Instant Rewind – Monkees on Columbia VHS

 

Okay hands up, anyone out there remember VHS tapes?

Good, a lot of you.

Now anyone out there remember Monkees VHS tapes?

Anyone?

Bueller? Lol. Anyone?

Well for those perpetually curious about all things Monkees and those who want to see some actual Monkees VHS tapes, you’ve come to the right spot on the Web!

Today I’m taking a look back at some of the VHS tapes of The Monkees TV series that were released by Columbia Pictures in 1986 and 1987.

You see, in 1986 The Monkees returned to the pop landscape in a HUGE way! And that my dear friends was a weird and wonderful thing.

If you were born in the late 1960s or earlier and lived through the 1970s you would be hard pressed to see any way in which The Monkees could ever possibly become one of the hottest acts of 1986.

Until 1986 The Monkees were seen by many, especially the rock press and critics, as cardboard cutouts that leaped off of cereal boxes to hoist their evil corporate-run hands onto radio and record sales stealing the limelight from more legitimate acts.

No seriously, The Monkees were scorned.

Most “hipsters” even at the mere mention of the group mockingly sung the TV theme song (“Hey, Hey, We’re The Monk -ees”) and then proceeded to laugh the group off. The Monkees were seen as merely a kids TV show that should be consigned to the past – end of story.

That is until MTV started playing The Monkees TV series in early 1986 and The Monkees phenomena started a major phase two and a cultural rebirth lifted The Monkees from the scrapheap of time.

MTV’s exposure of The Monkees caused a huge demand for Monkees live appearances as well as all sort of Monkees products including vinyl, CDs and VHS tapes. At one point The Monkees had seven, yes seven, of their albums on the Billboard Top 200 charts at the same time!

And, as usual, I was there to eagerly soak up all of those various releases and revel in the most unlikely but satisfying return of one of my all-time favorite musical acts to TV (as well as cable) and radio airwaves.

Now while I really enjoyed The Monkees TV series, in 1986 I hadn’t actually seen it for several years, probably since the CBS Saturday morning reruns in the early 1970s.

For me The Monkees appeal was 85 percent driven by my love of their music and 15 percent by my memories of the TV show.

It was such a revelation to finally get to see all the episodes of the series when they ran on MTV and it was really nice to finally be able to own some of the episodes via the  release of the Columbia VHS tapes.

Each Columbia VHS tape contained two complete Monkees episodes and included two of my all-time favorite Monkee episodes – “I was a Teen-Age Monster” and “The Devil and Peter Tork” both of which I remembered seeing as a child on the Saturday morning reruns of the show all those years ago (cue the George Harrison song!)

I’ve come to really enjoy the series now that I can actually watch it whenever I want. Plus since it’s currently available in stunning quality on Blu-Ray I can enjoy the madness of the series even more because the color really pops off the screen like a Andy Warhol painting (more on the Blu-Ray box set in future posts!).

BUT in 1986 Columbia pictures (who then still owned all the group’s output on TV and record as well as their name) put out these few VHS cassettes and at the time I was thrilled to have them.

I’ve since transferred these VHS tapes to recordable DVD and they still look pretty darn good – not great but good.

Rhino records bought The Monkees catalog in the early 1990s and later issued the complete series on VHS and DVD and those looked even better but the original Columbia VHS tapes look just fine – if you can still play them that is.

I’ve put photos above of the five Columbia VHS Monkees tapes that I own. Included is a groovy sheet from Rhino advertising their Monkees audio catalog reissues from that time period (which came in one of the VHS tapes) and a really nice promotional display card for the VHS tapes that folds open to advertise the tapes in a store.

I just found the VHS display card this past weekend at an antique store which prompted me to drag my VHS tapes from the darkness of storage out into the sunlight to make this blog post.

Anyway, enjoy this look at the Columbia Monkees VHS tapes!!!There will be more Monkees VHS tapes in the future so keep an eye out.

Until next time be well and

“Here They Come” …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reel Love – Musicland Evatone Soundcards

Every now and again I like to dip my toes into the waters of time and journey back to my high school years.

Today I’m sitting on the banks of my river of memories and stirring up the waters of 1982.

Ahhh, 1982, I remember it well. I still have a fondness for several records that came out that year.

Let’s see some of my favorite albums from 1982 would include Paul McCartney’s “Tug of War” (naturally), The Go-Go’s “Vacation”, Billy Joel “The Nylon Curtain”, Fleetwood Mac “Mirage”, Asia “Asia” as well as a now obscure Beatles collection called “Reel Music”.

