Like I suspect many people did, I bought the limited edition release of the Definitive Monkees simply because I saw it reduced in a shop, and it contained all of the universally loved songs like Daydream Believer, Pleasant Valley Sunday, Last Train...blah blah blah.
Once I'd listened to these most famous of pop songs, I turned my attention to the rest of the collection, firmly expecting it to be awful. To my surprise, I found some of the best songs I've heard in years. Alright, there are some real stinkers on there which sound like template for every manufactured group since, but for the most part, the "manufactured" music is OK, while some of the group's "own" songs are superb. Amazingly, Dolenz manages to make jazz sound good on songs like "Goin' Down" or "Midnight Train", while Nesmith pulls off the equally tough task of making me enjoy country singing on "What Am I Doing Hanging Round", "Listen to the Band", and "Circle Sky".
Again, not all of the tracks from this era are classics, and the odd one or two come across as unsuccessful experiments. If this is the price we have to pay for great songs like "Porpoise Song" or "Merry Go Round", I'm happy to pay it.
This collection is such a treasure trove that I actually started to feel ashamed that I, like most people, only thought of the Monkees as a cheesy pop band, a label which is well wide of the mark. It might not be fashionable to say so, but the Monkees are a great band!