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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 September 20, 1994 | Rhino

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Pop - Released January 1, 1995 | Rhino

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Pop - Released May 27, 2016 | Rhino

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Pop - Released January 1, 1994 | Rhino

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Pop - Released September 29, 2008 | Rhino

It's hard not to wonder why the four-disc Music Box even exists. After all, Rhino has not only released definitive reissues of all of the Monkees' studio albums, complete with bonus tracks, but the label has a series devoted to rarities (Missing Links), a single-disc greatest hits album, a double-disc anthology, and another four-disc box, Listen to the Band, which is excellent. So where does that leave Music Box? Well, it is "reconfigured" into a booklike box, which must appeal to somebody, but more importantly, it tries to pull off a nifty trick -- providing an exhaustive overview for the casual listener, while filling in the holes for those serious fans who only have the proper reissued albums. On both counts, this works well. Let's get the basics out of the way: This sounds great, and Andrew Sandoval's liner notes are terrific, particularly the song-by-song breakdown that not only includes the Monkees' reflections, but also those of various producers and songwriters. Then, there's the song selection, which is impeccable for the first three discs, which devote a year each to 1966, 1967, and 1968, blending hits with rarities, album versions, and alternate takes, never once seeming like a sop to collectors. The fourth disc is a little more problematic, just because it spans from 1969 to 1996, containing reunion tracks that some fans may rather not hear, but it still has more than enough minor gems that will please the dedicated. And, when it gets right down to it, Music Box succeeds on two counts: Everyone who needs to plug in gaps will be satisfied with this (plus they'll like the fine flow of the songs) and, more importantly, this is a wonderful choice for anyone looking for a good, thorough overview of the Monkees' best, delving far deeper than the hits. It doesn't really trump Listen to the Band, but it's nearly an equal. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released September 20, 1994 | Rhino

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Pop - Released October 24, 2008 | Rheinlust Records

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Pop - Released December 2, 2003 | Rhino

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Pop - Released August 14, 2006 | Rhino

The Monkees second album More of the Monkees lived up to its title. It was more successful commercially, spending an amazing 70 weeks on the Billboard charts and ultimately becoming the 12th biggest selling album of all time. It had more producers and writers involved since big-shots like Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Jeff Barry and Neil Sedaka, as well as up-and-comers like Neil Diamond all grabbed for a piece of the pie after Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, the men who made the debut album such a smash, were elbowed out by music supervisor Don Kirshner. The album also has more fantastic songs than the debut. Tracks like "I'm a Believer," "She," "Mary, Mary," " (I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone," "Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)," "Your Auntie Grizelda," and "Sometime in the Morning" are on just about every Monkees hits collection and, apart from the novelty "Grizelda," they are among the best pop/rock heard in the '60s or any decade since. The band themselves still had relatively little involvement in the recording process, apart from providing the vocals along with Mike Nesmith's writing and producing of two tracks (the hair-raising rocker "Mary, Mary" and the folk-rock gem "The Kind of Girl I Could Love"). In fact, they were on tour when the album was released and had to go to the record shop and buy copies for themselves. As with the first album though, it really doesn't matter who was involved when the finished product is this great. Listen to Micky Dolenz and the studio musicians rip through "Stepping Stone" or smolder through "She," listen to the powerful grooves of "Mary, Mary" or the heartfelt playing and singing on "Sometime in the Morning" and dare to say the Monkees weren't a real band. They were! The tracks on More of the Monkees (with the exception of the aforementioned "Your Auntie Grizelda " and the sickly sweet "The Day We Fell in Love," which regrettably introduces the smarmy side of Davy Jones) stand up to the work of any other pop band operating in 1967. Real or fabricated, the Monkees rate with any pop band of their era and More of the Monkees solidifies that position. ~ Tim Sendra
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Pop - Released April 20, 1998 | Rhino

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After wresting control of the Monkees from Don Kirschner and recording the very good Headquarters album as a mostly self-contained unit, the bandmembers returned to using studio musicians to augment their sound as well as looking outside the group for the majority of the songs on their fourth album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. Whatever the reason for the decision, the resulting album is one of their best. Filled with hooky pop like "She Hangs Out" and the Harry Nilsson-penned "Cuddly Toy," psychedelic ravers "Daily Nightly" and "Star Collector" (both of which feature the newly invented Moog synthesizer), Mike Nesmith-produced rockers ("Love Is Only Sleeping"), and ballads (the lovely "Don't Call on Me"), the album is filler-free and fun-filled. That it contains three of their finest songs ("Words," "Pleasant Valley Sunday," and the song that "invented" country-rock for better or for worse, "What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round?") means that not only is it one of the Monkees' best, it is one of 1967's best. To think that both this album and Headquarters came out the same year! Most bands would be lucky to have two albums this good come out their entire career. Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. is a must-have for any fan of smart, fun, and exciting '60s pop. It doesn't get much better than this. [Rhino's 1995 reissue of the album adds seven previously unreleased songs including alternate versions of "Daily Nightly" and "Star Collector."] ~ Tim Sendra
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Pop - Released October 15, 2007 | Rhino

After wresting control of the Monkees from Don Kirschner and recording the very good Headquarters album as a mostly self-contained unit, the bandmembers returned to using studio musicians to augment their sound as well as looking outside the group for the majority of the songs on their fourth album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. Whatever the reason for the decision, the resulting album is one of their best. Filled with hooky pop like "She Hangs Out" and the Harry Nilsson-penned "Cuddly Toy," psychedelic ravers "Daily Nightly" and "Star Collector" (both of which feature the newly invented Moog synthesizer), Mike Nesmith-produced rockers ("Love Is Only Sleeping"), and ballads (the lovely "Don't Call on Me"), the album is filler-free and fun-filled. That it contains three of their finest songs ("Words," "Pleasant Valley Sunday," and the song that "invented" country-rock for better or for worse, "What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round?") means that not only is it one of the Monkees' best, it is one of 1967's best. To think that both this album and Headquarters came out the same year! Most bands would be lucky to have two albums this good come out their entire career. Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. is a must-have for any fan of smart, fun, and exciting '60s pop. It doesn't get much better than this. [Rhino's 1995 reissue of the album adds seven previously unreleased songs including alternate versions of "Daily Nightly" and "Star Collector."] ~ Tim Sendra
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Pop - Released October 24, 2008 | Rhino

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Pop - Released August 26, 2016 | Rhino

Various record company folks have been trying to assemble the ideal Monkees collection since their first "Greatest Hits" album came out in 1969. With the greatest rock band in television history celebrating the 50th anniversary of their debut in 2016, it seemed only fitting that Rhino Records, who owns the group's back catalog, would take another stab at the definitive overview of the band's catalog. The Monkees 50 celebrates the band's Golden Anniversary in appropriate fashion, featuring 50 songs that run the gamut of the band's history. In some ways, the desire to encompass the breadth of the Monkees' body of work proves to be Monkees 50's Achilles heel. While all of the band's familiar hits are included here, so are some lesser moments -- from the bitter end of their original run, Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork's duo singles from the group's mid-'80s comeback, and tracks from the well-meaning but disappointing 1987 Pool It! (It's worth noting the set also includes representative tracks from 1996's not-bad Justus and the frequently splendid Good Times!, which appeared only three months before 50.) While there isn't an out-and-out bad song on 50, the desire to cover all bases means disc three is sometimes rough sledding, even though it ends with two of Good Times!' best tracks, "You Bring the Summer" and "She Makes Me Laugh." And while the Monkees' tale has been told at length many times, that doesn't excuse 50's lack of liner notes (though there is detailed session information for each track). 50's first two discs feature the songs Monkees fans know best, along with a few worthy obscurities, and are a marvelous reminder of just how great their work was, representing some of the finest pop record making of the '60s. Disc three is for the truly committed, and while there are certainly songs worth hearing there (especially "Listen to the Band" and "Mommy and Daddy"), this is mostly for completists -- who probably have everything on this set already. 50 is better than the average Monkees collection, but if you're looking for the hits, you're better off with the 2003 set The Best of the Monkees, and the more detail-oriented should seek out Rhino's many value-added reissues of the group's albums. That said, though, any album with "Last Train from Clarksville," "Pleasant Valley Sunday," "Daydream Believer," and "Porpoise Song" is an album that's a rewarding listen. ~ Mark Deming
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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 14, 2006 | Rhino

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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Ambient/New Age - Released October 12, 2018 | Rhino

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Pop - Released February 7, 2010 | Rhino

Not one of their better efforts, dominated almost wholly by session musicians (with the occasional songwriting and instrumental contribution by Mike Nesmith) and containing too many sickly sweet Davy Jones-sung numbers. It does have the hits "Daydream Believer" and "Valleri," as well as Nesmith's "Tapioca Tundra," which just inched into the Top 40, but overall the material is pretty weak. ~ Richie Unterberger
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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 March 19, 2013 | Rhino

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