Recording information: California Recorders, Hollywood, CA; Cherokee REcording Studios, Hollywood, CA; Heaven Studios, Beverly Hills, CA; Lucy's Meat Market, Los Angeles, CA; RCA Victor Studio B, Hollywood, CA; RCA Victor Studio B, New York, NY; United Recorders Studio B, Hollywood, CA; Victor Studio A, Hollywood, CA; Wally Heider Recording, Hollywood, CA; Western Recorders Studio 1, Hollywood, CA.
The Monkees were, of course, assembled more for their acting and comedic abilities than any musical ones, and many of their songs were simply disposable vehicles for a huge marketing machine, but the group eventually developed musical aspirations that yielded some strikingly good pop songs, including capable covers of Neil Diamond's "A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You" and Harry Nilsson's "Cuddly Toy," as well as Michael Nesmith's own "The Girl I Knew Somewhere," the pop gem "Pleasant Valley Sunday," and the pleasantly psychedelic "Porpoise Song," all of which are included in this three-disc collection (at 30 tracks total, this could have easily been a double disc, or with a little editing, a super single disc). Also here is the Monkees' first single, "Last Train to Clarksville," which in retrospect was a pretty good debut (even if they didn't play their own instruments on it). This isn't the perfect introduction to the Monkees, but it does do a decent job of spotlighting a group that was, in hindsight, no worse than -- and in many cases, better than -- what passed for cool and hip at the close of the 1960s. ~ Steve Leggett