An Unexpected Career Highlight – “Dolenz Sings Nesmith” by Micky Dolenz Surpasses All Expectations And Gives 7a Records Its Crown Jewel

To say that all good things come to those who wait has many meanings nowadays.

Not only did it take me quiet a long time to secure a physical copy of the album I’m reviewing today but it also took quite a long time for an album of this quality to be bestowed on the solo career of singer Micky Dolenz.

You see the album in question, “Dolenz Sings Nesmith”, is quite frankly a late career triumph I wasn’t really expecting. Sure when I heard that Micky Dolenz had spent his time in lockdown last year recording an album of his ex-bandmate Michael Nesmith’s songs, I thought it was a great idea.

What’s not to like? One of the premiere pop voices of the 1960s tackling the equally excellent songs of Mike Nesmith, I mean sounds good right? I was expecting good.

What I wasn’t expecting was the end result – something not merely good but great. Excellent in fact – excellent, adventurous, audacious and catchy as hell thank you very much.

The people at 7a Records, the small boutique label that released this album, must be pleased as punch as I’m sure they know what a quality product they have released.

Produced and arranged by Nesmith’s oldest son Christian with the help of Monkees scholar and sometimes manager Andrew Sandoval, “Dolenz Sings Nesmith” takes a loving and creative look at not only the career of Mike Nesmith as a songwriter but the entire Monkees musical output and blends it with a modern yet retro sound that hits on all cylinders and is ripe for repeated listening pleasure.

Okay, okay that may sound a bit over the top but I am truly smiling ear to ear having finally digested this album in its entirety and I must say I am one happy music fan.

It’s funny I’ve also never had to search so hard for a physical copy of a new album before as I had to do with this release.

Part of that search stems from the fact that physical media is the ugly stepchild of the music industry as of late but the other part stems from the fact that this album was way more popular than anticipated and had to be repressed to meet demand as it sold out fairly quickly in physical form (yay!).

Of course the album has been available online since its May 21st release date but I am such an old fart and physical media lover that I wanted to wait and digest the album in full with either a CD or vinyl pressing that had liner notes I could read while I listened.

Well it took me until just yesterday to be able to finally get ahold of a vinyl copy (a turquoise and Michel Nesmith signed copy) that I could give a few spins and finally gather my thoughts and dig deep into this monumentous new recording.

I had previewed a couple of tracks from the album online and luckily the entire album not only sounds as good as those samples implied but is in fact without question one of the best solo Monkees albums I’ve ever heard.

(Note: By the way this vinyl pressing sounds fantastic and is super quiet and very nicely pressed, very flat.)

Here is my track-by-track rundown on the entire vinyl album:

“Carlisle Wheeling” – I love the classical sounding strings at the beginning, a nice touch. This is one of my favorite Nesmith songs and it has been since I first heard the 1987 issue of The Monkees outtake on “Missing Links” Volume One. And of course Dolenz’ singing is superb as always. Actually this arrangement and recording approach remind me so much of Paul McCartney especially his songs like “English Tea” from the “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard” album.

“Different Drum” – This is one of the ones that I heard online beforehand and I appreciate it so much more hearing it on a bigger stereo system on the vinyl pressing. It sounds terrific. This jaunty, poppy yet bluesy approach would have worked so well on a Monkees LP. Only two songs into the new LP and this album already feels like a cousin to The Monkees “Good Times” album – older yet modern sounding at the same time.

“Don’t Wait for Me” – This is another one of my all-time favorite Nesmith songs from the “Instant Replay” Monkees album from 1969. I love this gentle acoustic approach versus the heavy country and western approach of the Monkees take. Of course both work but this version somehow seems a little bit more emotional in its stripped down form and Micky’s vocal also adds a bit of urgency to the song.

“Keep On” – This is one of the Nesmith tunes I’m not as familiar with but what a great performance. If Dolenz could get any airplay this would be a natural single, the country yet slightly psychedelic pop feel works great and sounds old and new at the same time. Great lyrics for 2021 and very timely!

“Marie’s Theme” – God what a great tune. This reminds me of the feeling I get listening to Nesmith’s Monkees country influenced tunes. While this take has an obvious overall country feel there’s enough pop sensibilities that this song comes across as the perfect blending of country and pop. The echoed vocals near the end remind me of the vocals from “Auntie’s Municipal Court” a favorite cut of mine from 1968’s “The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees” – just great.

“Propinquity (I’ve Just Begin to Care)” – Another classic Nesmith song that sounds so good in this sped up arrangement. The fast banjo so reminds me of “You Told Me” from the “Headquarters” album. In fact I’d call this take “Headquarters 2021” as Dolenz vocals sounds so 1967 here and so strong. A great country/pop tune.

“Nine Times Blue” – Yet another great Nesmith tune that the Monkees themselves actually performed live on The Johnny Cash show in 1969. What a great transformation to turn this simple acoustic ballad into a torch song. I love Dolenz vocal on this track. This is some of his best singing in years. The background vocals are terrific as well at the build-up near the end of the song before it slips into the rock psychedelia of …

“Little Red Rider” – Holy cow what a great blistering rock take on this Nesmith tune. I enjoyed the original approach to this song but this simply superb all-out rock attack is terrific! Truth be told this arrangement really transforms this song into something special.

“Tomorrow and Me” – Love the Dolenz vocal on this! Very 1969 sounding with a hint of Pink Floyd to boot. Reminds me of Dolenz own “Shorty Blackwell” (another tune from The Monkees “Instant Replay”) mixed with Nesmith. Love the strings, one of the many highlights of the album for me.

“Circle Sky” – What can I say, what an inspired idea to turn the garage band rock of the classic Monkees song into an Indian raga!!! I’ve heard some people online who hate this but I absolutely LOVE IT!!!

This reminds me more of George Harrison’s approach to Indian pop/rock than Peter Tork’s approach on the sitar laden “Can You Dig It?” which is also on the “HEAD” soundtrack. This may be my favorite version of this fine song. SIMPLY SUPERB!

I was not expecting this kind of transformation, hats off to Christian Nesmith production and arranging skills.

“Tapioca Tundra” – An otherworldly “Lost in Space”/”Star Trek” space like beginning that evolves into a 1930s/40s vibe. Cleaver and effective. Another highlight of the album for me.

“Only Bound” – What a lovely song. So reminds me of an update of “As We Go Along” also from the “HEAD” soundtrack. In fact this whole album blends the entirety of The Monkees short musical journey (which in itself encompassed many musical styles) with Nesmith’s solo country career and tosses it in with a hint of the blues and eclecticism that never fails to entertain.

“You Are My One” – A lovely and haunting short coda of a song that is the perfect way to end the album

Well there you have it, not a bum track in the lot. This is a surprisingly strong album and what a gift to Monkees/pop/rock or country music fans.

In this day and age I’m sure a new Micky Dolenz album is not on many peoples radars and that’s too bad. This album is way better than it has to be and is so nice to hear a voice like Dolenz’ being utilized to its highest potential on such strong and moving material.

If you’re a fan of physical media keep an eye out for copies of this album online. It’s an import in the United States as 7a Records is a British company but I hear more physical copies are being made and should be available soon.

If you aren’t a fan of physical media then you owe it to yourself to track this album down on all the streaming services online as it’s far too good an album to go unnoticed.

As usual I’ve shared a few photos above of the vinyl copy of the album which can be bought from Nesmith’s own Videoranch Website.

Until next time be well and see you soon and here’s hoping for some new 7a Records products as good as this one in the future!

Til the Box Set Brought Me Down – “Fleetwood Mac Live” 2LP/3CD/45 Set

Collecting physical media is a funny thing, at least nowadays.

This seems to be the golden era of deluxe box sets (probably the only thing that really attracts $$$ for record companies) and there seems to be an abundance of them lately.

Just in the last few months there was the superb “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band” 6CD/2 Blu-Ray set (reviewed here previously), the lovely Al Stewart “Year of the Cat” 3 CD/DVD set as well as The Who’s “The Who Sell Out” a 5 CD/2 45’s box set.

“Yet another deluxe box set, “Fleetwood Mac – Live”, was released this past April (April 9th to be exact) and again this new box set grabbed my attention and after much back and forth I finally added it to my collection.

“Fleetwood Mac – Live” was originally released way back in 1980 and consisted of live material from the classic (and my favorite) line-up of Fleetwood Mac which includes Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Christine McVie, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.

I’ve always been a fan of the “Fleetwood Mac – Live” album which features live material mostly from Fleetwood Mac’s 1979/80 tour but also features some live takes from as far back as 1975 and 1977 as well. I’ve owned the original 2 CD set of this album since it came out in the 1990s and have always found it to be a good sounding collection though one I don’t reach for as much as their studio material.

I was reawakened to the superb Fleetwood Mac live recordings from this era that were released as part of the superb “Tusk” super deluxe box set that came out a few years ago so I was anxious to see how this new deluxe set would treat the “Fleetwood Mac – Live” album and what new goodies it may contain – that is until I saw the price and the format.

The new super deluxe edition that came out on April 9 consists of the “Fleetwood Mac – Live” 2 CD set remastered along with a newly remastered 2 Lp vinyl set of the album as well a bonus CD of unreleased live material plus a 45 rpm single containing demos of “Fireflies”/”One More Night”. All for the price of $99.00 – errrrr.

I’m not a fan of the mixed media format but can live with it if the price is decent but $99.00 seemed a bit too steep for me. I had bought all of the previous Fleetwood Mac deluxe sets of the studio albums from the classic line-up but none of them were quite this expensive and devoid of bonus material as this new set. For heaven’s sake I only paid $56.00 the 5 CD super deluxe set of “Tusk” which also contained a DVD as well as a 2 LP set!

So I let this new set linger in the background of my mind to see if the price would go down. As luck would have it, this week the set has finally come down on Amazon so I decided to take the plunge and add it to my collection.

(Note: Truth be told I think that the set didn’t sell that well and it was just announced that the 3 CDs and the 2 Lp’s in the set are being released individually soon thus the new discount.)

I must say that I am fearful of buying these kind of sets from my local record store as sets containing vinyl these days are notorious for having pressing issues.

This new “Fleetwood Mac – Live” set proved my fears well founded as the first set I received contained a horrendous pressing of the bonus 45 (see photo above of the bad 45 and the good 45 below) that was pressed so far off center that it was barely playable.

After just receiving a spanking new set that is completely error free I must say “Fleetwood Mac – Live” is a very well done set that looks and sounds lovely. The new mastering of the “Fleetwood Mac – Live” is a tad bit louder than I would like but overall it sounds pretty good and very detailed. I may still prefer the sound of the original CD but this new remastering sounds decent. 

The new remastered 2 Lp vinyl set though sounds very nice and is very quiet and superbly pressed. I will probably play the 2 Lp set for the main album when I reach to give this set a listen in the future as I enjoyed the sound of the vinyl a bit more than the new CD remastering.

The content of the bonus CD is what makes this new set a joy as it contains a terrific 1982 live take of “Hold Me” as well as great sounding previously unreleased live versions of “Think About Me”, “What Makes You Think You’re the One”, “Brown Eyes” and “Tusk” – all from the “Tusk” album which is probably my favorite Fleetwood Mac studio album.

I also really enjoyed the demos of “Fireflies”/”One More Night” from the 45 but wish they had been included on the CDs but they are fun to have and sound great.

The whole bonus disc is terrific and well worth buying the set if you can find it at a decent price. Or you can also wait for the much cheaper 3 CD version of the set that’s coming out this summer which will contain the bonus CD as well.

The booklet that comes with the set is nice though not very informative but it does include great photos from Fleetwood Mac’s 1979/80 world tour which is nice to flip through as you give the set a listen.

So there you are. If you are a fan of this era of Fleetwood Mac now is the time to grab this set as it is much cheaper than when it first came out and because the vinyl sounds so good it may be the way to go for owning these recordings.

Of course the 3 CD set will be a great bargain so whatever you chose if your a fan of the Mac’s  music you won’t be disappointed.

As usual you can see pictures of this nifty set above and below.

Take care and be well and see you next time!

Fifty Years of Ramming On – Paul & Linda McCartney’s “RAM” Half-Speed Mastered 50th Anniversary Vinyl

It was fifty years ago this month – I know, I know, yet another anniversary.

With all of my most cherished albums hitting the fifty year mark this is becoming sort of a mantra around here BUT this anniversary is truly worth it.

Paul and Linda McCartney released the “Ram” album in May of 1971 and even though it was pretty much critically slagged off at the time it has always been one of my all-time favorite McCartney solo albums.

I’ve written previously about my history with the “Ram” album here on this blog but I will do a short recap. 

I had owned the single of “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” as it was bought for me when it came out in 1971. I didn’t manage to get ahold of the entire “Ram” album until 1977 and was introduced to it the summer of that year along with The Beatles “Magical Mystery Tour” Lp.

Because I discovered “Ram” along with “Magical Mystery Tour” I always felt that the McCartney of both albums were pretty much the same – adventurous, surrealistic and melodic as hell.  I had no preconceived notions of what a McCartney album should sound like or how much better McCartney was as a Beatle vs a solo artist. I just took the music head on and loved each of these albums the same.

I can see how the atmosphere of 1971 may have played a part in the negative reviews of the album at the time but for me this album just appealed to me from the first listen.

To this day I still believe that the “Ram” album is one of McCartney’s finest achievements and am so glad that after all this time critics have finally (well mostly) warmed up to the album and can now see it as the wonderful sonic impressionistic painting that I’ve always viewed it as and not as a step down from being a Beatle.

