A Peter (Tork) Percival’s Pet Pig Picture is Worth a Thousand Words … Memories of Meeting Auntie Grizelda’s nephew

 

On the eve of such a melancholy day I thought I would share one more post about Peter Tork and show some fun and joyous photos I took of him over the years.

Above are a few photos I  shot at Monkees concerts in 2011 (at the Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville, IN where I met and took a photo with Peter) and 2013 (San Diego, CA). And below from the way back machine of November 1986 (Fort Wayne Memorial  Coliseum).

 

As you can see Monkees concerts were definitely joyous occasions. I’ve seen the group 17, yes 17!, times between 1986 and 2018. I know, I know it seems like a lot but every one of those concerts were filled with great music and performances and each one also contained a large sampling of Peter Tork’s humor as well as musicianship.

I didn’t have a camera with me the very first time I met Peter Tork which happened in November 1986 at a local Marriott hotel right after The Monkees sold-out performance here in Fort Wayne.

I knew where the group was staying, I had seen their tour buses lined up earlier in the day in front of the Marriott which was just down the road from where I lived, and decided to get to meet as many Monkees that day as possible.

As luck would have it I met both Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork – I missed out on Davy Jones as I never ran into him at the hotel.

It’s funny the things that stick in your mind all these years later. I remember both Micky and Peter being very gracious but when I ran into Micky earlier in the day he was just getting off his tour bus with his family and didn’t want to chit chat.

Micky signed my copy of “The Monkees” album (see below) and I remember asking where Davy and Peter were and him saying that it wasn’t his day to watch them and walking off. I learned later that that was one of his standard lines but I was still thrilled to meet him nonetheless.

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Peter Tork on the other hand was in an upbeat and talkative mood and I happened to catch him, and his girlfriend at the time, after the concert as they were going off to eat dinner at a local Japanese restaurant just down the road.

Peter was very friendly and approachable and asked how I liked the show. I was surprised at how completely down to earth he was and how he made me and the two other fans in the hall feel like contemporaries and even asked if the food was good at the Japanese restaurant.

The only request he made was that if any photos were taken to please not use flash as his eyes were sensitive to flash close up. I didn’t have a camera and just asked him for an autograph and he was more than happy to sign my album and noticed I had Micky’s signature as well.

I also remember feeling great as I walked away while noticing another group of fans run up to him. One fan, a tall obnoxious guy, then proceeded to use a flash camera several times even though Tork pleaded with him to stop.

Peter then angrily walked away, which I don’t blame him as the guy with the flash was a royal jerk, and off he went into the night.

I thought of that encounter today and of meeting Peter again over twenty years later in 2011 this time after having interviewed him on the phone a few weeks prior for a newspaper article I wrote for my local paper.

Just a few more random thoughts about Peter Tork as they filter through my mind tonight.

Well,  I hope Mr. Tork is peacefully off into the night wind once again this evening. I treasure those memories of meeting and talking with him and just wanted to say one final goodbye. I also may just pop in a Monkees episode in his honor as I say good night.

With that I bid adieu.

Good night Peter, it was nice knowing you …

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Pete’s Sake – Reflections on Peter Tork, R.I.P.

 

“We were born to love one another
This is something we all need
We were born to love one another
We must be what we’re goin’ to be
And what we have to be is free”

– “For Pete’s Sake” written by Peter Tork/Joey Richards and recorded by The Monkees

It’s with a heavy heart that I type this blog post as I have just heard the news that Peter Tork of The Monkees passed away today at the age of 77.

Readers of this blog will know that I have been a fan of The Monkees and Peter Tork since practically the womb. I was born in 1966 the same year that The Monkees premiered and I have loved their music since I could walk, even BEFORE I could walk to tell you the truth.

I also as it happens that I have had the great honor and pleasure of interviewing Peter Tork not once but twice so it’s really strange to be writing about his death. He was such a gracious and fun guy to interview and one of the favorite performers I had the pleasure of writing about as a freelance entertainment writer.

Truth be told I’m not too surprised about his death as I was waiting for this day to come.

Peter Tork’s not being a part of The Monkees touring in the last year or so seemed totally out of character for him. And the fact that he appeared on only one song from last years “Christmas Party” Monkees album plus his electronically altered voice pretty much gave away the fact that he was battling some pretty heavy heath issues.

But I’m not going to be too sad or morbid today. One of the things I really admired about Peter after interviewing him was his graciousness, wit, charm and frankness. Of all The Monkees he seemed to be able to access the group and his work in a totally philosophical and practical way and that’s how I shall remember him.

His battles with alcohol plus his basic view of life gave him a very philosophical approach to the world around him and one of the things that struck me last October when the last Monkees album came out was him posting he was taking time to be with family and said to readers to take care of yourself and love one another. Words to live by and pretty much the sentiment of his most iconic Monkees song “For Pete’s Sake” from “Headquarters”, my favorite Monkees albums.

It’s a minor miracle that one of the last songs he recorded with The Monkees, “Wasn’t Born to Follow”, from their 2016 album “Good Times!” not only seemed to sum up his life perfectly but was the best vocal performance he ever gave as a part of the group.

I won’t ramble on. Rest in Peace dear Peter Tork and thanks for your kindness to me in your interviews and thanks for the music!!! I will remember your spirit always with love and a smile.

These two interviews (below) are how I will remember Peter Tork and I will always be grateful that I had the chance to connect with him in some small way. The first interview was for the The Monkees 50th Anniversary Tour and the second is from 2011.

Peter Tork interview 2016

Peter Tork interview 2011

Take care and God Bless!

 

Attack of the Eighties – The Monkees on Arista – Vinyl and CD (Part 1)

Welcome again to another sunny February day – or not, depending on where you live.

Anyway, it seems like a good day to take a look at some fairy uncommon (nowadays at least) vinyl and CD pressings of two Monkees albums – “The Monkees” and “The Monkees Greatest Hits” – that are two of the group’s biggest sellers.

Both of these albums sold well over a million copies and can be found quite easily in used bins around the world BUT the versions I’m taking a look at today came out in the mid-’80’s on Arista Records and aren’t quite as common as other pressings that are out there.

Let’s begin at the beginning shall we:

“The Monkees”

“The Monkees”, the band’s first album, originally came out in 1966 and spent 13 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard music charts and sold over 5 million copies.

Any day of the week you can spot used copies of this album in record stores, thrift stores and garage sales around the country (and world for that matter) in various states of condition ranging from totally trashed (I see A LOT like this) to immaculate.

The two versions of “The Monkees” album (see above) that I’m spotlighting today both came out in 1986 at the height of a full blown Monkees revival that saw The Monkees return to mainstream pop culture with a bang.

The Monkees believe it or not had the biggest tour of the year that year and saw seven of their albums hit the charts at the same time as fans who saw the reruns of The Monkees TV show on MTV wanted to discover the group’s recordings and ran out to buy them in droves.

Arista, who at the time owned the group’s recordings, scrambled to put out Monkees product after licensing the group’s albums to a small reissue company called Rhino Records in 1985.

After Rhino had sold nearly a million copies of The Monkees back catalog Arista decided to reissue their own Monkees product and didn’t renew the license to Rhino Records resulting in Aritsa reissues of the first four Monkees albums on CD as well as the first two Monkees albums on vinyl.

What’s interesting about Arista’s Monkees reissues is that they contained a hodgepodge of sources for the songs as many Monkees master tapes were still MIA at the time.

This resulted in some songs using mono mixes, some stereo mixes and yet others were remixed from scratch.

For “The Monkees” for example, songs like “Saturday’s Child”. “Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Another Day” and “Take a Giant Step” are in mono while “(Theme from) The MONKEES” is in the original stereo mix and “I Wanna Be Free”, “Papa Gene’s Blues”, “This Just Doesn’t Seem to Be My Day”, “I’ll Be True to You” and “Sweet Young Thing” are all new stereo remixes.

The remixes are really fun especially “This Just Doesn’t Seem to Be My Day” which is a much longer mix than any other version available.

Both the Arista CD and vinyl are the same with the same hodgepodge of mixes but the vinyl version is much rarer than the CD version as by the time Arista got around to reissuing it most fans had bought the Rhino version which had a better looking cover as both the CD and vinyl Arista versions look like bad xeroxes of the original cover!

You can still find the Arista “The Monkees” CD from time to time but I rarely see the Arista vinyl issue. The one I found (above) just this past year is a cut-out version as well proving it didn’t sell well at the time.

“The Monkees Greatest Hits”

This album was originally issued in 1976 when one of the first Monkees resurgences in popularity occurred as Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones were successfully touring with Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart creating a renewed demand for Monkees product.

I bought the original vinyl Arista issue in 1976 but until last year I had never bought any other vinyl variation of the album.

I stumbled upon a 1986 or so reissue of the album last year in the shrink wrap for cheap and  thought it would fun to have it on the same label as the other Arista Monkees vinyl from the mid-’80’s.

It has a harder and thinner cardboard cover than the original 1976 vinyl release plus it’s on the mid-”80’s style Arista label with the dark black and blue colors unlike the pale blue 1976 version.

The Arista CD (see above) I own is a Columbia Record Club reissue that contains a mono remix of “A Little Bit Me,  A Little Bit You” but I believe the rest of the mixes on the CD are original stereo mixes from the 1960’s.

The Arista “The Monkees Greatest Hits” CD is out of print but is much easier to find then the other Arista Monkees CD issues especially the first four albums.

