Take the Last Box to Clarksville/Monkees Box Sets – “Listen to the Band”(1991) and “Music Box” (2001)

 

 

 

Still cold outside? Yep, it is here too.

Well, since it’s another day in the deep freeze why not take another giant step back in time and visit some terrific music CD box sets, Monkees music box sets in fact.

Fans of The Monkees have a LOT to be thankful for as the company that owns their music catalog and TV series (Rhino Records, now owned by Warner Brothers) has made it its mission to put out every scrap of Monkees material (be it music or video) that they have in their archives out on the market in some form or another.

Today I’m going to take a look at two, yes TWO, of Rhino Records CD box set collections of The Monkees music – “Listen to the Band” from 1991 and the more recent “Music 
Box” from 2001.

(Note: the version of “Music Box” that I’m featuring today is a 2007 European repacked version that comes in a much smaller package but still comes with the nice booklet and 4 discs.)

As you can see from the photos above both box sets are a thing of beauty and both are choke full of the best of the Monkees music and are fairly comprehensive at least up to the time they were released.

Since 2001 when “Music Box” was released The Monkees have recorded and issued two fantastic albums, 2016’s “Good Times” and 2018’s “Christmas Party”, so while these CD sets are missing tracks from these latest albums both box sets are still wonderful collections and well worth seeking out.

First up is 1991’s “Listen to the Band”.

I’d have to give the edge for design to this box set as it includes a groovy poster full of cool Monkees memorabilia as well as a terrific booklet that features detailed liner notes by Monkees historian Andrew Sandoval (who also put both box sets together) as well as photos on the cover taken from The Monkees TV series end credits which I’ve always felt are so iconic for the band and look great on the box and booklet!

Not only does “Listen to the Band” include a fairly comprehensive overview of The Monkees career but the real draw of this box set is that most of it, perhaps 75 percent of it, has been remixed from the multitracks and sounds wonderful.

In fact this box set is the only place to get most of these remixes and for any true Monkees fan it’s worth seeking it out just to have all this music in crystal clear sound. Many of these remixes have subtle and some not so subtle differences from the original mixes from the 1960’s.

The song “Auntie Municipal Court” springs to mind as one of the best new mixes. This new remix models itself after the rare mono mix from 1968 and is in my opinion THE best mix of this track ever.

This song sounds so much more psychedelic and ominous in this new mix that it makes me wish the whole “The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees” album, from which this song is taken, was included in remixed form as the results are so good.

With the “Listen to the Band” box set being so well done, I was quite surprised when Rhino released the “Music Box” set in 2001.

With “Music Box” Andrew Sandoval, the sets producer, went with an even more comprehensive approach to The Monkees catalog and this time featured original 1960’s mixes of most songs as by this time a lot of the master tapes of The Monkees music had been located and he felt the original mixes were more authentic than remixes.

As far as music I’d give “Music Box” the nod as it has more tracks and even more unreleased goodies than “Listen to the Band” but as far as sound  I’d give the nod to “Listen to the Band” as “Music Box” is mastered a tad too loud and while decent sounding isn’t quite in the same league sound wise as “Listen to the Band”.

“Music Box” also contains a couple of terrific rarities that aren’t included on the “Listen to the Band” set including super clean sounding longer versions of “Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)” and “Daddy’s Song” both sung by Davy Jones as well as a previously unissued mix of Mike Nesmith’s song “Of  You”.

If you’re wanting a nice overview of The Monkees career either set would be a great find but I believe “Music Box”, especially the 2007 reissue, may be easier to find and cheaper.

I will say though that it might be worth the effort to try and track down the “Listen to the Band” set as most of the remixes on it are unique to that set and well worth adding to your collection or if you’re just looking for some one-stop shopping for Monkees music it’s a must buy!

BUT I say get both sets as I’m a huge Monkees fan and both sets complement each other nicely and both are different enough sonic experiences that it makes it worthwhile to own each one – at least in my mind lol.

Until next time, keep safe and warm and remember …

“HERE THEY COME, WALKING DOWN THE STREET” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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