The Monkees The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees Rhino Handmade (RHM2 522248) 3 CDs Grade: ★★★★★ By David M. Beard
Encased in a booklet-styled box adorned with a beautiful 3-D lenticular cover and a full-color booklet complete with sessionography and rare images, it can easily be said that this newest installment from Rhino Handmade — The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees 3-CD boxed set – is their finest Monkees-related item to date. The three CDs are comprised of: The complete stereo album with 15 additional Stereo mixes and rarities; the complete mono album with 18 bonus mixes and rarities; and a 31-track rarities CD.
Fortunately, this release provides us with a really balanced sense of where The Monkees, as a group, were heading. Mike Nesmith was mixing music and poetry, Davy Jones was writing with outside collaborators and Micky Dolenz was discovering the depth of his studio abilities. But for me, it’s the inclusion of Peter Tork’s material — “Tear The Top Right Off My Head,” “Come On In,” “Lady’s Baby,” “(I Prithee) Do Not Ask For Love,” “Merry Go Round,” “Seeger’s Theme” and ”Long Title: Do I have To Do This All Over Again” — that’s eye-opening.
Finally, we can experience this musical timeline with informed opinions — qualifying the needed background to realize that The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees is far more than a single album. It’s a collection of songs whose parts equal a much greater whole than we would have ever imagined. Where else can you get pop, folk, country, acoustic, electric, conscientious-objector thoughts and a melodic break of whimsy album all rolled into one? Right here,
Retailing for $58, this new set, with the inclusion of three discs worth of alternate vocals from each member on different songs, and in some cases different arrangements, is worth every cent. Remarkably, the most rewarding aspect of this collection is there’s another complete album here that’s never seen the light of day, and you can make it yourself.
Odd and peculiar, fun and quirky, The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees three-disc boxed set is an incredible study of four individuals and their collective sound — that’s something worth celebrating.www.rhino.com/handmade/HandmadePage/handmade-page