box sets

NOTE: Rhino Records has been fantastic in their treatment of the Monkees catalog from the very start.  With comprehensive retrospectives like the ones below, they've treated Monkees fans to far more sympathetic overviews than most critics would allow the band deserved. The packaging, sound restoration, liner notes and song selection can hardly be matched by any label, with any other artists, and for this, I thank them. Fans who wish to investigate the Monkees more deeply than a simple "greatest hits" package should not hesitate to check out the fine career retrospectives that Rhino has put together.

Box Sets

Listen To The Band (Sept. 24, 1991)  Rhino R2 70566 [CD]

1. Monkees, (Theme From) The
2. Last Train To Clarksville
3. Take A Giant Step
4. Saturday's Child
5. I Wanna Be Free
6. Papa Gene's Blues
7. Sweet Young Thing
8. Gonna Buy Me A Dog
9. All The King's Horses
10. I'm A Believer
11. Steppin' Stone, (I'm Not Your)
12. She
13. Mary, Mary
14. Your Auntie Grizelda
15. Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)
16. Sometime In The Morning
17. I Don't Think You Know Me - (alternate version, previously unreleased)
18. I'll Spend My Life With You - (alternate version, previously unreleased)
19. I'll Be Back Up On My Feet

1. Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You, A
2. Girl I Knew Somewhere, The
3. She Hangs Out
4. All Of Your Toys
5. Love To Love
6. You Told Me
7. Forget That Girl
8. You Just May Be The One
9. Shades Of Gray
10. For Pete's Sake
11. No Time
12. Randy Scouse Git
13. Pleasant Valley Sunday
14. Words
15. Daydream Believer
16. Goin' Down
17. Salesman
18. Door Into Summer, The
19. Love Is Only Sleeping
20. Cuddly Toy
21. What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round?
22. Daily Nightly
23. Star Collector
24. Steppin' Stone, (I'm Not Your) - (live, previously unreleased)

1. Valleri
2. Tapioca Tundra
3. P.O. Box 9847
4. Auntie's Municipal Court
5. Zor And Zam
6. Nine Times Blue
7. Tear The Top Right Off Of My Head - (previously unreleased)
8. Carlisle Wheeling
9. D.W. Washburn
10. It's Nice To Be With You
11. St. Matthew
12. Porpoise Song
13. As We Go Along
14. Circle Sky - (live)
15. Can You Dig It
16. Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again
17. Tear Drop City
18. Man Without A Dream, A
19. Through The Looking Glass
20. I Won't Be The Same Without Her
21. You And I
22. While I Cry

1. Listen To The Band
2. Someday Man
3. Good Clean Fun
4. Mommy And Daddy
5. Looking For The Good Times
6. Some Of Shelly's Blues
7. Steam Engine
8. Oh My My
9. I Love You Better
10. Do It In The Name Of Love
11. That Was Then, This Is Now
12. Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere
13. Heart And Soul
14. Gettin' In
15. Every Step Of The Way

The first box set that Rhino produced was a fine way to re-introduce record-buyers to the depth and breadth of the Monkees catalog. "Listen To The Band" was the first Monkees album that I purchased, long before I started gathering the albums, and I was stunned by what I heard here: the album tracks that slipped through the cracks of greatest hits packages and radio play-lists; the incredible invention on the 1967-1968 era when Mike Nesmith and Micky Dolenz were at their creative peak; the sheer variety of music the Monkees had produced! I had no idea of how sophisticated some of their music was. It was a revelation to me. I was also turned on to how different each Monkee was personally, just by listening to their songs. With most groups, the sound is homogenous, due to the fact that they work together to make a single sound; but the Monkees sound was distinct - individual voices that nevertheless seemed to blend into a unique whole. This was different than anything I'd ever heard before. The box was laid out in more or less chronological order, and it was interesting to see the progression (and eventual regression) that the band's career took. Laid out like this, with good sound, fine liner notes, and thoughtful track selection, I was able to get my first, good taste of the Monkees, and it left me wanting more. It's not a perfect document - the third and fourth discs I found I hardly ever listened to; Rhino attempted to give equal weight to all of the albums, and some albums are in reality more worthy than others, and was it really a good idea to end the set with "Every Step of the Way?" Perhaps that's the reason that Rhino eventually decided in 2001 to upgrade to a new box set, "Music Box," which is truly a better compilation. But "Listen to the Band" will always have a soft space in my heart for turning me on to the Monkees.

