Christmas in July, that’s what it feels like – at least for this Monkees fan anyway.
What am I talking about? You see a division of Warner Brothers Music called Run Out Groove, http://www.runoutgroovevinyl.com, that produces limited edition vinyl reissues of classic rock, pop, soul and jazz albums has just this past Friday reissued a superb 2 LP vinyl set of one of my all-time favorite albums entitled simply “The Monkees” by the iconic TV and music sensation The Monkees.
Actually truth be told this reissue has been a long time coming in many ways. It was announced in the fall of 2020 that pre-orders were being taken for this new set to hopefully be manufactured and produced by the spring of 2021.
Well with Covid rearing its ugly head there have been several production delays producing any vinyl records, let alone this set, this past year or so which has delayed the eventual release of this set by several months.
Suffice to say that after having received a black vinyl copy of this lovely 2 LP set this weekend I say that the wait has been totally worth it!
This not the first time at the rodeo, so to speak, for this particular album being reissued on vinyl or CD.
In fact this new 2 LP set is one of several reissues of this album to hit store shelves over the years including a partially remixed issue on CD by Arista in the late 1980s as well as a terrific reissue of the original mix of the album with bonus tracks on Rhino Records in 1994 and the crème de la crème 3 CD Super Deluxe Edition box set reissue of “The Monkees” through Rhino Handmade in 2014.
So what does this new 2 LP reissue have that the other reissues lack you may ask? Let me tell you.
First off I have to say that everything about this new reissue has been done right with an attention to detail that shows all the love and care the team that produced this set has for the group and the album itself.
From the sturdy and shiny cardboard cover that contains the clearest photo reproduction of the cover (front and back) I’ve ever seen to the great four page insert with absolutely superb liner notes by Andrew Sandoval (who also produced this new reissue as well as being credited with mixing and audio restoration) to the super quiet and flat new pressings of the album along with the best take on the old Colgems label that has ever been done since the original Colgems album releases of the 1960s, this reissue shines in every way.
But the thing that REALLY stands out about this new 2 LP vinyl set is the sound.
In my humble opinion this is the best this album and its accompanying bonus tracks have ever sounded – period! And trust me I own and have heard all the previous reissues of this material.
Esteemed audio mastering engineer Kevin Gray remastered this collection and I have to say the results are stunning! The bass on this set is so nice and so full bodied sounding. It doesn’t overwhelm yet is so present and clear that it’s truly amazing how the bass now floats out of the speakers with a richness I’ve never heard before on these tracks.
The vocals also sound just right with a presence and fullness that was not even captured on the best Colgems pressings from the 1960s. Though I must say that original Colgems pressings were hit or miss as far as sound was concerned. Some that I own sound really sweet but many of them have sibilance issues on certain tracks and a decisive lack of bass especially noticeable on any original pressing of “The Monkees”.
Plus the many bonus tracks on the second disc of this set also sound as good as I’ve ever heard them. The ones that have been previously released by Rhino Records on CD all sound much more in line with the original mixes of the album proper giving them a much more genuine ’60s sound. All the newly remixed tracks now blend in much better with the sound of the original album.
(Note: This new set uses the original stereo 1966 mixes for the album proper, only some of the bonus tracks contain remixes).
The bonus tracks are also sequenced so well that this new 2 LP set makes the perfect presentation of this album and I would now say that this 2 LP version is my preferred way of listening to this album. In fact I will now consider “The Monkees” a double album from now on as the bonus tracks are so good that they should have seen the light of day in the ’60s as some are superior songs to the ones that got released at the time.
The newly unreleased bonus tracks for this set – “I Don’t Think You Know Me” (2014 remix), “So Goes Love” (2020 remix), “I Can’t Get Her Off Of My Mind” (2014 remix), “( I Prithee) Do Not Ask for Love” (2020 remix) and “I Wanna Be Free” (Demo – Take 5) – all sound superb with all but the last one now the definitive sounding mixes of these tracks. There’s also a previously unreleased radio spot on Side 3 that features all four Monkees that’s a treat to hear.
I’ve always enjoyed the new remixes of Monkees tracks that has become common place especially on the Super Deluxe Rhino box sets but the remixes here sound less compressed than the CD issues and more in line with how the original mixes sounded making them a total pleasure to hear and absorb.
Really I can’t think of anything this new 2 LP set doesn’t do right. It is now by far my go to way of hearing this album and I so, so hope that the team that produced this treasure will work it’s way through The Monkees catalog (The Monkees second album “More of the Monkees” may be around the corner) so that all of their 1960s albums at least can be reproduced with such care and love both visually and aurally.
Seeing as how this new 2 LP set is very limited, only 6536 copies worldwide are being produced, if you’re a fan of this album and you still own a turntable then you owe it to yourself to try and hunt down and copy and add it to your collection pronto.
I find it impossible to imagine anyone being disappointed in any way by the quality in both sound and presentation of this new 2 LP vinyl set. Here’s hoping that a CD reissue may one day be on the horizon for those physical music fans who don’t do vinyl but unfortunately I think that’s not likely to happen.
Well that’s all for today. As usual you can find some pictures of this groovy new set above and below.
Until next time be well and more to come soon!