With the holidays right around the corner, there are plenty of Monkees items on the market that would make great gifts. I often get emails from fans new and old asking about where Monkees merchandise can be purchased, which Monkees box set is the best, etc. Here are a few items that I think would make great gifts for Monkees fans this Christmas and holiday season.
1. Music Box: This box set was originally released in 2001 but was re-issued last year in England. Music Box is a 4-CD collection containing 99 tracks highlighting the group's recording career from 1966-1996. Each original Monkees single can be found here, along with key album tracks and the best songs that were originally left in the vault in the 1960s. This import version includes a new presentation in packaging (a double jewel case box with a slipcase over it), as well as an extensive booklet that includes numerous color photos and a lengthy essay written by Monkees historian Andrew Sandoval.
Amazon is one of many online retailers that offers the group's original albums and various greatest hits collections. Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. are always great places to start!
2. The Monkees Present (Deluxe Edition): Limited to 5,000 individually numbered boxes, the re-mastered and expanded Monkees Present is the latest release in Rhino Handmade's Monkees boxed sets. Packed with an incredible 85 tracks (60 previously unreleased) over 3 compact discs, Monkees historian and reissue producer Andrew Sandoval has raided the vault, pulling previously unheard songs, alternate versions and backing tracks from the original master tapes. The Monkees Present also includes an exclusive bonus 7" vinyl single for "Good Clean Fun (Alternate Mix)" b/w "Mommy and Daddy (Mono Mix)" in a picture sleeve. Rhino recently reported that less than 2,000 sets remain, so don't wait too long to pick up this one.
3. Movies of The Mind: Michael Nesmith's Fall 2013 tour will be documented on Movies Of The Mind - The Michael Nesmith Limited Edition Live Album. This item will come in three configurations - Standard, Deluxe and Super Deluxe - each with its own attributes and number. (Note: The Super Deluxe Edition and the regular Deluxe Edition have now sold out!) Nez recorded every show on his recent solo tour and will be selecting the best performances for the album. Pre-orders are being accepted at the Videoranch website now, with orders expected to ship on or before January 28, 2014. (Updated info about the status of the Movies of the Mind project can be found here.)
4. The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story of the '60s TV Pop Sensation: A day-by-day look at the years 1965 to 1970 that includes exclusive interviews with each member of the group, details of recording sessions, filming commitments, concert performances, other public appearances, and over 100 photographs and illustrations. Written by Monkees producer, archivist and historian Andrew Sandoval, this is the definitive book on The Monkees.
5. Head: The 1968 feature film starring The Monkees. This is not a 90 minute version of the group's television series! Instead it's a psychedelic adventure comedy film that was conceived and filmed in a stream of consciousness style. Seen by few at the time, Head has been reappraised by critics as a groundbreaking work of the time period and is often hailed by some as the best Monkees project of their career. Written and produced by Bob Rafelson and Jack Nicholson and directed by Rafelson, the film features a live concert scene where the band performs Michael Nesmith's "Circle Sky." Throughout the movie, The Monkees proceed to play pop stars, soldiers, and cowboys at war with the public and Hollywood itself. In interviews over the years, Michael and Micky in particular have often cited their love for the film and its accompanying soundtrack (which Peter often says is one of his favorite Monkees albums). Perhaps proving the importance of the soundtrack to The Monkees themselves, each full length song from Head was performed during both the 2011, 2012 and 2013 Monkees tours.
Head was released in 2010 as part of a box set of films by Monkees creators Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider. Featuring a new and restored high-definition digital transfer, it is available on DVD and Blu-Ray. These sets include bonus (separate) commentaries by Dolenz, Jones, Nesmith and Tork.
6. 2013 Tour Merchandise: Remember the long lines at the shows this past summer to purchase Monkees T-shirts, posters and more? Everything is now available online via Rhino's Official Monkees Store. A variety of T-shirts are for sale (including some from the 2011 and 2012 tours), as well as button packs, hoodies, keychains, 2012 and 2013 tour programs, and more.
The Nez wool hat, which sold out before the tour was over, is also available for purchase online at the Monkees store.
