In the summer of 1987, Rhino Records delighted Monkees fans when it delivered Missing Links, the first album to officially assemble unreleased Monkees songs long stored away in the vaults at RCA. Except for "Apples, Peaches, Bananas and Pears" and "If You Have the Time," both of which had been aired on the Saturday morning repeats in the early 1970s, and "Nine Times Blue," performed live by Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, and Davy Jones on The Johnny Cash Show in 1969, the remainder of the tracks were largely unheard (though some had floated around previously on bootlegs). Missing Links also featured what at the time was widely considered The Monkees' most famous lost song, "All of Your Toys," recorded during the Headquarters era and later shelved because of a publishing dispute. Initially available on LP and cassette, the collection was expanded in compact disc form in December 1988 with bonus tracks.
Two more Missing Links volumes followed: Volume Two arrived in 1990 and Volume Three in 1996. Volume Two, issued on cassette and compact disc only, included more previously unreleased tracks as well as versions of songs originally heard only on The Monkees TV show that were ultimately re-recorded by The Monkees under their creative control (the first recorded takes of "You Just May Be The One," "Valleri," and "Words," to name a few). Volume Three, available on CD only, continued this same approach of unreleased material and alternate versions. Bill Inglot and Andrew Sandoval's deep dive of the vaults that resulted in these finely crafted collections remain fan favorites.
All these years later, the original Missing Links trilogy is now slated to make a comeback for an exclusive, limited edition release on July 17 as part of a pandemic-adjusted Record Store Day 2021. Friday Music, which has previously tackled various Monkees reissues, announced today that all three Missing Links albums will be available on 180 gram audiophile vinyl in multiple color variations, limited to 2,000 copies for each volume. Of note, Volume 1 will contain the CD bonus tracks that were not part of the original vinyl and Volume 2 will feature the CD bonus tracks not found on the original cassette. This release also marks the premiere appearance of the second and third Missing Links installments on vinyl. Notably, the original cover of Volume 2 has been altered.
Record Store Day was founded in 2007 and has become an annual tradition. With a stated purpose of celebrating the culture of the independently owned record store, bands and labels will press unique items that are distributed exclusively to shops participating in the event. Thanks to Rhino Records, The Monkees have had several Record Store Day releases, all of which are collected in the archives of The Monkees Live Almanac. Be sure to search a list of this year's participating stores where you can pick up your selections, but be aware that the color of the vinyl inside your Missing Links copy will be a surprise.
Missing Links Volume Two
Missing Links Volume Three
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!
Missing Links Volume Two was released in January 1990. Like the first Missing Links collection in 1987, the album consists of songs that were left inside The Monkees' vault in the 1960s.
This past weekend on Facebook, Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval recalled his work on Volume Two, which happened to be a seminal moment in his career.
Micky Dolenz discusses the two most recent Monkees albums, "Head," Adam Schlesinger, and "Instant Replay"
"If I Ever Get to Saginaw Again" remained officially unreleased until its inclusion on the 1990 rarities package, Missing Links Volume Two.
Here's a photo of Davy, Micky, and Mike in RCA Studios with songwriter Jack Keller in January 1969 as referenced in the Instant Replay deluxe edition liner notes above:
Davy Jones later demoed "If I Ever Get to Saginaw Again" at some point in the early 1970s:
There have been a variety of mixes of "Steam Engine" issued over the years, but this rare 45 version has never seen an official CD release. Chip Douglas pressed this single and sold it at the 1983 Chicago Monkees convention. It features a unique vocal take from Micky (along with some weird stylings by Micky at the start of the song), as well as variations not heard on other mixes.
The B-side, "Rainbows," was another Chip Douglas song recorded by Davy in 1981.
Be sure to check out these informative links for more information about this release:
Sandoval reveals details about the Monkees tape library and much more in extensive podcast interview
Monkees archivist and producer Andrew Sandoval delved into a wide range of subjects in a hour-plus interview with Pods & Sods hosts Craig Smith and Eric Miller. Andrew discusses his latest thoughts about updating his book (The Monkees: The Day-by-Day Story of the '60s TV Pop Sensation); curating the Monkees tape library; his long history with Rhino Records; the remixes produced for the 1991 Listen to the Band box set; the existence of outtakes from the television series and Head; his relationship with Micky, Davy, Michael, and Peter through the years; the 50th Anniversary; and much more. You can listen to the podcast here, or stream it below.
Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval has previously featured unreleased mixes of Monkees songs on his internet radio show, Come to the Sunshine. Below are a sampling of some of those rarities.
