The Monkees

Listen to the Band

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AllMusic Review by

The very idea of a Monkees box set would have seemed inconceivable at any time before the 1990s, and probably still would to any label other than Rhino Records. Yet, this four-CD, 83-song compilation manages to justify itself very nicely, despite the existence of heavily expanded editions of most of the group's albums on CD, and the Missing Links volumes. Those individual CDs gathered together are for the true musical completists, whereas this is the documentary overview for the fan who wants five hours of fun and adventure. The song selection is a mix of important released material, essential outtakes that have shown up on Missing Links, and a handful of yet more unissued songs that slipped past the programming of those discs. Surprisingly, not a track is wasted, showing how deep one could go into the group's output and still come up with gold. Disc four is the weak link -- the group was breaking down, its prospects were fading by the week once the series was cancelled in 1968, and yet the individual members were carrying on in their music-making, using the Monkees name and the commercial doors it still opened. Little of the music sounded like "the Monkees" although there are some superb tracks by Michael Nesmith and some decent pop/rock numbers by Mickey Dolenz and Davy Jones. The sound is excellent throughout, and the accompanying booklet would easily be worth the price of another CD, containing as it does a detailed history of each song in the set, how it came to be written and recorded, and the personal and business events connected with the group and coinciding with the recordings. It's all fun and musically very informative as well, and a great capper to the label's cycle of Monkees music releases.

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