This title -- which appeared on vinyl and cassette sans the four "solo" non-Monkees' performances -- was the first of its kind. It contained live recordings by the Monkees -- a fake pop band made up of four actors. Because their pre-teen audience so bought into the phenomenon, that quartet of actors -- Mickey Dolenz (drums/vocals), Michael Nesmith (guitar/vocals/percussion), Davy Jones (vocals/percussion/drums), and Peter Tork (bass/keyboards/banjo/vocals) -- toured around North America during the summer of 1967 performing to packed audiences and, yes, playing their own instruments. Although technology was not exactly on their sides, Monkees' TV show producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider made a valiant attempt to document the mania created at these live "happenings". After an initial dry run on a monophonic tape machine manned by crew member/photographer Winton Teel, the outcome was deemed favorable to try and record on professional four-track equipment that would be attended/recorded by Monkees' concurrent studio producer Hank Cicalo. He recorded the final three gigs on their transcontinental sojourn August 25-27 in Seattle, Portland, and Spokane, respectively. Unfortunately, upon completion, the tapes were pronounced unacceptable and ultimately shelved. Fast-forward nearly two decades later when MTV's Monkees' marathon (broadcast on February 23, 1986) sparked a fresh generation of fans. The new CD medium was perfect for resurrecting not only their old recordings, but the arrival of archival projects such as this. Immediately evident is the sheer din of screaming one might expect at such an event. However, considering that the four individuals had no way of hearing themselves -- on-stage monitor systems were still several years away -- they actually don't sound too bad. Each night contained more or less the same routine and song list, so what is presented on Live 1967 is a composite of a typical show taken from the three nights denoted above. Those familiar with the hit (studio) versions might be surprised at the garage band primitiveness that is more often than not a result of un-tuned instruments and off-key harmonies. The CD features each of the guys in a spotlight performance. Although Tork's take on the traditional folk tune "Cripple Creek" has no other musicians on it, the other three are supported by a then (and still) relatively unknown five-piece pop combo called the Sundowners. They are heard behind Nesmith's update of Willie Dixon's "You Can't Judge a Book (By Looking at the Cover)," while Dolenz takes on Ray Charles via the Godfather of Soul with his reading of "I've Got a Woman," and Jones reverts back to the Great White Way for a charming take of "I'm Gonna Build a Mountain"." The conclusion contains what is arguably the best of the lot as the self-contained quartet returns to rip and tear through "I'm a Believer," "Randy Scouse Git," and "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone"." Despite the lack of anything resembling fidelity, the out of control sonic surroundings suit the considerable transfer of energy between audience and performers. Parties wishing to hear these concerts in their entirety are strongly encouraged to locate a copy of the four-disc Summer 1967: The Complete U.S. Concert Recordings (2001).
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer