The Monkees (Michael Nesmith, Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork) were pulled together in order to star in a successful comedy television show first aired on NBC in 1966.
The music for the series had been created by Don Kirschner and throughout the life of the band, many more esteemed songwriters added their input to The Monkees phenomenon, including Neil Diamond ("A Little Bit ... Read more in Amazon's Monkees Store
Released in conjunction with the Monkees 45th Anniversary reunion tour, Monkeemania is chock full of Monkees hits, misses, could-have-beens and fan faves. It is very likely that it was compiled in consultation with the Monkees- Davy Jones in particular is my guess-as this compilation more or less features all the tracks on the current tour setlist- including all the songs from the HEAD soundtrack (tho not the kinetic live version of Circle Sky).
Generously totaling 57 tracks on 2 filled CDs, Monkeemania is a decent compilation with crisp mastering- but the poor choices on some tracks/mixes/versions bring it down to 3 stars.
Personally I don't think the bizarre, grating Your Auntie Grizelda deserves placement, with all due respect to Mr Tork. When Love Comes Knockin betrays the hotness of the mastering loudness level on the whole, the treble being quite irritating. A Little Bit Me, is the inferior mono version with too loud clapping. The stereo version with double tracked stereo vocals is preferable but rare- it's on the That Was Then... Arista compilaton CD. She Hangs Out is the lame deleted mono B-side version, not the funky, punchy Pisces re-make. Jones sounds like he's sleepwalking thru the vocals- I dont care about the historical import in the Nesmith-Kirshner War. All of Your Toys is also an inferior mono mix with the bad edit on the break. There are at least 2 excellent stereo mixes available.
Someone's fondness for the mono single mixes keeps the otherwise dynamic Pleasant Valley Sunday, a song that demands a stereo panorama, grounded. Yet high-charting B-side Words is thankfully in stereo.... Ill Be Back Upon My Feet is the ill-conceived, poorly realized, Birds, Bees version- trading in the sheer pop joy of the mono original seen on the TV series numerous times for a bizarre cha-cha bossa nova with too busy horns. Was there ever a stereo mix of the original version? That would be something!
Cosmic country rocker Tapioca Tundra- a Top 40 hit as a B-side (!)- is the version with Nesmith's vocals buried in the mix- a shame. The same fate befalls As We Go Along- Dolenz's ethereal vocals are way too low. These may be the original mixes, but they aren't the preferred ones.
The addition of Daddy's Song may well be the clue that Jones had a hand in the tracklist. A vaudeville/music hall pastiche from the HEAD soundtrack, with a dark storyline a la Nilssons other contribution here, the preferable and far more attractive Cuddly Toy, this is one Nilsson too many.
The final 9 tracks or so are from the post-Tork period. Retreads, attempts at MOR, and Nesmith country rock. Interesting stuff, not necessarily bad, but commercially floundering, punching at the air and grabbing at straws. The Monkees had lost their way.
Overall though a fascinating run through a very diverse catalog.
So what songs would I have added instead? Ill Spend My Life With You from Headquarters, Love To Love from the last Kirshner sessions, You and I with Neil Young on guitar, Dont Call On Me from Pisces, Missing Links Series' Nine Times Blue, Riu Chiu, and She'll Be There (demo w Coco Dolenz) are all sublime, and how about You and I from JUSTUS?. Just to name a few.Read more ›
I grew up with the Monkees and this reminds me of my 'youth'. there are a few songs I have never heard of before but the well known ones are all here. Great for singing along to in the car on the way to work.