Michael Nesmith

Band members                              Related acts

  line up 1 (1968)

- Michael Nesmith -- guitar


  supporting musicians:

- John Audino -- trumpet
- Israel Baker  -- violin
- Robert Barene  -- violin
- Arnold Belnick  -- violin
- Chuck Berghofer -- bass
- Milt Bernhart  -- trombone
- Louise Blackburn  -- trombone
- Hal Blaine -- drums
- Bud Brisbois -- trumpet
- James Burton -- guitar
- Frank Capp -- percussion
- Jules Chaiken -- trumpet
- Buddy Childers -- trumpet
- Gene Cipriano -- sax, woodwinds
- Gary Coleman -- percussion
- Buddy Collette
- James A Decker -- french horn

- Vincent DeRosa -- french horn
- Joseph DiFiore -- viola
- Doug Dillard -- banjo
- Jesse Ehrlich -- celli
- Victor Feldman -- percussion
- James Getzoff  -- violin
- Justin Gordon -- sax, woodwinds
- Bill Hinshaw  -- french horn
- Jim Horn -- sax, woodwinds
- Joe Howard  -- trombone
- Harry Hyams -- viola
- Richard Hyde  -- trombone
- Jules Jacob -- sax, woodwinds
- John Kitzmiller -- tuba
- Manny Klain -- trumpet
- Larry Knechtel -- keyboards

- Ray Kramer -- celli
- John Lowe -- sax, woodwinds
- Edgar Lustgarten -- celli
- Leonard Malarsky  -- violin
- Lew McCreary  -- trombone
- Ollie Mitchell -- trumpet
- Alexander Neiman -- viola
- Jack Nimitz -- sax, woodwinds
- Barrett O'Hara  -- trombone
- Earl Palmer -- drums
- Richard Perissi  -- french horn
- Don Randi -- keyboards
- OJ "Red" Rhodes -- pedal steel guitar
- Sam Rice -- tuba
- Ralph Schaeffer  -- violin
- Sid Sharp  -- violin
- Kenny Shroyer  -- trombone
- Tommy Tedesco (RIP) -- guitar
- Tony Terran -- trumpet
- Tibor Zelig  -- violin
- James Zito -- trumpet

  line up 2 (1969-70)

- Glen D. Hardin -- keyboards

- John London -- bass

- Michael Nesmith (aka Michael Blessing) -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Orville Rhodes (RIP 1995) -- pedal steel guitar

- John Ware -- drums, percussion


  line up 3 (1973)

- David Barry -- keyboards

- Billy Graham -- bass, fiddle

- Denny Lane -- drums

- Jay Lacy -- lead guitar

- Michael Nesmith -- vocals, acoustic guitar

- Orville Rhodes (RIP 1995) -- pedal steel guitar

- Robert K. Warford -- lead guitar, banjo




The Monkees





Genre: country-rock

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  The Wichita Train Whistle Sings

Company: Dot

Catalog: DLP 25861

Country/State: Houston, Texas

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD 6366

Price: SOLD $15.00


I've always wondered about 1968's "The Wichita Train Whistle Sings".  Was it an earnest reflection of Nesmith's goofy and eclectic nature, a strange way to garner a tax break (one of those urban legends that seemingly won't die), or was it Nesmith's version of a "Metal Machine Music" kiss-off to the music industry?


With an assist from a 52 member orchestra and various West Coast sessions players, the album was apparently recorded over a two day period in November 1967.  SInce the sessions were held on a weekend, Nesmith ended up paying the musicians overtime, catering the affair, reportedly with an open bar, in the process running up a recording tab of over $50,000 - an unheard of cost at that point in time.  Nesmith wrote all of the material (one song co-written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin), produced, and arranged with an assist from Shorty Rogers. Released in mid-1968, the album featured re-workings of Nesmith tunes; most previously recorded and released on Monkees albums.  The difference was that this time around the material was given big band instrumental arrangements.  Anyone expecting to hear top-40 pop tunes was going to be totally taken aback by these middle of the road, easy-listening efforts.  In fact, even if you recognized the song titles, you were going to be hard pressed to recognize the redone songs themselves - try comparing the original 'Tapioca Tundra' with this update.  And yes there was a certain irony given the album title (emphasis on 'sings') and the fact all ten tracks were instrumentals. Clearly thousands of Monkees fans were left confused and upset by the album - a fact reinforced by the relative lack of sales.  Compared to Monkees blockbusters, this set peaked at # 144 on the US album charts.   Anyhow, here's what Nesmith had to say about the project in the album liner notes:


