I have to say it’s so nice to have a burst of aural sunlight to dissipate at least some of the gloom in the world at the moment.
Yesterday a brand new Monkees CD came out entitled “The Monkees Live – The Mike & Micky Show” which goes a long way to help restore my fractured and jagged nerves.
This new album/CD chronicles The Monkees most recent live tour in 2019 which features the two surviving members of The Monkees, Mike Nesmith and Micky Dolenz, as they explode through a set of over 25 classic Monkees songs.
Featuring the group’s biggest hits along with a nice sampling of deep cuts long-time fans have clamored for decades to hear live this new CD is a treat not only for those loyal fans but I can’t really imagine any casual fans being disappointed either.
I happen to have seen the very first leg this tour in 2018 in Ohio right before Mike Nesmith had open heart surgery and I was so impressed not only by the performances but by the stellar set list as well as the fantastic band.
Having seen many a Monkees live performance in my day, I had my doubts about seeing the show as I wasn’t sure how it would sound without Peter Tork or Davy Jones but after just a couple of songs into the show I was so blown away by the music and performances that this presentation easy nestles in my Top Two Monkees performances ever.
Unfortunately the 2018 tour was cut short by Mike Nesmith’s health woes but as fate would have it The Mike & Micky Show picked up again in 2019 after Nesmith had successfully recovered from surgery and the results of that tour have finally made it onto CDs and streaming services worldwide.
What can I say about this CD? Well if I had to pick one word it would be … fantastic.
First off the sound is stellar. Christian Nesmith, Nesmith’s oldest son as well as band member, did a terrific job mixing these performances. The mix is such that you feel as if you are right onstage with the group as they perform.
The band is exceptional and the crisp, clean mix only highlights their musicianship as well as the vocals by not only Dolenz and Nesmith but the enchanting background vocals (which feature Micky’s Dolenz’ sister Coco as well as Christian Nesmith’s wife Circe) that really make these songs take flight.
Speaking of vocals, as much as I enjoyed the 2018 version of this show I have to say how much more dynamic and passionate Mike Nesmith’s vocals come across on this CD. His performances here are some of the best I’ve heard him sound on any live Monkees performance.
If you go back even to the 1960’s Monkees live recordings they had a tendency not to capture Nesmith’s vocals very well. In fact the fantastic 1968 live performance of “Circle Sky” from the film “HEAD” had re-recorded vocals as he live vocal was really murky.
There have been several Monkees live albums from the “Live 1967” Lp though the various releases from the 1980’s through 2000’s but believe it or not “The Monkees Live – The Mike & Micky Show” is the first Monkees live tour that was purposely intended to be captured as an album thus the close detail to all aspects of the sound.
From the mix to the right performances from the group to the unbelievable setlist “The Monkees Live – The Mike & Micky Show” for me wins hands down as the definitive presentation of The Monkees music as a live recording. You can listen to it over and over and find it more than just a quicky document of a tour, it’s a true album.
Highlights of the disc are almost too numerous to mention but I’ll have a go anyway.
I’m one of those weirdo die-hard fans that have been itching to hear some really deep Monkees songs in a live setting so it’s no surprise that the deep cuts were the first things I played.
Songs like “You Told Me”, “Sweet Young Thing” (in an arrangement that matches the original studio version!) and especially “The Door Into Summer” and the magnificent “Auntie’s Municipal Court” are just thrilling to hear.
Not only does Nesmith really nail the vocals on all these songs but the arrangements of these lend a nice touch of Nesmith’s 1970’s country languidness that really gives these songs a freshness that breathes new life into them. And as usual Dolenz as well sings like he’s thirty years younger than he is – he sounds just great as always.
And I have to go on record that “The Door Into Summer” may now be my all-time favorite Monkees live performance as the vocals are just so good it almost surpasses the original studio version in my humble opinion.
Other gems include the newer material from 2016’s “Good Times!” album, the superb “Me & Magdalena” and “Birth of An Accidental Hipster”, as well as the lovely new acoustic reading of the 1968 classic “Tapioca Tundra” (the flip-side of the “Valleri” 45) which I feel rings so much more emotion from the song that I may prefer it to the studio cut.
And I must say that the live version of “Circle Sky” though not quite as intoxicating as the live 1968 group performance has one of the best Nesmith live vocals I’ve ever heard – simply amazing.
Even the tried and true songs like “Last Train to Clarksville” and “I’m a Believer” sound pretty darn fresh which is saying something as they’ve been on every live recording the group has ever put out.
Needless to say I’m just thrilled with this CD. And I have to say that you really need to listen to this album on a real old fashioned stereo set-up as it just sounds so wonderful and full.
While waiting for the CD to arrive in the mail yesterday I previewed some cuts online and while they sounded just fine they simply explode from my vintage 1970’s speakers with a warmth as well as punch that simply is a marvel to enjoy.
As usual I’ve posted some pictures above of the new CD as well as some photos from the Huber Heights, OH concert I had the pleasure of attending in 2018.
Search this live set out be it CD or online, you won’t be disappointed.
That’s all for now.
Until next time be well and safe and healthy!!!