Well, it’s been a bit since I’ve stepped back into this blog world but the day after stuffing myself at Thanksgiving seemed to be the perfect time to say hello.
And of course today is also Black Friday which also happens to be Record Store Day Black Friday so that’s REALLY something to celebrate.
The main Record Store Day takes place in April of every year but today’s little brother off-shoot also offers plenty of indie record store exclusives and for Beatles and Monkees fans it offers two really interesting goodies: a double 45 colored vinyl set by The Monkees called “Christmas Party Plus!” and a groovy picture disc 45 of two brand new Paul McCartney songs called “Home Tonight”/”In a Hurry”.
Luckily, I managed to stroll right into my local record store about ten minutes after they opened this morning and right away scored both discs!
Here’s what I found:
The Monkees “Christmas Party Plus!”:
Now if you’re going to go to the trouble of offering exclusive content for Record Store Day, Rhino Records (who owns The Monkees catalog) did it right!
This lovely colored vinyl double set comes in a nice and sturdy mini-Lp sleeve that looks just like the full album cover for last year’s Monkees release “Christmas Party”. I LOVE the mini sleeve and the green and red discs look and play superb (not a pop to be had)!
I reviewed that album last year and I must say it’s really grown into one of my favorite Monkees releases.
Disc 1 of this set this new plus edition includes a new radio mix of the song “Unwrap You At Christmas” which is making it’s first appearance on physical media, It was released online as a download last year but here sounds much better as it’s not as hot or compressed as the download version and is much easier on the ears.
I love this remix though truth be told it’s not dramatically different from the album version but fun nonetheless.
The flip side of Disc 1 contains a charming demo version of the song by Andy Partridge and features vocals by a Holly Partridge which I”m guessing must be his wife.
This demo is in nice sounding stereo and pretty much sounds like The Monkees version but is so good by itself that I may add it to my Christmas playlist as it’s really well done and a nice bonus to have even though there’s not a Monkee in sight.
Disc 2 contains the superb “Riu Chiu” from The Monkees 1967 Christmas episode which feature acapella vocals form all four Monkees. This version doesn’t sound much different from the version on the vinyl Lp but is always fun to hear as this may be one of the best vocal performances the group ever did.
The true highlight of this new Plus! edition is the inclusion (finally!) of the original 1976 mix of “Christmas is My Time of Year” which features Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones and Peter Tork and produced by famed Monkees producer Chip Douglas.
This 1976 mix features drumming by Eddie Hoe who played on many 1967 Monkees tracks and while the drums are not as pronounced in the mix and the remix version of this which is available on the Target CD version of “Christmas Party” this 1976 sounds much more like a vintage Monkees track and is much superior to the remix.
I’m not sure if this 1976 mix is taken from master tape as it sounds a little less dynamic than the remix version (a likely reason Rhino has used the remix version) but it sounds really good and is much better than the old cassette bootleg version I own which is resson to celebrate.
All in all a great release and well worth tracking down one of the limited 5000 of this set that were pressed.
Paul McCartney – “Home Tonight””In a Hurry”
Well what can I say, two brand new Paul McCartney tracks on an exclusive picture disc – what’s not to love!
These two new tracks were supposedly recorded during the sessions for McCartney’s “Egypt Station” album which came out last year and were available last week as downloads.
Both songs are making their physical media debut on this 45 and surprisingly sound great on this disc and are a bit smoother sounding on vinyl than the download versions.
Picture discs are notorious for their less than stellar sound but this disc was really super quiet and though there was a trace of rumble before the music started for the most part both of these songs sound just great here and are well worth owning.
Honestly I love both of these songs but “In a Hurry” is currently my favorite of the two so far. It’s a shame these two tracks weren’t on the “Egypt Station” album as they are much more enjoyable than say “Come On to Me” and “Fuh You” and would have made the album much stronger in their place.
These two new songs sound much more like vintage McCartney and less modern than the two songs I just mentioned which is probably why they didn’t make the album proper but they are light and breezy and melodic as hell which in my book is what I associate with McCartney’s best work and they are a joy to listen to and this lovely picture disc is a welcome release for them.
Well there you have it. Happy Black Friday shopping if you’re out and about in the crowds. If you’re a record fan and are lucky enough to have an independent record store in your area that participates in Record Store Day then you might want to try and track these two new groovy releases down.
Until next time be well and Happy Holidays!!!