So anyway, the 50th anniversary of this album is being celebrated with a truly superb half-speed mastered edition of the album on vinyl which just hit record stores in the past two weeks or so. I finally got ahold of a copy and after playing it today I have to say that it really one sweet experience.

I have an original pressing as well as an original US Apple vinyl copy, a US Columbia vinyl copy AND a colored vinyl copy of the McCartney Archive version that came out a couple of years ago. This new 50th anniversary edition I must say holds up very well to all of those editions.

This new pressing is dead quiet and has nice bass and lovely clear vocals and a lot of presence. It comes very close to my original UK copy and actually I’d say it’s a better listening experience because my UK copy is full of ticks and clicks so this new pressing edges it out a bit.

The recent McCartney Archive vinyl is very close to this new 50th edition but I can hear a bit more detail on this new vinyl version so I’d give the edge to this pressing over the archive version.

While the US Apple and Columbia pressings are quite good this new one has a bit more magic to it so I would say it really does hold up well to any other pressing of the album on vinyl.

If you have a mint UK original than that probably would be the best version out there but if not than this new limited 50th is well worth seeking out as it sounds very close to that pressing.

I actually prefer this 50th anniversary pressing to the 50th anniversary pressing of the “McCartney” album which came out a few months ago. I loved that as well but this new “Ram” pressing sounds even better and is closer to the original analog 1971 pressing than the “McCartney” album sounded to it’s UK first issue.

So there you have it. Just a few quick thoughts on this 50th anniversary “Ram”.

If you’re so inclined to chase down Paul McCartney vinyl I’d say you’re in for a treat if you decide to hunt this new one down. It’s only available from indie record stores so if you’re interested go out sooner rather then later as vinyl issues seem to dry up quickly these days so no telling how long it will be available.

That’s all for now. As usual you can see photos of this new pressing above.

As the man says “Ram On” and and listen to some music!

Until we meet again be safe and well and see you next time.

 

Some of Shelley’s Unreleased Blues – Michael Nesmith “Different Drum: The Lost RCA Victor Recordings”

Now this is how you do an archival CD release.

Great cover – check.

Great liner notes  – check.

Great recreation of old vinyl label on CD – check.

Wonderful unreleased content that sounds great – most important check of all.

What am I talking about? Well this Friday a new CD compilation will be released called “Different Drum: The Lost RCA Victor Recordings” by former Monkee Michael Nesmith.

This terrific new CD from Real Gone Music consists of 22 unissued recordings from Michael Nesmith’s acclaimed RCA albums from the early 1970s. Among the 22 songs are out-takes, alternate versions/takes from the era as well as alternate instrumentals, alternate backing tracks and uncut versions.

Monkees fans in particular should look out for some of the really interesting versions of tunes Nesmith wrote and recorded with The Monkees including “Circle Sky”, “Listen to the Band”, “Magnolia Simms” (weirdly enough) and “Tapioca Tundra”. Not to mention “Some of Shelly”s Blues” and “Hollywood” both of which were released as Monkees as well as solo Nesmith recordings.

Now I have to admit that I came to Michael Nesmith’s solo career as a true blue Monkees fan.  I’ve always enjoyed the country leanings of Nesmith’s Monkees music but I must admit that besides “Joanne” (a song I’ve always loved) I never really delved that deeply into his RCA catalog certainly not at the time in the 1970s.

I was a true pop fan and for some reason back in those days being the kid that I was I never liked the sound of the steel guitar all that much or the sound of more traditional country music. I’m not sure when that changed but gradually as I got older I began to seek out more traditional sounding country music and I must say began to enjoy it.

Nesmith’s solo music on a lot of his RCA albums leans much more toward traditional country than his Monkees work with the steel guitar very prominent on many of the songs. So with my ears now more tuned to this style of music I thought it might time to reassess these RCA albums.

It was only when Nesmith began to tour again around 2014 that I really began to take another look at his RCA years and found that not only did I really like those recordings but I was amazed at how good of a songwriter Nesmith really was and what a great voice he and on these RCA albums.

Skip to 2018 and the reissue of Michael Nesmith’s RCA albums on digital and streaming services by Sony Music Entertainment. Renowned Monkees archivist/manager Andrew Sandoval lovingly chose and mixed the 22 songs that comprise “Different Drum: The Lost RCA Victor Recordings” as bonus tracks for the various RCA albums as part of their new expanded streaming presentations.

There was no talk of them being pressed onto physical disc and it seemed as if they would only ever be available online. I quite enjoyed these new out-takes as well as the remastered albums but I am a physical music buyer and thought that since they would never be released on disc they would never be part of my collection.

Well I guess never say never as even though Nesmith’s remastered RCA albums haven’t been issued on disc, not yet anyway, lo and behold these lovely 22 out-takes will finally see the physical light of day this Friday with the release of “Different Drum: The Lost RCA Victor Recordings”.

I happened to get a copy of this disc early as I ordered it directly through Real Gone Music’s Website, https://realgonemusic.com/, and it got here in three days.

After giving this fine disc a spin or two, here are some thoughts on my personal highlights:

Different Drum – A very country and western take on the song that propelled Linda Ronstadt into the Top Twenty in 1967. This version is different from the version that appeared on“And the Hits Keep on Comin'” album as it swings a bit more than that version and is a bit looser sounding. Very nice.

American Airman – A previously unreleased track that’s quite good. It’s a song about life on the road with a country band and to me sounds like a sort of sequel to “Listen to the Band”. After you’ve listened to the band then here’s a document of what life’s like on the road. Check out some of these lyrics:

“Yeah, flight two
And it’s back to you
So I set my watch on L.A. time
Jet-lag
Find my bag
I think the one over there is mine
It’s 10 pounds overweight”

Tengo Amore – I truly love this track. An alternate instrumental that really works sans the vocal. It’s very atmospheric and what I would call cosmic cowboy music much like the sound of Nesmith’s recent disc “Cosmic Partners: The McCabe’s Tapes” featuring Red Rhodes. Originally released on the “Loose Salute” album I think I enjoy this alternate version more than the released take.

Circle Sky – Obviously well known to Monkees fans this take is actually very like the “HEAD” soundtrack take with clearer vocals. It’s a rocky version that’s slower than The Monkees “HEAD” version yet thankfully not like the grunge version found on “Justus”. This take is actually really good and might be my favorite version next to the live Monkees version from the film “HEAD”.

Listen to the Band – A much different take not only from the classic Monkees version but also from Nesmith’s other solo recording. The Monkees version is country with a pop sheen while the version from the Loose Salute album is decidedly more country. This new alternate is more rock with a hint of country. Lovely take, interesting.

