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:


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:


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.


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. 


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)”.


“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.


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”


“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.


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.


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!


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 but after selling about half of the 10,000 copies the set was taken down for sale from

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:

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 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!

Peter Tork Gets His Due With “Stranger Things Have Happened” Reissue on 7a Records

Ahhh January. Cold, wet, grey and the holidays are over.

Sounds fun right? Well, not all is lost. I’ve been catching up on some new CD releases, something that always cheers me up, and I thought I’d share some thoughts about a really wonderful new CD from one of my favorite boutique music labels 7a Records.

Peter Tork’s 1994 solo album “Stranger Things Have Happened” has recently been reissued by 7a and I have to say that the results not only meet the label’s previous high standards but this CD/vinyl release may be one of their all-time best discs.

For those who don’t know, 7a Records has been around for about six years and have released a series of fantastic CD and vinyl compilations of solo work from members of The Monkees or releases from people associated with the group like Monkees writer and producer Bobby Hart.

I’ve posted about some of 7a Records previous work including some terrific solo albums by ex-Monkees Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith but the one Monkee who always came up on the short-list of reissues was Peter Tork. That is until now.

Peter Tork, who died in February 2019, did not release a ton of solo music during his post Monkees career. In fact, “Stranger Things Have Happened” was his first full-length album release outside of The Monkees.

Strange as it may seem (no pun intended) while Peter Tork was a fixture on the live stage he didn’t feel the need or possibly didn’t get the support to make many solo recordings.  What recordings he did issue were pretty darn good and this CD is, in my opinion, the cream of the crop of his solo work.

The musicianship, singing and song selection on  “Stranger Things Have Happened” are all first-rate and may surprise quite a few people who only think of Peter Tork as the lovable goof from The Monkees who sang novelty songs like “Your Auntie Grizelda” from The Monkees’ second album the mega-selling “More of the Monkees”.

Not only does “Stranger Things Have Happened” contain some fine songwriting by Tork with “Get What You Pay For”, “Miracle” and “Sea Change” but it also contains some stellar covers including “Giant Step” (a remake of The Monkees own “Take a Giant Step”) plus solo versions of two of his self-composed Monkees songs “MGBGT” and “Gettin’ In” as well as a superb take on “Higher and Higher” (a hit for both Jackie Wilson and Rita Coolidge).

The other highlight of the album is the song “Milkshake” (written by Martin Briley) which really could be considered a true Monkees track as it features very distinctive background vocals by none other than fellow Monkees Micky Dolenz and Mike Nesmith making this a more collaborative song than anything on The Monkees 1987 comeback album “Pool It”.

While the production of the original 1994 “Stranger Things Have Happened” songs may sound a tad dated, the album is nonetheless quite good and full of some really great performances.

The real jewel of this reissue though, and what makes it so worth tracking down even if you do own the original 1994 version of the album are the nine bonus tracks.

With this new reissue you get lovely acoustic versions of four songs from the album (“Milkshake”, “MG-BGT”, “Miracle” and “Pirates” – all with James Lee Stanley) as well as a live version of “Get What You Pay For” plus truly stunning solo versions of The Monkees “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” and “Higher and Higher” both which feature Tork’s short-lived group The New Monks and both from a 1981 single release.

(Note: I think the 1981 version of “Higher and Higher” is quite terrific and really should have been a hit – it’s that good.)

But the true highlight of this disc, in fact one of the highlights of Peter Tork’s entire recorded output, is the lovely song “I Truly Understand” from 1982 which features Tork on banjo. Really to me this song completely captures Peter Tork as a musician and performer and is a sweet gem of a folk song that really touches the heart.

In fact I’ve owned a low-fi copy of “I Truly Understand” for years on an old bootleg cassette and it has always been one of my favorite Tork performances either with or without The Monkees. It’s so nice to finally have it in great quality. 

Add in the lovely solo demo of the song “Easy Rockin'” and you have basically two excellent Peter Tork albums in one!

