Friday, March 5, 2010

Rant #208: Monkee See, Monkee Do

Here is an instance where my two blogs kind of cross-over into one.

As many of you know, I also run The Colgems Blog, which can be found at For the uninitiated, this blog focuses on the classic Colgems Records label, which was part of the RCA family of labels in the 1960s and very early 1970s.

It had many notables acts at one time or another, including Quincy Jones, the Lewis and Clarke Expedition--featuring future country star Michael Martin Murphey--Sally Field (as the Flying Nun) and Rich Little among its quirky roster.

But the whole thing was possible because of its one real hit-making success, The Monkees. During 1966-1970, the Pre-Fab Four placed four number one albums, three number one singles, and bushelful of other hits on the charts through this label.

Anyway, the reason I am tying this blog and that blog together is that I want to comment on a non-Colgems release, although it involves the Monkees.

Rhino records owns the rights to the entire video and recording history of the band, and one could say that they have milked it for everything that it's worth over the past nearly two decades or so. They have put out Monkees music in every possible way imaginable--CDs, LPs, 45s, CD-Roms, DVD, karaoke, etc.--and there seems no stopping them from continuing to do this for the immediate future.

During the past few years, for real Monkee-maniacs (of which I am one), they have been putting out re-releases of the original albums. But these simply aren't straight re-releases. They come with numerous bonus tracks, in-studio experiments and chatter, different versions of songs, and gems that were never released originally on the Colgems label.

They are currently up to album No. 5, "The Birds, the Bees and the Monkees."

After a string of four straight No. 1 albums on Colgems, this album "only" reached No. 3. It features two of the group's biggest hits--"Daydream Believer" and "Valleri"-- as well as top 40 hit "Tapioca Tundra."

It is perhaps the most interesting album of the first five, because it features the best and the worst of the Monkees, on an album that, for all intents and purposes, signaled the end of Peter, Micky, Mike and Davy as musical forces to be reckoned with, at least within the Top 40.

But what Rhino did with this album is truly remarkable. They have included both the stereo and extremely hard-to-get mono versions of the album, plus an abundance of rare and unreleased tracks and early versions of songs that will have fans beaming.

The three-CDs come in an incredibly put-together box, with a 3D cover and a booklet with extensive information about the making of the original LP.

This is truly a glorious release, one that Monkees fans--as well as fans of 1960s pop--have been waiting for for a long, long time.

Sure, the price is kind of steep--$60 or so--but for this particular release, it is worth it.

No, it doesn't have everything from this period, but it has enough to whet the appetite for the next re-release, the soundtrack to the Monkees' lone film, "Head." As Monkeephiles know, there is an incredible melange of music, stories, and controversies about this film that could probably fill about 10 disks, but it is in Rhino's hands to fulfill every fan's wish to release as much as they can on this rerelease, one which we probably won't see for a few years.

But based on Rhino's past performance, we know that they can do it.

But in the meantime, search out all the re-releases, especially "The Birds, the Bees, and the Monkees." I can guarantee that you will not regret it.

Go to to find out more.

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