This is the fifth in a series of guest articles that have been submitted to The Monkees Live Almanac in celebration of the group's 50th Anniversary.
Like many, my Monkees obsession began with the group's revival in 1986 during their 20th Anniversary. On my 13th birthday, I watched the MTV marathon and was immediately hooked. I began grabbing everything I could find of The Monkees' recorded work. My first purchase came in March 1986 when I picked up the Arista Greatest Hits (the hasty reissue of Refocus from the '70s), quickly followed by a Spanish version of Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. on LP, causing my father to nearly evict me when I paid $30 for it at a flea market!
What puzzled me most as a teenager in the '80s was the fact that Peter, and later Mike, weren't involved in certain albums, until I discovered more information after reading The Monkees Tale by Eric Lefcowitz. I loved Instant Replay but found The Monkees Present to be a bit dismal. Changes was fun, but a few tracks drove me nuts, particularly "I Never Thought It Peculiar." And thus, my inspiration for this article.
As I grew older and the Missing Links series was released, it baffled me how many great songs were left in the Monkee vaults in the 1960s. Despite this sort of exercise having been attempted countless times before by other fans like me, I have created three "fantasy" albums of The Monkees' recorded work between 1969 and 1971.
Let's start with The Monkees Present, my least favorite album in its original format.
You can check out the LP's track listing as issued in October 1969 below:
Today I envision it as a more sophisticated collection featuring the following line-up:
Side 1: The Monkees Present (Reimagined)
1. Someday Man
A fantastic song co-written by Paul Williams, it should have become the second "Daydream Believer."
2. If I Ever Get To Saginaw Again
Nez does Glen Campbell! This song was intended for single release at one point but was shelved, perhaps because of its subject matter of unwed pregnancy.
3. Steam Engine
Famous for its ultra expensive production by its author and producer, Chip Douglas, this brassy-bluesy number also features Red Rhodes on pedal steel. Micky Dolenz at his wailing best!
4. If I Knew
A gorgeous Davy Jones ballad, it was co-written with Bill Chadwick.
5. Bye Bye Baby Bye Bye
A unique Dolenz original (co-written with his longtime friend and stand-in Ric Klein), it also featured Davy on backing vocals.
6. Nine Times Blue
Advertised by Micky during an appearance on The Johnny Cash Show as a song "off our new album," the inclusion of this Nesmith classic on The Monkees Present would have made that statement true.
Side 2: The Monkees Present (Reimagined)
7. Listen To The Band
No explanation needed! It was also performed by the original quartet on their 1969 NBC television special, 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee.
This is another lovely ballad composed by Davy, and it features guitar work by Neil Young.
I'm going with the Missing Links version - it's funky Dolenz and very underrated.
10. St. Matthew
Like "Rosemarie," there are various mixes of this song, but the Missing Links Volume 2 version without the fuzz vocal is superior. Nez does Dylan - a fantastic anthem!
11. French Song
An atmospheric Davy ballad - always loved this one!
12. Pillow Time
I'll end my reimagined Present LP with this one - a lullaby composed by Micky's mom, Janelle.
Some great songs from The Monkees Present (like "Good Clean Fun") were omitted in my reworked version of the album, but don't worry, Parts 2 & 3 of this article will shed more light. Stay tuned for my fantasy take on Changes, where Davy completes his songwriting partnership with Bill Chadwick and Nez hangs around, along with my alternate universe final Monkees album (featuring Dolenz & Jones), a 1971 Jeff Barry-produced affair entitled Do It In the Name of Love.
Recap: Monkees Farewell Tour
Dolenz sings Nesmith