"Alvin," a nursery rhyme composed by Peter's brothers Chris and Nick, was recorded a capella by Peter during sessions for The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees in January 1968. The track, according to Andrew Sandoval's liner notes for the 2010 deluxe edition of the album, was originally slated to appear on the LP until it was removed from the finished master at the last minute for reasons unknown. Peter also told Sandoval that he and Stephen Stills once performed "Alvin" a capella at a Buffalo Springfield concert. During this past weekend's concerts with Micky, Peter revived "Alvin" during his solo segment in the show.
Just like the similarly-minded "Peter Percival Patterson's Pet Pig Porky" acted as a segue into "Pleasant Valley Sunday" on Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., "Alvin" was set to perform the same function on the Birds album with its placement before "Daydream Believer." Here is the original track listing for The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees when it was first compiled in March 1968:
The running order was later reconfigured, and "Alvin" became one of the songs that was cut. It wouldn't be officially released until the 1994 Rhino compact disc version of the Birds album.
Despite being a relatively obscure piece in the Monkees catalog, "Alvin" gets a lot of love from various YouTubers:
When the 3-CD deluxe edition of The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees was released in 2010, fans were treated to a previously unheard alternate mix of "Auntie's Municipal Court," this time with Michael on lead vocals:
There are also two versions of "Zor and Zam." An early mono mix appeared on the last original episode of The Monkees television series ("The Frodis Caper") but wasn't officially released until the 1996 Missing Links, Volume Three collection:
An embellished production of "Zor and Zam" courtesy of arranger Shorty Rogers appeared on The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees in April 1968:
Last Friday evening, Micky and Peter debuted their new concert show in Palm Springs, California. "I'll Spend My Life With You" and "Tear The Top Right Off My Head" made their live Monkees concert debuts.
"I'll Spend My Life With You"
This song, long a favorite of Peter's, was written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. The Monkees recorded the track for their third album, Headquarters.
"I'll Spend My Life With You" was first put to tape during sessions for More of The Monkees, but this version remained unreleased until 1991's Listen to the Band box set:
"Tear The Top Right Off My Head"
One of several songs Peter wrote and recorded during sessions for The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees, "Tear The Top Right Off My Head" was relegated to the vaults in the late '60s, finally receiving an official release in 1991. I've always thought this track should have made the cut for the Birds LP.
"Tear The Top" was first previewed on the second season episode, "Hitting the High Seas."
Peter's friend, Karen Harvey Hammer, had a son named Justin who became the inspiration for Peter's song "Lady's Baby."
Here's a page of Andrew Sandoval's liner notes from The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees deluxe edition box set detailing the complicated recording history of the track:
Davy Jones spoke of his fondness for "Lady's Baby" in 1994 when The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees was released on compact disc by Rhino Records:
"They laugh and joke about that ["Lady's Baby"] – it cost as much to do as 'Good Vibrations,' that record. But that was a true-to-life thing. He was living with a woman at the time, and she had a little baby, and that changed his life, you know? That gave him something to think about. He was being downtrodden by the studio in regards to his recording, his playing, his songs and everything else. But Peter Tork was the salt of the earth. It wasn't just Hari Krishna, waterbeds, and brown rice – that guy was a very accomplished musician. It's a nice song, it's true, it's got the warmth and everything of what he was living. I remember it so well – it's a real tune. I love it."
Peter performed "Lady's Baby" during his 'In This Generation' solo tour in 2013:
And here is The Monkees' version of the Boyce & Hart song, released in 1968 on The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees:
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.
"Writing Wrongs" appeared on the fifth Monkees LP, The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees, in 1968. A Nesmith original where he plays guitar and keyboards, he's joined by bassist Rick Dey and Eddie Hoh on drums and percussion. That's Nez you hear on the Hammond organ during the song's psychedelic instrumental interlude. "Writing Wrongs" was recorded at RCA Victor in Hollywood on December 3, 1967.
The card replicated an ad for the album that originally appeared in the May 4, 1968 issue of Billboard:
Written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, and recorded during two sessions at RCA Studios in Hollywood in August 1966, the original version of "Valleri" features Davy Jones on lead vocals.
Noted session musician Louie Shelton provided the ace guitar work, and he was joined on guitar by Wayne Erwin and Gerry McGee, along with Larry Taylor (bass), Billy Lewis (drums), and Gene Estes (tambourine).
