A Compact Disc from the 1980s – In Honor of Barbra Streisand at 80

Time does have a way of sneaking up on you.

Yesterday legendary singer/actress/director/producer Barbra Streisand turned eighty years old and I must say it kind of rattled me for a second.

If Streisand was turning eighty then that means all of her work that I loved most, especially her run of albums from from 1980-1985, must be over or near forty years old. I know I’ve said it before but how on earth can it be over forty years since I first discovered the wonderful Barbra Streisand?!!

(Note: I should probably rename this blog “How on Earth Can It Be?” since all of my favorite music and artists are getting really old and that phrase pops up a lot on here. Oh well, I still love them anyway.)

Of course I knew of Streisand’s work in the 1960s and 70s, I had heard her songs on the radio and had even seen the movie “The Way We Were” on TV, but it wasn’t until 1980 and the release of her “Guilty” album that I actually started buying any of her records.

From 1980 onward every new album Barbra Streisand released managed to make it way into my collection whether it be on vinyl or CD. The “Guilty” album started me on a journey through Streisand’s career that eventually encompassed all of the musical work she has released since 1963.

And that leads me to the focus of today’s post.

In honor of Barbra Streisand turning 80 I thought I’d share with you a CD I recently found of one of her best albums, and one of my personal favorites, “The Broadway Album” which was released in 1985.

As the Covid situation has lessened I have been able to go back out antiquing again (one of my favorite hobbies) and I happened to come across this CD at an antique store still in its longbox. I haven’t seen a sealed CD in its original longbox since the early 1990s so this was a real time machine experience for me.

(Note 2 : Folks who’ve read this blog know that for a few years in the late 1980s and early 1990s CDs were made available to purchase in longboxes. The longbox was a way music retailers could shelve CDs in sections that had previously been used to display vinyl. I have shown many example of longboxes I still own on this blog and if you care to see them type in the word “longbox” in the search on this blog to get a glimpse at a few of them)

The fact that this longbox CD was “The Broadway Album” made it all the better and since the price was right and I had never seen, or don’t remember, the longbox that originally accompanied this album purchasing this CD was a no-brainer for me.

Now I must confess that I already own “The Broadway Album” on compact disc. I have a first issue U.S. CD pressing of the album that was made in Japan (see photos below) but I didn’t buy the album on CD initially as my first copy of the album was on vinyl.

I didn’t really start buying CDs until sometime in 1986 but I still remember fondly listening to this album on vinyl and looking at the inner lyric sleeve plus bonus liner insert as I played the record. You just don’t get the same experience of an album without the larger format album covers and inner sleeves, etc.

Truth be told I may actually prefer the sound of my vinyl copy but the CD issue is what I mainly reach for whenever I get the urge to play it.

I was wondering if the CD inside this new version I found in the longbox would be an early issue made in Japan. I know that the earliest CDs that were sold from say the 1983 to 1985 time frame were made available in what they called blister packs which were made of a hard plastic that had no artwork it was just a clear packing that held the CD and it’s jewel case.

In fact the first three CDs I ever bought were in these blister type packs and all three of those CDs were made in Japan. And naturally the first three CDs I ever purchased were by Paul McCartney – shocker I know.

The reason I like the earlier CDs made in Japan is that they are generally better made than modern CDs and the mastering is usually the same as what was made for the vinyl issue making them sound better than later CD issues of these albums.

I knew that odds were this longbox version may not be the earliest CD pressing of this album and of course since my curiosity won out I opened the longbox to make sure.

As you can see from the photos above this CD isn’t an early issue and was probably manufactured I’m guessing around 1987 to 1989 from the looks of the matrix information. This version does indeed sound nice and sounds like a slightly louder mastering than my early made in Japan CD which I think may sound a tad better but this disc is no slouch in the sound department that’s for sure.

Somewhere I have a remastered version of this album that came out around 2002 or so but I don’t really like the sound of that particular version. It sounds too hot and kind of clips in spots. It’s not a terrible sounding disc but I much prefer the earlier CD issues of this album as they are warmer and more dynamic to my ears.

Well anyway that’s all I have for now. I wanted to celebrate Barbra turning 80 the only way I know how by looking at her music in some of the formats that I own it on.

As usual you can see photos above and below of the various versions I own of “The Broadway Album”. The top section of photos highlight my recent longbox CD find while the bottom photos highlight my vinyl copy as well as the made in Japan copy I found as a used CD a few years after I bought the album on vinyl in 1985.

Until next time be safe and well and hopefully see you soon and Happy Birthday Barbra!

More Monkees to Love – Run Out Groove Hits Another Home Run with Their New “More of the Monkees” 2LP Vinyl Reissue

It’s been a couple of good years recently for all things Monkees related at least as far as new releases and concerts are concerned.

With the recent (and excellent) “Micky Dolenz Celebrates The Monkees” mini-tour just this past month not to mention last year’s “The Monkees Farewell Tour”, featuring Micky Dolenz and Mike Nesmith, plus the stupendous “The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story” expanded book reissue by Andrew Sandoval in 2021 as well as Run Out Groove’s 2 LP vinyl reissue of “The Monkees” also in 2021 it’s been quite a time to be a Monkees fan – with some exceptions.

The biggest exception of course was the death of Mike Nesmith this past December. Nesmith’s death cast a major pale on all future Monkees activities as there is now only one surviving Monkee left, Micky Dolenz, to carry the torch for the group’s legacy.

The fact that such high quality new releases and concerts are even happening at all now is a very healing thing for most Monkees fans and a welcome mental balm for the realization that time is indeed ticking on faster and faster with each passing year and soon The Monkees will be a complete thing of the past.

BUT not all is doom and gloom this week my friends. A couple of days ago I happened to receive a most groovy and superb new 2LP vinyl numbered reissue of The Monkees biggest selling album “More of the Monkees” from 1967.

The “More of the Monkees” album spent 18 weeks at the number one position on the Billboard Top 200 charts at the beginning of 1967 while managing to also sell a whopping five million copies+ in the process. Looking back those kind of numbers are truly remarkable and show just how popular the so-called “pre-fab” four were for a time in the late 1960s.

So how does this new Run Out Groove reissue of “More of the Monkees” stand up in comparison to previous reissues of this classic album? In a word: marvelously.

First off much like last year’s Run Out Groove reissue of “The Monkees” this new 2 LP version of “More of the Monkees” is a total quality product from start to finish. The artwork, the packaging, the song selection, the mastering (done by the esteemed Kevin Grey) and even the record labels are done with such care and precision that I doubt you ever find a more lovingly put together reissue of this album.

The main album itself on the first disc in this set is a wonderful remaster of the original stereo mix from 1967. Having played this first album a couple of times I can say that for sure this new mastering is really well done but the limitations of the original stereo mix are also very apparent as well.

The original 1967 stereo mix had a lot of brightness baked into the mix and at higher volumes this new remaster can sound a bit brittle and edgy. I found that for this first disc if I kept the sound a tad bit lower in volume the brightness wasn’t too much of an issue. In fact the album now sounds a bit more punk and/or grungy which gives it a bit more rockier feel than the original Colgems vinyl from 1967.

I will say though that the bass and vocals really shine on this new remaster so while this new reissue isn’t as sonically pleasing as the 2021 Run Out Groove reissue of “The Monkees” the fault lies not in the mastering which is overall superb but the original mix itself.

The second disc features a nice selection of unreleased outtakes and mixes that didn’t come out during the 1960s. This amazing disc contains stereo and mono mixes of songs that for the most part are actually better than several of the songs that did make it onto the original “More of the Monkees” album.

(Note: Not only is the track selection great but the sound really improves on this second disc with no hint of the brightness or edginess of the first disc. Of course these outtakes and remixes didn’t get treated to the same amount of bouncing, etc. that the original album mix did and several of these mixes on disc two are fresh remixes from the multi-tracks which helps to improve the sound).

Take a look at the track listing of disc two:

Side 1:

  1. Apples, Peaches, Bananas and Pears (stereo) 2:18
  2. Don’t Listen To Linda (2017 stereo remix) 2:29
  3. I’ll Be Back Up On My Feet (first recorded version) 2:38
  4. Of You (mono mix) 1:58
  5. I Don’t Think You Know Me (second recorded version – mono mix) 2:20
  6. Words (first recorded version – mono TV mix) 2:49
  7. Valleri (first recorded version – mono TV mix) 2:32

Side 2:

  1. Through The Looking Glass (first recorded version – 2017 stereo remix) 2:34
  2. I Never Thought It Peculiar (mono TV mix) 2:13
  3. Tear Drop City (1966 mono mix) 2:18
  4. Hold On Girl (first recorded version – 2017 stereo remix 2:46
  5. I’ll Spend My Life With You (first recorded version – 2017 stereo remix) 2:32
  6. Mr. Webster (first recorded version – 2017 stereo remix) 2:52
  7. (I Prithee) Do Not Ask For Love (first recorded version – 2017 stereo remix) 3:18

Honestly if you kept this second discs lineup but  swiped out “Apples, Peaches, Bananas and Pears”, “Don’t Listen To Linda”, “I Never Thought It Peculiar” and “Of You” and replaced them with “She”, “Sometime in the Morning”, “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” and “I’m a Believer” you’d have an even stronger and improved “More of the Monkees” album.

Actually though there’s not a bad song in the bunch on this second disc so it would really be hard to decide which version of “More of the Monkees” would be best so I’m glad that at least now we have what amounts to another new Monkees 1967 album that is every bit equal to and in some ways superior to the first two Monkees albums that did get released.

And of course the liner notes on this new reissue of “More of the Monkees” are some of the best liner notes on any issue of this album that I’ve ever seen. Monkees manager and historian Andrew Sandoval, who also cut the disc along with Kevin Grey, put a lot of new details from recently discovered court documents from the 1960s from The Monkees themselves that really illuminate what was going on behind the scenes during the making of this album.

A lot of drama and friction between the group and the powers that be (Don Kirshner, Colgems Records, Bert Schneider and Bob Rafelson) are detailed in these notes and really make for a powerful and entertaining read as you listen to the discs. Since a lot of these interviews, especially from Jones and Nesmith, feature new details about the recording process for the first few Monkees discs this new reissue is truly a wonderful peak behind the curtains of the pop world of LA circa 1966/67.

I have to say with the results this good I’m praying that several more, if not all, of the original Monkees albums get this deluxe vinyl treatment as these two Run Out Groove albums now stand as the final word in sound and packaging for these first two Monkees albums – they are truly that good!

As you can tell I’m very pleased with this new reissue of “More of the Monkees” and can’t say enough how good it is and any Monkees fan out there who likes this album and is reading this should run to your local indie record store, if you have one, as they may have the black vinyl version of this album in stock.

(Note 2: The version of the new Run Out Groove “More of the Monkees” vinyl set featured in this blog is the green vinyl version that was exclusive to the Run Out Groove Website and is now sold out)

So there you have it! A terrific new Monkees reissue has hit the shelves and has now landed happily on my own shelf and my turntable as well.

As usual you can see photos of this new reissue of “More of the Monkees” above and below.

Hopefully they’ll be some other new groovy Monkees reissues to spotlight in the near future as Andrew Sandoval has hinted on his Facebook and Instagram feeds. Hint: it has something to do with The Monkees “Headquarters” album/sessions.

Until next time be safe and well and enjoy the warmer weather and may you have a happy door into summer (Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Monkees fans will get it).

See you round these parts soon!