The Beatles “Reel Music” was released in March of 1982 (36 years ago this past week – yikes!) and featured music from the films The Beatles made in the 1960s.

It really was an oddball collection but it did feature a fun booklet and I loved the selection of songs on the album. Of course this collection has never made it to the CD age and is now doomed to lie on the shorelines of time as a fun but nearly forgotten memento.

BUT the Reel Music album did inspire another wacky yet fun collectible – Beatles Soundcards!

Musicland, a chain of record stores located in shopping malls around the US in the 1970s and 80s, and The Beatles record label Capitol Records came up with these colored flexi-discs to promote the release of the Reel Music collection.

Oddly enough the Soundcard flexi-discs featured songs from three of The Beatles double albums – “1962-1966” (“Red” album), “1967-1970” (“Blue” album) and The BEATLES (“White Album”) – and played at 33 1/3 speed.

Each Soundcard was numbered and featured two songs from the albums mentioned above:

1962-1966 – “All My Loving”, “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” – (Mine is No. 2193)

1967-1970 – “Magical Mystery Tour”,  “Here Comes the Sun” – (Mine is No. 19537)

The BEATLES – “Rocky Raccoon”, “Why Don’t We Do it in the Road?” – (Mine is No. 6050)

Pictured above are all three discs that Musicland offered as well as a newspaper ad advertising the discs and a groovy promotional sign for the “Reel Music” album.

You don’t hear much about these odd collectibles nowadays so I thought it might be fun to take a look at them and you certainly don’t see the Musicland ad at all as I’ve never seen it other than the copy I clipped from the newspaper in 1982.

Every now and again I take the “Reel Music” album out for a spin and look through the groovy booklet of photos from the Beatles films. It’s a nostalgia thing more than anything else but it does take me back to a fun time.

Anyway, take a look for yourself and enjoy.

Until next time be well and Ta Ta for Now!

 

 

 

Arise Sir Ringo! Knight in a Box – Ringo Record Store Day 45 Box Set

 

In honor of Richard Starkey (Ringo Starr) being knighted by the Queen of England yesterday I thought I’d celebrate and feature some Ringo love on today’s blog post.

Of course there’s no better way to celebrate any occasion then music and here on my corner of the Internet I’m going to celebrate as I usually do by taking a look at some vinyl –  Ringo vinyl.

Ringo is the second Beatle to receive a knighthood, Paul McCartney received his in 1997, and since being made a knight is quite an honor in the UK I thought it might be a good excuse to take a look at a very nifty Ringo 45 box set that came out a few years ago in 2013 for Record Store Day.

The Ringo 45 box was released in limited quantities (though it’s still not too hard to locate) and featured a sleek black colored box with just a silver star on the front cover with the word Ringo neatly placed in the center.

Inside the box are gorgeous reproductions of three U.S. singles from Ringo’s 1970s hit-making heyday – “It Don’t Come Easy”/”Early 1970”, “Photograph”/”Down and Out” and “(It’s All Down to) Goodnight Vienna”/”Oo-Wee” – that feature lovely reproductions of the original sleeves and labels.

Each of these terrific 45’s look just as they would have had you walked into a record store in the mid-1970’s. Actually, strike that. The covers do look the same but feature a much sturdier cardboard sleeve (unlike the thin paper stock of originals) and thicker vinyl as well.

Not only are the discs and sleeves a bit better quality than the original releases but these singles were newly remastered for this set and the super clean and quiet vinyl is certainly heads above the quality of the vinyl on the 1970’s discs.

Like the recent Ringo Starr Lp reissues from earlier this year these 45’s look impressive with no washed out photos on either the sleeves or the labels and they sound great as well – very nicely done!

The box also features a groovy fold-out poster and a Ringo 45 adapter that comes with the same artwork as the “Photograph” 45.

I know there aren’t as many Beatles fans into collecting Ringo discs as there used to be but these 45’s are so well done that it might be worth hunting down one of these boxes if your a fan of Ringo or The Beatles or ’70s pop/rock.

Anyway, there are some photos above of the Ringo box for all you Ringo fans out there. Take a look at just how nicely the labels and sleeves look – I love me some sweet loooking vinyl!

So, here’s to Sir Ringo, may he live long and prosper! (I know, I know, he’s not a Star Trek cast member but at least it’s got a 60’s ring to it lol!)

Until next time, Peace and Love (Ringo style!!!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Around the World – Monkees in Venezuela

Okay, let me start this post with a bit of background.