Headquarters Sessions (Sept. 21, 2000) 
Rhino Handmade RHM2 7715  [CD]

Headquarters Sessions

1. She's So Far Out, She's In TRACKING SESSION TAKES 1 & 2      (3:59)  
2. The Girl I Knew Somewhere (First Version) TRACKING SESSION COMPOSITE TAKES 1 TO 16      (7:13)  
3. The Girl I Knew Somewhere (First Version) MASTER BACKING TRACK TAKE 22     (2:59)  
4. All Of Your Toys REHEARSAL      (1:54)  
5. All Of Your Toys TRACKING SESSION COMPOSITE TAKES 1 TO 10      (5:33)  
6. All Of Your Toys MASTER BACKING TRACK TAKE 20 MONO MIX      (3:09)  
7. The Girl I Knew Somewhere (Second Version) TRACKING SESSION COMPOSITE FEATURING TAKE 15      (3:24)  
8. The Girl I Knew Somewhere (Second Version) TRACKING OVERDUB SESSION TAKES 1 & 2      (4:15)  
9. The Girl I Knew Somewhere (Second Version) MASTER BACKING TRACK TAKE 13A      (2:41)  
10. Seeger's Theme DEMO      (1:25)  
11. Can You Dig It DEMO      (2:20)  
12. Nine Times Blue DEMO VOCAL      (2:14)  
14. Until It's Time For You To Go DEMO VOCAL      (3:05)  
15. She'll Be There DEMO VOCAL      (2:36)  
16. Midnight Train DEMO VOCAL      (2:31 )  
17. Sunny Girlfriend ACOUSTIC REMIX OF MASTER VOCAL     (2:14)  
19. Mr Webster TRACKING SESSION TAKE 28      (2:13)  
20. Band 6 STEREO MASTER      (0:42 )  
21. Setting Up The Studio For Randy Scouse Git      (6:19)  
22. Randy Scouse Git TRACKING SESSION COMPOSITE      (6:29)  
23. Randy Scouse Git ALTERNATE VERSION TAKE 18 VOCAL     (2:27 )  
24. You Told Me MASTER BACKING TRACK      (2:28)  
25. Monkee Chat STUDIO DIALOGUE      (2:40 )  