Micky Dolenz Celebrates The Monkees Legacy with a Terrific Performance at the Brown County Music Center – April 8th, 2022

As I’ve said before, some things are better late than never. Today that sentiment is never more true as I reflect on a concert I saw this past Friday. Normally I would have posted my thoughts sooner but I was traveling and not really near a computer and then time slipped away from me so as the saying goes … well, you know.

Now I know it may not come as any big surprise to readers of this blog but I happen to like The Monkees (yes, that’s an understatement lol). So, with that said, what better way to usher in seeing live shows again (I haven’t been to a live show since Covid began in 2020) than with a Monkees show?

A Monkees show you say? I thought there was only one Monkee left? Well you’d be correct as the only surviving Monkee (drummer and singer Micky Dolenz) is doing a short 2022 tour performing a show called “Micky Dolenz Celebrates The Monkees” and that certainly isn’t a Monkees show. Or is it?

I must say after having just seen “Micky Dolenz Celebrates The Monkees” I can attest that this show truly felt like a Monkees concert. I have to state up front that I’m no stranger to seeing The Monkees live. I’ve seen various configurations of the group seventeen times as well as seeing Micky Dolenz perform solo twice, including this past Friday, and trust me when I say this felt like being at a Monkees show.

This “Micky Dolenz Celebrates The Monkees” show is being produced by long-time Monkees historian and manager Andrew Sandoval, who also produced that last several Monkees tours, so of course it has the same feel as many of The Monkees shows since 2011 when Sandoval became actively involved with producing Monkees shows.

Not only were several Monkees songs performed that didn’t originally carry a Dolenz vocal but there were several lovely video montages of each group member (Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork in case you forgot) plus ample clips from “The Monkees” TV show itself as well as their movie “HEAD”. There were also several previously unseen video gems from Dolenz’ archive including some spectacular footage of The Monkees live in 1967!

All four Monkees were everywhere in the theater throughout the night as Dolenz guided the audience through some of the musical highlights of the group’s catalog.

Of course since Micky Dolenz is the lone surviving Monkee naturally this show couldn’t be billed as a Monkees performance but with all the video footage and undiscovered music played in the hall (Sandoval dug up some truly wonderful unheard audio gems especially from Davy and Mike) while Dolenz wasn’t on stage this is as close as you can get to a live Monkees experience.

You get to hear and see each of the other three Monkees so much throughout the evening that at times you feel as if they’ve just left the stage for a quick break and will be back soon. The pacing of the show was excellent and the video tributes were so well done that I was left with the feeling of being with all four Monkees instead of just one.

The set list for “Micky Dolenz Celebrates The Monkees” was excellent touching on all the familiar Monkees hits while adding enough choice album cuts to make it interesting for this long-time Monkees fan.

(Note: To see Micky Dolenz complete set list for the Brown County Music Center show go here: https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/micky-dolenz/2022/brown-county-music-center-nashville-in-7bb68ecc.html)

While the Monkee maniac in me would have loved to hear more obscure songs like “Tear Drop City”, “Mommy and Daddy” or even “Shorty Blackwell” (can you imagine how that would sound live?) overall the set hit all the right notes. Plus Dolenz sang so damn well that even the familiar hits sounded fresh and lively which is quite a feat as I’ve heard them live several times.

The big Monkees hits “Pleasant Valley Sunday” and Dolenz sung versions of “Valleri” and “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” were joined by wonderfully faithful versions of “Take a Giant Step” (the b-side of “Last Train to Clarksville“) and “I’ll Spend My Life with You” (from the “Headquarters” album) as well as a sublime version of “Can You Dig It?” (from the film and soundtrack of The Monkees film “HEAD”) which had been sung in concert for years by writer Peter Tork but was originally sung on record by Dolenz.

