Bell Records NOT FOR SALE – The Monkees “Re-Focus” and “David Cassidy’s Greatest Hits” Promo Albums

Well, time does fly. Last time I dropped down into Webland it was still 2019 and it was right before New Year’s Eve.

Wham bam it’s now February 2020 so I thought it might be high time for a new blog post.

Today I’m going to share a couple of albums that I got in the past month or so that I think are really fun. Both of them happen to be on Bell Records and both of them are promo copies!

Now I’ve gone nearly 50 some years and have never run across Bell Records promo copies and now in the last six moths I’ve bought three of them (note: see my post from a few months ago about my promo copy of The Partridge Family’s “Up to Date”).

So today I bring you promo vinyl copies of 1972’s “Re-Focus” by The Monkees and 1974’s “David Cassidy’s Greatest Hits”.

As I said in my blog of my promo copy of The Partridge Family’s “Up to Date” there’s definitely a difference in sound quality with the promo Bell Records pressings vs their non promo cousins.

And when it comes to these two promos that continues to hold true.

Let’s start with The Monkees “Re-Focus”.

“Re-Focus” was released a year after The Monkees original label Colgems folded and since The Monkees recordings were owned by Columbia Pictures it’s seems logical that this album would be relased on Bell Records since it was now owned by Columbia Pictures.

Looking back “Re-Focus” is sort of an odd title as it’s basically a greatest hits album (wouldn’t you think mentioning hits would be a good idea) that was I’m sure designed to appeal to the Saturday morning crowd who were enjoying re-runs of “The Monkees” TV show which was then running on ABC-TV.

The album is actually a really nice selection of songs but would have been perfect with the addition of “Valleri” which was one of The Monkees biggest hits and their last Top Ten hit to boot.

(Note: this album was re-released with the exact same songs in 1976 on Arista Records and re-named “The Monkees Greatest Hits”. It also happened to eventually sell over a million copies in this configuration as well)

Nonetheless the album cover is fun and I remember seeing this album in cut-out bins throughout the 1970’s (which is where it was purchased for me originally) and I also remember being really surprised it was on a record label other then Colgems which I thought was really cool.

The promo pressing which I found a few weeks ago sounds really nice and is definitely a much better pressing than my old stock copy.

While it does tend to sound thin with the bass lacking on certain songs it’s a super quite pressing and overall sounds nice with better separation and clarity as compared to the regular copy.

I’m guessing that the tapes for this album were compiled from copy tapes which wouldn’t surprise me and may account for the overall thin sound present on several tracks.

“David Cassidy’s Greatest Hits”, which I just found two weeks ago, on the other hand sounds spectacular!  In fact the songs on this pressing may be some of the best sounding versions I’ve ever heard of these songs.

Not only does the album look like it’s never been played it plays perfectly quiet as well with a clarity and presence to all the songs that I wasn’t expecting.

(Note 2: the album contains all the biggest Partridge Family hits as well as David Cassidy’s solo hits for Bell Records)

Seeing as this is a compilation album I was kind of expecting it to sound a bit like it was compiled from copy tapes much like “Re-Focus” but every single song on this pressing sounded superb and much better than I would have guessed it they would sound. The songs must have been taken from the original tapes or this Lp is just mastered really well as the sound is terrific.

Much like my promo copy of The Partridge Family’s “Up to Date” this promo copy absolutely smokes the stock copy version of the album (yes, I own a regular pressing too) with much better clarity and bass then the normal pressing.

And, like the regular stock copy, this promo pressing contains the “whoops” moment with the song “Could it Be Forever” actually playing “Blind Hope” even though the label and sleeve list “Could it Be Forever”.

I’ve always thought that was a careless and sloppy mistake but with Cassidy’s star power diminishing in the United States I’m guessing Bell Records just wanted to cash in quickly on any sales a hit collection may bring and if they made a mistake oh well. I love the song “Blind Hope” at least so I’m glad it’s on the Lp.

