solo works I

NOTE: Papa Nez was really the first to go solo after the Monkees, and although others in the group also have had solo careers, Mike's has been the most prolific, and easily the most successful (although none of the band has had breakaway solo success).  Mike has also been the most adventurous in his recordings, almost all of which buck traditional pop/rock conventions and lean towards his love of country-rock and experimental concept albums.  Curiously, he has dipped several times into his past Monkees-era recordings, re-thinking them and reshaping them for his solo works.  All the albums shown here can be obtained through the VideoRanch website, or often on special import editions.

Mike Nesmith Solo Albums I
(The Dot and RCA Years)

Mike Nesmith - Solo Sessions: 1963-1965 Splendor Of Bohemia Production SOLO-71 [CD]; Released 1995
1. All The Kings Horses (Nesmith)
2. Just A Little Love (Nesmith) Edan 1001 Single, A-Side 1965
3. Don't Call On Me (Nesmith)
4. 1 & 20
5. How Can You Kiss Me? (Nesmith)
6. Searching (Diane's Song)
7. Curson Terrace (Whitman) Edan 1001 Single B-Side 1965
8. The New Recruit (Ashe/Krasnow) Colpix CP787 Single 1965
9. A Journey With Michael Blessing (Krasnow/Ashe/Nields) Colpix CP787 Single, 1965
10. Until It's Time For You To Go (Saint-Marie) Colpix CP792 Single 1965
11. What Seems To Be The Trouble, Officer (Crasnow/Blessing) Colpix CP792 Single 1965
12. I'll Go Somewhere And Cry (Nesmith) Renner Records Single, Mike Plays Guitar and Whistles
13. Pretty Little Princess (Version 1)
14. Looks Like Rain
15. For The Color Of A Skin
16. Sleep, My Child
17. How Can You Kiss Me? (Alternate Source)
18. Pretty Little Princess (Version 2)
19. Just A Little Love (Alternate Source)

1963 Radio Broacasts From San Antonio, TX - 1963
20. Pastures Of Plenty
21. Looks Like Rain
22. Winkin - Blinkin - & Nod
23. Don't Let The Deal Go Down
24. Winkin - Blikin - & Nod
25. 1 & 20
26. Pick A Bale Of Cotton
Unless you want to go out and track down all these rare recordings yourself, this bootleg CD is about the only way to gather them all in one place.  Filled with true rarities for Monkees/Nesmith fans, these pre-Monkees recordings capture Mike Nesmith still struggling to find a musical identity, although several of his solo compositions sound remarkably similar to his later 70s output.  Starting a song which transitioned  into the Monkees ourvre: "All The King's Horses" sound very similar to what the later Monkees cut sounded like, with Mike taking all the vocals here and a hard-strummed guitar carrying the rhythm.  Track two is a guitar/harmonica-driven single which already sounds like Mike during his First National Band days - a mid-tempo country-rock hybrid; "Don't Call On Me" however has Mike ripping off Gerry and the Pacemakers' "Don't Let The Sun See You Crying" in this soundalike single, with Mike morphing into a crooning balladeer.  "1 & 20" veers off into solo-guitar and vocal folk music, much like what Peter, Paul and Mary struck gold with, but too earnest and without a sense of irony which Mike would bring to much of his later music.  "How Can You Kiss Me?" is a droning rocker, with Mike multitracking his voice to interesting effect.  "Searching (Diane's Song)" has Mike changing again, sounding like a Bob Dylan wannabe on this bluesy folk rocker.  "Crimson Terrace" is even harder, with a driving rock rhythm carrying this R&B instrumental which sounds like it's recorded live.  "The New Recruit" is Mike's foray into protest rock, in this novelty song about a new draftee who continually asks he Sergeant to teach him how to kill 'for I've never killed before'.  "A Journey With Michael Blessing" is another instrumental, strangely not credited to Mike, and it's a slow, grinding blues number without much to recommend it.  "Until It's Time For You To Go" is familiar to anyone who's seen the "Hey Hey We're The Monkees" video, where it shows an early TV broadcast of Michael singing it in front of an attendant crowd; this is the original single, similar in sound and feel to "Don't Call  On Me" with heavy orchestration and the plaintive sentiment sweetly sung by Mike.  "What Seems To Be The Trouble, Officer" is another guitar and harmonica-driven number, with Mike speaking the narrative in an old-timer hick accent.  "I'll Go Somewhere And Cry" is written by Mike, but only accompanied by him with guitar and whistling along to an unnamed singer.  "Pretty Little Princess" is a throwaway ballad, with quickly-sung lyrics distinguishing it; "Looks Like Rain" is another forgettable shuffling piece with a hissing snare and guitar accompanying the brief song.  "For The Color Of A Skin" is a dreary, heavy-handed 'message' song.  "Sleep My Child" sounds like Mike trying to remake "Ave Maria" in this medieval-flavored song.  A thinner sounding mix of "How Can You Kiss Me" and a hissier take of "Pretty Little Princess" follows.  Finally, a fine alternate sourced "Just A Little Love" closes out the main set.  The final seven songs are all taken from live 1963 radio broadcasts out of San Antonio.  These amazing finds show Mike talking and singing his way through several covers and originals, in a loose, live setting with an appreciative audience.  The final track announces that Mike is going to be leaving, undoubtedly on his way to California where he would struggle for a couple of years before striking it big with The Monkees.