I’m not sure how rare this particular Arista vinyl pressing of “The Monkees Greatest Hits” is but I’m guessing it’s one of the last or the last Arista vinyl pressings of the album,

I must say it’s well worth trying to track down the Arista CDs of The Monkees first four albums because the remixes on those CDs are unique and are a really nice alternative listen with several noticeable instrumental and vocal differences.

Well, that’s all for today folks.

Until next time be well and take care and take out some old vinyl!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Real Love – A “Beatles Anthology” CD Single Valentine/A case for The Beatles Reunion Songs

Well, here we are, in February. Again.

A cold February to boot and the shortest and longest month of the year if you know what I mean.

Nothing seems as far away as summer and sun right now but never fear later this week there’s at least some reason for celebration, for the non cynical that is, as Thursday is Valentine’s Day!

And that means hearts and chocolates and Valentine’s cards and … CD singles?

Yes, CD singles. In my world it means another reason to celebrate music and what better way to celebrate than to take a look at some Beatles CD singles.

The two CD singles I’m looking at today came out in 1995 and 1996 and were part of the promotion for the colossally successful Beatles Anthology CD and Television project that reignited huge sales and attention for The Beatles as it featured two new Beatles songs – “Free As a Bird” and “Real Love”.

Both songs started out as demos written and performed by John Lennon solo at a piano in the mid to late 1970’s and both were treated to numerous vocal and instrumental overdubs by the three surviving Beatles to create two final Beatles songs to cap off their career and to publicize and promote their massive Beatles Anthology TV series and accompanying CD sets.

When the news of the three Beatles reuniting to complete the demo of “Free As a Bird”  came out in 1994, fans and music lovers everywhere were beside themselves with anticipation and endlessly debated how this reunion would sound.

At first it was just announced they would do one song but then Beatles fans wondered would there be a whole new album? A new tour? What would it sound like? How would Lennon, who died 14 years previously, sound on a demo that was turned into a full Beatles reunion track?

I can’t speak for anyone else but from the first moments I heard Ringo’s drums announce the arrival of “Free As a Bird” at the tale end of the first episode of The Beatles Anthology on ABC television in November of 1995 I instantly fell in love with the song and thought it was the perfect way to reunite The Beatles.

First off it sounded like The Beatles – the harmonies, the wondrous slide guitar work from George Harrison, the lovely bass from Paul McCartney and Ringo’s steady drums.

Secondly the ghostly Lennon vocal which many have criticized then and now seemed perfectly other worldly and fitting to me. It was so eerie hearing his voice poke out from the music as if he was reaching back into time and this world to rejoin something he had lost and missed.

And the lyrics – “Whatever happened to, the life that we once knew, Can we really live without each other?” – perfect, to me anyway.

The other reunion track, “Real Love“, is also another favorite though not quite as haunting as “Free As a Bird”“Real Love” always seemed to be a wink and a nod to the 1967 era Beatles and is a quite good track with a better sounding, more clear at least, Lennon vocal.

With the clearer Lennon vocal “Real Love” sounds a bit more like a full studio reunion of the Fabs and a quite joyous one that’s also full of superb instrumental and vocal additions from Harrison, McCartney and Starr.

The results are so good that I still hold out hope that someday Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr may complete the third reunion track they worked on, “Now and Then”, but decided to shelve after a couple of sessions work on it.

While I love both tracks there’s something to this day so haunting about “Free As A Bird” that it remains my favorite reunion track and a worthwhile addition to The Beatles recorded canon.

Both of these reunion tracks sound like logical successors to the music from “Abbey Road”, the last album The Beatles recorded together. They sound like The Beatles circa 1995 yet with a touch of 1969 thrown in as well.

Plus those who bought the corresponding CD singles (see above) were treated to exclusive tracks that are well worth tracking down for any true Beatles fan.

The “Free As a Bird” CD single includes nice studio outtakes of “I Saw Her Standing There” and “This Boy” as well as The Beatles 1967 Christmas song “Christmas Time (Is Here Again)”.

The “Real Love” CD single includes a live version of “Baby’s in Black” from the Hollywood Bowl concert in 1965 as well as a remixed version of “Yellow Submarine” featuring a deleted spoken into by Ringo Starr and a lovely outtake of “Here, There and Everywhere” from “Revolver.”

All of these bonus tracks are exclusive to these CD singles (“Baby’s in Black” was finally released on the CD “The Beatles – Live At the Hollywood Bowl” in 2016 but in a different mix) and feature terrific performances that any Beatles fan would want in their collection.

As for “Free As a Bird” and “Real Love”, I know quite a few Beatles fans aren’t fond of the songs and don’t think their genuine Beatles tracks but to me they feature all four Beatles (something that wasn’t the case on several Beatles songs in the 1960’s) and they are the perfect coda to The Beatles career and should be included in Beatles hits collections as they were both hit songs.