1. You Told Me TAKE 15 WITH ROUGH LEAD VOCAL      (2:32)  
6. I'll Spend My Life With You MASTER BACKING TRACK TAKE 9      (2:31)  
7. Randy Scouse Git MASTER BACKING TRACK TAKE 23      (2:39)  
8. Forget That Girl REHEARSAL      (2:54)  
9. Forget That Girl MASTER BACKING TRACK      (2:32)  
10. Where Has It All Gone (First Version) TRACKING SESSION TAKE 1      (2:49 )  
11. Memphis Tennessee      (2:09)  
12. Twelve-String Improvisation      (3:06)  
13. Where Has It All Gone (Second Version) MASTER BASIC TRACK TAKE 12      (2:37)  
14. Jericho      (2:26)  
15. Forget That Girl ROUGH BACKING VOCALS      (2:34)  
16. Peter Gunn's Gun      (3:38)  
17. I Was Born In East Virginia INFORMAL RECORDING VOCAL     (2:28)  
18. Forget That Girl REJECTED OVERDUB SESSION VOCAL     (5:08 )  
19. Randy Scouse Git ALTERNATE MIX WITH UNUSED TAG VOCAL     (2:56)  
20. Micky In Carlsbad Cavern STUDIO DIALOGUE     (1:04)  
21. Pillow Time TAKE 1 VOCAL     (7:19)  
22. Shades Of Gray MASTER BACKING TRACK TAKE 9B      (3:41)  
23. Masking Tape TRACKING SESSION COMPOSITE TAKES 6 TO 8      (4:48)  
24. You Just May Be The One TRACKING SESSION COMPOSITE      (3:16)  
25. You Just May Be The One MASTER BACKING TRACK      (2:06)  
26. No Time (First Version) TRACKING SESSION COMPOSITE TAKES 3 TO 5      (4:42 )  
27. Blues (Excerpt)     (4:05)  
1. I Can? Get Her Off My Mind MASTER BACKING TRACK      (2:31)  
2. Banjo Jam (Excerpt)      (3:13)  
3. Cripple Creek      (1:46)  
4. Six-String Improvisation      (0:46 )  
5. The Story Of Rock And Roll (First Version) TRACKING SESSION TAKE 23      (2:40)  
6. Early Morning Blues And Greens MASTER BACKING TRACK      (3:07)  
7. Two-Part Invention In F Major INFORMAL RECORDING      (1:34)  
8. The Story Of Rock And Roll (Second Version) TRACKING SESSION TAKE 5A      (3:25)  
9. Don't Be Cruel      (0:45)  
10. For Pete's Sake MASTER BACKING TRACK      (2:16 )  
11. No Time (Second Version) TRACKING SESSION COMPOSITE      (4:11)  
12. No Time (Second Version) MASTER BACKING TRACK TAKE 7A      (2:40)  
13. Just A Game DEMO TAKES 1 To 3      (3:51)  
14. Fever      (1:49)  
15. Sunny Girlfriend MASTER BACKING TRACK     (2:34 )  
16. No Time (Second Version) MASTER TAKE 7A WITH BACKING VOCALS      (2:27)  
17. All Of Your Toys MONO MASTER      (3:01 )  
18. The Girl I Knew Somewhere (First Version) MONO MASTER      (2:39)  
19. For Pete's Sake MONO MASTER      (2:11)  
20. I'll Spend My Life With You MONO MASTER (2:24)  
21. Forget That Girl MONO MASTER      (2:24 )  
22. You Just May Be The One MONO MASTER      (2:02 )  
23. Shades Of Gray MONO MASTER      (3:19 )  
24. Band 6 MONO MASTER      (0:38 )  
25. Sunny Girlfriend MONO MASTER      (2:32 )  
26. Mr Webster MONO MASTER      (2:03 )  
27. You Told Me MONO MASTER      (2:24 )  
28. The Girl I Knew Somewhere (Second Version) MONO MASTER (2:24 )  
29. Zilch MONO MASTER      (1:06 )  
30. Early Morning Blues And Greens MONO MASTER(2:34 )  
31. Randy Scouse Git MONO MASTER      (2:10 )  
32. I Can't Get Her Off My Mind MONO MASTER      (2:25 )  
33. No Time MONO MASTER      (2:10 )

Rhino Handmade not only have access to all of the master tapes of the Monkees, but their studio sessions as well, and in 2000 put together this one-of-a-kind 3-CD box set which documents the only time all four Monkees got together in the studio and recorded an album.   This is standard for other groups, like the Beatles (whose Anthology series is the obvious impetus for projects like this), but for the Monkees, whose studio tracks were up 'til then the product of studio session players, "Headquarters" marked not only their first time working all together in the studio, but their first proper album as a self-contained group.  They were at a creative high, feeling the freedom of being able to choose and record whatever they chose, and not having to be dictated to about what songs to sing.  Listening in at their sessions here is a revealing look at how four disparate personalities fused together for just once to make something they all believed in.  Included in this incredible set are working demos for songs that would appear on Headquarters; some tracks that were composed and demoed, but set aside for later albums (Can You Dig It and Midnight Train receive their first tryouts here); rehearsals, backing tracks, studio chatter, and to put the icing on the cake the original sparkling mono master of the finished product.  Apparently the Monkees didn't approve of this box set being produced, so you won't find any interviews with them included in the booklet, but there is an excellent 40-page booklet with notes by Andrew Sandoval, who manages to cover all the bases in his essay.  The only real stumper left is why the fabulous song "All Of Your Toys" was nixed while the fun, but inconsequential "Zilch" was included.  What's surprising about listening to the tapes is that there's very little guesswork involved in how the album should sound or what eventual songs were to be included.  The band seems to have a strong sense of how Headquarters should be, and although there are moments of goofing off (these are the Monkees, after all) they remain remarkably focused and driven.  It's a great box, and unfortunately (for new fans) all 4,500 limited edition sets are now sold out.

