In terms of providing an apt single-disc distillation of Michael Nesmith's first half-dozen post-Monkees long players, Camden's Best of Michael Nesmith (2003) is arguably the finest in the lot. With the exception of the remake of Merle Travis' "Smoke, Smoke, Smoke" -- a previously unreleased "bonus track" on Camden's reissue of the Nevada Fighter/Tantamount to Treason (2001) two-fer -- the remaining 17 selections are drawn from Nesmith and the First National Band LPs Magnetic South (1970), Loose Salute (1970), and Nevada Fighter (1971). Also included is material from his non-band efforts Tantamount to Treason (1972) And the Hits Just Keep on Comin' (1972) and follow-up Pretty Much Your Standard Ranch Stash (1973). Although he was several decades ahead of popular music trends, Nesmith's proclivity for Country & Western -- or what modern audiences might consider 'Americana' -- date as far back as his Monkees days. While a few of those -- namely "Listen to the Band" did sneak onto Monkees' releases -- the vast majority remained backlogged until Nesmith became a solo act. In fact, "Cripple Lion," "Some of Shelly's Blues," "Calico Girlfriend," and "Little Red Rider" were actually recorded while he was still in the pre-Fab combo. Other originals revealed a distinctively different side of Nesmith, ranging from the gritty "Grand Ennui" and "Mama Nantucket" to the sublime and haunting balladry of "Joanne," "Silver Moon," "Upside of Goodbye," and "Tomorrow and Me." Several of the artist's well-chosen covers were selected for inclusion, namely Howard Cochran's "I Fall to Pieces," Nilsson's Native American epic "Rainmaker," as well as "She Thinks I Still Care" and the aforementioned "Smoke, Smoke, Smoke."
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer