Sometimes it’s the elusive search that, while frustrating, is actually the most fun.
Case in point, for years and years I’ve been searching for a mono copy of The Monkees fifth album “The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees” but to no avail. The LP was released in April of 1968 and by that time the mono format was on its last legs.
You see by the beginning of 1968 most U.S. record companies had begun to press very few, if any at all, mono records as stereo had become the main way people wanted to hear their music.
Up until that time pop music especially was pretty much a mono format. Radio up until 1967 was still dominated by mono 45s which became hit singles. Pop/rock recording acts of the late ’50s and early ’60s relied on the hit pop single to make their careers and hopefully have those hits turn their album sales into gold.
It wasn’t really until the advent of The Beatles in 1964 that pop/rock albums sold in huge numbers so by 1967 album sales had become vital as they sold in large enough numbers that they were a very profitable thing for pop/rock groups.
Plus by 1967 the dawn of FM radio helped push the stereo format as many album cuts were broadcast in stereo and young listeners began to search out the stereo versions of their favorite pop/rock albums even though they were a dollar more than the mono versions of the same album.
Long story short, “The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees” album reached number 3 on the Billboard Hot 200 charts and sold around 500,000 copies in 1968. While not nearly as big a seller as the four previous Monkees albums it landed the group their fifth gold album and contained two Top Ten hits singles – “Daydream Believer” and “Valleri”.
It’s not known exactly how many mono copies of “The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees” were pressed but I’ve read that a likely figure would be around ten percent of the stereo version which would make the mono pressing fairly rare with around 50,000 copies out in the wild.
And as the tides of time have flowed on how many of those say 50,000 copies of “The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees” remain out there to find? I’d have to say not many as I’ve never seen a mono copy in person for sale and believe me I’ve looked.
I keep reading stories of people finding them in a yard sale or record store but as of today I’ve never managed to come across one for sale. There are foreign copies of this elusive mono mix as well but they are pretty expensive and really not that easy to locate much like the U.S. Colgems pressing.
So what options do Monkees fans have to get this groovy mono mix if you don’t want to spend an arm and leg tracking down a U.S. or Mexican, Australian or Puerto Rican mono copy? Well, one solution is to track the mono mixes down piece meal on foreign EPs or 45s.
This leads me to today’s post – two Mexican mono 45 EPs – MKE 1033 and MKE 1034.
You see Mexico is one of the countries that released a true mono mix of “The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees” album (many countries released mono copies of the album but most of those were not dedicated mono mixes but stereo fold-downs).
Mexico also managed to release ten of the twelve tracks from the album in the EP format. All the tracks on these Mexican EPs contain the true dedicated mono mixes of the songs just like the Mexican mono pressing of “The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees”.
A couple of years ago I tracked down the first “Birds and Bees” Mexican mono EP, MKE 1033, but just this week I received the second “Birds and Bees” Mexican mono EP, MKE 1034, in the mail. Between these two EPs I now own superb sounding true mono mixes of eight of the tracks from “The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees” album. I threw in the 45 mono mix of the Colgems single “Daydream Believer” and now have nine of the twelve tracks from the mono album on vinyl.
Now of course Monkees fans know the true mono mix was included on the Rhino Deluxe CD version of “The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees” from 2010 but that itself was mastered mostly from a vinyl source and while decent doesn’t sound nearly as vibrant and alive as the songs on these two Mexican mono EPs.
Unfortunately the original Colgems master tape of the true mono mix of “The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees” is missing thus the extreme prices for vinyl copies as that’s as close as you can get to having the album from the master tape.
Anyway, I thought I’d post some photos of these two Mexican EPs, above and below, and there’s also a list of the tracks they contain below:
- Auntie’s Municipal Court
- Tapioca Tundra
- P.O. Box 9847
- I’ll Be Back Up On My Feet
- We Were Made For Each Other
- Dream World
- The Poster
Again, throw in the “Daydream Believer” 45 mix from a Colgems single and you have pretty much the entire “The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees” album minus the songs “Writing Wrongs”, “Magnolia Simms” and “Zor and Zam”. And actually the song “Zor and Zam” is available on another Mexican mono EP, MKE 1060, which also includes the repeat of “Dream World” from the MKE 1034 EP.
I haven’t tracked the MKE 1060 EP down but if I do then I’d only be missing two mono tracks to make a complete “The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees” mono album.
Luckily I found both of these Mexican EPs pretty cheaply, much cheaper than an original Colgems mono album. In fact I bought the MKE 1034 from a seller online who said the EP was just VG with lots of crackles but no skips. After a good cleaning to remove the dirt the EP played a solid VG+ and all four songs sounded really great.
The three tracks that really sound quite different in their mono form are “Auntie’s Municipal Court”, “Tapioca Tundra” and “Dream World” all of which are found on these two Mexican EPs.
In fact I’d say that all the really different sounding mono mixes are on these EPs plus these eight songs are my eight favorite songs on the album plus the “Daydream Believer” single mix as well.
Any Monkees fans out there looking for a mono copy of “The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees” should also keep an eye out for these two Mexican EPs. I bet you can actually track them down online for a fraction of the cost of the mono album and have most of the album in great fidelity without spending a fortune.
(Note: As of this post both EPs are for sale on Discogs)
You’ll probably have to do some searching but I’ve found that these are not only more affordable but can be tracked down without too much hassle – if you’re patient enough.
So the search continues for a Colgems mono “The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees” or one of its foreign cousins but only if it’s reasonably priced. I have most of the mixes now but the fun of the search keeps me going to record and antique stores just in case I happen to find one.
Well, that’s all for now.
Until next time be well. They’ll be more posts coming soon!