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Music Box

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Album Review

It's hard not to wonder why the four-disc Music Box even exists. After all, Rhino has not only released definitive reissues of all of the Monkees' studio albums, complete with bonus tracks, but the label has a series devoted to rarities (Missing Links), a single-disc greatest hits album, a double-disc anthology, and another four-disc box, Listen to the Band, which is excellent. So where does that leave Music Box? Well, it is "reconfigured" into a booklike box, which must appeal to somebody, but more importantly, it tries to pull off a nifty trick — providing an exhaustive overview for the casual listener, while filling in the holes for those serious fans who only have the proper reissued albums. On both counts, this works well. Let's get the basics out of the way: This sounds great, and Andrew Sandoval's liner notes are terrific, particularly the song-by-song breakdown that not only includes the Monkees' reflections, but also those of various producers and songwriters. Then, there's the song selection, which is impeccable for the first three discs, which devote a year each to 1966, 1967, and 1968, blending hits with rarities, album versions, and alternate takes, never once seeming like a sop to collectors. The fourth disc is a little more problematic, just because it spans from 1969 to 1996, containing reunion tracks that some fans may rather not hear, but it still has more than enough minor gems that will please the dedicated. And, when it gets right down to it, Music Box succeeds on two counts: Everyone who needs to plug in gaps will be satisfied with this (plus they'll like the fine flow of the songs) and, more importantly, this is a wonderful choice for anyone looking for a good, thorough overview of the Monkees' best, delving far deeper than the hits. It doesn't really trump Listen to the Band, but it's nearly an equal.

Customer Reviews

Essential collection for the casual/typical fan.

This is an excellent compilation. Music Box is well worth owning, particularly if you do not currently have their studio releases on CD's or as downloads. There are a few songs missing that were included on their studio albums (such as "The Poster", from The Birds, The Bees and The Monkees) but those omissions do not appear to be significant. Start here, and add those songs to your collection indivdually via iTunes if you want. True fans also should also own the excellent Rhino DVD box sets of the series (Season 1 and Season 2). Owning all three of these items should satisfy the overwhelming majority of fans.

99 Songs...Everything That Matters

The thing about The Monkees was that, even though they were an exceptional band, they don't really deserve this type of special treatment. A four-disc box set (shaped like a book, including a 97 page booklet), consisting of 99 songs. That's right. 99 songs. Until seeing the Music Box, I didn't think that they did 99 songs. But they did. And it's 99 of their best. Every Monkees song that matters (and then some) is included on Music Box. Also, it's in chronological order and it flows nicely. Usually it's just one or the other on a greatest hits compilation, let alone a box set. Disc 1 contains The Monkees' music from 1966. It has their earliest music, including the beloved theme song to their TV show, their best song "Last Train to Clarksville," a fast (and slow) version of "I Wanna Be Free," and several good album cuts from their first two LP's. It also has some unnecessary first recorded demo versions and previously unissued mixes of songs. Still, it stands out as one of the best discs. Disc 2 contains The Monkees' music from 1967. It is probably the best disc (Next to the first one), simply because it contains a great deal of underplayed Monkees' songs. Some are: "Randy Scouse Git," "No Time," "Star Collector," and "Salesman." Of course, they haven't forgotten to include the big its, such as "Pleasant Valley Sunday" and "Daydream Believer." Disc 3 contains The Monkees' music from 1968. Of course, as any rabid Monkees cultist knows, 1968 was a bit of a letdown for the band. They released their first album not to hit number one (The Birds, the Bees, and the Monkees), and they released a box office bomb: Head. Of course, the people who made Music Box were still able to add the best music from that era (But that's not really saying much), including some underrated and overrated cuts from The Birds, the Bees, and the Monkees as well as a nice live version of "Circle Sky." Disc 4 contains The Monkees' music from 1969-1996. This is probably the most disappointing disc on the entire box set. It's mainly comprised of lukewarm music after Peter Tork left the band. It also has way too much stuff from their countless reunion specials (Pool It!, to name one). It's got some good stuff, but for the most part, it's not worth your time. Music Box, while it truly, truly, TRULY sums up the band's career, can't really be recommended as a good starting point for a beginner to The Monkees, or indeed a beginner for music from the 1960s. However, if you are a cultist, or grew up watching the TV show, listening to the songs, and loving every minute of it, Music Box is for you. Recommended Tracks: Disc 1: "The Monkees (Theme Song from the Show)" "I Wanna Be Free (Fast Version)" "Last Train to Clarksville" "When Love Comes Knockin' (At Your Door)" Disc 2: "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" "Randy Scouse Git" "Pleasant Valley Sunday" "Daydream Believer" Disc 3: "Auntie's Municipal Court" "The Girl I Left Behind Me (First Recorded Version)" "Circle Sky (Live)" "Long Title: Do I Have to Do This All Over Again" Disc 4: "Listen to the Band" "That Was Then, This Is Now" "Oh, What a Night" "You And I ("Justus" Version)"

Micky & Peter ROCK !!!

I recently heard the song That Was Then, This Is Now - on a replay of Casey Kasems AT40 0n XM Satellite Radio. It was the first time I had ever heard this song and immediately had to search it out. I have a dozen or so Monkee's songs in my iTunes library and decided that this was a great addition. Hope everyone else agrees with me.

Biography

Formed: 1965 in Hollywood, CA

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '10s

"Hey hey, we are the Monkees/You know we love to please/A manufactured image/With no philosophies." In 1968, the Monkees addressed their own reputation in the song "Ditty Diego (War Chant)," which summed up the bad rap they'd received in the music press since they first emerged in the summer of 1966. The Monkees were talented singers, musicians, and songwriters who made a handful of the finest pop singles of their day (as well as a few first-rate albums) and delivered exciting, entertaining live...
Full Bio