Andrew Sandoval wrote the following about the first recorded version of "Valleri" in the More of The Monkees deluxe edition liner notes:
Another Boyce and Hart session on August 6 produced the similarly anthemic “Valleri.” As Bobby Hart remembers, “‘Valleri’ was specifically written for them. We actually wrote it in the car going up Mulholland from Woodrow Wilson and Laurel Canyon over to the house that [Don Kirshner] was renting in the suburbs.” Written at Kirshner’s request, “Valleri” followed one of Donnie’s formulas for success: using a girl’s name in the title line. “I knew with the right lyric line it would be a hit for The Monkees,” says Kirshner of the results. “Because every Valleri would buy it, and every girl would relate . . . I was very hot and high on getting a girl’s song, ‘cause the formula had worked for me with [Neil] Sedaka.”
Even so, Kirshner passed on “Valleri” as the group’s next single, and only after he exited The Monkees project was the song revived for a surefire hit. “It should have been the next single,” remarks Hart. “When they needed a single a couple singles down the line, they had us go back into the studio and re-cut. We couldn’t use the original for some unknown reason, but they let us go back in without credit and try to duplicate it. [The original recording] was a better version.”
Sandoval also wrote about the circumstances that led to the song being revived and officially released. The second attempt of "Valleri" became a hit in early 1968. From the liner notes of the 1994 CD release of The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees:
“Valleri” was The Monkees’ final Top 10 placing, and like many of their recordings, the song was featured on the group’s show far in advance of its official release. Notably, “Valleri” achieved near-legendary status when regional DJs who pirated the song from the television show, aired their homemade recordings, creating public demand for the song’s release. The main reason the song was not originally issued was The Monkees’ concern that all future tracks bear their collective production credit. Bobby Hart recalls . . . "We originally cut ‘Valleri’ just prior to the point when we were dismissed as producers. Over a year later Lester Sill came back to us and said that they wanted to recut ‘Valleri,’ but we couldn’t use the original track because we were the credited producers on it. They wanted us to go back in and make it sound as close to the original as possible and not take producer’s credit on it.”
One of the highlights of The Monkees' 2012 tour was the inclusion of Michael Nesmith's song, "Tapioca Tundra," which appeared on the group's fifth album, The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees, and was also the B-side to "Valleri" in 1968. On its own merit, "Tapioca Tundra" peaked at an impressive #34 on the Billboard chart that year.
In a recent interview with Goldmine magazine, Michael talked about the meaning of the song and how it ended up in the set list:
A highlight of those shows was your performance of "Tapioca Tundra," which was also a song you performed on your 2012 solo U.K. tour. It's a beautifully wacky song. What inspired it, and what led you to play this one live?
It was one of those "deep cuts" from a later album and had grown in approval and acceptance over the years, until the time when we decided to go on tour, and it had become one of the most requested songs for us to do. The song itself is about the moment when the performer realizes that the songs he/she sings belong to the people — the fans and the crowds — that love the song, and the performer is only there in service to that relationship. "It cannot be a part of me — for now its part of you."
Michael had the following to say about "Tapioca Tundra" in the liner notes of the 1994 CD release of The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees:
"I have always enjoyed writing poetry – standalone poetry . . . As a matter of fact one of the ways I got into song-writing was to find poems and see if I could put them to music. I did that in high school and college – in English class I would set some of the poems we were studying to music. By the time that 'Tapioca Tundra' came along I had been writing my own poetry for a while. The poems tended to be fairly complex, because I realised I couldn’t continue to write pop tunes of the type that Neil Diamond, Gerry Goffin, Carole King, and Boyce and Hart were writing. I thought I probably ought to go ahead and put my own imprimatur on things."
Isn't this a cool photo? I'm presuming that it was taken in the '60s. And how about that awesome poster of the Birds album hanging on the wall?!?!
Check out this great new interview with Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval. He talks about the Rhino Records deluxe box for The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees, the most challenging part in writing his book, the Criterion version of Head and the fact that outtakes from the movie exist, his work with Rhino, Michael Nesmith's songwriting and his days at the Troubadour, Monkees projects that were started but not finished, and much more.
Micky Dolenz Live
Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart returns