The really intriguing thing about this particular promo pressing of “David Cassidy’s Greatest Hits” is the EMI Music Publishing Archive sticker on the front of the Lp. That’s another first as I’ve never had a promo Lp that was from a music publisher’s archive library. Very cool!

I’m guessing that’s why it looks like it’s never been played as  I’m guessing it probably hasn’t ever touched a turntable until mine.

Well, there you go, 2020 is off and running on this blog and in interesting style! I hope the year brings some interesting musical discoveries and whatever I may run across I’ll be sure to share with you fine folks.

Until next time be well and above you can take a gander at these two promo Bell Records beauties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goodbye 2019 with Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” (Picture Disc – Walmart Exclusive)

 

Well here we are, a couple of days from the new year and all is … warm?

Yes instead of a white Christmas it’s been a white hot Christmas with temperatures hovering around 60 degrees (a rare occurrence in these parts at this time of year) which is just fine by me.

I’m dreaming of a warm New Year’s Eve filled with laughter, good food, good times and of course music.

And to close out this fine warm week I can think of no better way to celebrate  a new  year coming than to highlight a brand vinyl new acquisition.

Before I do I must say how much it warms my heart to see the younger generation grab onto some physical media music. I was in a local record store a couple of days ago and was floored to see it filled with younger shoppers all with stacks of vinyl albums to buy.

Not only that but yesterday I was at a family gathering and lo and behold a groovy teenager there (Hi Zoey!) excitedly got a new turntable and several new vinyl albums (one was the new 2019 Beatles “Abbey Road” pressing – LOVE that). Warmed my heart, it really did! I thought all forms of physical media were passe but this week has brightened my outlook a bit.

Anyway, today I want to highlight an early birthday present I received yesterday as well – a most groovy picture disc vinyl pressing of one of my all-time favorite Elton John albums “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”.

This new gem is a Walmart exclusive apparently (at least it says so on the hype sticker) and on the back has a copyright date of 2014. I have loved this particular album since I first heard it in the late 1970’s when I got a beat up original copy at a local flea market.

Since that time I’ve owned this album on a few different CD pressings but haven’t owned it on vinyl in years since that beat up copy bite the dust and was traded in years a go in one of my vinyl purges at the dawn of the CD era.

It;s nice to have this album again on vinyl and who would have thought that Walmart of all places would have such a fun exclusive like this.

I must say that Walmart does seem to have an abundance of cool vinyl exclusives. They also have five Fleetwood Mac colored vinyl albums (their big five sellers including “Rumours”) that are only available otherwise in a more expensive box set online.

So when I saw this groovy new pressing of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” come my way as an early present (my birthday is in just over two weeks) I was tickled to err, yellow?

Now picture discs notoriously don’t sound the best. They look pretty but most times lack in sound quality as compared to normal black vinyl pressings.

I am happy to report though that after playing these two beauties I was pleasantly surprised to find that they sounded pretty darn great! They weren’t the quietest pressings I’ve ever owned but aside from a few clicks and ticks here and there the mastering on this set sounds superb.

Everything is nice and full bodied sounding with great bass and clean and crisp vocals that really is one of the better listening experiences  I’ve ever had with this album – go figure!

Both discs in the set are picture discs (see above) and of course the cover is an exact replica of the original 1970’s pressing I owned once upon a time which really gets the nostalgia wheels going in my head.

All in all this is a great pressing to track down if your an Elton John fan or a fan of cool and unusual pressings like picture discs. In fact the price of the set is the same as a normal pressing of the album so really not a bad deal.

I may have to wander to some other Walmart stores to see if there’s any other cool exclusive vinyl I’ve missed but until then this new Elton John set will do just fine. Pardon me while I take a spin on the the way back machine before the New Year festivities later this week.

As usual you can take a gander above at some photos I took this groovy set.

Until next time and possibly next year be safe, have a great end of the holidays and be well!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Their Christmas Card to You – “A Partridge Family Christmas Card”

You realize it’s only ten days until Christmas, right?

As I’m sure you’re frantically getting ready (or maybe frantically avoiding) for the mad rush to buy Christmas gifts, meal planning, etc., I thought this might be a good time to do my annual Christmas post.