The intent by Harrison, McCartney and Starr was to present two new Beatles tracks with all four members that sounded genuine and fit The Beatles legacy. I think they succeeded. They viewed it as if Lennon was just on a break and they were finishing up his tracks in the studio and that’s how the tracks come across to me as finished songs and not gimmicky in the least.

I would love it if the remixed version of both songs that producer Jeff Lynne (who produced both tracks originally) did for the” Beatles 1″ video collection were released with upgraded “Beatles Anthology” sets but at the moment that seems unlikely.

Be that as it may, these reunion songs are perfect for Valentine’s Day as they’re both about love and a celebration of love and what’s better than that! Definitely less fattening than candy.

Take a peek at both the U.S. and U.K. versions of the CD singles for “Free As a Bird” and “Real Love” (above) as well groovy fake gold single record award I found for “Free As a Bird”.

Until next time I hope you survive both Valentine’s Day and the colder weather (depending on where you live) and as always be well and …

TTFN!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey, Hey, We’re The … Definitive Monkees plus a Side of Marks & Spencer

 

 

Welcome again my friends to the blog that never ends … or something like that.

Today I’ve decided to stay on my Monkees kick (it just seems like a Monkees month!) and lo and behold I’m doing another post about some really fun Monkees collections that have come out on CD.

Last time I took a look at two box sets that Rhino Records, who owns The Monkees catalog, put out but today I’m highlighting a couple of sets that were put out in the United Kingdom which feature a nice grab bag of Monkees music from all their big hits to a nice sampling of rarities as well.

These two sets – “The Definitive  Monkees” and “The Monkees – Daydream Believer” – were put out through Rhino’s parent company Warner Brothers Music specifically for the UK and European market.

I know “The Definitive  Monkees” was certainly more available stateside as I remember seeing it at places like Borders Books (sad face they’re gone!) and Best Buy. Even my local library to this day has a copy in their system as well.

As for “The Monkees – Daydream Believer” that was made for Marks & Spencer which I believe is a retail chain in the UK. I am only slightly familiar with the chain and happened to spot this disc in a used store in California a few years ago.

As for the sets themselves, “The Definitive  Monkees” is a super collection that features one disc of hits and prime album tracks plus the deluxe version that I own also includes a really nice bonus disc that highlights several great Monkees outtakes – a sort of “Missing Links” best of collection.

(Note: For those who don’t know, Rhino Records released three “Missing Links” CDs in the 1980’s and 1990’s that featured outtakes from The Monkees 1966-1970 heyday.)

Not only does “The Definitive  Monkees” include all the obvious hit singles but it includes some prime album tracks and b-sides as well like “Take a Giant Step”, “She”, “Sometime in the Morning”, “Forget That Girl”, “Goin’ Down” and “What Am I Doing Hangin’ Round”.

The bonus disc includes quite a few of my all-time favorite lost Monkees tracks including early alternate versions of “Hold on Girl” and “Mr. Webster” as well as the wistful Christmas classic “Riu Chiu”, “Merry Go Round”, “The Crippled Lion”, “Hollywood”, “Apples, Peaches, Bananas and Pears” and “My Share of the Sidewalk” – a terrific outtakes sampler and a really fun listen.

As far as sound goes, I think “The Definitive Monkees” sounds pretty good but as I remember it may be a bit less dynamic then the Rhino US versions but not bad at all. If you’re looking for a nice inexpensive hits plus rarities collection (and you’re still into physical media) this set fits the bill quite nicely!

“The Monkees – Daydream Believer” CD from Marks Spencer also features the hits but surprisingly it also has an odd selection of album tracks that is quite appealing.

Songs like “Hard to Believe”, “Don’t Listen to Linda”, “Through the Looking Glass” and “Early Morning Blues and Greens” rarely feature on a Monkees hits CD so the slightly odd track selection really works as this CD is a great listen and the hits and deep album tracks blend very well making it a really fun collection.

And surprisingly enough I think “The Monkees – Daydream Believer” is actually one of the better sounding Monkees CDs I own. I don’t know why but it just sounds so good and rivals the U.S. Rhino CDs for sound as well as content. I actually prefer it to the main Monkees “Greatest Hits” CD that Rhino put out in the 1990’s.

I’m not sure how rare the “The Monkees – Daydream Believer” CD is but if you find one grab it – it’s a really nice collection for the casual as well as the avid Monkees fan.

Well that’s all for this blog installment.

Happy hunting if you want to try and track these CDs down. I think “The Definitive Monkees” is still readily available but not so sure about The Monkees – Daydream Believer”.

Have a great day and until next time be well and play some music!!!