35 years ago this month, the Monkees released the first of what would ultimately prove to be three collections of rare and previously-unissued tracks from the vault, offering fans an opportunity to hear songs that in some cases handily rivaled those that actually did make the cut for singles and album tracks.
When Missing Links first hit record store shelves, it was at a time when the music of the Monkees was being rediscovered and investigated by a new generation of fans who’d only just found out about the group’s existence as a result of MTV rebroadcasting the episodes of their ‘60s TV series. Of course, there were also still plenty of fans out there from the group’s original run at the pop charts, and this was a release that was designed to capture the attention of both of those demographics.
For those who’ve never had the pleasure of hearing Missing Links, the most remarkable thing about the LP is that it holds together as an album, which – given that it contains material that spans a period from 1966-1969 and more than a few different musical styles – it really shouldn’t do. Not that we’re complaining, mind you...
The album kicks off with “Apples, Peaches, Bananas, and Pears,” a song co-written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. Unsurprisingly, it’s catchy as hell, just as listeners have come to expect from Boyce/Hart compositions, and while it’s a shame it never had a chance to shine on the charts, at least it finally made its way onto a record...and, yes, these are sentiments that you’ll find yourself repeating over and over as you make your way through the proceedings.
All of the Monkees get a chance to shine during the course of the album, but if you’re wondering how things are divvied up, we’ll just cut to the chase and tell you who sings what:
“Apples, Peaches, Bananas and Pears”
“All of Your Toys”
“Teeny Tiny Gnome”
“If You Have the Time”
“(My) Storybook of You”
“My Share of the Sidewalk”
“So Goes Love”
“Time and Time Again”
“I Don’t Think You Know Me”
“Nine Times Blue”
The liner notes of Missing Links offer all the details you could ever possibly want to know about the songs included within, including who plays on what, when they were recorded, and – at least in some instances – why they didn’t make the final cut for release. It’s staggering to hear “All of Your Toys,” see that it was the first song to feature all four Monkees performing on a track, and know that a publishing issue kept it from being released as the group’s third single.
Still, it’s as we indicated earlier: it sucks that it didn’t get out there when it was initially recorded, but at least it’s out there now for all to enjoy.