From the Vault...


The Monkees
"Missing Links Volume 2"

© Rhino Records

Year of Release: 1990

track listing
  • All The King's Horses
  • Valleri
  • St. Matthew
  • Words
  • Some Of Shelly's Blues
  • I Wanna Be Free
  • If I Ever Get To
    Saginaw Again
  • Come On In
  • I'll Be Back Up
    On My Feet
  • Michigan Blackhawk
  • Hold On Girl
  • The Crippled Lion
  • Changes
  • Mr. Webster
  • You Just May Be The One
  • Do Not Ask For Love
  • Circle Sky
  • Seeger's Theme
  • Riu Chiu

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    The Monkees
    "Missing Links Volume 2"

    The Monkees are back on WSVNRadio, with the second volume (of three) from their Missing Links series. Basically this collection are unreleased tracks and different versions of songs they had already released. Not only was the reason to get these volumes being a Monkees fan, but there was a vinyl picture album called Monkee Business, which featured songs that would be found from the 3-set Missing Links. (And later on, from the box set Listen To The Band.)

    19 tracks are featured on this second volume. Most of them were penned by Michael Nesmith. There are some well-known familiar tracks here as well, but as alternate/different versions. Let's start with the Nesmith tunes...

    There are some of Nesmith's songs here that are just classified as "ok." Not that they are bad, there are just some that are better than others. "All The King's Horses," "St. Matthew" are the "ok" tunes. Yet, Nesmith's touch on Country-Rock has always been his high points, especially shown on his solo releases after the Monkees. Speaking of that, the Country-Rock songs are the standouts here from Michael Nesmith: "Some Of Shelly's Blues," "If I Ever Get To Saginaw Again," "The Crippled Lion." Another mention of Nesmith's written songs here is "Michigan Blackhawk." This tune is more of a Rock song than Country/Rock, and like the other Country-Rock'ers, all very enjoyable.

    The alternate versions of the songs I remember have slight instrumental changes, and what really stood out were the vocal arrangements. Like on "Hold On Girl" (an album track originally from the album More Of The Monkees): It takes a wholly different approach to the song by slowing the tempo down and deleting the Lattin trappings of the released version. The guitar-harp-sichord interplay is a nice touch in a version that could be considered markedly superior. The version of the well-known hit "Valleri" on this album was unreleased. "You Just May Be The One" (written by Nesmith, and originally from Headquarters) is "Take 1A," as this song is truly one of my favorite Nesmith-penned tunes by the Monkees, and is still a song I never get tired of hearing, 40 years plus later. And speaking of my favorite Monkees songs, "Words" is a great tune, sung by Mickey Dolenz. The version here is slightly different than the original, (from Headquarters), where there is a haunting flute solo, which replaced the Hammond B-3 organ solo. There is also a backwards tape section, which never appeared before on a Monkees record.

    Two other tunes (of which were never really my favorites) -- "I Wanna Be Free" (originally from the Monkees' debut) and "Circle Sky." "Free" was sung by Davy Jones, and it's one of those cheesy lame songs he would sing to the girl(s) on their TV show, with that sparkle star in his eye (cool special effect back then!) This version was recorded for the pilot episode of the TV show, even before the 4 members of what would have been the Monkees were being determined. (Davy must have already been signed on as one.) "Circle Sky" was originally from the Monkees movie Head, as this song just never really did anything for me, despite it was co-written by Michael Nesmith with Peter Tork.

    Speaking of Peter, his tune "Come On In" was intended for the album The Birds, The Bees, & The Monkees. Both Nesmith and Tork had musical backgrounds, and as the liner notes stated how excellent this Tork track was, it was just an "ok" track for me. The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees orignally had "I'll Be Back Up On My Feet," as this version (like others) is just "ok." The "ok effect" can be said for the Davy Jones-penned "Changes."

    "Mr. Webster" was originally from Headquarters -- it's a different kind of Monkees tune, yet it draws your attention. Is it Psychedelic? Folk? The unreleased "Do Not Ask For Love" is also different, and quite mysterious, and written by Peter Tork. Peter also pays homage to Pete Seeger on the short instrumental, "Seeger's Theme."

    But we save the best track for last -- a Christmas song, which was seen and heard in a Christmas episode of The Monkees TV show. "Riu Chiu" displays incredible harmonies by the Monkees, dIt is a traditional 16th-century Spanish Christmas carol, which was prepared and arranged for the band by Chip Douglas, who is also featured singing on this version. It features some of the best vocals on a Monkees recording and is a fine way to close this collection. Simply a classic... 'Nuff said!

    Missing Links Volume 2 is a great collection of rarities from The Monkees, and for those who can never get enough of the Monkees, the other volumes (1 & 3) is a must. Like the Beatles, there are alternate takes with different musical and vocal arrangements. The Monkees' were considered the American equivalent to the fab four. And speaking of The Beatles, the Monkees' 1969 release, The Monkees Present was considered their equivalent to the Beatles' White Album. How so? First, Peter had quit the band. The Beatles' White Album was a 2-disc set. The Monkees' album was not. My Monkees collection is really not complete, as I did not purchase Monkee albums after Peter Tork left. The Monkees' next album in 1970 was Changes, and Michael had left the group, leaving only Davy and Mickey. The Monkees returned as a trio in 1987 with Pool It! Michael Nesmith did not return. However, all four original members returned on the 1996 release, Justus. All four members are involved with their individual projects.

    UPDATE: On February 29, 2012, Davy Jones was tending his fourteen horses at a farm in Indiantown, Florida. After riding one of his favourite horses, he complained of chest pains and difficulty breathing. He was rushed to Martin Memorial South Hospital in Stuart, Florida, where he was pronounced dead of a severe heart attack resulting from arteriosclerosis. Davy Jones was 66 years old. The surviving members of the Monkees continued as a trio, and recorded the album Good Times in 2016. As for touring, Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork were the only members. Michael Nesmith did not participate.

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