A very satisfying collection of mid-60s pop nostalgia
John A. Kuczma | Marietta, GA USA | 04/27/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As a group, the Monkees defied either description or classification. Their music was too sterile and too obviously manufactured to be considered rock, but too well done to simply be brushed off as many in the music industry of the time tried to do.This superb boxed set shows the many facets of the television inspired quartet. The music progresses from the bubble gum sound of the early days to the more mature and somewhat more polished productions of the middle years. It also includes the chaotic final year, when the group didn't seem to be quite able to figure out where or what they wanted to be musically.There are many hidden gems in this collection. Most people are familiar with the major hits (I'm a Believer, Last Train to Clarksville, Not Your Steppin' Stone, et al), but the greatest enjoyment here will be in discovering the varied talents revealed in the secondary hits.Mike Nesmith's country-flavored vocals are featured in cuts like You Just May Be the One, You Told Me and What Am I Doing Hanging Round?, while his insightful and questioning lyrics highlight offerings such as Love is Only Sleeping and Door Into Summer. Mickey Dolenz is the true rocker of the quartet, or as close as any of them got, and his evolution from syruppy (but very good) harmonies like Sometime in the Morning to the psychedelic near-miss of Daily-Nightly clearly depicts the honest but sometimes clumsy efforts the group made to be taken seriously as rock musicians and lyricists.Peter Tork is best known as the clown of the group, but listen carefully to his skilled banjo work in the aforementioned You Told Me and his soul-searching vocal in Shades of Grey.Davy Jones was the teeny-bopper heartthrob of the Monkees, and that's about all he brought to the group. Although he has solid vocal skills, many of the songs he was saddled with were just plain silly, and his leads are the most disappointing in this collection.It's hard to classify this as a 5-star production for two reasons: First, as pointed out in other reviews, a number of these tracks are alternate versions or studio remixes that don't sound quite like the tunes most of us remember. Secondly, as good as they were, the Monkees simply weren't a 5-star group.Nonetheless, if these minor short-comings don't bother you, this is a very worthwhile investment. There is a great deal of very good music here, and fans of late 60s pop/rock will find the variety absolutely delightful."
Henry R. Kujawa | "The Forbidden Zone" (Camden, NJ) | 11/20/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Monkees are my #1 all-time favorite band. And this package may be the best overview of their material to be found in one place. Certainly, it's more than worth it for the large book with all those great photographs alone! But for the absolute purists, I should warn you-- many of the tunes here are somewhat remixed, and that can be jarring if you're used to what they "should" sound like. My recommendation is, if you're REALLY a Monkees fan-- skip this box, GO the whole route and get ALL the Rhino Monkees CDs! They were done after this, when Rhino had aquired all the master tapes, and are better in sound quality. Plus, how can you NOT want ALL their songs? I sure did!"
A Great Audio Guilty Pleasure
Peter A. Greene | Franklin, PA United States | 05/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I guess it's okay finally to come out of the closet and admit to enjoying the Monkees. This collection is everything I could want from a box set. There's every major hit, every cool tune that wasn't a hit, several very interesting alternate versions, and some neat rarities to boot. On top of that, there's a beautiful book of notes-- great background tales, new material, and best of all (for me, anyway) meticulous notes about who played what, when. Regardless of how you feel about the concept of casting a band or 60's pop almost-bubble gum, how can anyone look at the listing of writers and players in this group's library and not be at least intrigued? For the Monkees fan who's too poor to buy every single cd separately, this is a great adition to the library."
Yes, the Title Says it All: Listen to the Band.
Lovely to See You | Out There Somewhere | 08/01/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this box set in the early 90's with the complete and unapologetic intention of getting back to my roots. As the youngest of four siblings, the others all being much older than myself, I was exposed to the Monkees, Beatles, etc., for as long as I can remember. We always want to embrace our best memories, especially as we grow older and experience more of what life has in store for us. The Monkees are truly an ear candy happy place for a lot of people, and yours truly is no exception. I'm also happy to see that a so-called caricature band is being embraced by a lot of very young people here! Congratulations for discovering some very good music, regardless of what you may have heard.
It doesn't matter that the band started out as somebody's idea for a TV show aimed at the youth of the 60's. They had great songwriters like Boyce and Hart, King and Goffin, David Gates, and so on writing some very well-crafted, catchy-to-this-day songs that are still not being forgotten. That alone is proof positive against the arguments of all those dismissive naysayers. Let that make you say "I'm a Believer!"
The hits are all here from the TV show theme to 1986's not-so-great "Heart and Soul." I would like mostly to direct your attention to the first two discs in this four-cd collection, because there's not one bad song on either of them. Even the album tracks from that era are great, including when the band finally took over and began to write and play their own music under the tutelage of former Turtles member Chip Douglas (No, he is not the middle boy on My Three Sons, and he's not the brainchild behind Manheim Steamroller--his name is Chip Davis. And, yes, I write this because I kept getting confused about the name myself!:-D). In fact, the band recorded two great albums with Douglas, containing some great self-penned hits like Micky Dolenz's "Randy Scouse Git"(a song about his future and ex-wife Samantha) and the great bluesy brass driven "Goin' Down" before their unfortunate decline with The Birds, the Bees, and the Monkees, an album I never cared too much about. The other two cds aren't as consistently good, but they contain some true gems like "D.W. Washburn," the beautiful and hard-to-find "Someday Man," and one of my favorite of all of Mike Nesmith's country rock ditties, "Good, Clean Fun."
You also get a booklet full of rare photos, track-by-track descriptions of what was going down around the time of the recordings, and full studio musician credits. This box set is a must to own for both newcomers and long-time fans alike. I recommend it highly to anyone interested in this band that some never expected to have any lasting effect, and encourage you to keep their name buzzing around for many more years to come!"
Complete Overview Of An Institution
Brent Evans | Rockhampton, Australia | 12/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It amazes me that to this day there are still those who dismiss the Monkees as "the cut price fab four who had everything handed to them on a silver platter".True,studio musicians were often employed;but these same musicians also played on recordings by The Beach Boys and The Mamas And the Papas(to name but two).It is true also that their first hits were written by professional songwriters;but,if this is such a crime,then I would like to be locked up for it.This box set takes us through the evolution of the Monkees:from the Don Kirshner years,up through the "band" period of HEADQUARTERS,journeying throgh the mindtrip of HEAD,and ending at the reunion of 1986-1987.LISTEN TO THE BAND contains all the hits,classic album tracks,unreleased songs and alternate versions that any Monkeephile would go ape for.As you listen to the songs you can hear the growth of Mickey,Mike,Peter and Davy as performers and songwriters/interpreters.The box set also includes an informative booklet with comments on the selected tracks,group history and never before seen pictures. LISTEN TO THE BAND gives a complete picture of who the Monkees were and their effect on the sixties rock scene;in a way that a mere "greatest hits" package never could.Invest in LISTEN TO THE BAND for a beginner's course in Monkeemania."