The Monkees The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees 150g LP
This mid-period effort is effectively The Monkees "White Album." Given collective production credit and individual allotments of studio time, Mickey, Davy and Mike each held separate sessions to produce their contributions. Peter Tork, though pictured, is basically absent from the original album.
Nesmith's contributions are the real stars, including brilliant psychedelic influences on "Auntie's Municipal Court," featuring layered, droning guitars and a filtered lead vocal from Mickey. "Tapioca Tundra" melds Latin rhythms with space-age production touches, beautifully recorded stereo guitars and a wonderfully memorable melody. Further out, Nesmith salutes the music of dusty 78s on the monaural "Magnolia Simms" and unwinds on the lengthy experimental rock of "Writing Wrongs." The diversity of his work is hugely impressive.
Davy's tracks are mostly the sort of treacly ballads he'd come to on his own. Carole Bayer's "We Were Made For Each Other," and his own "Dream World" simply don't have much going for them. "The Poster" ventures into the sort of harmonies made popular by the Hollies and Bee Gees. The only truly bright spots are John Stewart's "Daydream Believer," the Monkees last #1 single, and Boyce and Hart's "Valleri."
Mickey is not as well-served by his songwriters as on previous albums. Boyce and Hart's "P.O. Box 9847" is filled with their usual tackle-box full of hooks, but "I'll Be Back Up on My Feet Again" is a forgettable pop tune. The cautionary tale, "Zor and Zam," closes the album with a dramatic tale of kings unable to war.
The bonus tracks provide two glimpses of the soon-to-depart Peter Tork. "Alvin," an acapella piece that was originally to introduce "Daydream Believer," and the legendarily expensive production of "Lady's Baby." The latter is more famous for its cost than its content, which is a Lovin' Spoonful-Buffalo Springfield-Mama's & Papa's-ish ode to Tork's live-in lady's baby. Two more Davy ballads ("I'm Gonna Try" and "The Girl I Left Behind Me") are, well, two more Davy Ballads. Finally, an early mix of "P.O. Box 9847" is interesting for its changes (most notably a Moog synthesizer in place of the strings), but doesn't stand up to the final mix.
The group dynamic forged on "Headquarters" and "Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.," was all but dissipated by this fifth effort. The result is a middling album with some fine tracks by Michael Nesmith and a handful of stellar hit singles. As a "band," however, the Monkees had clearly peaked.
• High Quality 150g Vinyl
1. Dream World
2. Auntie's Municipal Court
3. We Were Made For Each Other
4. Tapioca Tundra
5. Daydream Believer
6. Writing Wrongs
7. I'm Gonna Try (Previously unissued)
8. I'll Be Back Up On My Feet
9. The Poster
10. P.O.Box 9847
11. Magnolia Simms
13. Zor And Zam
14. P.O.Box 9847 (Previously unissued alternate mix)
15. Alvin (Previously unissued)