For years, from say around 1972 to 1985, Monkees records were out of print and not easy to find – at least where I lived. These are what I call the desolate years lol.

This was a time before my city had many used record stores and while used records may have been easier to find at garage sales I wasn’t able to drive until 1981 so it seemed like a barren desert as far as finding new copies of my favorite Monkees albums was concerned.

(Note: I’m just trying to put into context my train of thought as to why I buy multiple copies of the same album. I know, there is a huge therapy bill in my future but at least it makes sense to me!)

Anyway, “More of the Monkees” was the first album I ever owned (I got a copy before  I was three, no joke!) and since I beat my original copy to death playing it over and over again on a small portable record player I’ve spent a lifetime tracking down new and used copies of this album.

Since 1985 there have been several newer reissues of “More of the Monkees” released (both on CD and vinyl) and of course I’ve bought all of those but my favorite finds are vintage vinyl copies whether they are US stereo or mono Colgems copies or RCA pressings from around the world.

Every now and again I do manage to track down an obscure or interesting foreign pressing of “More of the Monkees” and just recently I found a groovy old mono copy of the album from Venezuela!

(Note 2: I must say that I won’t spend a ton of money so the price has to be right or else no deal. At least I’m not completely crazy.)

Now this copy is not in the best of condition, the cover has writing all over the back, but at least the vinyl itself is in very nice shape and cleaned up very nicely.

I must also say that the cardboard they used on the cover is some of the sturdiest cardboard I’ve ever seen on any pressing of this album!  It seems to have survived fairly intact even though it looks like it has had some serious loving over the years.

Since I’ve never come across any Monkees albums from Venezuela I thought it would be fun to post some photos of this nifty mono copy. It’s not actually that different looking from the regular US Colgems copy but I really like it nonetheless. Love those black RCA labels!

In the future anytime I find a cool or unique copy of a Monkees or Beatles album I will post them here so the other vinyl addicts out there can enjoy my fix as well.

Until next time, be well and good luck with your vinyl hunting!

 

 

 

 

Three HEADs are better than one … Reissues of The Monkees classic soundtrack

Ahhh, The Monkees “HEAD” soundtrack.

Released almost 50 years ago in November 1968, the soundtrack album to The Monkees only movie has grown into something of a cult classic and deservedly so.

The “HEAD” soundtrack album is filled with not only great music but is also edited together so uniquely with dialogue from the film that the record stands by itself as its own unique experience – trippy, random and odd yet completely mesmerizing.

Songs like “Porpoise Song (Theme from “HEAD”), “As We Go Along”, “Circle Sky”, “Can You Dig It?” and “Long Title: Do I Have to Do This All Over Again” are among the strongest music The Monkees ever recorded and stand out as being some of the most hard-edged songs both lyrically and musically in their catalog.

Now I have been a fan of The Monkees music since I was practically able to speak but for some reason I discovered the HEAD soundtrack several years after having owned and played to death all the other original albums released during the group’s heyday in the 1960s.

Oddly enough  I owned the more obscure “Present” and “Changes” albums right after they were released in 1969 and 1970 but for some reason I didn’t stumble upon a copy of the HEAD soundtrack until the summer of 1976.

I do vividly remember seeing the funhouse-like reflective “HEAD” album cover for the first time when a local record store owner named Smoky Montgomery (of Smoky’s Record Shop) pulled the album out of a box he had of old stock new albums he keep upstairs in his small record store.

I had seen the HEAD album cover on the Colgems inner sleeve that was placed inside the later Monkees albums but didn’t know the cover looked like a mirror and I certainly had no idea what was in store for me when I first put the record on the turntable and played it!

Everything from the cover to the dialogue to the music stood out to me from all the other Monkees albums I owned and I remember playing this album over and over again like it was a newly released Monkees album, a feeling I wouldn’t be able to repeat until the group reformed in 1986.

To this day I find new bits and pieces to enjoy in the dialogue and music on the HEAD soundtrack every time I play it and much like the film its from the HEAD soundtrack has no conventional story but conveys a different narrative feeling each time you play it.

Anyway, above I have pictured three of my favorite reissues of the HEAD album that  I own.

You may see the photo of the Colgems version of HEAD above and say ‘reissue?’ but it is indeed the first reissue of the album – see the RE in the top right had corner of the album?

The first issue of the album in 1968 spelled songwriter and producer Gerry Goffin’s first name as Jerry. This little known reissue copy corrects the spelling of his name thus the RE on the cover.