"The laboring strikes ever endless streams of milk and heretofore unseen things ...  while captain queeg at the head of his boat tells the wicked sea of his wicked hope and I can't tell if it's a joke or some mad state of confusion ...  she looks like she belongs in a purple glass with all he help she can buy from the things that pass and quietly the dark strikes out its task in a hopelessly made state if confusion with unity a premium too rich for blood and sovereignty for sale for blocks of wood ... I can't help thinking it's all be done in an utterly mad state of confusion ...  so I find myself with reams of thought caught on a rusty press with the men at the helm unable to find corporeal happiness ... so I think I may be this constant stress that brings about such confusion and I can't seem to block a square of light from string itself inside and regardless of effort to keep them blind there is nothing here to hide while the sky keeps going around high in some mad state of confusion with blankets covering the countryside and no one seeming to care ...   the world turns green and then turns blue and then it all seems fair for stands in eternal streams of time ... man constantly must share and wander around a martyred clown in some endless sate of confusion and then there is wichita."


To which all I can say, is "Oh, I get it now ..."


"The Wichita Train Whistle Sings" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Nine Times Blue (instrumental)   (Michael Nesmith) - 4:11

The opener 'Nine Times Blue' was originally intended for release on 1967's "Headquarters" (it didn't make the final cut, but was included in an expanded 1995 re-issue of the album).  Originally a country-rock tinged number, this version opened with some ELP-styled church organ and then introduced a pretty, but MOR-ish horn arrangement.  After a brief psych-out section the song morphed into a Procol Harum-ish feel with Hal Blaine's pounding drums came through loud and clear.   Nesmith would subsequently re-record the track for 1970's "Magnetic South" First National Band set.   rating: ** stars

2.) Calisle Wheeling (instrumental)   (Michael Nesmith) - 4:48

Recorded by The Monkees but not released during their professional lifetime, 'Calisle Wheeling' Nesmith continued to work on the song, eventually releasing it under the title 'Conversation' on his 1970 "Loose Salute" First National Band album.  The song had a pretty enough melody, but this version sounded like something written for a game show.  The orchestra certainly sounded like they were having fun with a nice Larry Knechtel keybaord section ending the song.   rating: ** stars   

3.) Tapioca Tundra (instrumental)   (Michael Nesmith) - 2:58

Included on 1968's "The Birds, The Bees & the Monkees", 'Tapioca Tundra' was one of The Monkees best psychedelic numbers.  Unfortunately, if you liked that song's Tex-Mex feel (and I did), you'll be totally lost in this marching-band-on-a-bender version.   And what was with the unexpected telecaster solo ?    rating: ** stars    

4.) Don't Call On Me (instrumental)   (Michael Nesmith) - 4:31

'Don't Call On Me' initially appeared on 1967's "Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd."  This lounge lizard version sounds like it was recorded for one of those easy listening albums that every grandparent seems to have in their living room.   That said, the song's worth hearing for what sounds like confusion on the band's part.  There were a couple of places where Hal Blaine seems  to loose track of the melody (understandable given the open bar during the recording sessions - you can hear yelling in the background), leading to mass confusion.   Even though the liner notes showed it as a Nesmith composition, it was actually co-written with John London.   rating: ** stars  

5.) Don't Cry Now (instrumental)   (Michael Nesmith) - 3:33

'Don't Cry Now' was another compositional orphan - The Monkees had apparently recorded a demo version, but it never made any of their studio sets.  Opening up with some Doug Dillard banjo, the song then exploded into another game show arrangement, before closing with another Dillard solo.  Anyhow, the final score was Dillard 4, Nesmith and orchestra 0.  Gawd only knows why, but Dot management tapped it as a single.  rating: *** stars


(side 2)
1.) While I Cried (instrumental)   (Michael Nesmith) - 2:58

I'm not a Monkees scholar so I have to admit I don't know anything about the history of 'While I Cried'.  Here it was given an almost-Baroque opening with a beautiful horn arrangement.  If you listen to it stripped off all Monkees references, this is one of the few tracks to make a lasting impression.   rating: *** stars

2.) Papa Gene's Blues (instrumental)   (Michael Nesmith) - 3:26

Originally released on the band's 1966 debut (it was one of two band compositions deemed good enough for the album), 'Papa Gene's Blues' was easily one of Nesmith's standout songs with an easy-going Tex-Mex vibe.  Say goodbye to those charms on this sluggish, big band version.     rating: ** stars

