Introducing ABC’s Monkees CDs – Vol. 1 and 2

Welcome to Friday – a cool October Friday at that!

Today as I was browsing through a local Walmart store, something I do very infrequently, I happened upon a bin of cheap CDs and lo and behold I spotted a newer compilation CD I knew had been released but had never seen: “An Introduction to The Monkees”!

And of course since the CD in question was only $5 and I am a sucker for all things Monkee I bought it.

Now I need another Monkees CD like I need a hole in the head but this introduction CD, while bare bones, sounds really nice and has a really groovy cover photo. (Note: Not much of a rationalization I know but it works for me!).

I call this CD an ABC CD because its a basic introduction to The Monkees music, thus an ABC experience, or an “Already Been Chewed” type CD as these songs have been reissued many, many times over the years and most hardcore Monkees fans will just shrug when they see them.

In these dying days of the CD medium these types of hit compilation albums are perfect for stores like Walmart and other supermarket stores that cater to the casual shopper looking for the familiar and inexpensive.

I, of course, think these CDs do have a purpose and fill a need for the record company as I’m sure CDs sales now rely on these casual fans purchasing hits they remember.

This Monkees “Introduction to” CD is just one of a series of “Introduction” CDs put out by Rhino Records that highlights various artists greatest hits. Some of the other CDs in the series feature the likes of Hall & Oates, Gordon Lightfoot, The Drifters, Bad Co. and Andrew Gold.

These CDs on the whole are actually well done and a very inexpensive way to buy some great music that represents some popular older artists biggest hits.

Funnily enough, as I made my way to another local supermarket type store called Meijer (it’s grocery day), I also found the companion to this Vol. 1 CD called “An Introduction to The Monkees Vol. 2” again for $5!

Now this Vol. 2 edition has a really nice track selection featuring a few of my favorite Monkees album tracks including “You Told Me”. “Mary Mary” and “Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)” as well as the recent and superb “Me and Magdalena” from The Monkees 2016 album “Good Times!”.

These two CDs are basically updated versions of the older Artista “Monkees Greatest Hits” and “More Greatest Hits” albums that now include reunion material like the Top Twenty hit “That Was Then, This is Now” from 1986 as well as the previously mentioned “Me and Magdalena”.

While most fans of The Monkees will undoubtedly own all this material, for the uninitiated these two CDS are a great toe in the water moment for those who may only remember the group from their TV show and are just looking for the hits.

Unfortunately for those Monkee geeks out there these CDs don’t contain any unique mixes but do feature good mastering from mainly the most current remasters and do sound pretty nice. I didn’t find them shrill or overly loud but punchy and warm.

There are also, unfortunately, a couple of misidentified tracks on these sets. “Pleasant Valley Sunday” from Vol. 1 for example isn’t the mono single mix as marked it’s the stereo album version while “Goin’ Down” from Vol. 2 is an alternate mono mix and not the true single mix from the 45 as marked.

While those mistakes certainly won’t matter one bit to the audience that buys these CDs nonetheless it’s a bit mystifying how Rhino manages to keep making these small type of errors when all the information on these tracks is readily available but oh well.

These two CDs sound good and even after all this time it’s still nice to see new Monkees products on store shelves when CDs in general are getting harder and harder to find in any brick and mortar store.

So feast your eyes on some photos above of these two groovy CDs. Both have 2018 copyrights and seem to be readily available at stores like Walmart.

If you need a Monkees CD fix make sure you check threw those large bins of $5 CDs at Walmart I’m sure you’ll find one or both of these CDs swimming among the sea of bargain CDs.

Until next time, be well!!!






Christmas in October – The Monkees “Christmas Party” album (a Review)

Okay, Christmas in October – really?

Well even I think its’ a tad bit too early for all things Christmas BUT tomorrow a new Monkees album is being released and it’s a Christmas album of all things!

That’s right, The Monkees are releasing their first Christmas album ever and it’s full of new songs as well as some nice takes on standard Christmas fare.