Some of Shelly’s Blues – A great version, is there any bad version of this terrific track? More laid back than The Monkees version which is actually more country sounding than this. This new take has a country feel but sounds a little bit more what I would have thought a Monkees version would sound circa 1966, a mix of country and pop. Great Nesmith vocals on this take.

Magnolia Simms – A very country take on the classic Monkees track. Weird to hear a non-1920s sounding version without skips. Too bad there’s no vocal but really fun to hear. Strange to hear this track played straight so to speak but nice.

Hollywood – Another instrumental take on one of my favorite Nesmith songs. Again would have loved to hear a vocal but a really nice take and much faster than The Monkees version.

Tapioca Tundra – A very lovely languid country instrumental take on the Monkees “Valleri” b-side and “The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees” album track.

Loose Salute (Radio Spots) – Too funny and typical contrary Nesmith doing radio spots for his album yet highlighting albums by other artists. Too fun and a great way to end this disc

Those are just some of the many highlights in this new collection. Really the whole disc is very enjoyable and a nice way to get acquainted with Nesmith’s solo career working as a greatest hits of sorts as it covers a lot of Nesmith’s best songwriting throughout his career.

Then again perhaps a true hits collection may be a better introduction to Nesmith’s solo music as this set may appeal more to the already converted but it’s still a really good listen and a well put together CD package in the waning days of physical media.

Now how about those remastered Nesmith RCA albums in a small CD box set perhaps? I know, I’m probably dreaming but why not?

As usual check out some photos of this new CD above.You should be able to buy it anywhere CDs are sold or online as well. I love saying that seeing as how CDs seem to be getting more and more scarce.

Until next time be safe and well and enjoy this early summer sunshine!

No More Isolation – “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band – The Ultimate Collection” 6 CD+2 Blu-Ray Deluxe Edition (A Review)

Today is Friday.  It’s cooler where I live but at least it’s somewhat sunny outside and there’s no snow (which can’t be said of a couple of days ago).

Today is also a day in which there seems to be a growing sense of hope that the pandemic which has been raging out of control throughout the world may be on the verge of subsiding, hopefully, into the past.

As it happens today is also the day to celebrate John Lennon’s classic 1970 solo album “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band”. Though this album was originally released on December 11, 1970 today a glut of 50th anniversary releases come out which detail almost every nook and cranny of the sessions that created this masterwork of Lennon’s solo career.

Let’s go through this fantastic new releases shall we?

First there’s a lovely new single CD that contains a fresh remix of the entire album plus remixes of three singles from around the time of the album’s release (“Give Peace a Chance”, “Cold Turkey” and “Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)”.

Secondly there a 2 CD version that includes the same remix of the album on disc one as well as a second disc of the same songs but all in out-take versions. Plus there’s also a groovy foldout poster included with the set.

There’s also a 2 LP vinyl release available that features the same contents as the 2 CD set minus the 3 bonus single tracks.

Then we have the grand daddy release of them all a 6 CD/2 Blu-ray set packaged inside a lovely case that includes a terrific 132-page hardback book, 2 postcards as well as the same poster as the 2 CD set but larger.

(Note: this great new collection is also available to stream online but since this is a site about physical media well why spoil the fun talking about streaming.)

Titled “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band – The Ultimate Collection” this deluxe edition truly is the last word on this album as this collection contains:

CD1: THE ULTIMATE MIXES, CD2: THE ULTIMATE MIXES/THE OUT-TAKES, CD3: THE ELEMENTS MIXES CD4: THE RAW STUDIO MIXES, CD5: THE EVOLUTION DOCUMENTARY, CD6: THE JAMS & THE DEMOS

Blu-Ray 1: All tracks in Stereo 24/192, Dolby Atmos and 5.1 Surround Sound

The Ultimate Mixes Album And Singles
The Ultimate Mixes Outtakes
The Elements Mixes Album And Singles
The Demos Album And Singles

Blu-Ray 2: All tracks in Stereo 24/192, Dolby Atmos and 5.1 Surround Sound

The Raw Studio Mixes Album And Singles
The Raw Studio Mixes Outtakes
The Evolution Mixes Album And Singles
The Jams Live And Improvised
Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band The Live Sessions

Whew! Seriously, that’s a lot of material for an album that only contained 11 songs.

It’s the very fact that there’s so many multiple versions of just a few songs that really made me sit and consider if I even wanted this big of a set. I mean how much would I actually listen to these alternate versions? How different would they be? Would the book be worth it? It’s not a cheap set but considering you do get 8 discs plus the book the list price of $135 isn’t too bad. Is it?

I bought the lovely “Imagine – The Ultimate Collection” that came out a couple of years ago which featured the same exhaustive approach to that album and while I enjoyed that set I really haven’t gone back to it that much yet did enjoy what I heard. The elements disc in that set was mainly instrumental and while fun isn’t something I’ve returned to much.

So, what to do? Since I’m a Beatles/solo Beatles nut I broke down and bought the big set. I even had the 2 CD set in my hands but after picking up the big set it was all over.

BUT let me say I’m so glad I did! Even though I thought I liked the “Imagine” album more than the “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band” album after playing this new ultimate collection that opinion may have changed.

Let me share a few thoughts on each disc in this set. And while I haven’t listened to every note on this set (that may take me quite a while) here are some observations on some of my favorite moments so far:

CD1: THE ULTIMATE MIXES

First off I really enjoyed the new remix of this album much more than I thought I would. To me this remix is better than the remix for the “Imagine” album which I enjoyed as well. The songs on the new remix of “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band” sound clearer and cleaner without making me long to hear the original mix. 

The bass is strong and defined and thankfully not overwhelming and Lennon’s vocals really shine and highlight the fact that he was at or near his vocal peak during these sessions.

Because this album is so sparse instrumentally I thought a remix wouldn’t really do much but this set really works. The material sounds so fresh which makes the intimacy of the songs that much more apparent. I’d say this new remix is my favorite of the recent Lennon solo remixes as it models the original mix but makes it better. A rare feat.

CD2: THE ULTIMATE MIXES/THE OUT-TAKES

Again I enjoyed this disc much more than I was expecting to. These alternate takes are different enough to be worth repeated listening and in some cases not only hold their own to the released versions but may be better.

I was really struck by “God” Take 27 which I think has a superb vocal by Lennon as well as take 1 of “Cold Turkey” which to me is much closer to the sound of The Beatles “White Album” and will now be my go-to version of this song. 

I also really enjoyed the Take 6 of “Love” played on the guitar instead of the pianoThe piano take is more delicate but this take is a nice change and while not dramatically different is certainly nice to hear.

Really I enjoyed this complete disc and feel that it hangs together better than the outtake material from the “Imagine” set. Maybe it’s Lennon’s passion for the material but there’s commitment on each and every take that makes this set interesting.

