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."