Earlier this month, a very limited edition (500 copies) 7" colored vinyl single featuring two live cuts by Micky Dolenz was released by 7a Records. The single includes Micky singing "Sunny Girlfriend" and "Zor & Zam" on his brief Japanese tour in 1982. A CD release of the entire concert is forthcoming.
A big thanks to Ben Belmares for sharing the scans of his copy with the Live Almanac!
Good Times! Plus! was made available as part of a special Record Store Day release by Rhino Records for Black Friday on November 25, 2016. The four song EP, pressed on 10" red opaque vinyl and limited to 2,500 copies, included the four non-album songs that were previously only available via iTunes and exclusive retail CDs in both the US and Japan. Ben Belmares scanned his copy, and you can see the front and back covers, labels, and more below. Thanks, Ben!
A live recording of a Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart show, Concert in Japan (recorded on July 20, 1976 at Yubin Chokin Hall in Tokyo, Japan), was released as a vinyl LP set in Japan in 1981. At the time, the live album was never given a formal release in the United States or elsewhere. A big thanks to Ben Belmares for sharing his photos of the original Japanese LP:
Concert in Japan was finally issued on compact disc in the United States in 1996 during The Monkees' 30th Anniversary, featuring liner notes by Monkees archivist and producer Andrew Sandoval. Once again, Ben Belmares was kind enough to save me the time of scanning my copy of the CD and provided everything below:
Here's one from 1986 and The Monkees' 20th Anniversary, courtesy of the great website Monkee45s.net.
The Monkees' new album, Good Times!, was issued yesterday on vinyl in various formats. The version available exclusively at f.y.e. retailers features the LP pressed on teal-colored vinyl, and is already out of stock according to their website.
A big thank you to Ben Belmares for sharing his scans of the f.y.e. vinyl with the Live Almanac!
Good Times! made its way to vinyl on Friday in various formats. The Barnes & Noble version was accompanied by an exclusive 7" single of "Love's What I Want" (written by Andy Partridge) backed with "A Better World" (written by Peter Tork's brother, Nick). Both songs were produced during sessions conducted by Andrew Sandoval but they did not appear on the album itself.
I'd like to say thanks to my old friend, Chris Coyle, for sharing photos of his Barnes & Noble LP and 45:
The bonus 45 (which came enclosed in a plain white sleeve):
And finally, the sticker sheet (which is larger than the sheet enclosed with the compact disc release):
I posted this a couple of years ago, but thought it was worth revisiting. The photograph above, taken by Bernard Yeszin, inspired the cover art for the Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. album in 1967. Andrew Sandoval wrote the following in the liner notes of the Pisces deluxe edition in 2007:
When cover artist Bernard Yeszin came to illustrate The Monkees’ fourth album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., he took a brave step. The group would be drawn in silhouette only, with just their respective astrological signs hinting at their identities. “The Monkees were so popular and so hot at the time,” says Yeszin of the concept, “that I could do just about anything that reminded you of The Monkees. I could do an album cover and just show their outline and people would identify them. People would know they were The Monkees.
The soundtrack from The Monkees' 1969 NBC TV special has never been officially released (many of the master tapes are missing), but a bootleg of it (courtesy of Zilch Records) surfaced in the mid-1980s. I ordered a copy from Golden Treasures in Arkansas (does anyone remember this company?!) in the late '80s, and here's a scan of the front and back covers. I'll have to search online to see if Golden Treasures still operates - I received mail order catalogs from them probably until the late 1990s.
A brand new Monkees hits collection dubbed Forever will be made available from Rhino Records on both compact disc and vinyl, with a scheduled release date of August 26. Rhino's John Hughes explained on Facebook that this item is "very much for the super casual fan/discovery."