I’ll have to say that the rawness of Lennon’s lyrics and performance due to his then recent primal therapy with Arthur Janov has always made me leery of this album but these alternate takes seem to feel less abrasive at times which as a listener draws me in a bit more. 

CD3: THE ELEMENTS MIXES

Here’s a big surprise, this disc which I thought I would like but not love turns out to be probably my favorite of the discs in this set.

As I said before this Elements disc has vocals throughout which makes repeated listening more enjoyable. In fact I absolutely LOVE the guide vocal from Lennon on “God” that’s partly spoken. While I really enjoy the outtake I previously mentioned this new guide vocal really struck me as superb. It may be my current favorite version of this song in fact.

Not to mention the extra vocals on “Hold On”, the unused conga overdub on “I Found Out”, the alternate organ track on “Isolation” and my other favorite the no reverb or echo on “Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)”.

Plus:

“Mother” – just Lennon’s voice, no instruments. Even more haunting than the finished master, such a powerful vocal. The song this bare is so much more raw and edgy. I might like this version the best

“Cold Turkey” – though this is the instrumental take without vocals I really love the take sounding this way. Amazing guitar work and drums. Almost Hendrix like without the vocal

Each and every version on this disc was interesting and different enough that I was totally taken aback by how much I enjoyed this alternate listen. I prefer it to the outtake disc two which is quite good as well.

CD4: THE RAW STUDIO MIXES

I haven’t perused this disc as much as the others but what I’ve heard is quite good as well.

I really love the vocals on the songs I’ve played so far the highlight being the lovely vocal on this version of “Isolation”

Plus:

“Look at Me” – so clear and clean it’s like listening to a song from the Kinfans demo tapes, superb

“Remember” – again the voice is so clear and clean. I love Lennon’s voice without the added echo or processing of the finished mix and with Ringo’s drumming these raw mixes sound like long lost Beatles takes

I’m sure I will take a much closer look at this disc in the future but I do enjoy the less produced rawness of the final versions of these songs that makes them sound like alternate takes but familiar at the same time.

CD5: THE EVOLUTION DOCUMENTARY

This disc, along with the Elements disc, is a real highlight of this set. I absolutely love these versions which feature multiple takes blended together to form a picture of how the songs sounded from demo to finished take.

Highlights for me include:

“Mother” – I love the discussion at the beginning of how to do the song and adding the bell at the beginning, really cool. “All this technical shit” lol. I love the feeling of being in the studio with Lennon and Starr

“Hold On” – I really love the beginning with the fast drumming and Lennon singing hold on in a comical manner, great studio banter.

“Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)” – this is the highlight of the entire set for me. I love listening to snippets of all the takes from this session. Truly a fly on the wall experience that doesn’t get boring at least not to me.

I am so surprised at how much I enjoyed this Evolution disc. There was a similar disc in the “Imagine” set but this disc is just so fun to listen to probably because of the presence of Harrison and Starr so prominent throughout these various takes. I guess the dream wasn’t completely over, it was just sleeping.

The fact that I nearly didn’t buy this set because I feared I’d never listen to the Elements or Evolution discs makes me so glad I caved as these two discs are probably my favorite Lennon archive discs I’ve heard so far – they’re that enjoyable for me.

CD6: THE JAMS & THE DEMOS

I actually enjoyed this disc more than I thought I would much like the Elements disc. It may not get as much play time as the Elements and Evolution discs but it’s well worth a listen and very enjoyable.

Highlights for me include:

“Mother” – home demo on electric guitar with a flangy effect that makes the song sound almost like a cousin to the first take of “Tomorrow Never Knows” meets country and western.

“Isolation” – a studio demo with a lot of echo on Lennon’s vocal. Not too different from the regular studio take but another really nice vocal from Lennon

“Love” – another home demo with that same flangy effect on the vocal as the “Mother” demo. Nice to hear it played on electric guitar instead of piano. Reminds me a bit of “Free as a Bird” for some reason

“God” – again played on the guitar instead of piano and much faster than the studio take. Also has a country and western swing to it. It really takes the edge off the lyrics in this version.

“Honey Don’t” and “Matchbox” – I really love that these two jams are both Lennon vocals much like he had done in the BBC days before Ringo took them over for the studio recordings. Both of these are reasonably complete unlike some of the other jams which are just minute snippets. These would have been nice additions to b-sides of his singles at the time

“Mystery Train” – a nice Dylanesque take on this Elvis tune. One of my favorite songs. Not exactly finished sounding but certainly better sounding than a lot of the Get Back era jams

The Blu-Rays:

I haven’t really explored the Dolby Atmos or 5.1 mixes yet I usually save those to last because I’m not a huge surround sound fan. I will get around to trying them I just haven’t at the moment.

I have skimmed most of the other things on the blu-rays and I must say they all sound really great.

And I have to say I actually liked most of the Yoko sessions for her Plastic Ono Band album. There are a couple of moments that weren’t my favorite but all in all it’s an interesting sounding album with the same band that played on Lennon’s album.

Surprisingly I may go back to it from time to time. Again, something I never thought I would say but these raw takes of the “Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band” album are really a good listen.

These two blu-rays discs will certainly get more attention then I thought they would which is a great thing. Very, very enjoyable for sure.

The 132-Page Book:

The book, as I have said, is really well made and is very informative and is stuffed with terrific photos from the Lennon archive as well as a lot of great information that really takes you into the sessions of this album and the times in which it was made.

This book alone is nearly worth the price of admission for the set. I love the great quotes from Lennon and Ono on most of the songs on the album as well as the thoughts of the engineers on how and why they did what they did with all the mixes that are present in this set.

In a word superb!

Conclusion:

I must admit I’m happily surprised at how much time I’ve spent listening to this set in a short time frame yet I’ve never grown tired of the multiple takes and versions of the eleven songs from the original “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band” album. Plus the three singles they added to the set are some of my favorite Lennon solo tunes which makes the set that much better in my opinion.

In fact I’d say this new set has made me appreciate the “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band” album much more than I had before especially after listening to the Elements and Evolution discs which are just so good and really take you inside the studio with Lennon in a much more intimate and engaging way than I was anticipating.

Now I realize that probably only die-hard Lennon/Beatles fans are really interested in hearing this much behind the scenes stuff from this album but I was really happy to find that this deep dive into these sessions was very illuminating and entertaining in ways I truly wasn’t expecting.

You’re mileage may vary of course but I’ve found this set to be a blast and one that I will certainly play often and enjoy.

As usual you can take a gander at the set above and below and if you’re not a physical media fan you owe it to yourself to at least check out some of this sets contents on You Tube.

You can experience John Lennon sing at near the peak of his powers and blast his way through some truly engaging and at times harrowing songs that put his personal feelings out for all to see more so than any other music he ever made in his short but brilliant career.

Well, that’s all for now. I hope you are all well and enjoying this lovely spring day.