And in my neck of the Internet world Christmas time means music. Not only music but taking a dip into physical media music – naturally, what else?

Last year around this same time I posted a Christmas blog featuring my vinyl albums of  “The Partridge Family Christmas Album” (from the UK no less) and “The Waltons’ Christmas Album” just to bring a decidedly ’70’s Christmas vibe to your family’s Christmas table.

Well this year I’m still in a ’70’s mood so why not have a ’70’s Christmas Part II! This year I’m also highlighting a Partridge Family vinyl album as well – their 1971 U.S. album “A Partridge Family Christmas Card” which was released on Bell Records (along with the first CD version just for grins).

Ahhhh Christmas 1971. I would be lying if I said I remember it well but oddly enough (or not so oddly if you know me at all) I do remember getting “A Partridge Family Christmas Card” as one of my Christmas presents that year.

The fleeting memory that pops into my head is of me thinking how cool it was that the album came with an actual Christmas card (the first pressing of the album indeed had one tucked into a slot on the front cover) and also an irritating memory of one of my older brothers disgust at a Partridge Family album as he thought they weren’t cool.

(Note: I’m sure The Partridge Family still aren’t cool in many sectors but hey there’s no accounting for people’s lack of taste lol!)

Seeing as I was only five years old at the time I’m surprised I remember anything at all from 1971 but whenever I take a glance at the cover of “A Partridge Family Christmas Card” those memories come flooding right back into my mind.

I also remember that for the next two or three years at Christmas time I would see the “A Partridge Family Christmas Card” album flooding record bins at my local Kmart or Ayr-Way stores. The funny thing was I also distinctly remember being amazed that the cool Christmas card that was on my copy had been replaced by a photo instead – ahhh.

I thought it was so strange that they would do that and remember being glad I had the first issue copy with the actual Christmas card.

Fast forward a few decades or so to last week when I finally came across this 1972 pressing of “A Partridge Family Christmas Card” (with just the photo of the
Christmas card on the cover) once again. Lo and behold not only was this beauty still sealed but it seemed to be a record club pressing to boot (I think anyway – notice the R113816 on the lower rear cover).

At the time I thought this pressing was lame but since I haven’t seen this reissue cover in over 40 years or so I was overjoyed to see a copy and one on such perfect condition was hard for me  to resist buying it.

Of course I bought this new/old pristine copy (shocker) since it wasn’t too expensive and decided to do this blog featuring all the U.S. pressings I own of this album plus the CD version.

As you can see from the photos above the new copy is immaculate and you also see the first vinyl pressing as well plus the Razor & Tie CD version of the album from 1992.

Of course I have some major nostalgia fueled feelings about this record but it is a really fun Christmas album and it contains what I think should have been a stone cold classic Christmas song “My Christmas Card to You” which is one of the best songs ever released on a Partridge Family record.

Written by Tony Romeo, who also wrote The Partridge Family’s biggest hit the No. 1 “I Think I Love You”, “My Christmas Card to You” contains an irresistible and catchy hook and as well as a terrific David Cassidy vocal and some charming lyrics which equals pure pop Christmas bliss.

Too bad it”s not heard on the radio at all anymore as it really should be part of any pop music fans Christmas playlist.

The CD pictured above sounds pretty good as well and has been reissued once again by Sony Music (this version is long out of print) but I don’t own that copy so I can’t say how it sounds but it does look pretty similar to the Razor and Tie CD I own (see above).

Well there you have it.

Another groovy early 1970’s Christmas present for those who remember or those who have the urge to discover some ’70’s Christmas music magic.

Until next time be well and …

“To you and all your family, your neighbors and your friends, may all days be happy with a joy that never ends” (from “My Christmas Card to You” by Tony Romeo and recorded by  The Partridge Family)

Merry Christmas!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Riding Through the Desert with a Pair of Cosmic Partners – Michael Nesmith with Red Rhodes “Cosmic Partners: The McCabe’s Tapes” on 7a Records

Well, well. In the dying embers of physical media there burns a distant light.

