Meet the Monkees … Again and Again – and Again

Well here we are on a beautiful late summer Saturday. You can feel the Fall weather creeping in with milder temperatures, the air is a little less muggy and Halloween, my favorite time of year, is just around the corner.

And for me this fallish time of year brings back so many memories from the past. Most of them include music naturally, so I thought what better way to begin the Fall season than to take a quite peek at three versions of one of the first albums I ever owned – “The Monkees”.

Ahhhh, The Monkees. It was a television show and a group. I won’t go into the history of the so-called pre-fab four as I have many times in the past but needless to say I’ve acquired many a pressing of this first Monkees album over the years but today I’m just focusing on three.

  • The first pressing mono album with the incorrect spelling of “Papa Jean’s Blues”
  • A 1980’s copy of the album on Arista Records
  • An F.y.e. exclusive blue vinyl copy of the record that came out in 2016

I’d say that all three of these versions of this album are really not that common. The original mono copy can be found but usually not in as nice of condition as the one I own and found a couple of years ago.

I’d say the Arista pressing from the 1980’s is also pretty darn rare and I’ve only come across it once – thus the copy pictured here.

The F.y.e exclusive disc probably isn’t as rare as the first two but fun to have nonetheless so I thought I’d put it here as well in case folks have never seen it.

Here are some quick thoughts after a playing session with each:

The Original Mono pressing

What can I say, this beauty is one great sounding record. I was lucky enough to find a truly wonderful copy of this pressing a couple of years ago and man I must say it sounds fantastic! Both sides have a 2S in the martix in the run-out groove so it’s obviously an early pressing.

Every song on this pressing just pops out of the speakers with a nice punch and clarity and with not a hint of sibilance that I’ve often found on old Colgems pressings.

Luckily the record hasn’t been played to death and just smokes any other mono version of the album I own on either vinyl or CD.

I must say this album sounds great in either mono or stereo but this early pressing is really nice sounding if you can find one in decent shape.

The Arista Pressing

I wasn’t too sure how I’d like the sound of this pressing when I finally stumbled on a copy recently in my travels – pre-Covid travels I might add.

The cover looks absolutely terrible and looks as if Arista photocopied a Rhino copy and just tried to clean it up a bit making it look even worse in the process.

Now the reason this album is on the Arista label is that Rhino Records had licensed The Monkees entire catalog from Arista in 1985 through 1987 and of course when The Monkees made a spectacular comeback into the public  eye Rhino Records sold a ton of Monkees albums to new and old fans alike.

Well Arista decided to start issuing their own versions of The Monkees catalog beginning with the first four Monkees albums on CD as well as the first two on vinyl.

These Arista versions of these albums contained a weird mixture of mono and stereo mixes as well as some new remixes of songs as at the time quite a few of The Monkees original masters were still MIA.

The Arista vinyl version “The Monkees” matches it CD cousin and contains the same collection of mixes and I was pleasantly surprised at just how darn good this record sounded when I plopped in my turntable.

I’d say it sounds even better than it’s CD twin with a nice full sound and lovely bass and the remixed tracks really shine on this pressing as well.

The vinyl is dead quiet and I’d say this may be the best sounding vinyl version of the stereo album I own – it’s that good.

I believe the Arista CD versions of the albums sold okay but apparently their vinyl versions of the first two Monkees albums sold poorly and were quickly destined for the cut-out bins (see photos above for a cut-out slice in the cover).

The F.y.e pressing

The F.y.e blue vinyl exclusive pressing of “The Monkees” came out in 2016 as part of all the 50th Anniversary Monkees celebrations and is the same mastering as the colored vinyl copy that came out as part of the Classic Album Collection on Rhino Records.

I have to say that while not quite as good sounding as the Arista pressing it’s not bad actually. Side 2 sounds better to me than Side 1 but overall it’s a nice pressing – very quiet with good dynamics  – but nice quite a smooth and lively as the Arista pressing.

Well, there you have it. Just a little bit of Monkees nostalgia to get your three-day weekend going. (It’s the Labor Day holiday here in the States on Monday).

As usual you can take a gander above and below at these three unique pressings of The Monkees first platter. And vinyl is really the way to go with this album as that’s how I listened to this music for years and that’s what always feels right when I listen to this music to this day.

I hope all is well and safe in your world and until next time go out and enjoy the sunshine if you have it and sneak in some music if you can as well.