Witchita Train Whistle Sings (1968) Dot 25861 [LP], 1015 [CD]
1  Nine Times Blues   4:15 
2  Carlisle Wheeling   4:54 
3  Tapioca Tundra   3:02 
4  Don't Call on Me   4:39 
5  Don't Cry Now   3:39 
6  While I Cried   3:14 
7  Papa Gene's Blues  3:27 
8  You Just May Be the One 3:26 
9  Sweet Young Thing  2:50 
10  You Told Me 4:32
Mike's first album proper was released during the waning days of the Monkees, and he concieved it as a showcase for his compositions; but, with typical Nesmith chutzpah, he didn't plan it as being a simple "Greatest Hits" compilation, but as a high-minded instrumental reshaping of each song - a showcase for his melodies as played by a symphony orchestra!  On November 18th & 19th, 1967, Nesmith brought together a 52-piece ensemble of studio musicians at RCA studios, had the entire event catered by gourmet restaurant Chasen's, and laid down ten of his favorite tracks, all of which will be familiar to hard-core Monkees fans.  To my ears however, the concept is a spectacular failure - he uses an open-microphone method of recording that captures the whole sound of the orchestra brilliantly at the expense of more nuanced capture, so the drums are VERY loud on "Nine Times Blue" giving the song an almost martial feel, then the trumpets blare out, while the rest of the orchestra is washed back in the mix; it sounds like a high-school marching band.  "Carlisle Wheeling" has a darkly grooved big band feel to it, with the whiny woodwinds to the fore and the busy arrangement again too broad for the intimate songcraft that originally was.  "Tapioca Tundra" is the same, with pounding drums competing for space in the dense orchestrations - in fact the entire album comes across as nothing more than a band concert - sort of a Nesmith halftime show at the local football game; there's little difference in the orchestrations or the sound of the album, making even the delicate numbers sound like stadium rockers.  It's a tragic mis-match of songcraft and style, and if Mike's original intent was to show off his melodic flair, it's lost in this headache-inducing set.  There are some curious moments that show off Mike's unique brand of humor - like the baroque trumpet lead-off into "While I Cried" or the stinging Doug Dillard banjo solo during "Nine Times Blue", but far more often it's a lame 'oom-pah' rhythm ("Sweet Young Thing") or the odd relief of a clarinet break during the take-no-prisoners din of "You Told Me."  For completists only, and only available through VideoRanch.

Magnetic South (1970) RCA Victor SP-4371 [LP], Pacific Arts 833 [CD]