Here is the track listing:
1. I'm A Believer
3. You Just May Be The One (TV Version)
4. That Was Then, This Is Now
5. (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone
6. Pleasant Valley Sunday
7. Daydream Believer
8. Last Train To Clarksville
9. She Makes Me Laugh
10. A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You
11. Porpoise Song (Theme from "Head")
12. Heart And Soul
14. Goin' Down
Magnetic South was the first solo album released by Michael Nesmith after his departure from The Monkees. Arriving in June 1970, the LP featured The First National Band: Red Rhodes (pedal steel), John Ware (drums), and John London (bass). It was the first in a trilogy of albums by the group, containing brand new material along with many songs that were recorded during the Monkees era but ultimately passed over for release on Monkees albums. Tracks like "Calico Girlfriend," "Nine Times Blue," "Little Red Rider," and "Hollywood" were re-recorded and reinterpreted during sessions for Magnetic South.
The first single, "Little Red Rider," failed to chart, but "Joanne" became a hit, peaking at #21 on the Billboard Hot 100. Despite this success, Magnetic South would only reach #143 on the Billboard Top LPs chart.
Loose Salute followed in late 1970, and the trilogy was completed with Nevada Fighter in 1971.
Note the dedications made by Nez on the back cover: to his fellow Monkees, Lester Sill, Bert Schneider, Jack Nicholson, and Mimi. The "Tomorrow Man" is thought to be a sly reference to Don Kirshner, who was producing a group named Toomorrow at the time (which featured Olivia Newton-John as one of its members).
Last year, Monkees fans voted Magnetic South as their favorite Nesmith solo album.
As always, thanks a lot to Ben Belmares for providing the front and back cover images, along with the labels, that are seen above.
This item is listed as being available on May 27, 2016, which also happens to be the street date for The Monkees' new album, Good Times!
Note: Instant Replay is missing the song "The Girl I Left Behind Me." Rhino Records is working on replacing defective copies of this particular LP. Contact Rhino for more information.
Today is Record Store Day and Rhino Records is celebrating The Monkees' 50th Anniversary by issuing two unique items for the event. The first is a 7" picture disc single in the shape of the famous Monkees guitar logo, and the second is a vinyl box set featuring all nine original Monkees LPs (on colored vinyl!) along with a bonus album that collects singles and more. A big thanks to Chris Coyle who is fresh from the event in his hometown for sharing his photos!
Here's a look at the colored vinyl and album covers:
The front and back covers of the vinyl box:
And finally, the 7" picture disc vinyl 45 (along with a cloth Record Store Day bag that was included with purchase):
This is my first recollection of a Monkees bootleg (along with Davy and His Band): the Monkeeshines album. As a new fan in 1986 who saw the picture of it in Glenn A. Baker's Monkeemania book, I wanted that album more than anything! I wasn't sure what this LP was all about - not knowing too much about bootlegs. It included unreleased songs ("Tear the Top Right Off My Head," "Mustang," "Lady's Baby"), tracks heard in the TV show but not available on the official albums ("All the King's Horses," the fast version of "I Wanna Be Free"), the first recorded version of "You Just May Be the One," the 1976 Christmas single, vocal bits and dialogue from the TV show ("Different Drum," "Iranian Tango," "Greensleeves"), and more. For a bootleg, the sound quality was pretty good. In the mid-'80s, there was a record store close to me that carried a ton of Monkees albums, including imports and bootlegs, but I never saw Monkeeshines in their racks.
I didn't get to hear it until the president of a Monkees fan club that I belonged to copied it onto a cassette tape for me sometime in 1987. (I still have that tape!) Although no date is stamped on the album cover, it is believed that Monkeeshines was pressed sometime around 1981. Remember, this was before the Missing Links series began in 1987, which featured previously unreleased Monkees material, so getting some of the songs on Monkeeshines was a must for fans at that time.
The front and rear covers of the boot appear in this post, along with the labels. So, take a moment to look back at one of the original Monkees bootlegs, produced by "Robert Dobolina" with liner notes by "Magnolia Simms."
As always, a big thanks to Ben Belmares, who has become the Live Almanac's key resource for high quality, rare album cover art!
