The Monkees' fifth album gets the deluxe treatment by Rhino Records - three discs, 88 tracks. The third disc is all bonus tracks, most previously unissued.
For The Monkees' fifth album, Rhino Records went all out, releasing a box set with three discs (for a total of 88 tracks), a book and even a promotional button.
The third disc, titled "The Birds, The Bees & The Raritees," is all bonus material, most of it previously unreleased. This disc opens with a promotional spot with Davy Jones talking about Stereo 8 Tapes. Oddly, he seems to be selling the idea of the tapes in general, rather than the Monkees album specifically.
"Tear The Top Right Off My Head"
"Tear The Top Right Off My Head" is an excellent song written by Peter Tork. This is the version with Peter doing the lead vocals. Micky Dolenz does backing vocals. This version was included on the "Listen To The Band" box set.
"Auntie's Municipal Court"
"Auntie's Municipal Court" is one of the best Monkees songs. Though written by Michael Nesmith and Keith Allison, the version released on "The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees" has Micky singing lead vocals. This version has Michael on lead vocals. Both versions are excellent.
Micky Dolenz plays Moog synthesizer on this version of "P.O. Box 9847." The Monkees were one of the first rock bands to use the Moog. It's prominent on songs like "Star Collector."
"War Games" was written by David Jones and Steve Pitt. Davy does lead vocals, and Michael Nesmith plays acoustic guitar. Davy sings, "You don't have to play the game if you don't want to/You can sit at home and hear it on the news/They will show you colored pictures of the killings/They want you to feel that you're part of it too." Also included on this disc is a second version, complete with strings and horns.
There are two versions of "Lady's Baby" on this disc (and four total in this set). The first is the version released on "Missing Links." Stephen Stills plays guitar on this song. The second version on this disc is an acoustic version.
"Tapioca Tundra" is one of the best songs from the album, and this version is just this side of incredible, with some interesting doubling up on vocals. Also on this disc is an acoustic version, which is slightly slower. That version is just Mike on vocals and acoustic guitar, and it's wonderful.
There is a strange version of "D.W. Washburn" on this disc, with another vocal repeated "D.W. Washburn," and popping up in a few other places. This song was written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.
"Nine Times Blue" is a song written by Michael Nesmith. On this version, Davy sings lead. Davy's vocals change the tone of the song, but it totally works. Also included on this disc is a version with Michael Nesmith doing lead vocals.
"Shorty Blackwell" Rehearsal
This disc includes a rehearsal of "Shorty Blackwell," a song written by Micky Dolenz. This song has several false starts. Micky keeps starting on the wrong verse, then stops. The fourth start sounds great, but Micky is stopped by someone in the sound booth.
"My Share Of The Sidewalk"
"My Share Of The Sidewalk" is a song that Michael Nesmith wrote for Davy Jones to sing. It has that Broadway show tune feel, and so is perfect for Davy. This version, however, has Mike doing lead vocals - a very strage song for him to sing. He als plays piano on this one. This is a more pared down version - no horns. Eddie Hoh is on drums, and Rick Dey plays bass.
"Changes" was written by David Jones and Steve Pitts. "Changes" was the working title for the Monkees movie, later titled Head. Another version of this song was included on "Missing Links Volume Two" (1990). "Changes" was also the title of the 1970 Monkees release, though this song was not included on it.
"Magnolia Simms" by Michael Nesmith
There are also two versions of "Magnolia Simms." The first is a cool acoustic version, with just Michael Nesmith on vocals and guitar - no crackling or skipping on this one. The second version is a stereo remix, also without the skipping (but with some coughing at the end). To get the strange quality of Michael's vocals, he sang through his slightly open fist held close to his mouth.
"The Party" was written by David Jones and Steve Pitts. Hal Blaine plays drums. The song has a catchy hook. A different version of this song, titled "Party," was included on Missing Links (1988).
Oddly, this CD concludes with a track on which none of the four Monkees appears. It's an instrumental backing track for "I Wasn't Born To Follow," written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. A version of this song recorded by The Byrds was used in the film Easy Rider.
Track List for Disc 3: The Birds, The Bees & The Raritees
- Monkees Adult Stereo 8 Spot
- Tear The Top Right Off My Head (Peter's Vocal)
- Auntie's Municipal Court (Mike's Vocal)
- P.O. Box 9847 (1968 Alternate Stereo Mix)
- War Games (Version One)
- Lady's Baby
- Tapioca Tundra (1967 Alternate Stereo Mix)
- D.W. Washburn (Alternate Mix With Bass Vocal)
- Nine Times Blue (Version Two - Davy's Vocal)
- Lady's Baby (Acoustic Version)
- While I Cry (Alternate Mono Mix)
- Shorty Blackwell (Rehearsal)
- Laurel And Hardy
- Seeger's Theme (Acoustic Version)
- Tapioca Tundra (Acoustic Version)
- Don't Say Nothin' Bad (About My Baby)
- War Games (Version Two)
- (I Prithee) Do Not Ask For Love (Second Recorded Version)
- My Share Of The Sidewalk (Mike's Vocal Version)
- Shake 'Em Up And Let 'Em Roll (Alternate Vocal Version)
- Changes (2009 Mix)
- Merry Go Round (Version One)
- Magnolia Simms (Acoustic Version)
- I'm Gonna Try
- Seeger's Theme (Electric Version)
- Magnolia Simms (Stereo Remix)
- The Girl I Left Behind Me (Third Recorded Version)
- Merry Go Round (Third Recorded Version)
- Nine Times Blue (Version Two - Mike's Vocal)
- The Party (2009 Mix)
- I Wasn't Born To Follow (Backing Track)
This is the third disc. Disc One: The Original Stereo Album & More and Disco Two: The Original Mono Album & More both contain lots of bonus material as well. This box set was released on February 8, 2010. Here's hoping that Rhino will next release a great box set of the sixth Monkees album, "Head," complete with a widescreen DVD of the film.
(Note: I originally posted this review on May 8, 2010 - and since then, Rhino has released an amazing version of "Head," and Criterion has released the film on DVD.)