And the liner notes in this reissue are both detailed and informative and really put this album and Tork’s solo career into perspective and give great insight into what made him tick as a solo performer.

What can I say, if you’re a fan of The Monkees or just a fan of good rock/pop/folk music then you really owe it to yourself to track this release down. I don’t own the vinyl but the CD version with the bonus tracks is a real treat and frankly probably the best document you can find of Peter Tork as a songwriter and performer.

It’s too bad that Tork really was brushed aside as far as his musical ability was concerned. Yes vocally he could be hit or miss but he was a multi-instrumentalist and a solid and engaging performer with extreme charisma. This new reissue of “Stranger Things Have Happened” really gives Peter Tork his due as it’s a really wonderful album and showcases his talents well.

As usual check out photos of this new reissue above.

Until next time be safe and well and I hope your new year is a good one so far!



“McCartney III” Dice Roll On – Cassette, Colored Vinyl and Japanese SHM-CD

Okay, here we go again …

Last month I spotlighted the regular CD version of the new Paul McCartney album “McCartney III” with a review of the album in which I stated I thought it was quite good. I then followed that post up with a look at a special Target store CD version of this same album as well as four different colored dice variations of the CD each with a bonus track (available only at

At the end of that post I mentioned there would be more to come. True to my word, I was right.

“McCartney III” has been out less than a month and yet there seems to be a never ending stream of variations of this album available in several different formats. Believe it or not there are over eight different colors of vinyl alone to choose from plus a cassette version as well as a Japanese SHM-CD pressing with four bonus tracks, the same tracks as the four colored CDs from but all on one disc this time.

Whew, got it so far? I know, believe me I know.

Each of the various colored vinyl records of “McCartney III” were pressed in limited quantities (some smaller than others) and as tempted as I am even I’m not crazy enough to buy every color that’s available.

As far as vinyl is concerned I decided to stick with the groovy green vinyl pressing, which is also a Target exclusive, as well as a pink colored pressing which has a very limited run of 1500 copies and was only available to purchase from Newbury Comics.

(Note: I know, I know, why even buy two colors but if you’ve spent any time reading this blog at all you’ll know the answer.)

Anyway, to make matters worse, or better depending on your perspective, I also ordered a cassette (yes I said cassette) version of “McCartney III” and the crème de la crème CD version of the album, the SHM-CD pressing that contains the four bonus tracks all together.

As I’ve said before I think the SHM-CD version of this album sounds a tad cleaner with more separation but the addition of the four bonus tracks makes this the must buy version of this album as the bonus tracks are very good and a fun listen for sure.

Unfortunately it’s not too easy to get a hold of the Japanese SHM-CD but if you look on Amazon or try you may be able to track a copy down. It’s well worth it if you a McCartney fan and want the one-stop shopping best version of this album.

Why oh why all these different version of the same album you may say? Because, I will answer, it’s Paul McCartney. Seriously I’m just as amazed sometimes at the collector mentality but sine I’ve got it and I like to share it feast your eyes above and below on these new and most excellent variations of “McCartney III”.

I will say that since I posted my review of the album I’ve grown quite a bit more fond of the record and now I see it as one of the high points of McCartney’s remarkable last career renaissance. While “McCartney III” may not be McCartney’s best solo record I find that much like his ’70’s studio work this album is a grower and indeed it lodges itself in your brain until you fall in love with each and every song.

Too bad the song “Slidin” wasn’t released in 1979 as I’m sure it would have been a huge hit. This song so reminds me of the 1979 “Back to the Egg” Wings era and I would have loved to see it included on that album.

Anyway, this is my last dip in the “McCartney III” pool for now at least.Those Macheads out there will certainly enjoy seeing the various editions. I enjoy that there are three different back cover photos between the different variations as well as different inner cover photo spreads.

Until next time be well and if you haven’t given “McCartney III”  a listen, you must. It’s really a fun record and oh so every drop Paul McCartney.

TTFN until I stumble across some more juicy “McCartney III” nuggets to share.