I’d have to say the highlight of the evening for me was the second set right after intermission when Dolenz hit his stride with truly magnificent versions of “Porpoise Song (Theme from “HEAD”)”, “I’ll Spend My Life with You”, “Take a Giant Step” and “Me & Magdelena” which was sung as a duet with his sister Coco. These four songs were worth the price of admission alone and make this show a must see for any Monkees fan.

(Note 2: Micky’s sister Coco is a wonder and has a great voice just like her brother. I love seeing and hearing her at these shows and she also has such a fun and graceful presence)

I was amazed at how youthful and strong Dolenz sounded throughout the entire performance. Honestly after seeing him perform live for nearly forty years I think that his voice at this performance may have sounded the best I’ve ever heard it. Truly Micky Dolenz is one of the 1960’s greatest pop voices and time hasn’t diminished his vocal gifts one bit.

Of course the band behind Dolenz was also superb and featured the same players that toured last year with Dolenz and Mike Nesmith on what was rightfully entitled “The Monkees Farewell Tour”.

Dolenz and company also stuck to arrangements that closely mirrored the original Monkees recordings with a slight tweak here and there which was a great thing in my book.

Everything from the songs to the pacing to the video tributes and not least the lovely Brown County Music Center made this an evening I’ll treasure and one of the best performances I’ve ever seen from Micky Dolenz.

This mini tour ends this week but if anyone out there is near one of the remaining dates you must try and go if your Covid situation allows for it of course. I missed last years farewell shows with Mike because of Covid but kind of regret it as of course he died just weeks after the tour ended.

Luckily things Covid wise have calmed down for the moment where I live and this concert was not only the perfect way to celebrate the legacy of The Monkees but it was also the perfect way to celebrate gathering together for live music something that’s been missing from my world these past many months.

I took a few photos, above, but I’m afraid the camera in my phone wasn’t up to the task. If you squint the right way you can make out the figures onstage but at least you get a feel for how the show looked.

Below is a photo of the groovy Monkees Complete Series Blu-Ray box set which was for sale at the merchandise stand at the concert. I own the set already but two discs got damaged so I was thrilled to finally be able to track another copy down. It was supposed to be only for sale at Micky’s shows but has since been made available to purchase online.

(Note 3: Today Rhino has just made this wonderful blu-ray set available again to purchase online. It had been out of print for the last few years so if you want a copy you can get one here: https://monkeesstore.warnermusic.com/the-monkees-complete-tv-series-blu-ray.html)

Well, that’s all for now. Just a few quick thoughts on a wonderful night out. I hope that Micky Dolenz continues to perform and record but if this is the last time I see him perform live it was a spectacular send-off.

Until next time be well and see you soon …

Peter Jackson’s “The Beatles: Get Back” Documentary on DVD – Finally?!!

It was a long time coming but it’s finally here!

The Beatles: Get Back” documentary, directed and produced by esteemed director Peter Jackson, had premiered on the Disney+ channel in November of 2021 and has been streaming there ever since but for some reason it’s journey to physical media has been somewhat rockier road.

This past February 8th “The Beatles: Get Back” was supposed to be released on DVD and Blu-ray.  “Supposed” being the operative word.  For some technical reason the DVD and Blu-ray sets were about a week or two from hitting store shelves when the rug was pulled for their release.

Now here’s the weird part. A few keen Beatles fans managed to make their way to stores like Best Buy and Target on the original February 8th release date and were able to find copies of the set on the shelves!

Most were met with a roadblock when they went to checkout the sets as the stores registers came up with a notice saying this item can’t be purchased. Of course that didn’t dissuade everyone and a few of these “defective” sets were sold.

(Note: Target store employees told some customers that they had to hold onto the discs until this upcoming September and they could sell them then! First off if they’re defective why on earth would they hold them and secondly why oh why even put them out on the shelves in the first place!)

Apparently discs were sent to stores without being stopped by distributors. This is a truly strange situation and leads me to believe this last minute issue was either discovered too late to stop shipments OR Disney had some other wacky (and as yet unknown) reason to keep these sets from retail sale.

