michael Nesmith, and featuring Peter Tork's whimsical harpsichord performance, the song went through different iterations in the recording studio, including lead vocals from both Nesmith and Micky Dolenz. On its own merits, it reached the Billboard Top 40 as the flipside of "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" and was featured prominently on The Monkees' television show.
Check out this recent piece by Stephen Lewis where he examines what is probably the Live Almanac's favorite Monkees song, and enjoy a few different versions of "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" in the videos below!
(Master backing track)
Take a look at this fascinating video just published on YouTube where Andrew Sandoval takes us inside the recording session of a classic Davy Jones track from The Monkees' 1969 album, Instant Replay. And, don't forget to reserve your copy of Andrew's upcoming book!
For years, Micky Dolenz has spoken about his admiration for Michael Nesmith, including his song catalog stretching from the Monkees era all the way through Nez's varied solo output. And their well-known camaraderie was on full display during the recent "Mike & Micky Show" tours. "Way back in the day when we were in the recording studio, Nez and I fell into this wonderful harmonic vocal blend I called 'The Everly Monkees,' as exemplified by the beautiful song 'Me & Magdalena,'" Micky wrote in the liner notes of the The Monkees Live: The Mike & Micky Show. "On the set of The Monkees TV show, we would fall into some ad-lib riff and totally crack each other up. We often joked about one day having 'The Mike & Micky Show'!"
Those 2018-2019 dates were a critical and commercial success, performing to audiences in North America, Australia, and New Zealand. Although Micky and Michael's most recently scheduled tour has twice been postponed due to COVID-19, Rolling Stone delivered some welcome news today that Micky Dolenz will record an album covering the works of his longtime friend and musical partner Michael Nesmith. "I've always been a huge fan of his songs,” Micky told Rolling Stone. "He's just so prolific."
According to Rolling Stone, recording has not commenced for Dolenz Sings Nesmith and there's no firm track listing, but Christian Nesmith, Michael's oldest son, will be producing the project while Monkees manager and historian Andrew Sandoval will be handling A&R duties. 7a Records, the British-based label fronted by Glenn Gretlund and well-known to fans for its Monkees-related releases over the last several years, will issue the album.
Read more from Rolling Stone: Dolenz Sings Nesmith will be packed with songs Nez wrote throughout his long career, including Monkees classics
UPDATE 11/23/2020: Micky is currently recording the album in Los Angeles, and 7a's Glenn Gretlund has informed the Live Almanac that a tentative release date is set for March 2021.
UPDATE 2/13/2021: Christian Nesmith posted the following on his Facebook page regarding the latest update about Dolenz Sings Nesmith:
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.
After a flurry of albums with the First and Second National Bands in the early 1970s, Michael Nesmith began to broaden his artistic scope. In 1972, Nez formed Countryside Records, a subsidiary of Elektra Records, to produce and promote country and western artists including Red Rhodes, Tom Holbrook, Steve Fromholz, and Garland Frady. One of Michael's most noteworthy projects from this era included his collaboration with British musician and singer-songwriter Ian Matthews on the album Valley Hi. Matthews had previously been a member of the folk rock band Fairport Convention, and Nez acted as producer for his 1973 LP on Elektra.
Valley Hi is noteworthy for Matthews' version of "Seven Bridges Road," a song later made famous by The Eagles on their 1980 album Eagles Live. Rhino Records highlighted the track earlier this week in an article entitled "5 Things You May Not Have Known About Mike Nesmith" while celebrating Michael's recent birthday:
He produced, sang, and played on Ian Matthews’ version of "Seven Bridges Road." Written by Steve Young and arguably made most famous by the Eagles, Nesmith recorded Matthews’ version of the song in 1973 for Matthews’ VALLEY HI album, and if you listen to that version first and then listen to the Eagles’ version, what you will notice is that the tempo and arrangements are pretty much identical. Like, to the degree that Nesmith later said of that similarity, "Son of a gun if Don or somebody in Eagles didn’t lift [our] arrangement absolutely note for note for vocal harmony. If they can’t think it up themselves [and] they’ve got to steal it from somebody else, better they should steal it...from me, I guess."
Matthews also covered Nesmith's classic "Propinquity" on Valley Hi.
And now, this period of Michael Nesmith's career and his work with Ian Matthews has been examined in much greater depth by Peter Mills, author of The Monkees, Head, and the '60s, in his new blog Pete Sounds. Peter relayed to the Live Almanac that he had to leave an abundance of material for his book on the cutting room floor, but now fans can enjoy his research about this often overlooked period of Nesmith history. Click the image below to visit Peter's blog!
After releasing Justus, an album of all-new material in late 1996, The Monkees began work on an original one-hour prime time TV special in January 1997, and it eventually aired in the United States on ABC on February 17, 1997.
The special included re-recorded versions of some of The Monkees' greatest hits in medley form, and producer Misha Segal recently posted what appears to be the master recording of the medley (which has never been officially issued) on YouTube. The video included the following description by Segal:
"One of my very fun projects in the late 90s. It was The Monkees Reunion and I was asked to be music director. Peter and I became especially good friends until his recent, unfortunate passing."
"Early Morning Blues and Greens," written by Jack Keller and Diane Hildebrand, originally appeared on The Monkees' third LP, Headquarters, in 1967. Peter was known to be fond of the song and delivered an inspired rendition of it with Shoe Suede Blues on their 2013 album, Step by Step:
The Monkees' version featured a lead vocal by Davy Jones with Peter providing the harmony vocal:
Peter talked about the March 1967 recording sessions for the song in Andrew Sandoval's book, The Monkees: The Day-by-Day Story of the '60s TV Pop Sensation:
"Early Morning Blues and Greens" made its live concert debut on The Monkees' 2012 tour, and here Peter performs the song at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, New Jersey in July 2013:
Legendary Wrecking Crew member Hal Blaine played drums on a number of Monkees songs in the 1960s, including "Papa Gene's Blues," "Mary, Mary," and "Someday Man." He passed away on Monday at age 90.
Adam Schlesinger, producer of The Monkees' two most recent albums Good Times! and Christmas Party, breaks down the tracks on the group's new holiday LP and much more on The Nightfly with Dave Juskow podcast. Thanks to Tracy Robison for the heads-up!
Here's a great photo of Micky with R.E.M.'s Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey of The Minus 5. Buck and McCaughey co-wrote the title track of The Monkees' forthcoming holiday album, Christmas Party.
On a personal note, I'm a longtime fan of R.E.M. and am thrilled that Peter is working with The Monkees. Scott is also closely aligned with R.E.M. as he was an auxiliary musician in the studio and on stage with the group from 1994 until their their breakup in 2011.
Scott's band The Minus 5 released Of Monkees and Men in 2016, described as "an imaginative tribute to the Monkees’ legacy in music and popular culture."
Thank you very much to John Hughes of Rhino Records for providing The Monkees Live Almanac with an exclusive behind-the-scenes peek in the studio when Peter Buck (R.E.M.) and Scott McCaughey (The Minus 5) joined Micky Dolenz to record the tracks "Christmas Party" and "Jesus Christ" for the upcoming Monkees holiday album, Christmas Party. John is the executive producer of this latest Monkees project.
Left to right are guitarist Jody Porter, producer Adam Schlesinger, John Hughes, Mark Pinkus (President, Rhino Records), Micky Dolenz, drummer Brian Young, Peter Buck, and Scott McCaughey:
In July 1968, The Monkees recorded "Ditty Diego," a parody of the theme song to their television show, for inclusion in the feature film, Head.
Monkees Farewell Tour
Dolenz sings Nesmith