Until next time stay safe and play some music!

Early Morning Blu-Rays and Green$$$: “The Monkees – The Complete Series” 10-Disc Blu-Ray Set

Can you believe the 50th anniversary of “The Monkees” as both a TV show and as a recording act was five years ago? Tell me it’s not true. Seriously how can that be five years ago already? A lot can happen in five years. Just take a look at The Monkees.

Since all the hoopla of their fiftieth anniversary and the release of their well-received album “Good Times!” the group managed to put out their first Christmas album, “Christmas Party” in 2018, as well as release what I would consider their best live album “The Monkees Live – The Mike and Micky Show” just this past year.

As you may have noticed by the title of “The Monkees Live – The Mike and Micky Show” The Monkees are now sadly down to two members as group stalwart and perennial class clown Peter Tork passed away in 2019. Nesmith himself has also had a few bouts with health issues culminating in quadruple bypass heart surgery during the first leg of “The Mike and Micky Show” tour in 2018.

Indeed a lot can happen in five years.

As a matter of fact one of the weirdest things to happen since 2016 has been the disappearance of the best (in my humble opinion) Monkees reissue of all-time. I’m talking about the crème de la crème collection of the bulk of their video work from the 1960’s– “The Monkees – The Complete Series” a 10-disc Blu-Ray set.

Not I know I can be prone to hyperbole on occasion but let me say that this 2016 box set of The Monkees complete series has got to be not only one of the best executed Monkees sets ever and as it now turns out it may be one of the rarest as well.

I remember when this set was first announced by its compiler Andrew Sandoval I dutifully followed its progress for several months as the episodes were being scanned in HiDef by Sony and as the bonus material was being selected. I, for one, from the get-go always thought that this set would be (and definitely is!) worth the $200 asking price.

(Note: Plus the set comes with a 45 vinyl single in a groovy picture sleeve (again, see photos) that contains the TV mixes of “Goin’ Down” (with a live vocal by Micky Dolenz) as well as “Star Collector”.)

Unfortunately “The Monkees – The Complete Series” set was greeted with much skepticism, online at least, from many diehard Monkees fans.

First there was the main issue the price. Yes, $200 was steep BUT these episodes are never going to look better and they are by far better looking than any other transfer of the series I’ve ever seen. The colors really pop and the sound even in its original mono presentation is crisp and clean and not muddled like the previous Rhino DVD issue of the episodes.

Then of course there was a lot of complaining about the bonus content.

First off fans were miffed that there weren’t as many alternate soundtracks available as advertised. Second there were issues with some minute footage missing from the “33 1/3 Revolutions per Monkee” show. (Note: On both counts neither issue was a big deal to me. I would have loved more alternate soundtrack songs but the rest of the bonus material was so good it didn’t matter to me).

But as I look at it what you did get was FANTASTIC! Here are my favorites from the bonus content disc which I play and enjoy quite often:

  • Monkees camera and screen tests
  • A host of outtake footage cut to songs like the alternate “I Can’t Get Her Off of My Mind”  – this includes some great footage of Davy on a huge piece of ice being pulled through downtown LA by the other three Monkees
  • A truly pristine looking print of the unaired pilot episode with the alternate opening and closing credits with Boyce and Hart providing the vocals on the songs in the episode
  • A lot of “HEAD” outtake footage with great looking yet silent footage paired with songs from the movie along with lesser looking footage with sound but including some of the footage with Davy and Micky in front of the mirror (from a deleted sequence in the film) as well as footage from inside the black box. Truly some terrific stuff!
  • Outtakes from the “33 1/3 Revolutions per Monkee” TV special including the uncut live take of “Listen to the Band” which may be some of the best live footage ever captured of the group and the last time the original foursome would play together live until 1986.
  • Rerun versions with alternate mixes of “French Song”, “I Never Thought it Peculiar” and “Midnight Train”.

That is no means the complete list of bonus content (see photo above) but this bonus disc alone is worth the  price of the set let alone the stunning transfers of the original Monkees TV episodes.

Then of course there were also issues with damaged boxes. It seems the weight of the discs caused the inner gold cardboard holder to rip and tear. The outer box cover photo of The Monkees with the lenticular 3D photo also came off on several sets and needed to be glued back in place, again a weight issue I’m guessing.

I have to admit these issues were a bit more of a problem. I too received a ripped inner holder and a loose lenticular photo but emailed Rhino Records and they quickly sent me a brand new box with an intact inner holder and cover (see above). For me the issues with the box were solved but I do wish that Rhino had packaged the set in a plastic holder and included a deluxe book instead of the packaging they chose but the box as is is truly lovely.

Because of all of the complaints about content and the manufacturing errors this magnificent box set became tainted in the eyes of quite a few fans. The set was limited to 10,000 copies manufactured and sold exclusively on Monkees.com but after selling about half of the 10,000 copies the set was taken down for sale from Monkees.com.

Andrew Sandoval who put the set together for Rhino said recently that when Rhino moved the location of their shipping facilities they lost track of the rest of the manufactured run of 10,000 blu-ray sets not sold and the unassembled boxes that came with them.

How does this happen? I have no idea. I hope that someday Rhino tracks the rest of the unsold discs and sells them in a smaller and more sturdy packaging. It’s truly a shame that all the work that went into making this set is only available to the few thousand that managed to purchase the box.

I guess the new HD transfers will be used by Sony in the future as they own the rights for broadcast of the series so hopefully the sparkling new transfers will be out there for streaming someday.

As for the blu-ray set it does crop up for sale on ebay but it goes for WELL beyond the $200 asking price. For those of you who may want to splurge on the set it is indeed a lovely and wonderful thing to behold. Worth the money that it now goes for, that’s up to you. I love my set and am so glad I got it when I did.

I would hope that even a new DVD release of these transfers by Rhino would be great and cheaper than the blu-ray set but I don’t hold out much hope for that in the current sorry state of DVD sales. Plus Rhino/Warner Brothers who own The Monkees rights now seem to have lost interest in Monkees releases so that really makes a new DVD set unlikely.

Anyway, I thought I’d share some thoughts and photos of this really great blu-ray set.

Until next time be well and I hope you’ve managed to get the Covid-19 vaccine!

Bye until next time.

Meet the Monkees in South Africa – “The Monkees” 32-173 Mono Pressing

Sometimes you just get plain lucky when you buy something from the Internet.

I mean, most times you know what you’re getting but every now and again you think you’re ordering one thing and get something else.  Sometimes what you get is better and sometimes it’s worse. 

Case in point, I ordered an imported vinyl record of The Monkees first album simply entitled “The Monkees”. From the description it sounded as if it was an RCA pressing from the UK. It said it came in a nice laminated cover, had great sound quality and was overall in very nice shape.

The price was right so I thought I’d take a chance and buy it. I don’t own many UK Monkees pressings so what the heck, I love to add foreign pressings to my collection. If they’re under $20 including shipping which this was then it’s a no-brainer for me.

The album arrived a couple of days ago and to my major surprise it was indeed a lovely copy of “The Monkees” on the RCA label but it wasn’t a UK pressing but a pressing from South Africa!!! I knew that Monkees records were pressed in South Africa but I figured they were quite rare and probably would look and sound crummy.

Well my friends not only does this South African copy of “The Monkees” sound terrific but the cover and the label are in great shape and the album looks as if it was only played a couple of times if that. It’s a very nice clean and crisp sounding copy of the mono mix of this album.

A couple of years ago I stumbled on a pristine mono Colgems copy of this album (see a previous blog post) which sounded really nice and this South African pressing not only equals the sound of that copy it might actually sound a tad bit BETTER. This 32-173 pressing has super quiet vinyl and while not overloaded with bass much like the Colgems pressing sounds nice and full with really warm and crisp vocals.

I’ve only seen a photo of this South African pressing on one other Website, one of my favorite Monkees Websites: http://monkee45s.net/Albums/South_Africa.html

If you take a look at the pressing from the above link the one that I now own has slightly different label text and the RCA Label and 32-173 on the cover aren’t in white box like they are in that photograph from monkees45s.net. Is mine a later pressing? Pressed in another country then imported to South Africa? I have no idea. 

All I can say is that this record sounds damn good and makes me want to track down more South African Monkees pressings though I doubt that would be very easy to accomplish as I’ve never seen them for sale online much at all.

I see that the inner sleeve says it was made in Britain so are the covers made in the UK and imported to South Africa? Is the record itself pressed in South Africa or is that imported as well? Again I have no idea. Interesting though.

I also love how the cover to this South African pressing still has the misspelling “Papa Jean’s Blues” on the cover yet has the correct “Papa Gene’s Blues” on the label. Minute yes but interesting to the collector in me.

Oh and there’s also an interesting selection of letters pressed into the matrix grooves on each side of the album. There’s the TZRM number as well which comes from the Colgems master tape number but I have no idea what the selection of letters between dots stands for. Anyone out there familiar with South African pressings? If so drop me a line or comment here and let me know.

Anyway, just a quick post for all the Monkees fans out there. I figured all those Monkees nerds out there like me might like to see and hear about a fairly rare foreign pressing of The Monkees first album. I was just so excited to get this pressing that I had to share it here for those of you who are interested. 

As usual you can take a look at some photos of this groovy South Africa pressing of “The Monkees” above and below. 

Until next time be safe and well and I hope you’ve been able to get your Covid Vaccine!

More Monkees and more soon to come.

A Digital Hello from Ringo Starr with “Zoom In” – His New Vinyl/CD EP

Things seem to be getting better all the time to borrow a phrase from one of my all-time favorite groups. What with spring finally arriving and Covid vaccines coming to the fore, at least in the US, there seems to be more hope in the air in first three months of 2021 than there was in the entire year of ugh that was 2020.

To top off all these good vibes comes a burst of digital cheer from none other than former Beatle Ringo Starr with the release yesterday of his new mini album or digital EP (whatever you want to call it) titled “Zoom In”.

This groovy new collection of five tunes lasts about twenty minutes and is a fun burst of energy that doesn’t overstay its welcome and because of that is ripe for repeated listening. And for all you physical media fans “Zoom In” comes on both vinyl as well as CD and is also available to stream at all the usual digital watering holes for those of you who could care less about owning your music but still may want to sample some of the songs.

So far this year I haven’t really bought any newer music so it’s a pleasure to discover an old friend sending out a kind musical word or two to help put out some much needed positivity into the universe after so many months of gloom.

I know a lot of folks may say Ringo Starr, really? But for me Ringo’s musical output from 1992 on has included some of the strongest and most entertaining music of his solo career and I can always count on at least a gem or two on every record he’s released in that time and this new EP is no exception.

Here’s a brief thought or two on each of the fives songs from “Zoom In”:

“Here’s to the Nights” – You know when I first had heard this song it didn’t really strike me as being great but serviceable. Now that I’ve heard it a couple more times I really enjoy it. It might be a tad bit generic in places but the lyrics fit 2020 like a glove. The melody does remind me of Paul McCartney’s song “Hope for the Future”. Speaking of Paul McCartney he’s featured on background vocals but you can’t really hear him that well. There are other big league back vocalists too like Sheryl Crow and Lenny Kravitz but again it’s hard to make them out. Not a bad song at all. I’d give it to solid “B“.

“Zoom In Zoom Out” – The title track and another decent song. Again a little bit generic but really nice instrumental work and Ringo sounds really good on this song. It has a nice groove and a typical Ringo pop tune circa 2021. Another solid “B

“Teach Me to Tango” I really like this song! I’d say this is my favorite from the EP. It has a great chorus and is a nice fast-paced song that’s played really well and Ringo sounds vocally the best of the five tunes on the album. In fact given his age Ringo sounds overall pretty good vocally these days. Yes there is a touch of autotune here and there but really he sounds pretty solid. I’d give this song an “A” and will definitely come back to it for repeated future spins.

“Waiting for the Tide to Turn” – For some reason this reminds me of an ’80s Police type tune with a little reggae mixed in. The first time I heard it it was a little bit generic but after a couple more plays I really like it. In fact I like the soulful backing vocals a lot. I’d give it a “B+

“Not Enough Love in the World” – I really enjoyed this song because the lyrics speak to so much of what I’ve been feeling  throughout 2020. It’s been such an isolating and sad year that this song’s message really struck a cord with me. It’s a breezy pop tune that would have sounded nice on any of Ringo’s ’70s albums. I give this another “B+

All in all I really enjoyed this ep. It’s a nice 20 minutes of solid pop/rock from Ringo which is always a good thing in my book. If you enjoyed any of Ringo’s work from the last 30 years or so this is on par with most of that and while it may be not as strong as his recent “Postcards from Paradise” album it’s still a solid and enjoyable piece of work.

My main criticism of this fine collection I’d say is the mix which is a tad bit muddy. It sounds good but a little thick and homogeneous in spots. It doesn’t bother me enough from enjoying the album but it would have been nice to hear a clearer mix but oh well I’ll take what I can get and am just glad Ringo’s still out there rocking in his own unique way.

At any rate it’s great to hear form an old friend. I’ve always enjoyed Ringo’s work and this is just another fun digital postcard that I will take out and enjoy every now and again. I think the shorter format works well for Ringo and I look forward to hearing more as he’s said that he’s working on another mini album as we speak.

As usual there are photos above of the CD version of “Zoom In”. I’m not sure if I’ll grab the vinyl version but like all things Beatle or ex-Beatle with me you never know.