I had never even heard of this reissue until I stumbled across this copy online a few years ago. The seller had photos of the album and must have had no idea it was a rare version of the album. I was puzzled myself but ordered it because I had never seen a copy with RE on the cover.

To this day I’ve never found another copy of this Colgems RE version and don’t know how many were pressed or when.

I’m guessing it must have come out in 1969 when Colgems changed their logo on the early Monkees albums and I can’t imagine there were very many pressed as HEAD wasn’t one of The Monkees bigger selling albums.

Nevertheless It’s one of my favorite Monkees Colgems pressings and the vinyl itself is practically near mint though the cover is a bit worn but in VG condition.

The other two HEAD vinyl copies above are both colored vinyl – one (the clear one) from the 50th Anniversary Rhino Classic Album Collection and the other (the gold one) is the Friday Music Alternate HEAD Lp which contains alternate versions of the music from HEAD taken from the three CD Rhino box set from a few years ago.

All three versions above sound great and are must have if you’re a Monkees collector.

If you’ve never heard of the Colgems HEAD RE version, keep an eye out for it if you see a used copy of the HEAD album. I know I do as I’d love to find one in NM condition though I think the odds are fairly low of finding it again as I this is the only one I’ve ever seen!

Until next time, be well.

More 50th anniversary Beatles and Monkees posts coming soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monkees on Laser – Rarely Seen Monkees LaserDiscs

LaserDiscs?

Monkees LaserDiscs?

Never heard of LaserDiscs you say?

Okay, let’s hit rewind and take a quick look at the LaserDisc and why on earth anyone would have owned them.

You see LaserDiscs were a format of video first released in the late 1970s and were in production until the dawn of the DVD era with the last North American LaserDisc being produced in 2000.

The LaserDisc looked like a giant compact disc and contained video as well as audio.

Usually the discs were two-sided and contained movies, TV series, concerts and documentaries and were aimed at video enthusiasts who wanted the best quality copy of their favorite movies or TV shows or what have you that they could purchase.

The main advantage of the LaserDisc was that it had much superior video and audio quality as compared to VHS tapes which were the most popular video format competing with LaserDiscs at the time – that is until the creation of the DVD.

Now I have a little bit more of a sentimental attachment to LaserDiscs then most as my father was an electrical engineer for Magnavox back in the 1970s and he brought one of the machines home (with a LaserDisc containing the movie “Jaws”) for awhile and we got to see the amazing video quality of the LaserDisc before the players hit the market.

We tested Maganavox equipment from time to time but I distinctly remember being AMAZED at this crazy new format and how cool it was to watch a movie at home. I saw the LaserDisc  player way before we had an VHS player so the LaserDisc was implanted in my mind as THE video format.

Anyway, this brings me to Monkees LaserDiscs.

As you can imagine, I too had a LaserDisc player (surprise, surprise) that I bought somewhere in the 1990s and purchased Monkees and Beatles discs as well as a few movies and other fun stuff that came out on the LaserDisc format.

The Monkees discs I’ve pictured above are a remnant of the few years I was into the LaserDisc.

I still have my LaserDisc player, which works, but rarely hook it up nowadays but I’ve managed to transfer these Monkees discs to recordable DVDs and still watch them from time to time and I must say the quality is still pretty darn good.

The recent Blu-Ray release of The Monkees TV series blows these discs away but they’re on par with the quality of the Rhino DVD sets that are still in print. In fact, the two Rhino LaserDiscs pictured above are from the same transfer as the DVDs and look pretty much the same which tells you why video enthusiasts liked the LaserDisc format.

The major downside of the LaserDisc format was the weight of the discs (you think records are heavy!) and that it was a pain to have to switch sides constantly unless you had a high end player which flipped the sides for you.

And of course LaserDiscs were really expensive which was most likely the reason the format never gained too much traction in the marketplace.

So, take a look at the Monkees LaserDiscs I still own.

You rarely see them these days and I thought it might be a fun thing for Monkees fans to see or for anyone curious about LaserDiscs.

Until next time be well pass the popcorn, it feels like time to watch some TV …

 

 

 

 

 

The Beatles 1962-1970 – The “Red ” and “Blue” albums on CD

The Beatles are one of the only rock groups who would need two, count them two, double albums to cover their greatest hits!

First released in 1973, these collections called “The Beatles 1962-1966” (the ‘Red’ album) and “The Beatles 1967-1970” (the ‘Blue’ album) cover the entire span of The Beatles recording career and have been huge sellers in all formats they’ve been released on from vinyl to 8-Tracks to compact disc and even the dreaded download (he said with a smirk).