Reports online by the few people that did manage to buy these sets claim that they couldn’t detect anything wrong with them. The initial, and only quite frankly, word from Apple or Disney was that the due to a technical glitch the sets had been pushed back with a new release date forthcoming.

Online there has been speculation that there was an issue with the surround sound being mixed down to stereo so there was no true stereo soundtrack on these defective discs but that hasn’t been officially stated as the reason for the sets delay.

Not that there’s been much of anything further officially addressed about this mess other than the discs are delayed. Apple, The Beatles company, and Disney themselves have had little to say about the physical release for “The Beatles: Get Back” and still have not revealed a new release date and you can’t order the set from most online retailers.

Fast forward over two months later to the end of March 2022. What happens to appear as in stock online at Amazon but “The Beatles: Get Back” DVD set! And it’s just the DVD set mind you as the Blu-ray set still says unavailable.

Well of course my curiosity was peaked so I quickly ordered the set and hoped for the best. Now here’s the weirdest part of all – I was just shipped the DVD set of “The Beatles: Get Back” by Amazon and I now have it in my hot little hands!

I’m guessing this is the corrected set but I haven’t seen other retailers show a new release date so I’m not one hundred percent sure. Is this one of the early sets that somehow is still in the pipeline and made it out? Why is Amazon the only place I’m seeing this DVD set in stock? And why on earth would Amazon be sending out “defective” sets at this late date?

Weird is the only word I can think of at the moment. I’ve read other folks have been sent the DVD set from Amazon and it was indeed the earlier “defective” set so this may or may not be a corrected set I don’t know how to tell at this point.

The weirdness with the physical release of “The Beatles: Get Back” is kind of poetic as the original release of this material eventually called “Let it Be” was also delayed several times before it too finally released to movie screens and record shelves around the world.

As for this DVD set I received today, it looks and sounds great. I’ve only skimmed through some of the contents but everything I’ve played sounds and looks just fine. It has surround sound mixes and a stereo mix but are they the correct mixes, I have no idea. All I know is everything looks great and I am happy with my purchase.

The packaging for the DVD set is really bare bones but decent enough. The cover is groovy but the discs themselves are just stacked in the center of the cover with a flyer for the “Let it Be” box set from last fall in the left hand side of the cover. No booklet to be seen but at least all the discs were pristine without a scratch in site even though they’re just stacked together in a pile.

I’m truly glad to have a physical copy of this set. I did managed to do a free trial of Disney+ last November but I rushed through the eight hours of the documentary pretty fast and only watched it once before my trial was over.

Having the physical DVDs is much better for me as I can take my time and slowly digest the contents of this monumental documentary. As a Beatle fan I can see wanting to watch this set over and over as it’s a once in a lifetime window into how The Beatles actually created their music.

There is no other in-depth film of them inside a recording studio or rehearsal hall working out material and creating it from thin air as you see in “The Beatles: Get Back”. I can also see how a casual fan may get bored as it can be tedious viewing at times but for any true Beatles manic this eight-hour documentary is pure gold.

I’m hoping that if Peter Jackson gets his way he’ll be able to release an even longer deluxe set later that could add several more hours of footage which would be great. If he does I would spring for a Blu-ray copy and have this shorter version as a back-up.

So there you have it. Is this “The Beatles: Get Back” DVD set the final version? I guess if it pops up other places soon I’ll know it is but if Amazon is somehow leaking out the earlier pressed sets I would truly be shocked but pleasantly surprised that I managed to get one.

Well, that’s all for now. Just a quick look at the new DVD of “The Beatles: Get Back” set from Disney and Apple. If you’re a Beatles fan and want a copy go to Amazon right now as they still had some in stock. Who knows if they’ll disappear again into the ether and not come up for sale again until who knows when?

And as usual you can take a gander at the set above as I’ve posted several photos of it from every angle.

Until next time be well and safe and see you soon!