7. Michael Nesmith CD collections: Available as 2-CD sets are Michael's first four RCA solo albums. Magnetic South and Loose Salute as well as Nevada Fighter and Tantamount To Treason are my favorite Nez albums, and will be quite a treat if you haven't previously heard these lost classics. Today these recordings are considered to be some of the pioneering work of the country rock genre. Check out Nez at Videoranch, too, for other gift ideas.
8. Remember: This is Micky's latest solo album. On Remember, Micky is covering songs that have played an important role in his life. "Johnny B. Goode" was his audition piece for The Monkees, Micky attended the sessions for "Good Morning Good Morning" with The Beatles, and other songs were originally offered to him or The Monkees ("Old Fashioned Love Song" and "Diary"). It also includes reworked versions of several Monkees tracks that provide a truly fresh spin on the old classics. An extensive booklet is included, featuring some never before seen photos of Micky through the years, as well as commentary by Micky for each song selection. It's a very nicely done recording that garnered positive reviews. Check out my own review and listen to samples of some of the tracks here.
Micky also has a new live CD that was recorded at B.B. King's in New York City in 2012. Visit Micky's eBay store to purchase the regular CD or an autographed version.
9. Davy Jones: Davy's 1971 album for Bell Records, which was previously unavailable on compact disc until its release by Friday Music last year. The album plays like an early '70s pop record and features some of Davy's best work on his own, including the singles "Rainy Jane," "I'll Believe In You," "Road to Love" and "I Really Love You." Included as a bonus track is "Girl," the song made famous by Davy's 1971 appearance on The Brady Bunch television series.
10. Step by Step: The latest release by Peter's band, Shoe Suede Blues, includes a mix of original blues, pop and classic rock. A couple of Monkees songs receive bluesy reinterpretations, too, including "She Hangs Out" and "Early Morning Blues and Greens," the latter a song from The Monkees' Headquarters album and a favorite of Peter's that he performed on the 2012 and 2013 Monkees tours.
11. Instant Replay (Deluxe Edition): Rhino Handmade hits rewind on 1969's Instant Replay for a triple-disc deluxe edition packed with rarities, as well as 58 unreleased recordings, backing tracks and a generous selection of stereo and mono mixes for both album and non-album cuts. As a bonus, the set comes with a 45-rpm vinyl single that includes the one-of-a-kind acetate versions of “I Go Ape” and “(I Prithee) Do Not Ask For Love.” Among the highlights of this set are nearly all of Michael Nesmith's coveted 1968 Nashville sessions.
The first Monkees album released after Peter's departure, this box set also culls together what remains of the sessions for the group's 1969 television special, 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee. The final tapes of Bones Howe's productions for the special have been lost since 1969, but included here are never-before-heard backing tracks for “String For My Kite,” “Naked Persimmon” and “Goldie Locks Sometime,” as well as the completed versions from the only surviving video master of the special.
12. The Monkees television series on DVD: Both seasons of the group's television series were recently re-released on DVD. The original Rhino releases are out of print, and these packages replicate those sets. Check out Season 1 and Season 2. Mike, Micky, Davy and Peter provide (separate) commentaries on some episodes on both season sets. (The bizarre 1969 Monkees television special, 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee, is included as a bonus on the Season 2 set.)
13. iTunes Gift Card: Each original Monkees album, along with the reunion albums and various best of compilations, can be found in the iTunes store. You can also purchase all three volumes of the Missing Links series there, which collected vault material, alternate mixes and other rarities from the Monkees catalog. (Missing Links Volume 2 is especially good!) Since CDs are hard to come by nowadays, digital versions of the albums are always available. Click here to see what iTunes has to offer regarding Monkees music, and purchase iTunes gift cards at the iTunes store online or at various retailers.
14. Head (Original Soundtrack Deluxe Edition): Rhino's three-disc boxed set takes the original soundtrack to The Monkees' 1968 feature film to new heights. This set boasts 21 previously unreleased tracks, outtakes, rarities, and live performances, and includes an entire disc containing a rare interview with Davy Jones recorded in 1968 for radio broadcast. As a bonus, a 7" vinyl single, featuring rare unreleased instrumental versions of "Porpoise Song" and "'As We Go Along," is also included.