In February 1986 MTV ran a marathon of episodes from the Monkees’ 1960s television show, instantly igniting a wave of new interest in an act known during its heyday as a fabricated cash-in on the appeal of the Beatles. But if MTV started the second wave of Monkeemania, the folks at reissue label Rhino made sure it stuck. The next several years saw a series of loving re-releases of the Monkees’ original albums, as well as multiple in-depth box sets, all undertaken in what seemed a determined attempt to ensure the group’s musical output would never again be devalued.
This elaborate set represents a new level of Monkees devotion altogether, as Rhino makes the case for the group’s first album as a trio following the 1969 defection of original member Peter Tork. Instant Replay found the remaining Monkees trying to right their uneasy ship by exhuming unused songs (and even original backing tracks) from throughout their career. The result is a surprisingly easy-rolling set of songs that balances mid-’60s pop classicism and Monkee Mike Nesmith’s budding interest in the country-rock sounds he would go on to pioneer as a solo artist upon his own 1970 exit. This box expands the original album to three very thorough CDs, including numerous alternate mixes and a wealth of instrumental backing tracks that showcase the brilliant ’60s session players the group regularly employed. (A 7-inch single of “[I Prithee] Do Not Ask for Love” and “I Go Ape” is also included for good measure.) –CN