The Monkeeshines bootleg was also issued with an orange-tinted cover:
Attention lovers of vinyl: The Monkees' brand new LP, Good Times! will be made available on vinyl, too. However, if you are ordering the LP, you will have to wait a little longer for it. Good Times! will arrive on CD and as a digital download on June 10, 2016, while the LP will be released on July 1.
The Wichita Train Whistle Sings was the first solo album by Michael Nesmith, recorded during weekend sessions on November 18-19, 1967 at RCA Hollywood while he was still a member of The Monkees. The album comprises instrumentals of Nesmith originals that were performed by a full orchestra, including members of the Wrecking Crew, Los Angeles's top session musicians. Shorty Rogers, who scored "Daydream Believer" and other tracks for The Monkees, handled the arrangements, and Hank Cicalo, engineer on numerous Monkees recordings, was also on hand. Michael acted as producer and co-arranger. Here's the track listing of the LP:
Several of the songs had been previously aired on Monkees albums or would be heard on subsequent releases, while two others ("Carlisle Wheeling" and "Nine Times Blue") remained unreleased in their original form until Nesmith re-recorded them with the First National Band (with the Monkees-era versions remaining in the vaults until the Missing Links series in the late 1980s).
Michael spoke about the Wichita sessions with Keith Altham of New Musical Express. "I've been writing for a year and a half and I did not want to be blinded by dollar signs or tied down to what is commercially acceptable. I wanted to find something new. This is it. It cost me approximately $50,000 to do it."
True to his word, Nez spared no expense. Not only did he hire the best musicians (who would be paid double time due to the weekend booking), Michael had the whole event catered by Chasen's, a top tier restaurant in Los Angeles. Over 50 musicians contributed to the Wichita project, including Red Rhodes (pedal steel), Hal Blaine and Earl Palmer (drums), Larry Knechtel (piano), Tommy Tedesco (guitar), and Doug Dillard (banjo). "Earl Palmer and I were on cloud nine, because it was a drummer's dream to be able to kick this gigantic band in the butt," wrote Blaine in his 1990 autobiography. "The town was buzzing with excitement about the session. Shorty Rogers was doing the arrangements...It sounded like World War III. In fact, Nesmith was going to call it that, but changed it to The Pacific Ocean and ultimately called it The Wichita Train Whistle."
The weekend recording fest was also famous for an incident that occurred at the end of the sessions. The lead sheet for the final track attempted ("Don't Call On Me") included an instruction that called for the players to improvise a cacophony of sound. As the track concluded, Tommy Tedesco took off his Fender guitar (which was still plugged into the amplifier), and threw it high into the air. The guitar hit the floor and smashed into pieces. "He had the pieces mounted and framed," Blaine later recalled. Members of the Wrecking Crew reminisced about that infamous moment in a recent documentary centered around L.A.'s top players:
Hal Blaine had nothing but fond memories of the Wichita sessions. "The Nesmith dates came off without a hitch. It was the greatest party I've ever been invited to. Two days of Chasen's food, and more music than you could expect in a lifetime. Gene Cipriano, the saxophonist/oboist, got his reeds jammed with caviar. We were like kids in a candy store."
The Wichita Train Whistle Sings was released in 1968 by Dot Records. The final issue of Monkee Spectacular covered Michael's first solo endeavor:
A party was held to mark the occasion. Nez cut a cake in the likeness of the LP's front cover:
An advertisement for The Wichita Train Whistle Sings appeared in the June 8, 1968 issue of Billboard:
The UK publication Monkees Monthly noted positive reviews for Wichita, including one from the Los Angeles Times:
Music journalist Leonard Feather wondered if the sounds heard on The Wichita Train Whistle Sings were a preview of what contemporary popular music would be like in the early 1970s:
"Don't Cry Now" was selected as the LP's first and only single, backed with "Tapioca Tundra." The A-side is noteworthy as it never appeared on a Monkees album or any of Nesmith's later solo efforts, nor was it ever given a vocal treatment (though Michael has confirmed that lyrics existed for the song).