Magnetic South
1   Calico Girlfriend  Nesmith  2:37 
2   Nine Times Blue  Nesmith  1:39 
3   Little Red Rider  Nesmith  2:34 
4   The Crippled Lion  Nesmith  3:10 
5   Joanne  Nesmith  3:10 
6   First National Rag  Rhodes  :21 
7   Mama Nantucket  Nesmith  2:36 
8   Keys to the Car  Nesmith  2:52 
9   Hollywood  Nesmith  5:03 
10   One Rose  Cochran, Howard  3:27 
11   Beyond the Blue Horizon  Cochran, Howard  5:55
Mike formed The First National Band immediately after leaving the Monkees, with O.J. "Red" Rhodes on pedal steel guitar, John London on bass, John Ware on drums, and Earl P. Hall sitting in occasionally on piano.  The sound is remarkably vital and warm throughout the LP, with Nesmith's deeply introspective, poetic lryics sitting remarkably well with his confident vocals and the wonderful melodies tied to each song.  Again using songs that were mostly written and worked on while he was still with the Monkees, Nesmith fuses Country-Rock in a way that equalled the work done by The Byrds or later, by the Eagles.  What really sets Nesmith's songs apart is his innately dry sense of humor that peeks through just when it seems he'll slip into pretentious affectation.  His delivery is always with a nod and a wink.  I love the honky-tonk piano on "The Crippled Lion" and the cool way he slips into falsetto on "Joanne" is chilling, and somewhat reminiscent of John Denver's similar techniques.  The short "First National Rag" is an anachronistic throwback to the LP era, asking listeners to turn the record over, accompanied by a zany Monkees-like rag.  The second side of the album continues with the sly yodelling of "Mama Nantucket" (can you imagine yodelling on a Monkees album?  Actually, yes I can!) but here it's just par for the course - the entire album is excellent to the last degree; confident, passionate, funny, and completely natural - this sounds like the album Nez wanted to record all the time he was with the Monkees, and now that he's free of them, he sounds reborn.  Unfortunately, RCA in 1970 had no idea how to market a country-rock hybrid to a general audience, and the album quickly sank on the charts.  But pay them no mind, Magnetic South is truly magnetic.  An essential album for Monkees fans.  Available as a two-for-one CD paired with Loose Salute

Loose Salute (1971) RCA SP-1071 [LP], Rio 1024 [CD]

Loose Salute
1  Silver Moon  Nesmith  3:15 
2  I Fall to Pieces  Cochran, Howard  2:59 
3  Thanx for the Ride  Nesmith  2:58 
4  Dedicated Friend  Nesmith  2:33 
5  Conversations  Nesmith  3:33 
6  Tengo Amore  Nesmith  3:00 
7  Listen to the Band  Nesmith  2:37 
8  Bye, Bye, Bye  Nesmith  3:19 
9  Lady of the Valley  Nesmith  2:59 
10  Hello Lady  Nesmith  3:46
Mike's second album with The First National Band is, if anything, more adventurous and successful than the first, with Mike's songwriting branching out into Rumbas ("Tengo Amore" - sung with Spanish lyrics!), R&B on "Bye, Bye, Bye" and reggae on "Silver Moon" and his lyrics tackling his leaving of the Monkees ("Thanx For The Ride") love, friendship and work.  There's also some nifty covers, like Patsy Cline's "I Fall To Pieces" (a bit too twangy for my taste, but some nice swirling guitar work on the bridge), and a quicker, honky-tonk remake of the Monkees song "Listen To The Band" which compares favorably with the original version.  You can also hear echoes of Mike's love of early 20s pop music on "Thanx For The Ride".  There's strong honky-tonk vibes on the groovy "Dedicated Friend" and a slow rocking chair rhythm that accompanies "Conversations" (which Monkees fans will recognize as a reworking of an earlier song).  My favorite track though is probably the eerie, distant "Lady Of the Valley" with it's chilled verses and surprising falsetto leaps by Nez.  Overall the album has a harder-edged feel to it, as Nez took over the production reigns from Felton Jarvis, and it doesn't quite hang together as well as the first album either, with the styles feeling more jarring placed close together - and the humorous bite all but gone; but this is still a fine album, a strong echo of Magnetic South, with an increased hint of synthesizers which would grow stonger on future albums.  "Red" Rhodes has an even stronger presence on this album, with his fine steel guitar playing sliding all over the tracks, and the stronger thrust of the production giving it a muscled, sinuous sheen.  A worthy follow up to Magnetic South. 

