Since I know you sincerely respect my humble opinion, I've decided to make a section of reviews of some of the lesser-known, or lesser-available, Monkees CDs. If all goes well, I'll put up reviews of the original LPs and thangs, too. Any requests, comments? Lemme know in da survey.
LAS VEGAS 2001
Recently (read: this past Saturday) I attended my second Monkees concert, this one in my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At the show, there were several different things being sold -- in my opinion to pay for the guys' alimony and child support, but hey, that's just me -- but the most notable was a live CD recorded in Las Vegas on this tour. Apparently, this was a real hot seller at the show, and has been selling briskly at most of the guys' summer tour dates.
Recorded during the last two weeks of the Monkees' winter tour, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the CD shows the Monkees' great live performing skills. It's mixed a little differently, however, than the recently released live 1967 box set, or the 1987 "Live! 1967" CD. There's very little screaming or yelling from the audience. This may be due to the fact that Las Vegas audiences are very subdued, but, either way, there's little that shows that an audience is actually there -- good or bad, depending on your opinion.
Probably the best feature of the CD is the inclusion of each member's solo performances, one of the best parts of the live show. Peter's "Higher and Higher," Micky's "Since I Fell For You," and Davy's double-header of "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby" and the "Oliver!" medley show each of the guys' strengths. Peter gets a chance to showcase his banjo playing, Micky's soulful voice gets a real stage, and Davy gets to show off his stage roots.
The backup band on the CD, which has been used for every show thus far, is incredible. Most notable is Aviva Maloney, who plays saxophone, flute, and keyboard, amongst others. Sandy Gennaro is also a great spirit back on the drums. Each of the old Monkees songs recieves new life from the band, with extra flourishes. "Porpoise Song" gets its own porpoise noises, "She Hangs Out" recieves a riff from a certain band's song "Day Tripper."
Unforunately, there is one problem with the CD, and that's the fact that so many performances are left out. The Las Vegas shows, like the Pittsburgh show I went to, was very abridged due to time constraints. Even if the show recorded was regularly timed one, most performances would be cut out to make it a one-disc set, not two. This means that great performances are left off. The only song included from the outstanding acoustic set is "Papa Gene's Blues." The breathtaking "Shades of Gray" is gone, as is Micky's turn on the drums in a rollicking blues version of "Mary, Mary."
All in all, though, the CD does justice to the live shows with what it has. What it doesn't is the problem.