For music lovers that light would be a small boutique record label called 7a Records.

Recently I reviewed another 7a CD package, “Davy Jones – Live in Japan”, and couldn’t say enough positive things about it. Everything from the sound to the packaging and the overall presentation were superb.

Now 7a Records have outdone themselves again with their latest release the equally superb, and possibly better, “Cosmic Partners: The McCabe’s Tapes” CD by Michael Nesmith with Red Rhodes; a live set recorded in McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, CA in August of 1973.

Though Nesmith was at a crossroads in his career at the time and feeling somewhat lost, you would never know it by listening to this sparking live set of some of his best solo work.

You see, 7a Records has been issuing terrific CD and vinyl packages of music by members of ’60’s music phenomena The Monkees, and/or those associated with them, for the past few years and have cultivated a quite impressive collection of releases.

No one, and I mean no one, would have expected a small label could survive releasing obscure solo recordings by ex-Monkees let alone release them in such lovingly produced packages and with such superb sound.

But survive they have as at least someone must be buying their products and I’m here to tell you it’s so worth taking the time to track these releases down as each and every one of them has been a welcome surprise filled with great music that has been neglected through the mists of time.

Weirdly enough, the demise of physical media has probably helped this 7a produce these wonderful packages as I’m sure the big labels have no interest in this stuff and if they did certainly would not put the time and effort to make these releases look and sound as good as 7a does.

So what do we have with this new Michael Nesmith release? I’d say we have pure gold.

First off, let me state that I’ve been a fan of The Monkees since I was well practically a fetus. I grew up a tried and true pop music fan and The Monkees project certainly produced pure gold not only literally but aesthetically as well as their music is a treasure trove of pop classics.

Now I know Mike Nesmith has been fond of saying that his solo career is a different kettle of fish from his work with The Monkees but I have to disagree somewhat.

Anyone who is familiar with The Monkees music at all would be very familiar with the country music leanings of Nesmith’s songwriting as most everything he produced with the group was soaked in his love of country music.

In fact I, like many others I’m sure, was introduced to country music aesthetics through Nesmith’s Monkees music. Songs like “Papa Gene’s Blues”, “What Am I Doing Hangin’ Round” (written by Michael Martin Murphy and Boomer Castleman), “Listen to the Band” and “Good Clean Fun” really brought that genre of music to life for me and primed me for that style of music as I grew older.

Nesmith’s solo career right after the Monkees was highlighted by a string of terrific albums on the RCA Records label that took Nesmith’s country music leanings and built them into some of the best country/rock music of the decade rivaling, and truthfully bettering. that of the more widely heard works by groups like The Eagles and Poco.

Nesmith even had a Top forty hit with the song “Joanne”, a 1970 song that I played to death on 45 even at the tender age of five years old.  There was a melancholy to Nesmtih’s voice in that song that really appealed to me even as a child – I loved and still love songs reeking with melancholy.

I didn’t end up buying Nesmith’s RCA albums until much later in life but when I did I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved the music and how much a lot of it seemed quite familiar to me as they seemed like logical extensions of Nesmith’s writing with The Monkeeas.

I have to say listening to this new “Cosmic Partners” may now be my go to disc when I want to delve into Nesmith’s early solo work.

For starters this may be one of the best sounding and most intimate live albums  I’ve heard in ages. There’s a clarity and languidness to the music that is just entrancing.

In fact the first full song on the album “Tomorrow and Me” feels like an aural ride through the desert at night. It feels like the moon is highlighting the scenery in crystal clear shades of defused white light as you ride through the stillness and warmth of the lonely yet absorbing desert night.

A little dramatic perhaps but I tell you the steel guitar paying of Red Rhodes throughout this live set is mesmerizing. I have never honestly heard anyone else play the pedal steel guitar quite like Rhodes does or who draws me in as much as he does in this recording.

Kudos to Nesmith’s son Christian who co-produced and mastered this disc as it sounds even better to me than Nesmith’s original RCA recordings.

