That Was Then/Remixes and Rarities – Monkees Arista CDs from Japan

Okay, since I’m still in a Monkees mood I thought I’d once again take a trip back in time and take a look at some Monkees music on compact disc.

Rhino Records/Warner Brothers, who currently own The Monkees back catalog, have done a magnificent job of not only reissuing all of The Monkees albums on vinyl as well as CD but expanding them to include practically every aural morsel of music that resides in the Rhino vaults.

Nowadays fans are used to deluxe CD box sets featuring outtakes, rare mixes, TV mixes as well as nice booklets stuffed with great information/details about Monkees recording sessions (courtesy of Monkees historian Andrew Sandoval) so these older CDs may seem quaint by comparison.

BUT there was a time in the early 1990s right before The Monkees catalog was purchased by Rhino Records in 1994 when it was hit or miss if the entire Monkees catalog would even come out on CD let alone have all these terrific sets with bonus material.

You see, several of The Monkees master tapes have been MIA for decades and even to this day some of the mono and stereo master tapes for certain albums have yet to surface.

That was even more so the case in the late 1980s and early 90s when a large majority of Monkees masters where unable to be located for CD reissues.

This led Arista Records, then owners of The Monkees catalog, to end up releasing several Monkees albums featuring remixes of certain tracks mixed with the then currently available Monkees masters.

(Note: Luckily several of the Monkees multi-tracks (which are used to mix down to a stereo or mono master) survive thus enabling several songs to be remixed)

The first five Monkees albums plus their seventh were in fact released by Arista in Japan (only the first four were issued in the U.S. by Arista) and are a real treat for Monkees fans as the remixes are really fun to hear and have subtle but interesting differences from the original mixes.

Plus the Japanese Arista CDs feature artwork that in several cases is drastically different to their U.S. counterparts which also makes them quite desirable to collectors.

I was fortunate at the time these came out to be able to acquire them through mail order and to this day I love to listen to the mix variations available on these CDs.

The first two Monkees albums “The Monkees” and “More of the Monkees” as well as their fourth album “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, Ltd.” feature a mixture of mono, stereo and remixed tracks while their third album “Headquarters” was remixed entirely from scratch with all songs getting a new sonic makeover.

The fifth Monkees album “The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees” and the seventh¬† “Instant Replay” didn’t feature any remixes on the Arista CDs that I remember but were the first time these albums were released in their entirety on compact disc.

These last two CDs sound very similar to the Rhino CDs that were released later but I have an affinity for these as they have such groovy cover artwork and they were the first CD versions I owned of these albums.

There was also a really nice 3 CD set released on Arista Japan called “By Request” that features a really nice overview of The Monkees career up to the early 1990s and includes several of the remixed tracks from the other Arista CDs.

I also happened to acquire a nifty Japanese Arista CD of “Then and Now – The Best of the Monkees” that features only the tracks that were released on the original vinyl album not the 25 tracks that were later released on the U.S. CD version of this album.

As for the remixes on these CDs, I think they’re all well worth checking out if you’re a Monkees fan.

Some of my favorites include the longer mix of “This Just Doesn’t Seem to Be My Day”, the different sounding mix of “Mary, Mary” which features Micky’s growled vocal more clearly, the lovely mix of “She Hangs Out” which features the horns with a nice sustain that lasts longer than any other version of this song and the entire CD of “Headquarters” which is really nice to hear as the whole album has a slightly different feel in the remixed version.

The first four Monkees Arista CDs are probably much cheaper to find if you track down the U.S. versions but they’re missing the really nifty Japanese artwork.

In fact the rear of the “More of the Monkees” CD matches the Japanese Arista vinyl pressing of that album which I got in the late 1970s so that’s a real treat for me.

So as usual, take a gander above at the CDs mentioned in this post. They’re fun to see of you’ve never had a chance to see them in person.

(Okay, okay I have a lot of Japanese CDs but if they didn’t make them so enticing I wouldn’t lol!)

Until next time, be well and only eight days until my Monkees show!!!

(Ps. I will post a review here with photos a day or two after the show next week so stay tuned)

Bye bye bye bye … (“Star Collector” anyone?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look at Me – “Monkees Forever” SHM and “Davy Jones” Blu-Spec Japanese CDs

As I gear myself up for seeing The Monkees Present Mike and Micky concert next week, I thought I’d take out some Monkees CDs and give them a spin.

I happened to stumble across a nice little CD called “The Monkees Forever” which has a good selection of hits and also includes 2016’s “She Makes Me Laugh” from the terrific “Good Times” album so out it popped into my CD player.

This CD came out in 2016 for the Monkees 50th anniversary but at the time I really didn’t have much interest in it and I passed it up in favor of all the other groovy new Monkees releases that were being released that year.

Just a couple of months ago I happened upon the Japanese SHM-CD version of this album which includes the song “Star Collector” as a bonus track on sale no less so of course I finally took the bait and added this CD to my collection – and I’m certainly glad I did!

As I’ve posted before, I think the Japanese SHM-CDs (Super High Material) actually do have improved sound (at least on my CD player) and this CD is no exception. I can’t speak to the Rhino US version of this CD as I don’t own it but the SHM-CD of “Forever” sounds really wonderful!

I was expecting to be underwhelmed with the sound for some reason but was pleasantly surprised that this is now one of my favorite sounding Monkees discs. In fact it’s now my go-to disc for a quick Monkees fix and for that it fit the bill tonight just perfectly.

And since I was talking about Japanese Monkees CDs I thought I’d also include a really nice mini-Lp Blu-Spec CD of the “Davy Jones” album that came out in 2013.

This CD has the same track selection as the U.S. Friday Music disc called “Davy Jones: The Bell Recordings” but comes in a wonderful reproduction of the original Japanese Lp sleeve and also includes a small two-sided poster and booklet with the lyrics to the songs printed in Japanese.

Blu-Spec CDs are also supposed to be made with the same materials as a Blu-Ray disc which is said to enhance the sound quality as compared to regular CDs.

In my experience the Blu-Spec CDs don’t have as much of a sound difference as the SHM-CDs but this disc does indeed sound sweet and you just can’t beat the lovely packaging.

I used to play the “Davy Jones” album quite often as a kid so it’s really wonderful to rediscover this album again in the digital age.

Not every track works but songs like “Road to Love”, “Rainy Jane”, “Girl” (from the Brady Bunch episode but presented here in its 45 mix) and especially “Look at Me” are really good songs and Davy Jones was at the height of his vocal powers for these 1971 sessions.

I think there’s enough solid songs on this album to highly recommend it and if you’re a Davy Jones fan then it’s a must buy either in the regular U.S. version or this terrific Japanese mini-lp version.

So in honor of the current Monkees concert tour here’s a look at these two wonderful Japanese CDs with pictures (as usual) for those who’ve never had a chance to see them.

If you’ve never owned these CDs the Japanese versions aren’t hard to find and in my opinion are certainly worth the hunt.

Until next time be well and¬† … Here they come …