This album is middle of the road rock with very serviceable songs with a few excellent exceptions. The album dates back to 1967, the year the Monkees outsold The Beatles and the peak of The Monkees success.
The CD starts off with Michael Nesmith singing "Salesman," a bouncy country-flavored tune. Davy Jones is the lead singer on the following song, "She Hangs Out." This song is sung in a style similar to that of a number of other teen idols during the era and appears intended to target teenage girls. The vocals are among Davy's best.
Michael Nesmith sings the next track, "The Door into Summer." This song is one of my personal favorites because it was inspired by the Robert A. Heinlein novel of the same title. The song is about searching and opportunities lost, elements of which were in the Heinlein novel. This song is well constructed and superior to Michael's first track on this CD.
Michael is also the lead singer on "Love Is Only Sleeping." This song is even more inspired and better than the previous track. There are several special effects and Michael sings this song very well. While the flavor of the song is pop, the song is as original in style as any of the pop of the era, and one indication that the Monkees were trying hard to create their own sound.
"Cuddly Toy" was very good from several view points. Davy Jones was an excellent choice as the lead singer. The style of the song is deceptively innocent and light, but Harry Nilsson's lyrics were about a Hell's Angels gang bang. The innocent sounding music flew past censors and record company executives, and it was only after the release of the album that anyone other than Nilsson and the Monkees knew the meaning of the song.
"Words" is one of those wonderful Boyce/Hart songs sung by Mickey Dolenz. The song is dark with a flavor of psychedelic and is one of the most excellent and original songs on this CD. While the flavor of the songs is similar to some rockabilly singers, the sound is in a style that is purely The Monkees.
"Hard to Believe" is one of the mellower songs on this CD, sung by Davy Jones. This song takes Davy Jones to the edge of his vocal limits and perhaps a touch over. This song is one of the weaker songs on this CD.
"What Am I Doing Hangin' Round" features Michael Nesmith in another country-flavored song co-penned by Michael Martin Murphy of "Wildfire" fame. The music is relatively basic but the vocals are quite good. Peter Tork voices the next track, "Peter Percival Patterson's Pet Pig Porky." I'm not sure of what The Monkees were trying to accomplish with this song, but it is an interesting inclusion.
Then we come to one of the best Monkees' songs, "Pleasant Valley Sunday," sung by Mickey Dolenz. This song receives extensive airplay on classic rock stations. The lyrics are a cynical lament regarding the materialistic and mundane existence of middle class America; a great song for the youth of every era. The lyrics and music match incredibly well to make one of the best songs of the 60s.
The Michael Nesmith penned "Daily Nightly" sung by Micky Dolenz follows. This psychedelic song features Micky's attempts to play the Moog synthesizer. The Moog provides sound effects but is significantly away from the sophistication of The Moody Blues' Mike Pinder of the same era.
Michael Nesmith co-penned "Don't Call on Me," also sung by Michael Nesmith; a very mellow and beautiful song. Michael sings this style of song very well. The fast-paced Goffin/King song "Star Collector" finished the original vinyl, sung by Davy Jones. The music is relatively repetitious and simple, and can become annoying if you focus on it. The Moog synthesizer was also used on this song, but played (much better than Micky - sorry Micky) by Paul Beaver. Thanks to Steve Dallas for providing this information.
The CD then adds an additional 7 tracks. The first short track is pure comedy. Of the remaining tracks 5 are alternate tracks to the music on this CD, and one, "Goin' Down," is an alternate mix from that released on the flip side of the "Daydream Believer" single.
This album contains some gems. Most of the songs are good, some are excellent. The Monkees were trying harder to create their own style and break away from corporate control. The results may have been a bit bizarre, but the 60s were a great time to take chances and do something different. The Monkees will forever be a wonderful part of rock's musical heritage.