3.) You Just May Be the One (instrumental)   (Michael Nesmith) - 3:21

I know 'You Just May Be the One' was featured on one of the television show episodes, but don't remember it being on an album ...   here it's given another marching band arrangement, complete with whistles and flutes.  Just totally bizarre.  rating: ** stars

4.) Sweet Young Thing (instrumental)   (Michael Nesmith - Carol King - Gerry Goffin) - 2:46

Another track from The Monkees' debut LP, in its original form 'Sweet Young Thing' was a cool country-meets-psychedelic mash-up.   Here it was given a country-meets-psychedelic-big-band mash-up mix.  Doug Dillard was again prominently featured.   rating: ** stars

5.) You Told Me (instrumental)   (Michael Nesmith) - 4:22

Another "Headquarters' composition, 'You Told Me' was one of the first songs to showcase the band' playing their own instruments.  Much of the original's charm came from Nesmith's twangy vocal which was obviously absent on this remake.  You could still hear the melody on this one, but for the most part what you heard was a seemingly trashed band yelling 'lets eat' at the end.     rating: ** stars


As mentioned above, Dot tapped the album for a single in the form of:


- 1968's ''Don't Cry Now'' b/w 'Tapioca Tundra' (Dot catalog number 45-17152)


Definitely one of the weirder vanity projects I've ever heard, but there are hardcore fans who swear by this one.  Personally I'd rather hear Nesmith's more conventional stuff.



Nesmith himself didn't seem to want to have much to do with the record, refusing to allow it to be reissued for decades.   He finally gave into the steady demand from fans, briefly reissuing the set on Pacific Arts, followed by a limited number reissue on his Videoranch label.  The Videoranch release was apparently mastered from a pristine vinyl copy as Nesmith wanted to retain the project's original sound.:




Edsel catalog number EDSS 1007


In 2008 Nesmith remastered and re-sequenced the collection allowing he British Edsel label to release it as a twofer package along with the "Timerider" album.






Genre: country-rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Loose Salute

Company: RCA

Catalog: LSP 4415

Country/State: Houston, Texas

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6354

Price: $15.00


Of the four Monkees, Michael Nesmith seemed to be the one most anxious to escape the band's shadow.  As a result, he wasted no time setting up his post-Monkees career with the establishment of The First National Band.  Nesmith and drummer were long time friends and Ware was apparently the driving force behind forming the band, along with keyboardist Glen Hardin, long time song writing partner/bassist John London, and pedal steel guitarist Orville Rhodes.



Released just a few months after the band's debut "Magnetic South", 1970's self-produced "Loose Salute"  served to showcase the sheer volume of material Nesmith had written and sometimes recorded during his Monkees career.  Musically the album wasn't a major change from the debut, Nesmith and company continued their exploration of early-1970s country-rock.  Like the debut, this wasn't an album that was likely to appeal to hardcore Monkees fans (okay they might have gotten off on the countrified version of 'Listen To the Band'), but then that wasn't what Nesmith was looking to do.  At the other end of the spectrum, anyone who enjoyed The Byrds country-rock excursions, or the likes of The Flying Burrito Brothers, or Poco was liable to find this endearing.  Nesmith was always the Monkees forgotten voice  and on this set he sounded like he was finally enjoying the freedom of his post-Monkee life.  Calm and self-assured, the results were thoroughly enjoyable


"Loose Salute" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Silver Moon   (Michael Nesmith) - 3:15

With an interesting Caribbean lilt 'Silver Moon' stands as one of the best things Nesmith ever wrote and as one of the album's standout performances.   Highly commercial, it was tapped as a single, though its hard to fathom why this one wasn't a major commercial success.   rating: **** stars

2.) I Fall To Pieces  (Hank Cochran - Harlan Howard) - 2:56

While it wasn't about to make you forget the Patsy Cline classic version, Nesmith's cover of 'I Fall To Pieces' was decent enough.   Rhodes' pedal steel work was worth hearing.   rating: ** stars

3.) Thanx for the Ride   (Michael Nesmith) - 2:48

'Thanx for the Ride' was a classic example of a Nesmith tune that started out in low gear and got better as it went along.  Helped in no small part by Rhodes pedal steel, what started off as a melancholy ballad actually ended up generating quite a bit of energy - it actually sounded like something Nesmith would have tried to slip on to a Monkees album.    rating: *** stars

4.) Dedicated Friend   (Michael Nesmith) - 2:27

Nesmith's heart was clearly into country-rock, but 'Dedicated Friend' was worthwhile since it found him putting the emphasis on the genre's rock component.   Besides, with a great little hook and a reference to a Chevy, it was radio-ready.   rating: **** stars