Music Box (Feb 20, 2001) 
Rhino 76706

Music Box
DISC 1: 1966
1.   Monkees (Theme), The
2.   I Wanna Be Free - (fast version)
3.   Let's Dance On
4.   Last Train To Clarksville
5.   Take A Giant Step
6.   All The King's Horses
7.   Saturday's Child
8.   Papa Gene's Blues
9.   I Wanna Be Free
10.   Sweet Young Thing
11.   Gonna Buy Me A Dog
12.   I Don't Think You Know Me
13.   I'm A Believer
14.   Steppin' Stone, (I'm Not Your)
15.   She
16.   Mary, Mary
17.   Your Auntie Grizelda
18.   Of You
19.   Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)
20.   Kind Of Girl I Could Love, The
21.   Sometime In The Morning
22.   When Love Comes Knockin' (At Your Door)
23.   Do Not Ask For Love
24.   Valleri
25.   I'll Be Back On My Feet Again

DISC 2: 1967
1.   Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You, A
2.   She Hangs Out
3.   Girl I Knew Somewhere, The
4.   All Of Your Toys
5.   Love To Love
6.   You Told Me
7.   I'll Spend My Life With You
8.   Forget That Girl
9.   You Just May Be The One
10.   Shades Of Gray
11.   For Pete's Sake
12.   Sunny Girlfriend
13.   No Time
14.   Randy Scouse Git
15.   Pleasant Valley Sunday
16.   Words

17.   Daydream Believer
18.   Goin' Down
19.   Salesman
20.   Door Into Summer, The
21.   Love Is Only Sleeping
22.   Cuddly Toy
23.   What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round?
24.   Daily Nightly
25.   Star Collector

DISC 3: 1968
1.   Valleri
2.   Tapioca Tundra
3.   Dream World
4.   Auntie's Municipal Court
5.   P.O. Box 9847
6.   Zor And Zam
7.   Carlisle Wheeling
8.   Tear The Top Right Off My Head
9.   Girl I Left Behind Me, The
10.   Nine Times Blue
11.   Come On In
12.   D.W. Washburn
13.   It's Nice To Be With You
14.   St. Matthew
15.   Porpoise Song (Theme From Head)
16.   As We Go Along
17.   Ditty Diego-War Chant
18.   Circle Sky - (live)
19.   Can You Dig It
20.   Daddy's Song
21.   Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again

DISC 4: 1969-96
1.   Tear Drop City
2.   Man Without A Dream, A
3.   Through The Looking Glass
4.   I Won't Be The Same Without Her
5.   You And I
6.   While I Cry
7.   Shorty Blackwell
8.   If I Ever Get To Saginaw Again
9.   Smile
10.   Listen To The Band
11.   Someday Man
12.   Some Of Shelly's Blues
13.   Mommy And Daddy
14.   Good Clean Fun
15.   Looking For The Good Times
16.   Steam Engine
17.   I Never Thought It Peculiar
18.   Midnight Train
19.   Oh My My
20.   I Love You Better
21.   Do You Feel It Too?
22.   Do It In The Name Of Love - Micky Dolenz/Davy Jones
23.   That Was Then, This Is Now - Micky Dolenz/Peter Tork
24.   Heart And Soul
25.   MGB-GT - (live)
26.   Every Step Of The Way
27.   Oh, What A Night
28.   You And I

The perfect box set, in my opinion.  Where the first box, "Listen To The Band" weighed a little heavy on weaker tracks, "Music Box" is really an attempt to create a comprehensive box set that even casual fans of the Monkees will enjoy, while hard-core fans will love the sound, extensive liner notes and the flow of the tracks.  Because the Monkees have so much material to choose from, both mono and stereo, single and album mixes, unreleased quality music and more, the biggest obstacle facing a compiler is simply this: how to juggle a balanced retrospective, while keeping it interesting, even when the quality of songs starts to fade?  Rhino got around this by simply choosing what they considered the best of everything.  Ninety-nine songs, from the earliest: ["The Monkees" theme] to the latest: ["You and I" from Justus]; from the most inspired: ["All Of Your Toys"] to the most inane ["Ditty Diego War Chant"]. They've even managed to avoid some of the more obvious pitfalls (although they've still included "Your Auntie Grizelda" and "Shorty Blackwell" which almost made me take off half a star), and pick the best, most convincing proof that the Monkees deserve their place as icons of the sixties.  The sixty-page booklet contains loads of information, pictures, track-by-track commentary, a fine discography, history and general overview, and the music itself has been remastered into pristine condition, even better than the sound on the "Listen To The Band" box.  So, unless you feel that you only need the hits, this box set is just a heapin' helping of Monkees that no fan of pop music should be without. 

This page design and content 2006 Bret Wheadon