I must also say that Nesmith was at the height of his vocal delivery as he has never sounded so good as he does in this performance.

Of course Nesmith also has some terrific banter with the audience in this show and none more entertaining than “The Great Escape” track which comes across as a mini encapsulation of his whole Monkees experience and a nice precursor to his recent autobiography “Infinite Tuesday: An Autobiographical Riff”.

Other highlights of the disc for me are Nesmtih’s superb renditions of “Joanne”, “Some of Shelley’s Blues”, “Grand Ennui”, “The Crippled Lion”, and one of my all-time favorite Nesmith songs “Propinquity (I’ve Just Begun to Care)”.

In fact hearing “Propinquity (I’ve Just Begun to Care)” come to life in this live set really highlights how far the song had come from the early demo of the tune which resides on “The Monkees” 2006  Deluxe box set.

This new live version is the definitive version of this song for me as Nesmith really breaths new life into this performance in a way that transforms the song into something really special.

Of course as with all 7a Records everything about this CD set shows the loving care that went into it’s production – the cover, the booklet and the packing are all as superb as the sound of the disc itself.

In fact this has to be my favorite sounding 7s recording as I’m amazed at how well this set was recorded.  The fact that it’s from a soundboard recording and not remixed from a multi-track tape is quite something.

If you’re a Nesmith fan or even if your a Monkees fan and have never dipped your toes into Nesmith’s solo career this CD is the perfect place to start to explore
Nesmith at the height of his songwriting and performing career.

In fact this disc sounds so good that I’d say it’s the perfect distillation of Nesmtih’s early solo career and really highlights all the strengths of Nesmith as a songwriter and performer.

As usual take a peek above at some photos of this new 7a Records collection. My copy was purchased directly from Nesmith’s Website (www.videoranch.com) and is personally signed to me which is a lovely bonus. (Note: the black and white sticker pictured above was an exclusive of his Website as well).

If you are in need of discovering some woefully overlooked timeless music from the 1970’s than look no further than “Cosmic Partners”, it’s truly worth your time to track down and enjoy.

See you next time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Faces of “Wings Wild Life”on CD

Last week was the forty-eighth anniversary of one the most maligned albums of Paul McCartney and Wings short tenure together – “Wings Wild Life”.

Recorded very quickly, this was the debut album by McCartney’s follow-up band to The Beatles and because this new band, Wings, would be scrutinized mercilessly it was all out warfare on Paul McCartney in the music press of the day as most reviews were scathing.

Originally released on December 7, 1971, the debut album by one of the most successful pop/rock groups of the 1970’s sort of landed with a thud. It did okay commercially for most bands, it landed in the Top Ten in the U.S. and #11 in the U.K., but for an ex-Beatle this album didn’t set the world on fire that’s for sure.

Truth be told the first time I heard the album in the late 1970’s I was also less than enthused – at least by Side 1. I’ve always enjoyed the songs on Side 2 but could see where the sparse production and lack of polish would put people off especially having been released only a couple of years after The Beatles ultra-polished “Abbey Road”.

Fast forward many, many years later and I along with a number of critics have grown much fonder in their appreciation of this album’s rough and tumble charm.

Looking back this album seems like one of McCartney’s free form aural experiments much like his later more critically acclaimed excursions as the Fireman. I love the looseness and rawness of this album and McCartney was still at the peak of his vocal powers which is still a wonder no matter what he’s signing.

Last years reissue of this album (which included a terrific set of rough mixes of the entire album) has even further cemented this album as a fun experiment in McCartney’s catalog that along with McCartney II from 1980 stands as one of the few times McCartney got this loose on commercial product released under his own name.

So with all that aside, I thought it might be fun to take a look at the first issue of this album on CD – one from the UK and two from the US.

For me the first UK release of this album on CD may be the best issue of this album in digital. I love the 2018 remaster which sounds a lot like this first issue but the first UK CD issue is a more relaxed listen and sounds great.