Missing Links Volume Two was released in January 1990 on both cassette and compact disc. This collection of Monkees rarities and more has never been issued on vinyl, and the track listings for the cassette and CD versions differed, with more songs made available on the compact disc. Like the first Missing Links collection in 1987, the album consists of songs that were left inside The Monkees' vault in the 1960s.
Volume Two contained noteworthy tracks like "All The King's Horses" and "I Wanna Be Free" (fast version), both of which were featured in the television series only and had been bootlegged for some time. Several songs that were also included on the TV show soundtrack in its earliest episodes but were later re-recorded by the group ("Valleri," "I'll Be Back Up On My Feet," "You Just May Be The One," "Words," "Mr. Webster") makeup a large portion of the track list.
"Michigan Blackhawk," a Michael Nesmith original, was mislabeled on this release and is actually titled "Down the Highway," written by Carole King and Toni Stern and produced by Nez. "Michigan Blackhawk" was a song attempted during sessions for The Monkees Present in 1969.
Monkees fans were also excited to see the live version of "Circle Sky" make its official release here, along with "Riu Chiu," the traditional Spanish carol performed by The Monkees on their 1967 Christmas episode.
Listen to the CD version of Missing Links Volume Two:
In February 2010, Rhino Handmade, the internet order-only label of Rhino Records that deals in rare, out of print, and unreleased material from various artists, issued a 3-CD deluxe version of The Monkees' fifth million-selling album, The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees. The LP, first released by Colgems in April 1968, featured a trio of Top 40 hits, including "Tapioca Tundra," the gold single "Valleri," and the #1 blockbuster, "Daydream Believer."
The limited edition Rhino Handmade set for Birds was housed in a box with a 3D lenticular cover. It contained the original stereo and U.S. mono versions of the album in miniature vinyl replica sleeves, over 60 alternate versions, rehearsals, and outtakes from the album's sessions, a commemorative pin, and a booklet with an essay and recording session information written and compiled by Monkees historian Andrew Sandoval, who also acted as producer of the box set. The first 1,000 orders included a bonus vinyl single featuring two more unreleased tracks, acoustic versions of "St. Matthew" and "Lady's Baby." Both of those single sides are unique and have not been made available on CD or in digital format.
The Birds deluxe box was sold out by February 2011. Today, it commands exorbitant prices on eBay and other second-hand markets.
In March, Rhino Records announced that The Monkees' eponymous debut album would receive the super deluxe treatment in the form of a 3-CD box set. No details have been announced, but that hasn't stopped fans from speculating as to what will be included on this latest Monkees collection. There are demos in existence, including Davy singing "I Wanna Be Free." Several songs from the first Monkees album appeared in different (and heretofore unreleased) mixes on the TV show, including "Saturday's Child" and "Take a Giant Step." Don't forget about the alternate TV take of "All the King's Horses," too. Andrew Sandoval has played multiple unique mixes of songs from the early era of The Monkees on his Come to the Sunshine internet radio program, including "This Just Doesn't Seem to Be My Day," "Papa Gene's Blues," "I Wanna Be Free," and "Sweet Young Thing." How about the Boyce & Hart demos for the pilot episode (and others)? Then there are acetates for songs like "All the King's Horses," which was heard during the pre-concert show on the 2012 tour and featured a double tracked lead vocal by Mike and no vocals from Micky.
A dream find for the upcoming super deluxe edition would certainly be the session that The Monkees undertook in June 1966 with Snuff Garrett, the first person to officially produce The Monkees in the studio. In the months after the pilot was sold in early 1966, Don Kirshner hired Garrett (temporarily sidestepping Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart), who then signed a contract stating he alone would produce every Monkees recording. Garrett was best known for his work with Gary Lewis & The Playboys, and he brought along arranger Leon Russell to the Monkees sessions. "Snuffy was my guy because I thought he was a fabulous producer," Kirshner later told Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval. "Snuffy had a great feel, a great personality. Terrific producer; a fun guy. I figured with his personality and sense of humor that he could do amazing things with The Monkees." Garrett didn't share in Kirshner's enthusiasm. "Donnie started calling me at home, saying, ‘We got this group. They're gonna be on television,'" Garrett recalled of his introduction to The Monkees. "He said, 'I want you to make an exclusive deal to produce them.' Then I said, ‘Donnie, I really don’t want to. I’m busy as hell right now.' I had a group called Gary Lewis & The Playboys, and I was doing a few other things, but that's really what I was concentrating on. So I just told him. 'Don, I appreciate it.' [He said], 'No, you gotta do it. This is perfect for you.'" Little did the parties involved realize that the relationship between Garrett and The Monkees would not be an enduring one.
