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!!!












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