The UK issue came out way before the US versions so by the time this album reached the states in CD form it had been treated to a bit of No Noise (a process popular in the late 1980’s in which tape hiss was removed from recordings) thus the timings of the two releases are different and they sound a bit different.

The first UK CD has a run time of 50:11 vs the two US CD pressings which have a timing of 50:02.

I actually think the use of No Noise on the US CDs was slight as I think they sound pretty good. The US CDs actually sound a tad louder than the first UK CD issue and a bit more muted on a couple of songs but they sound pretty darn good anyway. I still prefer the sound of the UK release but the Us version is fine as well.

The interesting thing about McCartney solo CDs releases in thew States is that the first issue Capitol CDS don’t contain the MPL clown logo (the logo for Paul McCartney’s McCartney Prodcuction Ltd) and have artwork, especially on the disc itself, that differs from the UK issues.

The later US McCartney CDs add the MPL logo and add artwork that is more in line with the UK CD releases (see photos above).

Some of McCartney’s MPL logo Capitol CDs really overhaul the artwork but as you can see above it’s mainly the disc itself that has a more stylized Wings Wild Life font that matches the original album artwork.

I just happened on the MPL Capitol CD pressing this week as a matter of fact so I thought it might be fun to celebrate the anniversary of this album with a look at the first CD issue.

I know, I know only the true blue Beatles/McCartney freaks will care about this but since I am one of them, what can I tell you? Enjoy! I’ll post more McCartney US CD releases in the future as some of them have drastic artwork changes between issues which is really fun to examine.

Anyway, that’s all for now.

Until next time be well and remember … it’s only 12 days until Christmas! Yikes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

All You Need is Vinyl – The Beatles – The Singles Collection (2019) – A Review

I tried to resist, I truly did.

Any new Beatles music related item has a way of knocking at my brain until I mull it over again and again and then finally give in and purchase it. (Well, at least in most cases).

Anyway, last week a truly lovely box set of 22 vinyl singles was released called “The Beatles – The Singles Collection”. Instead of using strictly American or British sleeves for the records as has been the custom, this new set uses pictures sleeves lovingly reproduced from around the world which in itself is reason alone for collector’s to be intrigued.

But word came that the entire set was also newly mastered completely in analog straight from the original singles masters except for a few songs which don’t have an analog master still surviving or in the case of the 1990’s Beatles singles only have digital masters.

That tasty “analog” factoid my friends is the reason many a collector, me included, were really tempted to get this set. A new mastering in analog is rarely done and has the potential to be truly great.

Now let me preface this by saying I already own a great box set of The Beatles singles that was released in 1982 which sounds terrific. There was truly no NEED for me to buy this set. Yes, it’s beautiful. Yes, it’s got brand new mastering but really another singles collection?

And don’t get me started on the price! This set’s retail list price is around $229 which is a lot of money for something that honestly most collector’s won’t even play much. It is a great looking set but really falls more into the memorabilia side of things for most people and I totally get that.

In fact, I did actually resist this set for quite a long while – for me anyway. I didn’t have it on pre-order and didn’t rush out to buy it last week. I only broke down in the last few days since I had quite a lot of credit at my local record store which made the price MUCH more attractive to me.

Let me also say that there has been a decidedly mixed reaction to this set online as well. Many collector’s have reported warped records, distorted sound and a general lack of quality control for the set.

One big time reviewer thought the set even sounded more digital than analog and he was the one who reported it was all analog as he got it from the mastering engineer himself!

Since I have a weird sense of curiosity I was dying to know for myself how this set sounds. And well, since I have a track record of giving into most things Beatles – here we are.

So after looking and listening to this set the past couple of days here’s what I’ve found:

Pros:

* The artwork throughout the set including the box and booklet is SUPERB! No one online has disputed the fact that these sleeves and labels which reproduce singles from around the world are truly magnificent.

Most of the sleeves look nearly perfect but there has been comment that the “We Can  Work It Out”/”Day Tripper” sleeve has some pixelization on it. It indeed does but I was relieved to see it wasn’t as bad as I feared.