The first single “Unwrap You at Christmas” was released online earlier this week and has gotten some good response along with some “meh” comments. The song was written especially for The Monkees by Andy Partridge and is sung exceptionally well by Micky Dolenz and has a retro ’60s sound that’s very pleasing.

I have to say I like the new song, it’s nothing earth shattering but it’s a fun pop song done in the style of the Monkees critically acclaimed 2016 album “Good Times!” which fits since its produced by the same man, Adam Schlesinger.

I was kind of worried before I popped the CD into my player because I heard some caustic comments by another prominent Monkees fan online who said he declined to review this CD for a magazine implying that he hated the contents.

Well, after hearing the entire CD I have to say I’m relieved as it’s very well done and has some really wonderful performances on it.

Of the new songs written especially for this album, “House of Broken Gingerbread” (written by producer Adam Schlesinger and writer Micheal Chabon) is terrific with its weird lyrics and rocking yet slightly trippy ’60s feel with great vocals by Dolenz – definitely one of the highlights of the disc for me.

Another highlight is the title track “Christmas Party” (written by Peter Buck of R.E.M. and Scott McCaughey) which begins with some dialogue by Davy Jones from The Monkees 1967 Christmas TV episode and sounds like  “I Was There (and I’m Told I Had a Good Time)” from The Monkees “Good Times!” album meets Jimi Hendrix!

Rivers Cuomo’s contribution to the album “What Would Santa Do” is a good song but a bit quirky. The lyrics are a bit trite but still a fun track that Dolenz sings well. Odd but endearing which is what I thought of his song “She Makes Me Laugh” from “Good Times!” which I’ve come to really love.

Davy Jones is featured posthumously on the album with two songs that feature vocals he recorded in the 1990s – “Mele Kalikimaka” and “Silver Bells” – that were featured on a solo Christmas album that he released.

Both songs are spruced up with new instrumental backings for this album and sound very traditional and feature lovely vocals by Jones which were originally produced by famed Monkees producer Chip Douglas.

It’s so nice to hear Jones voice sounding so young and fit on these tracks. “Mele Kalikimaka” has always been a Christmas favorite of mine and its nice to hear Jones sing it. A bit sappy yes but nice – that’s what Christmas albums are for!

Another one of the true highlights of the album are the two tracks that feature Mike Nesmith – “The Christmas Song” and “Snowfall”.

“The Christmas Song” is done in a beautiful slow country style and features wonderful vocals from Nesmith that remind me of his vocals on the song “Don’t Call on Me” from the Monkees fourth album “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, Ltd.” from 1967.

“Snowfall” is another lovely track that also features a strong country vibe with great vocals that features sparkling production by Nesmith’s son Jonathan Nesmith.

The one vocal by Peter Tork on the album is also terrific  – a rendering of “Angels We Have Heard on High” that features Tork on the banjo.

Tork recently recorded his vocal which sounds a bit electronically manipulated but really nice and touching especially in the light of Tork just today acknowledging that he has had some heath issues as of late.

All in all it’s a very enjoyable album and after all this time who would have thought we’d get ANY new Monkees album.

Yes, you  have to be a fan of Christmas music. I can see a lot of fans will really get there knickers in a twist as to me the album is meant to be fun and goofy and Christmasey just like most Christmas albums and not be taken too seriously.

This album definitely sounds like a “Good Times!” Christmas but to me that’s a good thing. I can hear Beach Boys, Motown and ’60s flashes throughout the album and since all of that is music I love I really enjoy this album.

Dolenz as ever sounds like he signed a pact with the devil as his vocals are just great throughout the album especially on his bluesy take of “Merry Christmas Baby”.

Dolenz also sings a cover of Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” which turned out great in my opinion. It’s a nice understated acoustic approach to the song which really works. I know a lot of people really dislike this song but I don’t, I rather enjoy it. What’s not to love – Micky Dolenz and Paul McCartney, now that’s a Merry Christmas!!!

