Record Review

Record Review

The Monkees

Present Deluxe Edition (Rhino Handmade)

Recorded in just under 13 months between 1966 and 1967, the first four Monkees albums peaked at No. 1. Two more LPs appeared the following year, before and after the quartet's hit TV series was canceled, one a platinum seller (The Birds, the Bees & the Monkees), the other a psychedelic souvenir to silver screen oddity Head. In 1969, the group – now sans Peter Tork – released Instant Replay, and six months later, this disc, which next month joins the aforementioned trio of titles as a 3-CD deluxe box set. Thirty minutes of original LP appends 18 rarities to the first CD, that program then remixed and repeated over the remaining two platters. Micky Dolenz's maniacally polished tenor bookends the charge between album opener "Little Girl" and "Randy Scouse Git" rebound "Mommy and Daddy," while the late Davy Jones imbues pastoral pop melodrama ("If I Knew") with native echoes of Herman's Her­mits ("Looking for the Good Times"). Even then, it's long, tall Texan Michael Nesmith who makes the most compelling case for The Monkees Present. His final group effort until 1996 reunion Justus, the penultimate entry of the band's original nine-album run leads with singles "Good Clean Fun" and "Listen to the Band," both Nesmith tunes ramping into the seminal country rock of his succeeding First National Band. Combined with ample outtakes from a myriad of previous Rhino troves, banjo jangle "Never Tell a Woman Yes" and Southwesterners "The Crippled Lion" and "Carlisle Wheeling" could buoy a box set of Nesmith's Monkees greats. Although four different version of Jones' "French Song" remains a trio too many, multiple mixes of Papa Nez's indelible cattle cry from Head, "Circle Sky," all rouse. Besides predicting his most recent studio work, still 1992's Carib­be­an cruise Tropical Campfires, the previously unreleased bongo/samba mix of Nesmith icon "Calico Girlfriend" represents the Monkees at their trademark tightest.

***

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