Nevada Fighter (1971) RCA Victor SP-4457 [LP], Pacific Arts 832 [CD]

Nevada Fighter
1  Grand Ennui  Nesmith  2:10 
2  Propinquity (I've Just Begun to Care)  Nesmith  2:59 
3  Here I Am  Nesmith  3:19 
4  Only Bound  Nesmith  3:28 
5  Nevada Fighter  Nesmith  3:09 
6  Texas Morning  Caslteman, Murphey  3:23 
7  Tumbling Tumbleweeds  Nolan  3:44 
8  I Looked Away  Clapton, Whitlock  3:16 
9  Rainmaker  Hilsson, Martin  3:18 
10  René  Rhodes  1:42
Mike's third and final album with the First National Band is a different animal from his earlier albums for a couple of reasons: first, the mood is far bluer, with ballad after ballad setting a down mood, and Mike added a few extra session players to his regular band (including Ron Tutt and James Burton, who had played in the Elvis Presley band) which subtly alters the sound; and second, the entire second side of the album was filled with songs written by other songwriters.  Now, part of Mike's whole performing persona is tied up in his lyrics and how he interprets them, and while on Nevada Fighter his interpretive gifts remain as great as before, the authors of the songs have changed, giving this album an entirely new flavor, and to my ears, a weaker, or at least a less adventurous strain than his two previous solo albums.  The album begins promisingly, with the slow bluesy shuffle of "Grand Ennui" and another Monkees-era song "Propinquity" which just aches with longing.  "Here I Am" is also a slow, sad song, which is also a quality song, but now with three slow, sad songs in a row, the mood of the album is already markedly different than his previous - but it's all good.  This blue mood is sustained through "Only Bound", a sweet, lilting waltz, but then the atmosphere breaks with the slow-building insistant thrum of the title track, which would seem to point to a change of mood on the b-side of the album; but that's not the case, a heartbreaking "Texas Morning" rises on side two, followed by an echo-laden cover of "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" (not my favorite song, but given an adequate, interesting reading).  "I Looked Away" is simply not as good a song as what Mike could write, and fades from memory as a midtempo shuffling song, and the album closes with the sweet steel lullabye of Red Rhodes' instrumental "Rene".  After this album, Mike disbanded the First National Band and did a one-off with an altered line-up.  Available on a two-for-one CD paired with Tantamount To Treason.  Or in a three-album set (with the first two National Band albums) from VideoRanch.

Tantamount To Treason (1971) RCA Victor SP-4563 [LP], Pacific Arts 831 [CD]

Tantamount to Treason, Vol. 1
1  Mama Rocker  Nesmith  2:58 
2  Lazy Lady  Nesmith  2:53 
3  You Are My One  Nesmith  4:09 
4  In the Afternoon  Nesmith  5:54 
5  Highway 99 With Melange  Cohen  5:01 
6  Wax Minute  Stekol  4:34 
7  Bonaparte's Retreat  King, Stewart  4:35 
8  Talking to the Wall  Chadwick  2:54 
9  She Thinks I Still Care  Lee  4:04
Tantamount To Treason finds Mike blasting out of the starting gate with the heavy electric guitars and Elvis Presley-like honky-tonk of "Mama Rocker", which sounds like nothing he's ever done before, and is a refreshing waker-upper after the languid Nevada Fighter.  Perhaps it's his new band giving him the spark to experiment more with his sound, but there are spacy synthesizer effects on the next track, the ballad "Lazy Lady" - which unfortunately don't help the song, just detract from the otherwise lovely Nesmith melody.  "You Are My One" is even odder, as if Mike and Brazillian jazz artist Antonio Carlos Jobim had had a love child: it's almost deathly slow and stupifying; undeniably different, but not particularly likable.  And the druggy "In The Afternoon" almost sounds like something former Monkee-mate Peter Tork would have penned, with Red Rhodes steel pedal guitar hypnotically winding in and out of the verses.  The album finally jerks awake again with the half-talked, half-sung rambling of "Highway 99 With Melange" (by Leonard Cohen, who seems to have copied Mike's trick of odd titles).  Another cover song follows, the pleasant, commercial "Wax Minute" (does Mike choose songs based on their off-beat titles?), and the thick harmony breaks found on "Bonaparte's Retreat" (yep, I guess that clinches it).  Odd instrumentation catch the ear on "Talking To The Wall", and otherwise melodic and memorable weeper, and the album closes with the sad story of "She Thinks I Still Care".  For whatever reasons, Mike again only contributes half an album of self-penned songs, picking the rest from other sources, and the result makes the album sound cobbled together - it's not nearly as cohiesive as his earlier albums, but with enough worthwhile stand-alone songs to make it worth listening to more than once.  Available as a two-for-one CD paired with Nevada Fighter.

And The Hits Just Keep On Comin' (1972) RCA 4695 [LP], Pacific Arts 7-116 [CD]

And the Hits Just Keep on Comin'
1  Tomorrow and Me  Nesmith  3:49 
2  The Upside of Good-Bye  Nesmith  2:57 
3  Lady Love  Nesmith  2:55 
4  Listening  Nesmith  2:23 
5  Two Different Roads  Nesmith  2:40 
6  The Candidate  Nesmith  2:34 
7  Different Drum  Nesmith  3:03 
8  Harmony Constant  Nesmith  3:47 
9  Keep On  Nesmith  3:31 
10  Roll With the Flow  Nesmith  5:08

Mike's amazing prolific release of albums had resulted in this being the fifth album he had released in just two years.  Despite the quality of the recordings and the variety of music found therein, Mike hadn't scored as a solo artist, and RCA reportedly came to him and asked him to write more "hits".  While this album didn't signal a change in his sales trend, it spawned the humorous title and the most intimate, grounded album Mike had released yet.  Mostly recorded with just himself on guitar and vocals, and Red Rhodes again returning on pedal steel guitar, the songs speak for themselves with a  quiet elegance and grace; from the intropective "Tomorrow and Me" to the irony apparent in the sad humor of "The Upside of Good-Bye".  The weariness of "Lady Love" is perfect, giving the song a resigned mood fitting the lyric.  "Listening", on the other hand, is brighter, with chiming accompianment and Mike's spot-on delivery giving the album a lift.  "Two Different Roads" sounds a little too close in it's construction to "Blowin' In The Wind", but is a fine folk song.  "Candidate" is bleaker, with Mike letting his voice crack and grumble on the "spiritual bereavements" the song so perfectly encapsulates, .  The entire album feels somewhat hopeless in spirit, like a man who's been kicked when he's down, and the country flavor of the album, which is stronger here than on Tantamount To Treason, is the perfect vehicle for conveying these heart-worn cries.  Mike then pulls his biggest hit out of his trunk, "Different Drum" which was a hit for Linda Rondstadt years before; but Mike doesn't copy the hit arrangement, recasting the song as a folksy backwoods ballad, simpler and sparer in the arrangement, but the new interpretation works well.  "Harmony Constant" is also brighter, helping to lift the album out of the blue rut it seemed stuck in, while "Keep On" is a soaring melody tied to a hopeful lyric, as Mike seems to be telling himself to continue on with his dream, despite popular rejection.  "Roll With The Flow" is a pick-yourself off the floor battle cry, and the perfect closer to what appears to the listener to be a cathartic album; a cleansing of the soul, and a true hidden gem among Mike's solo works.  Avaliable on CD paired with Ranch Stash.

Pretty Much Your Standard Ranch Stash (1973)  RCA 10164 [LP], Pacific Arts 8292 [CD]

1  Continuing  Nesmith  3:55 
2  Some of Shelly's Blues  Nesmith  3:21 
3  Release  Hargrove, Miner, Nesmith  3:50 
4  Winonah  Hargrove, Miner, Nesmith  3:51 
5  Born to Love You  Walker  3:53 
6  The Back Porch and a Fruit Jar Full of Iced Tea: The F.F.V. /Uncle Pen  Monroe, Traditional  8:11 
7  Prairie Lullaby  Hill  4:04