Colored Dice – Paul McCartney’s multi-colored “McCartney III” CD Variations

It was just a few days ago that I posted my thoughts on the release of Paul McCartney’s terrific new album “McCartney III”. Since that time the album has gone to the No. 1 spot on the UK charts and will most likely place in the Top 3 in the U.S. charts next week.

That’s really pretty impressive. Or is it?

You see the “McCartney III” album has come out in several different color editions both on vinyl as well as CD.  The CD variations are certainly interesting and while I am an obsessed collector I have to admit the release strategy for this album is a bit puzzling.

It seems that the “McCartney III” release campaign is aimed at getting the album to place high in the charts as most hardcore fans will buy multiple copies just to collect the multiple variations thus improving the albums chart placement.

Believe me, I thought I was being excessive buying the variations I’m showing you today but trust me there are many more variations out there that I didn’t end up buying!

This brings me back to today’s post. I thought I’d share the most interesting CD variations I own so far and post some photos here so folks can see what’s out there or just shake there heads at the sheer craziness of these various versions.

The most interesting of the new variations are four different dice colors in single cardboard sleeves that come directly (and exclusively) from Paul McCartney’s Website ( – the yellow dice cover, the blue dice cover, the red dice cover and another white dice cover.

What makes these particular CDs so enticing is not the color variations but the fact that each CD includes an exclusive bonus track. The yellow dice cover CD includes “Women and Wives (Studio Outtake)”, the blue includes “Slidin’ (Dusseldorf Jam)”, the red includes “Lavatory Lil (Studio Outtake)” while the white dice CD cover contains “The Kiss of Venus (Phone Demo)”.

Why on earth include one bonus track per color CD? My only conclusion is to make sure the charts reflect more sales and a higher showing for the album. These four colored dice CDs are also available in more expensive packages including t-shirts and dice as well as other goodies but luckily they were also available just as single CDs as well at least in the US.

Speaking as a McCartney fan the advent of tracking down rare bonus tracks dates back to the 1980s. Many European CD singles of that era contained exclusive bonus tracks so the practice of getting these nuggets isn’t really that foreign to me but I have to admit this is a bit much – though quite frankly I did enjoy purchasing them so I guess I’m really to blame for them coming out in the first place.

(Note: Truth be told I’m quite happy with these colored CDs so all’s well that ends well – at least for me).

As for the bonus tracks, here’s my thoughts on them:

“Women and Wives (Studio Outtake)”a very nice alternate take with some bits left out of the finished track including some bonus lyrics and different instrumental breaks. Very nice though not as good as the finished track but different enough to be interesting

“Slidin’ (Dusseldorf Jam)”This sounds like it came from a soundcheck jam before a concert and is a very atmospheric instrumental take of the song and quite excellent. This is my favorite of the four bonus tracks

“Lavatory Lil (Studio Outtake)”An interesting acoustic take of the song. I actually like the acoustic approach to the song a bit better but McCartney’s vocal here sounds a bit too rough. If it had a stronger vocal I’d prefer it to the finished take but nice to have as it’s a nice variation

“The Kiss of Venus (Phone Demo)”My second favorite of the four bonus tracks. This demo, despite having unfinished lyrics, has a very nice McCartney vocal that sounds a bit stronger to me than the completed studio take. Very nice to have and a gem to add to the McCartney canon

I’m happy that at least these four bonus tracks are available in a physical format. Most likely there will be some sort of super deluxe version of “McCartney III” in the near future but if not at least these lovely demos and outtakes made there way out of McCartney’s vaults.

The other variation I have today is an exclusive CD version available only at Target stores. This CD comes with a groovy green color of dice and a very nice alternate photo of McCartney on the rear cover. Too bad the four bonus tracks weren’t all added to this version but all four are being made available together on a limited Japanese SHM-CD which I will be covering soon.

Well, there you have it. I thought it might be fun to see some of the interesting variations of this CD that are available. As usual you can check out some photos of these CDs above and below.

That’s all for now. Future blog posts will highlight some vinyl versions of “McCartney III” as well as the Japanese SHM-CD.

