Wednesday, June 22, 2011

On my turntable (Monkees edition): The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees

Although The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees (1968) sold enough to achieve platinum status, it was the first Monkees LP to not reach #1 on the album charts. Not coincidentally, it was also the first Monkees album to be released after the cancellation of their tv show. Commercially the band was definitely approaching its expiration date.

Artistically, The Birds & The Bees is a mixed bag. After reaching the musical heights of their 4th LP, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones ltd (1967) the Monkees decided to pursue their individual musical interests rather than work together as a unit (ironically, the album's cover was the first to state, in rather large print, "Produced by The Monkees"). This new approach to recording led to a significant increase of musical output, since each Monkee was now producing their own individual sessions. Due to the large number of tracks being put to tape, The Birds & Bees could have easily been a double album.
"Daydream Believer", 1967
"Valleri", 1968
 The Birds & The Bees included the band's final two top ten singles, "Daydream Believer" and "Valleri". What it did not include, unfortunately, was Peter Tork. The only place Tork can be heard on the LP is "Daydream Believer", on which he played piano.  Although Peter recorded multiple tracks for consideration on the album, none of them made the final cut (most of Tork's recordings from this period would eventually see release on various Monkees compilations by Rhino records).

More about the Birds & the Bees:
  • The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees was the last Monkees album to be mixed for both both mono & stereo release. The mono pressing is one of the the most sought after Monkees records. True story: last month on a routine trip to one of my stores I unexpectedly found myself holding a very nice & shiny used Canadian pressing of the MONO Birds & Bees. As a collector I couldn't believe my good fortune, and actually had to just roam around the store for a few minutes to walk off the shock. It was $14.99, and totally gorgeous. 
  • In 2009 Rhino Handmade issued a limited edition Birds & Bees CD box set, which is pretty amazing. The 3 CD set includes the stereo & mono mixes, plus all other existing material that was recorded during the marathon sessions for the LP. It's probably one of the coolest Monkee items Rhino has ever released.
The rare & highly coveted MONO pressing

Up next: 
HEAD (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

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