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Pop - Released February 22, 2011 | Rhino

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The Monkees' first album was a huge success, following on the number one single "Last Train to Clarksville." The Monkees spent 78 weeks on the Billboard chart including an astounding 13 weeks at number one. The record wasn't only a commercial juggernaut, it also stands as one of the great debuts of all time, and while the record and the group have faced criticism from rock purists through the ages, it stands the test of time perfectly well, sounding as alive and as much fun 40 years later. Prefabricated? Yes. After a fast buck? Yes. Exhilarating? Yes! Fab? Definitely! The music may have been created by studio cats instead of the band themselves but the pros weren't merely phoning it in. Listen to the aggressive guitars on "Saturday's Child," the raw romp of "Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day," or the cascading wall of guitars and fiddles on "Sweet Young Thing," and you know they weren't just padding their bank accounts. They were playing some real rock & roll and you can credit the producers for that. Producers Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart aren't craftsmen on the level of Phil Spector (who was actually approached to produce the band but probably laughed the Monkees' team right out the door), but they knew how to craft razor-sharp and exciting pop tunes with lots of spark, soul, and the occasional psychedelic touch. And they knew how to get great vocals from their group. While the Monkees themselves didn't do much more than sing, the singing they did was first-rate. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better pop/rock vocalist than Micky Dolenz; his work on "Take a Giant Step" and "Last Train to Clarksville" is thrilling and bursting with life. The other lead vocalist, Davy Jones, thankfully doesn't get a chance to show off his full range of annoyingly whimsical mannerisms; Boyce and Hart keep him under wraps and his vocals on "I Wanna Be Free" and "I'll Be True to You" are achingly sweet, even a little soulful in a very British way. Boyce and Hart weren't the only great producers involved with the record, as a listen to "Papa Gene's Blues" and "Sweet Young Thing" show that Mike Nesmith also knew how to produce great pop music, despite what Don Kirshner may have thought. The various producers, supervisors, and coordinators were also savants when it came to both writing (in Boyce, Hart, and Nesmith's case) and picking songs for the group. Indeed, the only songs that feel like filler are the rudimentary rocker "Let's Dance On" and the silly "Gonna Buy Me a Dog," but even these throwaways are charming and stand up to repeated listens. It's easy to see why kids were buying this record as fast as the label could press them up. Despite the origins of the group and the behind-the-scenes machinations, the music itself is young, exciting, and free. Who cares who did what and who didn't do what when the results are as rock-solid as "Last Train to Clarksville" or "Sweet Young Thing"? You could stack The Monkees up against almost any record of 1966 and the competition would be fierce, with this record coming out on top except in only a few cases. ~ Tim Sendra
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Pop - Released January 1, 1995 | Rhino

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Pop - Released December 2, 2003 | Rhino

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Pop - Released May 27, 2016 | Rhino

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Pop - Released August 26, 2016 | Rhino

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Pop - Released September 14, 2004 | Rhino

After the release of More of the Monkees, on which the band had little involvement beyond providing vocals and a couple Mike Nesmith-composed songs, the pre-fab four decided to take control of their recording destiny. After a well-timed fist through the wall of a hotel suite and many fevered negotiations, music supervisor Don Kirschner was out and the band hit the studio by themselves. With the help of producer Chip Douglas, the band spent some time learning how to be a band (as documented on the Headquarters Sessions box set) and set about recording what turned out to be a dynamic, exciting, and impressive album. Headquarters doesn't contain any of the group's biggest hits, but it does have some of their best songs, like Nesmith's stirring folk-rocker "You Just May Be the One," the pummeling rocker "No Time," the MOR soul ballad "Forget That Girl," which features one of Davy Jones' best vocals, Peter Tork's shining moment as a songwriter, "For Pete's Sake," and the thoroughly amazing (and surprisingly political) "Randy Scouse Git," which showed just how truly out-there and almost avant-garde Micky Dolenz could be when he tried. Even the weaker songs like the sweet-as-sugar "I'll Spend My Life with You," the slightly sappy "Shades of Gray," or the stereotypically showtune-y Davy Jones vehicle "I Can't Get Her Off My Mind" work, as they benefit from the stripped-down and inventive arrangements (which feature simple but effective keyboards from Tork and rudimentary pedal steel fills from Nesmith) and passionate performances. Headquarters doesn't show the band to be musical geniuses, but it did prove they were legitimate musicians with enough brains, heart, and soul as anyone else claiming to be a real band in 1967. [Rhino's 1995 reissue adds six previously unissued tracks recorded during the Headquarters sessions including an early take of the single "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" and rare demos "Nine Times Blue" and "Pillow Time."] ~ Tim Sendra
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Pop - Released March 5, 2018 | Vintage Jukebox

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Pop - Released May 19, 2014 | Rhino

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Pop - Released November 22, 2005 | Rhino

Like many Rhino Handmade releases (available only via Internet), the Monkees' Headquarters Sessions is marketed for fanatics. Indeed, this set - which contains over three discs filled with all the outtakes and studio chatter you could ever hope for or need -- is essentially the Holy Grail of Monkees material. Informal versions of "Cripple Creek," "Don't Be Cruel," "Nine Times Blue," "The Story of Rock and Roll" (made into a modest hit by the Turtles), and "She's So Far Out, She's In" are only a handful of the set's rarites. On the tracks that would become the Headquarters album, it becomes obvious this was an amateur band struggling to get through a simple take. However, you can feel the camaraderie (even though Davy Jones is absent from most of this) between musicians Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork, while actor Mickey Dolenz is heard numerous times throughout apologizing for yet another drum flub. In this potentially volatile scenario, there is a sense of friendship and lack of studio ego, which is exactly why this package is so charming. These are mainly actors, struggling to prove their musicianship, maintaining their cool while finding out the hard way how difficult the recording process actually is (and how good Don Kirshner's studio musicians were). After Headquarters, the Monkees would never attempt to go into the studio again depending wholly on themselves. Their individual musical direction, especially in Nesmith's case, would be required from then on, with the final results being mixed at best. Along with the mainly unreleased instrumental versions of these tracks, studio flubs and conversations is the scrapped mono version of Headquarters with a completely different song sequence that included Nesmith's "The Girl I Knew Somewhere." ~ Al Campbell
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Pop - Released August 14, 2006 | Rhino

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Pop - Released January 14, 1986 | Rhino

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Pop - Released April 29, 2011 | Rhino

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Pop - Released May 27, 2016 | Rhino

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Already being acclaimed as the band’s best album since they took the 1960s by storm, Good Times! features songwriters such as Andy Partridge, Noel Gallagher, Paul Weller & Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard. The album is decked with complex, layered harmonies reminiscent of The Beach Boys. Produced to near perfection, Monkees freaks have waited far too long for this little gem!
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Pop - Released October 24, 1995 | Rhino

Given the context of the MTV revivalism of their show, a reunion performance on the MTV music awards, a stellar best-of compilation, a top video on Dial MTV with "That Was Then...This is Now," and a new series based on the original (the New Monkees? Anyone?), one would think that 1986 was the year that the Monkees could do no wrong. For the most part, this was true; but then they dropped Pool It! and it was a bit like watching a prized race horse's legs give midway through a race. Unquestionably their worst output of all time, Pool It! was an obvious attempt to cash in on the revitalized success of the group, which falls flat within 30 seconds of the album's solitary notable song "Heart and Soul." This is normally the part of a review where the reviewer would advise this release for die-hard fans only, but I can't even suggest that, as no one should be subjected to such poor quality unless they're a collector or completist -- and even then it's best to keep Pool It! in its original packing, if anything to increase the resale value. ~ Rob Theakston
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Pop - Released January 13, 2012 | Rhino

Rhino repackaged and re-released the first five Monkees LPs on Colgems -- The Monkees, More of the Monkees, Headquarters, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., and The Birds, the Bees & the Monkees -- as a slipcased box set. It's not a bad way to acquire the albums if you don't already own them, but isn't recommended for the casual fan. ~ Al Campbell
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Pop - Released January 1, 1994 | Rhino

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Pop - Released September 20, 1994 | Rhino

Calling their final album Changes made sense for the Monkees. Mike Nesmith had just departed, leaving only Mickey Dolenz and Davy Jones to hold down the fort. The other big change was that after years of struggling to have their voices as songwriters and musicians heard, the remaining duo basically gave up and let the producers take over. The musical reins were given to legendary producer Jeff Barry (who had just come from a huge success with the Archies) and he and his cronies like Bobby Bloom wrote and performed the songs. Apart from one track written by Dolenz (the goofy country rock novelty "Midnight Train"), the Monkees were on hand to provide vocals only. While this could be seen as some kind of defeat and the end of the Monkees as an actual rock band, Changes ends up being a very good bubblegum record. Barry’s production is light and frothy, the songs are hooky and fun, and both Dolenz and Jones perform admirably given the likely somewhat humiliating situation. There are songs that rock harder than you’d expect ("99 Pounds," "Oh My My"), very sweet ballads (the gospelly "Tell My Love" and "You’re So Good to Me"), silly novelty songs ("I Love You Better"), a fun tropical-themed love song ("Acapulco Sun"), and even a vaudeville-y a Boyce & Hart number tacked on the end of the album (the wickedly out of place "I Never Thought It Peculiar"). There are even a couple songs that might make a discerning fan’s homemade best-of comp, namely the achingly pretty Dolenz-sung ballad "Ticket on a Ferry Ride" and "Do You Feel It Too, " a heartfelt love song that shows Jones at his sincere best. It may not be an incredibly inspired album, but it is a lot of fun and if they had stuck together (and with Barry), they could have had a nice little run of albums. Sadly, though, the record tanked completely and the Monkees name was retired soon after its release. [Rhino's 1994 reissue of the album added three very good bonus tracks, two of which ("Do It in the Name of Love" and "Lady Jane") were taken from the duo’s final sessions with Barry (and were eventually released under Dolenz and Jones’ own names on Bell Records in 1971. The other track ( "Time and Time Again") is a Jones co-write that was supposed to be on the record but was cut. Possibly because its hazy folk-jazz feel was too out of place. It is one of Jones' stronger efforts and shows that had he stayed serious about making music, he could have done some interesting things.] ~ Tim Sendra
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Pop - Released November 11, 1994 | Rhino

This disc contains songs and snippets of dialogue from the Monkees' full-length feature film of the same name. Although their Emmy-winning television program had been cancelled in the spring of 1968, the quartet quickly regrouped and, with the assistance of budding actor/director Jack Nicholson, created a 90-minute surreal cinematic experience -- replete with matching soundtrack. Without question, both the movie and album are the most adventurous and in many ways most fulfilling undertaking to have been born of the Monkees' multimedia manufactured project. The music featured on both the screen as well as this album is a long strange trip from the Farfisa-driven bubblegum anthem "I'm a Believer." Perhaps even more telling is that Head became the first Monkees long-player not to include a Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart composition. As such, the talents of each member are uniquely showcased -- especially those of Peter Tork, whose contributions were previously too few and far between. Ironically, his acid rocker "Long Title: Do I Have to Do This All Over Again" and Eastern-flavored "Can You Dig It?" are not only among the best of the six original compositions on the soundtrack, but also among his finest Monkees offerings, period. Other notable tracks include Micky Dolenz's vocals on two Carole King works: the ethereal "Porpoise Song," which was co-authored by Gerry Goffin, and the Toni Stern collaboration on the pastoral "As We Go Along." ~ Lindsay Planer
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Pop - Released August 26, 2016 | Rhino

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