Mike's final album for RCA is a brief, seven-song affair, (despite the presence of the eight-minute-plus "Back Porch..." track), but it signals a return to a larger sound, with Mike bringing on six-piece band consisting of Red Rhodes, Jay Lacy and Robert Warford on guitars, and Dany Lane on drums.  Ranch Stash is also one of Mike's most relaxed albums, both in regards to tempos and attitude; it just seems to sway from song to song in an easy-going manner.  The album begins with the bright, bell-like chiming of "Continuing" with it's easy, rocking-horse rhythm and poetic lyrics signalling a fine album.  Mike then digs out the Monkees-era "Some Of Shelly's Blues" which is remade with Red Rhodes fine guitar work and a fiddle giving the new version a much more country edge than was found on the Monkees version.  "Release" has a far more pop flavor than anything else of the album, with the drums laying down an easy, insistant rhythm, and the pedal steel guitar playing a sweet counter melody.  "Winonah" is one of Mike's most successful story songs, about a alchoholic who takes "whisky for her wages" in a seedy barroom.  The country-swing of "Born To Love You" is also pure relaxation, with the ardent declarations of love overlaid by the lazy summer days arrangment.  The most adventurous track follows - "The Back Porch and a Fruit Jar Full Of Iced Tea" has an Appalachian backwoods flavor to it, as Mike tears into the traditional folk stylings with ease.  The album closes with the pastoral imagery of the "Prairie Lullaby" - ending the album, and Mike's contract with RCA, on a countrified prayer.  Availalable on CD paired with Hits Keep on Comin'

Compilations & Greatest Hits

The Older Stuff: The BEST Of The Early Years (1991)  Rhino R2-70763 [CD]

1  Joanne  Nesmith  3:13 
2  The Crippled Lion [*]  Nesmith  3:13 
3  I Fall to Pieces  Cochran, Howard  2:57 
4  Listen to the Band  Nesmith  2:34 
5  Silver Moon  Nesmith  3:13 
6  Propinquity (I've Just Begun to Care)  Nesmith  3:00 
7  I Looked Away  Clapton, Whitlock  3:15 
8  Nevada Fighter [*]  Nesmith  3:08 
9  Tumbling Tumbleweeds  Nolan  3:47 
10  Here I Am [*]  Nesmith  3:19 
11  Some of Shelly's Blues  Nesmith  3:22 
12  Born to Love You  Walker  3:52 
13  Different Drum  Nesmith  3:02 
14  Harmony Constant  Nesmith  3:47 
15  Continuing  Nesmith  3:53 
16  Prairie Lullaby  Hill  4:05 
17  Release [*]  Nesmith  3:50 
18  Roll With the Flow  Nesmith  5:08

Salting this release with a few unreleased/alternate takes, this Rhino sampler, following on the heels of the Newer Stuff release, this is a fine sampling of Mike's early RCA albums, taking well-chosen songs from Magnetic South (1970), Loose Salute (1971), Nevada Fighter (1971), Tantamount To Treason (1971), And The Hits Just Keep On Comin' (1972), and Pretty Much Your Standard Ranch Stash (1973).  While this "best of" really doesn't take the place of the fine original albums, it's a great starting place for folks who have no idea what Mike has been up to since his Monkees days.  You'll find his fine re-recordings of Monkees-era songs "The Crippled Lion", "Listen To The Band", "Propinquity" and "Some Of Shelly's Blues"; his hard-country reveries: "Silver Moon", "Tumbling Tumbleweeds", and "Prarie Lullaby"; and the incredibly lovely ballads he penned: "Joanne", "Born To Love You", "Here I Am", and even his take on the one hit with he had with Linda Rondstadt, "Different Drum".  Mike's unique country-rock sound was perhaps a little too revolutionary for its time, but even decades after their release, they sound fresh and interesting.  Of course, by listening to the tracks this way, you miss the building sadness of And The Hits Just Keep On Comin', or the amazing quality of Magnetic South which is evident from beginning to end.  But this CD is a great introduction, and with the previously-unreleased material present, even long-time fans will want to consider this for their collection.

Sixteen Original Classics (September 28, 1999) Collectables COL 6295 [CD]

1. Calico Girlfriend 
2. Nine Times Blue 
3. Little Red Rider
4. Crippled Lion
5. Joanne
6. First National Rag
7. Mama Nantucket
8. Keys to the Car
9. Hollywood
10. One Rose
11. Beyond the Blue Horizon
12. Silver Moon
13. Lady of the Valley
14. Here I Am
15. Nevada Fighter
16. Tumbling Tumbleweeds
A somewhat uneven sampling of the first three of Mike's National Band recordings, this sixteen track collection takes the bulk of it's recordings from Magnetic South, with the entire album recreated in the first eleven tracks, leaving five tracks to be split between Loose Salute and Nevada Fighter.  While The First National Band's debut album is easily the strongest of the opening trilogy, to ignore fine tracks off of Loose Salute like "Listen To The Band", "Conversations" and "Thanx For The Ride"; or "Grand Ennui" or "Propinquity" from Nevada Fighter" is just poor programming, especially considering there is plenty of space remaining on the CD to fit them.  And I really object to the fine, but unnecessary inclusion of "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" here, when so many other better original Nesmith compositions would have been more interesting.  But the Collectables company has always been a "budget" label, and they may have been constrained by how many tracks they could afford to add.  As it is, this could be considered Magnetic South with bonus tracks - and since the first album is the best of the bunch, it may be all you want to hear from this period, but somehow I doubt it.  