Until next time be well and safe and I hope it’s a sunny and warm day in your part of the world!

 

A Closer Look: The Monkees “Headquarters Deluxe Edition” by Friday Music

Today we’re taking a look back on 2013 as well as 1967. What? Let me explain.

First, let’s set the dial of the way back time machine to the early part of 1967. At that time, in the United States at least, The Monkees were probably the hottest new musical group on the scene. (You see I said group, more on that in a minute).

By the time The Monkees went into the studio to record their third album called “Headquarters” they had already had two number one singles (“Last Train to Clarksville” and “I’m a Believer”) as well as two number one albums (“The Monkees” and “More of The Monkees”).

In fact “More of The Monkees” was in the midst of it’s eighteen week run at the number one spot atop the Billboard charts after having overtaken “The Monkees” which had spent thirteen weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 200.

You see my friends those kind of sales numbers aren’t just big they are HUGE. That kind of overnight success tends to turn peoples heads and many in the music industry were in an uproar that this “fake” TV group was outselling practically everyone without seeming to have paid their dues or even be real musicians.

It was in the midst of this kind of criticism and animosity that The Monkees, spearheaded by group members Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork, decided to make a stand and have the group not only record their vocals but also be allowed to play their own instruments on the music that they recorded.

It’s long been the spiel of many a Monkees critics that not only did the group members not play their own music but they were just four pretty faces picked at random to fill TV roles and none of them possessed any musical talent at all. That’s far from the truth.

Yes The Monkees was a TV show about a rock group that wanted to be The Beatles but somewhere along the line the fictional Monkees became an actual band that far outlasted the TV series from which they came.

The “Headquarters” album, in my opinion, is where The Monkees story really becomes interesting. This “fake” TV band did indeed morph into a pretty darn good bonified group that contained not only one of the best pop singers of the era (Micky Dolenz) but one truly superb songwriter (Mike Nesmith) as well.

Truly all four group members wrote some very good songs (just take a listen to the Dolenz penned “Randy Scouse Git” and Tork’s “For Pete’s Sake” both from “Headquarters”) and all four could sing and play very well. If the group members had little talent or musical ability then there’s no way they could have created such a long lasting legacy in the music world.

So where does this lead me, it leads me to today’s look at my favorite digital version of the “Headquarters” album which was released by Friday Music in 2013.

Actually this Friday Music 2 CD set called “Headquarters Deluxe Edition” is really a reissue of Rhino Records Deluxe CD version of “Headquarters” which came out in 2007. The main differences from Rhino’s set was that Friday Music’s version came in a standard CD case instead of a fold open digi-pak and had a different mastering of the music which was a bit quieter and more dynamic than Rhino’s set.

Both sets had the same bonus tracks but for some reason the Friday Music set deleted the slates or session chat that came before the start of the songs which I love but I’m guessing many fans can live without.

I’ve read online that some folks think that the mastering for the main stereo and mono versions of the “Headquarters” album came from Rhino’s “Headquarters Sessions” 3 CD set but as I’m uncertain of how this mastering happened all I know is that it sounds better to me than the 2007 Rhino version and is well worth seeking out for fans of this album.

I have also posted a vlog about this Friday Music CD release as well as a couple of other versions of “Headquarters” below:

As usual I have posted photos (above) of the groovy Friday Music 2 CD issue and while I believe this set may be out of print I think you can still find copies online fairly easily but that may change in the near future as people seem to be leaving physical forms of music behind fairly rapidly these days.

Well, that’s all for now. I just wanted to take a quick look at this lovely reissue which has pretty much fallen through the cracks.

I hope you are all healthy and well and until next time be safe and listen to some music! Preferably good music or at least some older good music.

See you next time.

Way Back Time Machine 1971-75: Old Store Stock, Promo Partridges and David Cassidy Vinyl Finds

Isn’t it nice to be so close to spring? Warmer weather, longer daylight – ahhh. I hope wherever you are the weather is getting better and God willing 2021 will be a MUCH better year than 2020.

I haven’t posted on here in about a month or so but in that time I did manage to find a few new pieces of vinyl (shocking I know) so I thought I’d share them with you today.

As per usual at this blog we’ve turned the way back time machine to the past, the 1970’s in fact. I’ve been in a seventies mood lately and seeing as it’s been such a craptacular winter I thought it might be fun to track down some albums I used to own on vinyl back in the day.

At one time or another I owned all three of these albums I’m looking at today (Sound Magazine and Shopping Bag by The Partridge Family and The Higher They Climb, The Harder They Fall by David Cassidy) but as I was under ten years old at the time those copies didn’t survive very well, or not at all, so I wanted to find some pristine copies.

As luck would have it some online scavenging turned up a lovely and NM promo copy of Sound Magazine as well as sealed old stock copies of Shopping Bag and The Higher They Climb, The Harder They Fall.

For anyone whose ever read this blog knows I love me some promo copies as well as old sealed vinyl. To me there’s no better way to time travel than to get a hold of old sealed copies of records I used to see all the time in the groovy old 1970’s.


First off, the promo copy of The Partridge Family’s Sound Magazine has to be heard to be believed. Not only is the vinyl nice and quiet but this pressing sound utterly amazing – great bass, nice presence on the vocals – it’s truly like hearing the record for the first time.

Last year I posed a blog about how nice a promo copy I found of another Partridge Family album (Up to Date) sounded and this copy of Sound Magazine sounds even better!

Stock copies of Bell Records vinyl, The Partridge Family’s record label, are notoriously hit or miss but these promo copies are by far the best sounding way to hear Partridge Family recordings I’ve ever found.

Case in point, the sealed copy of Shopping Bag (which I promptly opened) sounded good but there were several slight marks on the vinyl when I first pulled it out of the sleeve. I’m sure it probably slide around in the cover a lot seeing as how it’s nearly fifty years old (yikes!) but even pristine unopened Bell Records don’t sound quite as nice and as full as their promo cousins.

The sealed copy of The Higher They Climb, The Harder They Fall must have fared better as there was not a mark in sight and it sounded just great. Good record too. At the time when it came out I couldn’t stand the soulfulness in Cassidy’s vocals as compared to the sound of his Partridge vocals but today it sounds sounds so amazing. What a voice.

Too bad Cassidy never found the critical acclaim he craved as he was truly a gifted singer and not a bad songwriter to boot.

Anyway, I just thought I’d share my Partridge loot here and as a bonus I thought I’d join the 21st Century and am sharing my first vlog! It’s not the best quality but what the hey I thought I’d give it a try:

Also as per usual I’ve also shared quite a few photos of these records and the video above also includes a VG+ stock copy of Cassidy’s Rock Me Baby album which I found this month as well.

That’s all for now. I hope you’re safe and healthy and looking forward to warmer weather and hopefully better times in 2021.

Until next time be well and see you soon!