The Wichita Train Whistle Sings peaked at #144 on the Billboard charts. Michael talked frankly about the reaction to the album with Flip in its December 1968 issue:
FLIP: From what we've seen, everyone liked Wichita Train Whistle, but few bought it, despite the fact that your being a Monkee is supposed to be a big selling factor and the fact that it was a good album. Any idea what happened?
Nesmith: You overestimate the selling power of The Monkees. They don't sell.
FLIP: The Monkees records sell. Every album they've put out has been a million seller.
Nesmith: Yeah, but that's the Monkees records, and they don't sell that much now. Now that we're off television they're not selling worth a darn, not anymore. The album (Wichita Train Whistle) sold very well actually, where it was played. In Los Angeles alone it sold over 22,000 albums. And if the rest of the country'd played it, it would have been alright, but the rest of the country didn't.
FLIP: Any idea why?
Nesmith: There were a lot of managerial problems. It wasn't promoted right, it wasn't distributed right, and couple that with the fact that being a Monkee has with it the stigma of being a bull artist, and nobody gave a damn. Nobody cares what we play or say or think or anything, 'cause they think, "well, you're just a bunch of plastic weirdos," except the kids, you know, and the kids aren't old enough to do anything yet, but when they're old enough then you'll see something.
FLIP: You'd think this album would have done away with a lot of that and that a lot of people would have realized that at least you are a legitimate musician.
Nesmith: Yeah, but a lot of people didn't, a lot of people didn't want to mess with it, just refused to accept it, just because of the fact I am a Monkee.
FLIP: You think that hurt more than it helped?
Nesmith: Yeah, I'm convinced of it.
FLIP: Any plans to do it again?
Nesmith: Oh yeah, you know we made some good money off the album, so we'll probably do another one, probably just one more though, no more.
FLIP: Will you collaborate with Shorty Rogers again?
Nesmith: Yeah, I'm sure I'll go with Shorty again.
Over time, an urban legend developed (mentioned by Wichita musician and renowned drummer Hal Blaine in his autobiography) that Michael recorded The Wichita Train Whistle Sings as a tax write-off, a notion that Nez has disavowed over the years. "I made the record to make the record," he told Andrew Sandoval in the mid-2000s. Listen below to the Wichita version of "Nine Times Blue."
Lindsay Planer of AllMusic broke down the sounds of Wichita in a part of her assessment of the album:
Immediately evident is the big-band style in which these sides were physically documented -- incorporating an open microphone placement which is used when recording larger orchestration. The resulting effect lends a natural-sounding warmth that closely miked and/or amplified techniques often lack. The music itself reflects Nesmith's left-of-center attitude and often unpredictable sense of humor. For instance, the full-bodied and otherwise bombastic arrangement of "Nine Times Blue" is speared right through the middle with a Doug Dillard banjo solo. He throttles up the tempo as the full orchestra breaks into a double-time mambo for the second half of the song. Other reinventions include the once psychedelic "Tapioca Tundra" into a freewheeling escapade replete with a soaring string section that remains amazingly agile throughout. The Wichita Train Whistle Sings project also allowed Nesmith the opportunity to record a few songs that he would revisit during his solo career, such as the pseudonym-esque "Carlisle Wheeling." The strict, if not somewhat lumbering, 4/4 time signature performed here is the antithesis of the easy country-rock sound most synonymous with the tune. He would eventually issue it under the name "Conversations" on his second solo album, Loose Salute. Also worthy of note is "Don't Cry Now," as it is the only track on the album to have never been issued by either The Monkees or Nesmith. Wichita Train Whistle Sings is much more of a timepiece or cultural artifact than an album designed to express artistic achievement or in any way reestablish Nesmith's post-Monkees direction. Fans of his quirky and offbeat sense of humor as well as his delicious melodies will find much to enjoy.
A big thanks to Ben Belmares for sharing his scans of The Wichita Train Whistle Sings LP with
The Monkees Live Almanac:
I'd also like to acknowledge JD at Monkee45s.net, who is responsible for some of the scanned images appearing in this piece.