Silver Moon (2002) Audiophile Legends 821 [CD]

1. Silver Moon       
2. Listen To The Band       
3. Different Drum       
4. Some Of Shellys Blues       
5. Mama Nantucket       
6. Harmony Constant       
7. Grand Ennui       
8. Bonaparte's Retreat       
9. Ive Just Begun To Care (Propinquity)       
10. Lady Of The Valley       
11. First National Rag       
12. The Keys To The Car       
13. Two Different Roads       
14. Nevada Fighter       
15. I Fall To Pieces       
16. Rainmaker       
17. Calico Girlfriend       
18. Nine Times Blue       
19. Little Red Rider       
20. Conversations       
21. Joanne       
22. Beyond The Blue Horizon       
23. Hollywood       
24. Bye Bye Bye       
25. The Crippled Lion

A thicker slice of Nez's early album cuts, Silver Moon manages to duplicate most of the cuts off of Rhino's Older Stuff compilation, but adds some very good tracks that didn't make it onto that disc, including "Grand Ennui", "Mama Nantucket" "First National Rag", "The Keys To The Car", "Bonaparte's Retreat", "Little Red Rider", "Conversations", "Beyond The Blue Horizon", "Hollywood", and "Bye Bye Bye".  Of course, Silver Moon doesn't manage to get ahold of the rare, unreleased stuff that Rhino was, but that's allright, because everything here is pure gold.  If you still can't decide whether or not to purchase Nez's early albums on RCA, this excellent sampler will give you a sizable chunk of the better stuff for much less than you would have to pay to purchase all the albums separately, plus you get the excellent cuts like "Harmony Contant", "Propinquity (I've Just Begun To Care)", "Nevada Fighter", "Calico Girlfriend", and the heavenly "Joanne".  The unfortunate choice of photograph on the cover might lead some to think that this CD contains tracks from Nesmith's Monkees period, which is misleading - this is ALL songs taken from 1970-1973; but with that in mind, this is music very worthy of discovery, much of it equalling anything Mike did with the pre-fab four.

The Best Of Michael Nesmith (July 7, 2003) BMG/Camden [CD]

1. Silver Moon
2. Listen To The Band
3. Little Red Rider
4. Smoke, Smoke, Smoke
5. Upside Of Goodbye
6. Two Different Roads
7. Harmony Constant
8. Calico Girlfriend
9. Tomorrow & Me
10. Some Of Shelly's Blues
11. Crippled Lion
12. I Fall To Pieces
13. Tengo Amore
14. Rainmaker
15. Grand Ennui
16. Mama Nantucket
17. She Thinks I Still Care
18. Joanne
A somewhat strangely-sequenced import CD, which takes tracks from Mike's first five solo albums: Magnetic South, Loose Salute, Nevada Fighter, Tantamount To Treason, and ...And The Hits Just Keep On Comin' along with an additional track "Smoke, Smoke, Smoke" which is otherwise available on the imported Magnetic South/Loose Salute two-fer CD, and I suppose was tacked on here to grab collectors' eyes who had the original albums.  The tracks veer all over the place, mixing and matching tracks from each of the albums in a haphazard way that, while placing the songs out of context and their original flow, nevertheless manages to show how strong Mike's songwriting was from album to album, with the early success of "Calico Girlfriend" snuggled against the equally fine "Tomorrow And Me" from  ...And The Hits Just Keep On Comin'  or the bright, upbeat "Harmony Constant" elbowing the folksy "Two Different Roads".  Mike's craft and humor in each of these songs remains remarkably constant, and the song choice here is very good, with nary a clunker in the bunch.  Probably not my first choice for a sampler of Mike's work, but a fine collection, despite its haphazard sequencing.
This page design and content © 2006 Bret Wheadon