On June 10, 1966 at RCA Hollywood, ace session musicians were on hand for the first (and ultimately last) Monkees recording session with Snuff Garrett. Sonny Curtis (guitar), Hal Blaine (drums), Larry Knechtel (piano and organ), Ray Pohlman (eight-string bass), and Glen Campbell and James Burton (both 12-string electric guitar) cut two songs, Boyce & Hart's "Let's Dance On" and Goffin & King's "Take a Giant Step." Sandoval spoke with Garrett about his one day of work with The Monkees for the liner notes of the 2006 deluxe edition release of The Monkees, and noted how the group's zany antics didn't go over well with their new producer. "I do remember that night very well," Garrett said. "I had 'em each on mic, and it was kinda like that show you got now, American Idol, you know, lettin' each of 'em sing. I was not happy at all...Then I announced the little guy there, Davy, was going to be the lead singer. They went #?!*ing berserko."
The session came to a halt, and The Monkees quickly expressed their dissatisfaction with Garrett. The feeling was, apparently, mutual. "I told [Music Supervisor] Lester [Sill], 'Tell Donnie it's not working out worth a damn," Garrett recalled to Sandoval. "They were tellin' me how the guys didn't like me, and they would never go for Davy being [lead singer]. [I said], 'Hey, I don't particularly give a #?!* what they go for...I got a contract with you. I'm runnin' it.' In his book, The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story of the '60s TV Pop Sensation, Sandoval says the Snuff Garrett session tapes are lost, but reported that those who had heard the results "described them as sounding rather like Gary Lewis outtakes." In a 2006 interview that I conducted with Andrew, he was asked about the status of the Garrett sessions and if they had been found since the publication of his book in 2005. "We have not found many things since my book was published," he replied. (I'm not aware of any recent comments by Andrew on whether or not the Garrett tapes have been located or even if there have been fresh attempts to find them. UPDATE 1/10/2015: In a podcast interview, Sandoval confirms that the Garrett tapes still have not been located. You can hear his remarks at the 26:30 point of the interview.)
Although Snuff Garrett ultimately didn't produce The Monkees, a group that quickly became an international success, he didn't make out too bad from the deal. When relations broke down between Garrett and The Monkees, Garrett was almost immediately asked to leave the project. "I didn’t want it in the first place...So they named a number, and I don't even remember now – it was 50, 75 thousand, 100 – it was a considerable amount of money," he told Andrew Sandoval. "Whatever the hell it was, I accepted and walked out and I used to laugh about how I did real good out of that one terrible session."
In the aftermath of the Garrett/Monkees debacle, Michael Nesmith produced a tracking session on June 25, 1966 that yielded very admirable results. Recorded that day were backing tracks for "The Kind of Girl I Could Love," "All the King's Horses," and "I Don't Think You Know Me." Kirshner, however, would leave these songs off the group's debut LP. Recording sessions resumed on July 5, 1966 with Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart at the helm. The Monkees' debut single, "Last Train to Clarksville," would soon be cut, and subsequent sessions produced the songs that ultimately made up The Monkees, released in October 1966.
Rhino Records has announced a November 2014 street date for the super deluxe edition of The Monkees. Keep checking back with the Live Almanac for an official track listing.
Arriving in the winter of 1996, Missing Links Volume Three is the third and final volume (to date) in a series of Missing Links compilations by Rhino Records. Like the previous two collections (Missing Links and Missing Links Volume Two), the album is made up of unreleased material, alternate mixes, and in the case of "Zor and Zam," versions of songs heard strictly on The Monkees television series.
Issued only on compact disc, this collection marks one of the first times that the television edit of The Monkees theme song had been available (it was, however, released on the TeeVee Tunes Television Themes Volume 2 in 1986 and as part of a Rhino Monkees sampler in 1994). All previous Monkees CD releases of the theme song had featured the album version, which is more than twice as long but lacks the TV theme's final verse.
Andrew Sandoval, who co-produced this set with Bill Inglot, also wrote the liner notes.
Arriving in June 1987, Missing Links was the first-ever collection to officially assemble unreleased Monkees songs long stored away in the vaults at RCA. Except for "Apples, Peaches, Bananas and Pears" and "If You Have the Time," both of which had been aired on the Saturday morning repeats in the early 1970s, and "Nine Times Blue," performed live by Michael, Micky, and Davy on The Johnny Cash Show in 1969, the remainder of the tracks were largely unheard (though some had floated around previously on bootlegs). Missing Links was initially released on LP and cassette, and later in December 1988 on compact disc with bonus tracks.