Most everything looks great and each sleeve is made of sturdy cardboard and each single is tucked inside a nice protective paper sleeve.

* The sound of the discs was also a plus for me. These discs are definitely mastered “hot” and most of these songs jump right out of the speaker with a loudness level much like original pressings but with a clarity that’s missing from the few worn originals I personally own.

The 1982 Beatles singles set I own sounds great and this new set actually sounds a bit more aggressive yet more detailed at the same time. Luckily all the singles in my set are nearly dead quiet which is also a plus.

I’ve read online that some folks are having problems tracking these discs (skipping issues) and several folks have reported a lot of distortion as well.

I can say that luckily I didn’t have either issue but at times a couple of the singles were so hot sounding I thought they reached the limit just before distorting but overall I was very pleased by what I heard. I may in fact make a digital CD of the set to play more often as it’s a pain to switch singles all the time.

I guessing the thought with this set was to make the singles sound as close to the sound of the original UK singles as possible. For the most part I think they succeeded.

Some of the singles here sound just great and better than ever: “Love Me Do” (this sounds like the best version of the Ringo drumming take I’ve heard so far), “I Feel Fine”, “Paperback Writer” all sound just great to me.

Some of the singles still sound congested and murky – “Help” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” come to mind – but all of them sound like a different listening experience to me which is a good thing.

Nothing sounded bad to me but after a while I was a bit fatigued by the punchiness of the sound of the early singles but overall I’m very happy with the sound.

The Cons:

* While I didn’t have any skipping issues with these discs I did have six discs in the set that had some slight warping on them. They were not enough to mar the sound but I could see the needle go up and down like a roller coaster but they disc played fine.

Funny enough the worst warp was the “We Can  Work It Out”/”Day Tripper” disc which also had the worst sleeve in the set. Too bad as that was the number one record in the States the week I was born. Lol, maybe we’re just a little warped together.

* I also had two discs that had small blogs on them that I think must have been a glue like substance. Both discs with the issue played fine but had a thud at those spots. I was fortunate to finally be able to remove both spots thought that took some time and effort. Both discs now play thud free but that was a bit of a errr moment for me.

Overall/Conclusion:

So where does this all leave me. Actually overall I’m very pleased with the set. It sounds really nice on my system and now that all the discs are pop/thud free I’m pretty happy. I’m not liking the slight warps on a couple of discs but I’ve played them a couple of times each and they play fine so I’m good.

The sleeves are truly wonderful and it was a blast to play the set even though I was flipping over discs constantly. It reminded me of my long ago days spent on a small turntable pouring over 45’s so nostalgia wins again!

I can see why some people are upset and have returned the set. If they distorted or skipped I would have returned it myself. But they all sound fine so because I got a really good price on the set I’m pleased.

My rating would be:

Packaging: 10

Sound: 8

It’s too bad that at this price point this set sound have any production issues but welcome to 21st Century record buying! it’s become very common thus I limit my vinyl purchasing to Beatles or Monkees items that have unique or new mastering.

So there you have it! Feast your eyes above on this lovely set. As usual I’ve posted quite a few photos so folks can see what’s inside if they decide to take the leap and get the set. I must say though that I may have been lucky as I’ve heard others have worse issues.

I must say you’d have to be a super fan to want to buy this set but then again I’m sure that’s the target audience for this set.

As far as my box set, it looks great and sounds great so I’m happy. It’s a more aggressive sound than my 1982 box singles set but the detail it has and the punch make this a fun listening experience and that’s a really good thing!

That’s all for now.

See you next time!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Black Friday RSD 2019 – The Monkees “Christmas Party Plus!” and Paul McCartney’s “Home Tonight/In a Hurry”

Well, it’s been a bit since I’ve stepped back into this blog world but the day after stuffing myself at Thanksgiving seemed to be the perfect time to say hello.

And of course today is also Black Friday which also happens to be Record Store Day Black Friday so that’s REALLY something to celebrate.

