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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the three THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Reconsidering THE MONKEES, Part 1: Rows Of Houses That Are All The Same [A Four-CD BEST OF THE MONKEES]



As 50th anniversary celebrations go, I'd say The Monkees have had a pretty damned good year. The Monkees' current album Good Times! earned both terrific reviews and terrific sales, the group's TV series was released in a lovely, comprehensive Blu-ray set, and their current tour (featuring Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork, with Michael Nesmith set to join to rejoin his erstwhile prime mates for one farewell show on September 16th) has been shakin' all over like the late Davy Jones' red maracas. There has been renewed critical appraisal and appreciation of The Monkees' recorded legacy, and even increasing speculation that The Monkees might maybe possibly be considered for induction into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Well, I'm a believer, anyway.

Since you can't have a proper 50th anniversary without repacking old product, Rhino Records has compiled two new sets commemorating 50 years of The Monkees, a single-disc set called Forever and a three-CD set called The Monkees 50. Both sets include at least one track from Good Times!, acknowledging the consensus that The Monkees in 2016 have created a new record that stands with their best work.

But I'm going to ignore Forever and The Monkees 50, because it's the role--the duty, I say!--of obsessive fans to ignore official compilations and, y'know, concoct our own.  So I've set myself the task of slappin' together four new Monkees career anthologies, each charged with the task of summing up the best of The Monkees from 1966 to 2016. Four? Yeah, I'm putting together a four-disc set, a three-disc, a two-disc, and a single-disc. I believe we have already mentioned that word obsessive.

We start today with a four-CD set called Rows Of Houses That Are All The Same. The rules in effect require each disc to be approximately 74 minutes long, and the compilation must include at least one track from each of The Monkees' twelve albums. Originally-unreleased bonus tracks from the '60s are certainly fair game. There's no specific requirement to include all the singles, or even all the hits, but we'll make up our story as we go along. This first collection is arranged in (very) rough chronological order, but future sets will mix tracks from different years--and decades--at will. I've avoided live tracks (with one obvious exception, the live "Circle Sky" from Head), and generally avoided alternate versions of familiar tracks, too.

Ya ready? 'Cause it's 7:30, 6:30 Central; it's time for THE MONKEES! I wonder if anyone around here has a television set...?

ROWS OF HOUSES THAT ARE ALL THE SAME (Carlgems 002)
A Four-CD Set Of The Best Of The Monkees

DISC 1

1. (Theme From) The Monkees
2. Last Train To Clarksville
3. All The King's Horses
4. I Don't Think You Know Me [Nesmith vocal]
5. Saturday's Child
6. (I Prithee) Do Not Ask For Love [Jones vocal]
7. Sweet Young Thing
8. I Wanna Be Free
9. Take A Giant Step
10. Papa Gene's Blues
11. (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone
12. The Kind Of Girl I Could Love
13. Your Auntie Grizelda
14. She
15. Sometime In The Morning
16. Mary Mary
17. Of You
18. Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)
19. I'm A Believer
20. A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You
21. All Of Your Toys
22. The Girl I Knew Somewhere
23. You Told Me
24. Zilch
25. Forget That Girl
26. For Pete's Sake
27. She'll Be There
28. Early Morning Blues And Greens
29. No Time
30. Shades Of Gray

DISC 2

1. You Just May Be The One
2. I'll Spend My Life With You
3. Sunny Girlfriend
4. Randy Scouse Git
5. Pleasant Valley Sunday
6. Words
7. She Hangs Out [album version]
8. Love Is Only Sleeping
9. Daily Nightly
10. Cuddly Toy
11. Salesman
12. Star Collector
13. The Door Into Summer
14. What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round?
15. Riu Chiu
16. Daydream Believer
17. Goin' Down
18. Tear The Top Right Off My Head
19. Valleri
20. Tapioca Tundra
21. I'll Be Back Up On My Feet
22. Auntie's Municipal Court
23. P.O. Box 9847
24. Zor And Zam
25. D.W. Washburn
26. Can You Dig It