The album was noteworthy for its inclusion of "All of Your Toys," the first song to feature all four Monkees playing on a single track. It was intended as the group's next single release in early 1967 until the tensions with Don Kirshner boiled over. Two of Michael's tracks, "Nine Times Blue" and "Carlisle Wheeling," were later re-recorded during the First National Band era (with the latter being renamed "Conversations").
The CD edition of Missing Links featured four additional tracks: Micky's "Rosemarie," Michael's "My Share of the Sidewalk," Peter's "Lady's Baby," and "Time and Time Again," co-written by Davy with Bill Chadwick.
Two more Missing Links volumes followed: Volume 2 arrived in 1990 and Volume 3 in 1996. Volume 2, available on cassette and compact disc only, included more previously unheard tracks as well as TV show versions of songs that were never officially released but ultimately re-recorded by The Monkees under their creative control (the original takes of "You Just May Be The One," "Valleri," and "Words," to name a few). Volume 3, available on CD only, continued this same approach of unreleased material and alternate versions.
By the mid-1990s, Rhino Records was undertaking a massive Monkees reissue program, with each original album being remastered for CD release and featuring bonus tracks consisting of previously unreleased material, alternate mixes, and more. Perhaps because of this new approach, the Missing Links series had become redundant. However, a Volume 4 could possibly be sustained with material that still hasn't seen official release, as previously examined.
Here is an ad from the November 1989 Rhino Records catalog advertising the release of Missing Links, Volume 2. (Volume 1 was released in 1987.)
Could we ever see a Volume 4? The last Missing Links collection was released in 1996, right after the original Monkees albums had been remastered for release on compact disc. Those 1994/1995 sets also featured bonus tracks, including alternate versions and unreleased material.
Fast forward to the mid-2000s when Rhino decided to release deluxe editions of the first four Monkees albums. By the time The Birds, The Bees and The Monkees came around for deluxe treatment, the series was turned over to Rhino Handmade. The Handmade division has produced the well received over-sized box sets for the Birds album along with Head, Instant Replay and soon, The Monkees Present. Combined, all of these releases have opened up The Monkees tape vault more than fans could have ever imagined, and arguably more so than other groups and artists.
There is still some material, however, that has yet to see the light of day and would fit nicely on a potential Missing Links, Volume 4 collection. Granted, I'm hoping Rhino restarts the Handmade boxes from the beginning, issuing the first four Monkees albums in that format. If they don't, another Missing Links compilation, via Rhino Handmade, would make sense.
Some unique alternate TV versions of Monkees songs still have not seen official release on CD, and would make a great start for a new collection:
1. "Saturday's Child" - alternate mono mix unique to the TV show soundtrack
2. "Take a Giant Step" - alternate mono mix with a different Micky lead vocal
3. "Laugh" - alternate mono mix unique to the TV show soundtrack
4. "She Hangs Out" - alternate mono mix unique to the TV show soundtrack
5. "Love Is Only Sleeping" - alternate mono mix unique to the TV show soundtrack
6. "Star Collector" - alternate mono mix unique to the TV show soundtrack
7. "All the King's Horses" - alternate mono mix unique to the TV show soundtrack
Other questions can be asked, too. Have more tapes been discovered in the archives? Andrew Sandoval has played multiple unique mixes of Monkees songs on his Come to the Sunshine internet radio program that have yet to see official release. Have the tracking session tapes been located for the Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. album? Perhaps one day the multitracks for Changes and the 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee soundtrack will turn up. A dream find would be the recording sessions that The Monkees undertook with Snuff Garrett, the first producer chosen for the project. Then there's the ubiquitous questions surrounding the missing two songs from the Changes recording sessions, "Ride Baby Ride" and "Which Way (Do You Want It)." And finally, what material exists in private collections, whether it be backing tracks, acetates, demos, or completed songs that we have yet to hear?
Andrew Sandoval spoke about the Monkees tape library in two different interviews available on this site that can be found here and here. (And his book, the ultimate guide to the recording history of The Monkees, is available for purchase.)
If you're like me and enjoy the details of each Monkees song and seeing every mix it has been released, a must stop visit for you online would be the great Monkees Mixography website.
Be sure to watch this late 2011 interview with Andrew Sandoval where he discusses The Monkees, their tape library, and much more.
Monkees Farewell Tour
Dolenz sings Nesmith