Take care and if I don’t post before then have a safe and happy New Year!

Have Yourself a Davy Jones Christmas

It’s almost Christmas. In two days in fact.

If you’re like me and you’ve been listening to Christmas music since early November then it should come as no surprise that we’ve almost reached that most magical of days. But before we gather around the Christmas tree and open presents, let’s reflect back on this one heck of a momentous year.

The year 2020 began with a whirlwind of political madness (at least in the U.S.) and quickly devolved into one of the worst health crises of the past 100 years, the Covid-19 pandemic, that struck every corner of the globe.

With the past eleven months of nothing but extreme weirdness, I for one am glad just to spend a few precious hours listening to some Christmas music, mainly old and old-fashioned Christmas music, to help heal my soul and ease the tension of this very dramatic year.

I have grown to really love Christmas music especially old Christmas music as it really takes me out of today and back into the magical feeling of being young and more hopeful.

I was just thinking this past October how nice it would be to have a new Christmas album by one of my favorite artists come out as sort of a musical band-aid to help heal this broken year. It was not a couple of weeks later that I heard that a new Christmas album (sort of) by none other than the late Davy Jones of The Monkees was being released in November.

Entitled appropriately enough “It’s Christmas Time Once More” this groovy new collection features Jones singing thirteen festive selections, most of which came out originally in cassette from in 1991, as well as two bonus tracks.

Produced by famed Monkees producer Chip Douglas, “It’s Christmas Time Once More” originally included eleven songs:  “Winter Wonderland”, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, “Silver Bells”, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” , “White Christmas”, “Mele Kalikimaka”, “This Day in Bethlehem”, “Silent Night”, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “When I Look Back on Christmas”.

This new 2020 edition adds two lovely demos from the 1960’s (two versions of “White Christmas”) plus some newly added vocals by none other than fellow Monkee Micky Dolenz along with his sister Coco plus Jone’s youngest daughter Annabel who duets with her father on another version of “White Christmas” and sings background vocals on three other tracks.

For those Monkee fanatics out there, Dolenz and his sister Coco are featured on background on “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “This Day in Bethlehem”, two of the highlights from this new disc. Monkee fans may also recognize “Silver Bells” and “Mele Kalikimaka” as Jones’ vocals from these were used on The Monkees 2018 release “Christmas  Party”.

What can I say, this newly tweaked version of “It’s Christmas Time Once More” is truly a gift. Nearly nine years after Jones’ death in February 2012, it’s so nice to be able to hear his familiar voice wafting out of stereo speakers and so nice that the Davy Jones estate is keeping his memory alive with superb releases like this one.

Davy Jones voice is so suited for Christmas music so if you’ve never heard him sing some of these evergreen classics it might be worth tracking this new album down and giving it a listen in the next couple of days.

“It’s Christmas Time Once More” came out in November on most digital platforms but I was also able to get a hold of a CD copy just this past week. It seems that Davy Jones estate has made limited copies of the CD version available this year and I believe there might be a vinyl version in the future as well.

I have to say that the wonderful cover photo by esteemed rock photographer Henry Diltz (who also sings background on some of these selections) is by far one of the best Christmas album covers I have ever seen – it’s just terrific.

As I said this year has been so dreadfully bleak that to end it with this lovely new/old collection of Christmas standards sung by Davy Jones is the perfect way to cap of 2020 with a little hope and merriment. If you’re a fan of CDs this album is out there though it may be hard to track down as I think it may have sold out but I’m sure it will be available next year as well.

As usual I thought I would share some photos (above) of the new CD and if you can’t find it at least stream or download the album as it’s widely available in digital form. If you liked The Monkees “Christmas  Party” from 2018 I’m sure you’d love to hear this new collection and what better time than two days before Christmas.

Well that’s it for now. I hope all of you out there are staying safe this Christmas and are able to have a few moments of calm and peace as we roll out of 2020 into a hopefully much better and brighter and healthier 2021.

Until next time be well and MERRY CHRISTMAS one and all!!!