It’s hard to believe (sorry, I couldn’t resist – Monkees fans will get it) that it’s nearly one full month into 2022 and this is my first blog post of the year.
What can I say, it’s been a weird start to the year already (thank you Covid) but since my birthday happened to be last week (January 14) and by coincidence there also happened to be a new vinyl reissue of one of my all-time favorite albums I thought I would buy a copy and share my thoughts on it as my first post of 2022.
This past January 14th Rhino Records released a new stereo pressing of The Monkees’ fourth album, and I’d say their overall best, “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd” as part of their “Start Your Ear Off Right” series for 2022.
This spiffy new pressing comes on lovely translucent green vinyl and features the original Colgems logo on the cover as well as the typical Rhino recreation of the original red and white Colgems record label (see photos above).
Now as many of you who may read this blog know I am somewhat of a Monkees fan, to say the least, so needless to say I already own a copy or two of the “Pisces” album. Not only do I own the original ’60s’ stereo and mono Colgems pressings but I also happen to have original RCA German and UK stereo copies as well as a 1980s Japanese Arista repressing along with the various Rhino Records and Friday Music vinyl reissues from the 1980s onward.
So what drove me to buy yet another copy of this terrific album you may ask? Well, if you’ve read this blog at all in the past you wouldn’t even ask that lol but this new reissue did come out on my birthday and it does come with such a nice cover reproduction and a such groovy looking colored vinyl that I bit the bullet and purchased it.
(Note: there really is no logic to a collector’s mentality so if you’re seeking logic go elsewhere)
Now that I own the vinyl and have given it a through listen, what do I think?
First off this new vinyl pressing is dead quiet. I mean there’s not one pop or crackle to be had from the first notes of the opening track “Salesman” to the last fading beeps and whistles of the closing song “Star Collector”. So pressing quality rates a solid “A”.
I’d also have to rate the cover reproduction as a solid “A” as well as it looks great and the back cover photos are reproduced very nicely and Rhino gets a bonus for using the original Colgems label as least on the front cover of the jacket.
Now as for the most important part, how does this new pressing sound?
Well frankly it sounds great! There’s a nice rich sound to the bass on all the tracks without being overblown and the vocals as well and all the subtle percussion touches really shine. Songs like Davy’s “Hard to Believe” and Mike’s “Don’t Call on Me” both have such nice percussion elements that really float out from the speakers sounding nice and crisp – really it’s an impressive sounding disc.
Now I have to say that most time these days I listen to both vinyl and CDs from a small system I put together that consists of an older 1991 Sony Receiver (with a loudness button – love that feature) and vintage 1970s Sony speakers that have 12-inch woofers as well as a decent Audio-Technica manual turntable that is no means high-end but fits my needs perfectly.
This smaller system sounds a bit more vintage to me and tames the sound of some of the hotter new remasters as the bass these old Sony speakers puts out isn’t quite as in your face as newer or more high-end gear so while I think this new vinyl sounds just great on this system if you have a high-end system I’m not sure if you would have the same results – just an fyi. My older fifty-something ears really appreciate a system that sounds a bit more vintage.
Is this pressing taken from the original Colgems stereo master? Sounds like it to me. It’s definitely the original 1967 stereo mix and it just sounds so full and rich that it must be from the original master that Monkees archivist and manager Andrew Sandoval found for one of his Rhino CD reissues.
(Note 2: I forget when the original master was finally located but I think it was around the time of the release of the double Rhino CD “The Monkees Anthology” in 1998. I seem to remember the “Pisces’ tracks on that CD set were the first time they were issued from the original master since the 1960s)
So I would definitely give the mastering from this new vinyl reissue a solid “A” as well.
Is this new reissue from an analog or digital source? I don’t know for sure but I’m guessing it’s probably from the digital master the came from a CD reissue as it is a bit louder in volume than some of the analog reissues I’ve heard but it also sounds so good that I wouldn’t be shocked it was from analog but I kind of doubt Rhino would go to the trouble and expense of a new analog transfer but whatever the case this new reissue sounds superb.
In fact the only flaw I heard on the entire album was a bit of sibilance on Micky’s first vocal appearance on the song “Words”. It lasted just a couple of seconds so it didn’t ruin the song but it was there for sure.
Other than that this new vinyl pressing sounded so good I want to play it again. Honestly I would say it’s one of the better sounding pressings I’ve ever heard of the album. If the original Colgems pressings were this quiet I may opt for the original stereo pressing as the best source for this album but this new reissue is no slouch sound wise that’s for sure.
Oh and the only other interesting things about this new reissue is the odd addition of Leiber and Stoiler to the songwriting credits of “She Hangs Out” (wth?!!, I’ve never seen that one before) and the fact that this new reissue was made in Argentina. I’ve also not seen many pressings come from Argentina but if they sound as good as this one bring more Argentina pressings please!
For those who are interested, here is the matrix info for this new pressing (this may be the same mastering as the 2016 Classic Albums Rhino vinyl box of this album):
Side 1 – R1-552706-G
G1 then symbol that looks like a chair with an S in it then 25446.1(3)…
Side 2- R1-552706-H
G1 then symbol that looks like a chair with an S in it then 25446.2(3)…
Well, there you have it Monkees fans. If you’re a fan of the group or this album in particular and are seeking a decent vinyl copy of this album then you certainly can’t go wrong purchasing this lovely new translucent green Rhino pressing.
If you’re an old-time Monkees fan like me do you really need this?
Probably not but it really does sound nice and isn’t as overpriced as the recent Friday Music mono pressing of this album that came out a few months ago. I tend to avoid Friday Music vinyl as it usually doesn’t sound as good as Rhino pressings.
Besides this new stereo Rhino reissue is ten dollars cheaper than the Friday Music offering so if you decide to get a great sounding colored vinyl pressing of “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd” I would personally opt for the Rhino pressing unless you need a copy of the mono mix and can’t find a decent 1967 mono pressing.
That’s all for now folks! See you next time and until then be well and I hope you’re having a great new year so far!