DISC 3

1. Porpoise Song (Theme From "Head")
2. As We Go Along
3. Circle Sky [live]
4. Ditty Diego (War Chant)
5. Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again
6. Daddy's Song
7. Naked Persimmon
8. Tear Drop City
9. Nine Times Blue
10. You And I
11. Propinquity (I've Just Begun To Care)
12. A Man Without A Dream
13. If I Ever Get To Saginaw Again
14. The Girl I Left Behind Me
15. Smile
16. St. Matthew
17. Some Of Shelly's Blues
18. Changes
19. Someday Man
20. Listen To The Band
21. Little Girl
22. Good Clean Fun
23. Mommy And Daddy [album version]
24. Looking For The Good Times
25. Oh My My
26. I Love You Better
27. I Never Thought It Peculiar
28. Steam Engine
29. MICKEY [sic] DOLENZ & DAVY JONES: Do It In The Name Of Love

DISC 4

1. Time And Time Again
2. MICKEY [sic] DOLENZ & DAVY JONES: Lady Jane
3. DOLENZ, JONES, BOYCE & HART: I Remember The Feeling
4. DOLENZ, JONES, BOYCE & HART: You Didn't Feel That Way Last Night (Don't You Remember)
5. MICKY DOLENZ & PETER TORK of THE MONKEES: That Was Then, This Is Now
6. MICKY DOLENZ & PETER TORK of THE MONKEES: Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere
7. Heart And Soul
8. Every Step Of The Way
9. Midnight
10. PETER TORK [with MICHAEL NESMITH & MICKY DOLENZ]: Milkshake
11. Regional Girl
12. You And I
13. It's Not Too Late
14. She Makes Me Laugh
15. You Bring The Summer
16. Me & Magdalena
17. Wasn't Born To Follow
18. Love To Love [Good Times! mix]
19. Terrifying
20. Birth Of An Accidental Hipster
21. Love's What I Want
22. Our Own World

Exclusive bonus 7" single: "Sunny Girlfriend [Acoustic Remix Of Master Vocal]"/"Me & Magdalena [Version 2]"

You will note that I included a few tracks that aren't really The Monkees, per se. It seems to me that a long-form Monkees set should consider the almost-Monkees tracks that were released in between periods of official Monkeedom. The "Do It In The Name Of Love"/"Rainy Jane" single, though credited to Micky and Davy rather than the group, is effectively Monkees material, since both tracks were created during the sessions for The Monkees' Changes album, and are included on Rhino's expanded CD reissue of Changes. Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart--The Guys Who Wrote 'Em And The Guys Who Sang 'Em--was the second closest thing to a Monkees reunion in the '70s; the first closest thing was the Dolenz, Jones & Tork holiday single "Christmas Is My Time Of Year" in 1976, but that didn't seem to fit here. And "Milkshake," from Tork's 1994 album Stranger Things Have Happened, reunited Tork, Dolenz and Nesmith on one track, at a time when such a reunion had seemed unlikely.

Since I know I'm not the only Monkees obsessive--MonkeeMen, AWAY!--here are the tracks that just missed the cut for this set:

"The Poster"
"Don't Call On Me"
"Gonna Buy Me A Dog"
"The Crippled Lion"
"Goldie Locks Sometime"
"Oklahoma Backroom Dancer"
"Bye Bye Baby Bye Bye"
"It's Nice To Be With You"
"Band 6"
"Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day"
"Let's Dance On"
"MGBGT"
"Hollywood"
"So Goes Love"
"Good Times"

And, in college basketball parlance, The Last One In was "Our Own World."

Comments are welcome. Next time out, we'll dispense with chronology, and we'll whittle it down to a mere three discs.  For now, please remember to save the Texas prairie chicken. Goin' down....