The production does at times maybe try a bit hard to sound like the ’60s but overall it’s a fun album that I’ll play again and certainly one of my favorite Christmas records – that’s for sure.

Really there’s nothing horrible on the album – it s a goofy run through Christmas Monkees style that’s filled with some fun retro pop mixed with joyous and wistful touches courtesy of Nesmith and Tork.

You might as well not even come to the party if you don’t like Christmas music and are expecting a sequel to The Monkees superb “Good Times!” album.

If you want some well done pop/rock Christmas and are a fan of the 1960s or The Monkees you might be pleasantly surprised to find this album is a lot of fun – to me anyway.

Until next time, be well and pardon me while I dig around for those Christmas lights – I’m in the mood lol!










John Lennon “Imagine” Ultimate Edition (The Full Meal Deal) – A Look Inside



Well, here we are – a nice cool-ish October night and what should come my way but some new music. Err, at least some new “old” music.

Let me explain.

You see last week I  took a look at the new 2 CD set of John Lennon’s “Imagine” album that’s being released tomorrow but tonight I’m highlighting the full set it was taken from – “Imagine” The Ultimate Edition.

This massive new box set takes an in-depth look at the making and recording of John Lennon’s classic “Imagine” album that was released in 1971.

The new “Ultimate” set consists of fours CDs along with two Blu-Rays and a beautiful hardbound book that details the making of the “Imagine” album along with a lot of really nice photos.

I said last week that the 2 CD set would probably be suffice for most Lennon or Beatles fan but having received this nifty box set today I must say this new full set is a thing of beauty!

It’s really nicely done all around! It’s smaller than I was expecting and everything about it is really thought out well and looks magnificent.

The nice thing about the full version  and what really has struck me today is the sound of the 2 Blu-Ray discs. Both Blu-Ray discs sound very impressive and provide such a wide range of material from the “Imagine” sessions.

Not only do you get the “Imagine” album in newly remixed form in HiRez sound but you also get a new 5.1 surround sound mix for the entire album as well as the singles and extras but you also get the Quadrasonic mixes which were done in the 1970s, “Imagine” out-takes in HiRez as well as 5.1, raw studio mixes that feature extended versions of the songs from the album but featuring Lennon’s raw vocals, raw studio mixes of the out-takes, elements mixes as well as evolution mixes plus a John & Yoko interview by Elliot Mintz. Whew!

Now I haven’t had time to listen to everything in this new set but what has struck me most is the terrific sound of the Blu-Rays! Everything sounds so much smoother and clearer and just fantastic on the Blu-Rays – a really nice upgrade from the CDs which sound quite good themselves.

As for the CDs, the first two discs in this set match the 2 CD set from last week while the other two CDs contain the raw studio mixes and the evolution mixes as well.

I’m not going to pretend this is a set you’ll play straight through all the time as it does get a bit tedious listening to various versions of the same songs over and over but in small bites it’s really a great way to get behind this album and really feel as if you’re in the studio with Lennon as he records it.

I must say I was worried about getting the full set but after having sampled it it’s really so well done and sounds so good – especially the raw studio takes – that it’s a no-brainer for me as I really love this album and even more so now that I can hear the tracks in a new light.

Take a glance at photos of the full set above (I’ve even included a few screen shots from the Blu-Ray discs!).

If you’re a Lennon fan or Beatles fan or just happen to really like this album then this set is a must. Buyer beware though – this is a massive listening experience for just one set of songs.

BUT the quality of the remix and the sound of the songs on the Blu-Ray discs is more than enough for me to recommend splurging for the entire  enchilada as they say!

There’s still the lovely 2 CD version for those who want to experience the remix as well as the out-takes but really this full set is done so well I find it hard to believe any Lennon fan being disappointed with the ultimate set if you have the extra cash to buy it of course.

Until next time be well and dream on!