In December 1966, over repeated objections by series musical supervisor Don Kirshner, the Monkees made the move from lip-synching TV combo to live performing group, making their concert debut in Hawaii. While on tour, the band was surprised to see the release of their second album, More of the Monkees, in January 1967. Kirshner had not consulted the band on the album's selections or even notified them that it was to be released. Mike Nesmith was particularly incensed and dismissed the entire project, particularly the cover pictures which had been collected from a fashion spread the group shot for J.C. Penney. This incident added to a growing rift between the group and Kirshner, which would come to head in a contentious meeting later in the month.
All of this tension had no impact on the album's sales, however. Released at the height of Monkeemania, it remained atop the Billboard Top 200 for an astonishing 18 weeks, the longest #1 reign for any of the group's releases. Kicking the whole thing off, Side A, Track 1, was the hard-charging "She," from the pens of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. The album closed with their smash second single, "I'm a Believer," penned by Brill Building ace Neil Diamond, who also contributed the effervescent "Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)" to the track lineup. Boyce & Hart's snarlingly belligerent "(I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone," initially recorded by Paul Revere & the Raiders, predated the punk scene by a good decade and was subsequently covered by The Sex Pistols, Johnny Thunders, Minor Threat and many more. The album contained another oft-covered song, Nesmith's own "Mary Mary," which had been recorded the previous year by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. From start to finish, the album was a stellar showcase of superior songs, expertly sung and played. Not bad for an album that Nesmith allegedly dismissed as "the worst album in the history of the world!"
The Monkees would win artistic control of their recorded output soon enough (see our entry for the Headquarters album for more on that story), but More of the Monkees is a brilliant snapshot of a band at the crest of their popularity. This Sundazed reissue is sourced from the dynamic original analog session tapes and includes three thrilling bonus tracks: "I Don't Think You Know Me (previously unissued mix)," "Don't Listen to Linda (previously unissued version)" and "I'll Spend My Life With You (alternate version)." It is carefully pressed on deep groove, high definition vinyl and smartly dressed in a cover replicating the original LP artwork. I've gotta say, Mike, I dig those threads!