The Monkees: The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees (3-CD Boxed Set) (Rhino) | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, October 6th, 2022  

The Monkees

The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees (3-CD Boxed Set)

Rhino

May 06, 2010 The Monkees Bookmark and Share


1968 saw the beginning of what would become the end of The Monkees. Their NBC television series was canceled. The movie they were working on with a young Jack Nicholson (the bizarre Head) had been delayed. And the band broke with Chip Douglas, the producer of their previous two albums, both which hit #1 on Billboard’s chart. On its own, the album that came out of all this change is a bit of a mixed bag. The Birds, The Bees, and The Monkees does feature the perfect pop gem, “Daydream Believer,” but little else on the album is typical of what one thinks of when one thinks The Monkees. “Dream World” is hazy psychedelia. “Auntie’s Municipal Court” is jangly and country-esque. “Writing Wrongs” contains an odd, extended jazzy piano interlude. “Magnolia Simms” sounds like it came directly out of an old Western. And “I’ll Be Back Up On My Feet” starts with possibly the first recorded instance of beatboxing.

As mentioned in the extensive liner notes to Rhino Handmade’s beautiful triple-disc reissue, work on the album consisted of many solo sessions and numerous hours of studio time, and much of it is packaged here in what is undoubtedly the ultimate document of The Monkees’ 1968. And if one thinks the original album is strange, wait until one hears the dozens of outtakes and rare tracks contained in this set. At 88 tracks (the original album in stereo and mono, along with a staggering 64 extra tracks), Rhino’s reissue wonderfully fleshes out the seeming unraveling of the once mighty quartet, while also documenting the continued efforts of the band members to assert their individuality and artistic merit. Michael Nesmith’s “My Share of the Sidewalk,” present here in three different versions, is as innovative and melodically addictive as anything Brian Wilson was doing at the time.

Peter Tork’s “Lady’s Baby,” presented here twice, once sung by Tork and once by Micky Dolenz, might be Tork’s finest songwriting moment. And Davy Jones even tries his hand at political commentary in “War Games.” This set is certainly not for casual Monkees fans; however, for those who wish to dig deeper or dispel any previously conceived notions of who and what The Monkees was, and definitely for die-hards, this reissue will prove rewarding and endlessly fruitful. (www.themonkees.com / www.rhino.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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