The main Record Store Day takes place in April of every year but today’s little brother off-shoot also offers plenty of indie record store exclusives and for Beatles and Monkees fans it offers two really interesting goodies: a double 45 colored vinyl set by The Monkees called “Christmas Party Plus!” and a groovy picture disc 45 of two brand new Paul McCartney songs called “Home Tonight”/”In a Hurry”.

Luckily, I managed to stroll right into my local record store about ten minutes after they opened this morning and right away scored both discs!

Here’s what I found:

The Monkees “Christmas Party Plus!”:

Now if you’re going to go to the trouble of offering exclusive content for Record Store Day, Rhino Records (who owns The Monkees catalog) did it right!

This lovely colored vinyl double set comes in a nice and sturdy mini-Lp sleeve that looks just like the full album cover for last year’s Monkees release “Christmas Party”. I LOVE the mini sleeve and the green and red discs look and play superb (not a pop to be had)!

I reviewed that album last year and I must say it’s really grown into one of my favorite Monkees releases.

Disc 1 of this set this new plus edition includes  a new radio mix of  the song “Unwrap You At Christmas” which is making it’s first appearance on physical media, It was released online as a download last year but here sounds much better as it’s not as hot or compressed as the download version and is much easier on the ears.

I love this remix though truth be told it’s not dramatically different from the album version but fun nonetheless.

The flip side of Disc 1 contains a charming demo version of the song by Andy Partridge and features vocals by a Holly Partridge which I”m guessing must be his wife.

This demo is in nice sounding stereo and pretty much sounds like The Monkees version but is so good by itself that I may add it to my Christmas playlist as it’s really well done and a nice bonus to have even though there’s  not a Monkee in sight.

Disc 2 contains the superb “Riu Chiu” from The Monkees 1967 Christmas episode which feature acapella vocals form all four Monkees. This version doesn’t sound much different from the version on the vinyl Lp but is always fun to hear as this may be one of the best vocal performances  the group ever did.

The true highlight of this new Plus! edition is the inclusion (finally!) of the original 1976 mix of “Christmas is My Time of Year” which features Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones and Peter Tork and produced by famed Monkees producer Chip Douglas.

This 1976 mix features drumming by Eddie Hoe who played on many 1967 Monkees tracks and while the drums are not as pronounced in the mix and the remix version of this which is available on the Target CD version of “Christmas Party” this 1976 sounds much more like a vintage Monkees track and is much superior to the remix.

I’m not sure if this 1976 mix is taken from master tape as it sounds a little less dynamic than the remix version (a likely reason Rhino has used the remix version) but it sounds really good and is much better than the old cassette bootleg version I own which is resson to celebrate.

All in all a great release and well worth tracking down one of the limited 5000 of this set that were pressed.

Paul McCartney – “Home Tonight””In a Hurry”

Well what can I say, two brand new Paul McCartney tracks on an exclusive picture disc – what’s not to love!

These two new tracks were supposedly recorded during the sessions for McCartney’s “Egypt Station” album which came out last year and were available last week as downloads.

Both songs are making their physical media debut on this 45 and surprisingly sound great on this disc and are a bit smoother sounding on vinyl than the download versions.

Picture discs are notorious for their less than stellar sound but this disc was really super quiet and though there was a trace of rumble before the music started for the most part both of these songs sound just great here and are well worth owning.

Honestly I love both of these songs but “In a Hurry” is currently my favorite of the two so far. It’s a shame these two tracks weren’t on the “Egypt Station”  album as they are much more enjoyable than say “Come On to Me” and “Fuh You” and would have made the album much stronger in their place.

These two new songs sound much more like vintage McCartney and less modern than the two songs I just mentioned which is probably why they didn’t make the album proper but they are light and breezy and melodic as hell which in my book is what I associate with McCartney’s best work and they are a joy to listen to and this lovely picture disc is a welcome release for them.

Well there you have it. Happy Black Friday shopping if you’re out and about in the crowds. If you’re a record fan and are lucky enough to have an independent record store in your area that participates in Record Store Day then you might want to try and track these two new groovy releases down.

Until next time be well and Happy Holidays!!!