They’re a great place to start if you’re new to The Beatles music and they’ve served as great starting points for several generations of “Fab Four” freaks – me included.

You see the first Beatles record I ever owned was the “1962-1966” set which I got in 1975, a couple years after it was released. I remember staring at the front and back cover of the album as it played and being amazed at how much the band’s image had changed over such a short time.

Of course I knew most but not all of the songs already and played that set over and over again that year as my love of the Fabs music grew from a spark into a raging wildfire!

I loved the early years of The Beatles so much that the next Beatles album I acquired was an Apple pressing of the Capitol album “The Beatles’ Second Album”. I didn’t get the “1967-1970” collection until a couple of years later but I remember checking it out from my local library before I bought it.

At that young age, nine years old, I liked a lot of the songs on the “Blue” set but was kind of perplexed by some of the more adventurous tunes like “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “I Am the Walrus”.

By 1977 The Beatles later years had become some of my favorite music they ever produced and I ended up playing the “Blue” set a bit more than the “Red” one over time but my love of all things Beatles started with the “1962-1966” set so it has always remained a favorite of mine to this day.

Nowadays I tend to reach for a specific Beatles albums when I want a “Fab” fix because there’s so much more to The Beatles catalog then just their hits but I have to admit that these two collections hold a special place in my heart for sure.

Today I’m highlighting the CD versions of these sets that have been released over the years along with some groovy promo CDs that were put out to promote them.

The first time these albums made it to store shelves in CD form was 1993 and I remember fans being very perturbed that the “Red” set was released as a two CD set when in fact it could fit onto just one CD.

The Beatles company Apple stated that they wanted the albums to go out as they originally did on vinyl as double sets but that didn’t sit well with most hardcore fans though of course these CDs ended up selling well of course.

I wasn’t too concerned about the two CD controversy as I was (and still am) a rabid Beatles collector and very sentimental about these albums and welcomed their release on CD.

The thing I really loved about the 1993 CD version of the “Red” album was that it was the first time five early Beatles songs were released on CD in stereo – “All My Loving”, Can’t Buy Me Love”, “A Hard Day’s Night”, “And I Love Her” and “Eight Days a Week”.

I LOVED hearing the stereo versions of these songs and it whetted my appetite for all The Beatles early albums to be released on CD in stereo.

(Note: in 1993 the first four Beatles albums were only available on CD in mono and Apple at the time wasn’t too concerned about getting early Beatles music out on CD in stereo though this was a step in the right direction)

I still think these five tracks sound really nice on the 1993 CD especially “A Hard Day’s Night” which is the best stereo version of this song available on the CD format (the 2010 remaster is a bit too muted compared to this version).

The “Red” and “Blue” sets were re-issued again in 2010 this time taken from the 2009 remasters of The Beatles work in which all stereo and mono mixes were made available on CD.

I tend to reach for the 2010 remastered versions of these sets if I play them as I think overall the 2009 remasters sound great.

Of course my CD of choice for these albums are the lovely 2014 Japanese SHM-CD mini-lp CDs versions of these sets that have been released as limited editions in the Land of the Rising Sun.

I’m not going to go over the whole “do SHM-CD’s sound better bit” but needless to say these sets LOOK fantastic as they faithfully re-create the original UK vinyl versions of these albums to a tee down to the correct inner sleeves and disc labels.

If you’re going to collect physical media then why not get the best and most attractive versions of your favorite music – says the great rationale(r) lol.

As usual above you can see photos of all these CD variations I’ve mentioned in this blog post.

I’ve also thrown in two promo CDs for these sets that came out in 1993 to promote the original CD releases of these albums.

The first promo CD is a radio sampler featuring six songs from the “Red” and “Blue” sets and the other one is a UK promo CD that features a nice interview with Beatles producer George Martin talking about various songs on both albums.

You don’t see the interview promo CD much these days so I thought other Beatles collectors might get a kick out of seeing it.

Hopefully you’ll enjoy this Beatles geekout on these two wonderful collections and if you’ve never sampled any Beatles music these two sets are a great place to start even if you’re not into physical media and want to sample them online.

And if you do want to dip your toes into the physical media water these two sets are plentiful in used bins around the country in either vinyl or CD so this again makes a great place to start a Beatles fixation … err, collection.

Until next time, be well and sit back and relax with one of these albums playing in the background – ahhh!!!