5.) Conversations   (Michael Nesmith) - 3:27

An unreleased Monkees-era tune originally entitled 'Carlise Wheeling', 'Conversations' was side one's lone disappointment.  A pretty, but forgettable acoustic ballad ...    rating: ** stars


(side 2)
1.) Tengo Amore   (Michael Nesmith) - 3:00

Opening up with African-flavored percussion that Peter Gabriel would have gratefully jumped on, 'Tengo Amore' was a wonderful experiment.  Morphing into a Latin-rock number complete with Spanish lyrics this one rocked as hard as anything in Stephen Stills' Manassas catalog.  For some reason one of my favorite performances and one of the album's surprise successes ...  Shame it ended so abruptly.   rating: **** stars  

2.) Listen To the Band   (Michael Nesmith) - 2:35

'Listen To the Band' was one of Nesmith's classic Monkees tunes, so it came as somewhat of a surprise to me that this country-rock version was actually very enjoyable.  The weird fade-in start was a curiosity and this was another one where you were left to wish the song had been a little longer ...   rating: **** stars

3.) Bye, Bye, Bye   (Michael Nesmith) - 3:17

No idea if the lyrics were autobiographical, but powered by John London's bass and a stunning Rhodes pedal steel solo,  'Bye, Bye, Bye' was a surprisingly impressive country-rocker.   rating: *** stars

4.) Lady of the Valley   (Michael Nesmith) - 2:57

A pretty pedal-steel propelled ballad, 'Lady of the Valley' was one of those tracks that grew on you the more you heard it, though Nesmith sounded like he'd recorded the lead vocal in a bathroom stall.   I had no idea he had such a high falsetto in his vocal arsenal ...  rating: *** stars

5.) Hello Lady   (Michael Nesmith) - 3:49

The album's oddest song, 'Hello Lady' started out with an almost funky flavor, before shifting into a decent pop song and then morphing into a horn-propelled rocker.   Weird, but engaging.   rating: *** stars.


As mentioned, the album was tapped for a single in the form of:

- 1970's 'Silver Moon' b/w 'Lady of the Valley' (RCA catalog number RCA 74-0399)


Not an album I play often, but one I've kept in my collection for years and when I get a hankering for country-rock I'm as liable to reach for this one as Gram Parsons or other better known country-rock exponents.  


For some odd reason RCA marketing decided to send the band on a UK tour.  Needless to say, that didn't little to support American sales, though based on the modest success of the 'Silver Moon' single, the parent album hit # 159 on the US charts.






Genre: country-rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  And the Hits Keep On Coming

Company: RCA

Catalog: LSP 4695

Country/State: Houston, Texas

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1665

Price: $15.00


I guess you have to admire Michael Nesmith for finding a sound he loved and sticking with it, no matter the consequences.   His sixth studio set, 1972's "And the Hits Keep On Coming


"And the Hits Keep On Coming" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Tomorrow and Me   (Michael Nesmith) - 3:45

Pretty and mournful country-tinged tune,   The kind of stuff Nesmith does well, though the melody was a bit flat.  rating: *** stars

2.) The Upside of Goodbye   (Michael Nesmith) - 2:50

Wow, Nesmith crammed a lot of words into this country tune.   Way too much pedal steel for my tastes.   rating: ** stars

3.) Lady Love   (Michael Nesmith) - 2:32

Another pretty acoustic country ballad.   Okay, that was enough for me.   rating: ** stars

4.) Listening   (Michael Nesmith) - 2:39

Plodding, slightly jazzy, but plodding ballad.   rating: ** stars

5.) The Different Roads (Michael Nesmith) - 

Dating back to 1963, 'The Different Roads' was one of the first tunes Nesmith ever wrote. It remains one of the prettiest melodies he's ever crafted.   Nice red Rhodes pedal steel solo.  rating: *** stars


(side 2)
5.) The Candidate (Michael Nesmith) - 

2.) Different Drum (Michael Nesmith) - 

3,) Harmony Constant (Michael Nesmith) - 

4.) Keep On (Michael Nesmith) - 

5.) Roll with the Flow (Michael Nesmith) - 







een of New Orleans).
4.00 stars
Vote downBookmarkVote up
His most consistent album and yes this is the one with 'Different Drum'.
4.00 stars
Vote downBookmarkVote up
Most Nesmith albums, though good, are a bit inconsistent: this is arguably his most consistent as far as songwriting goes.
3.50 stars
Vote downBookmarkVote up
My Favorite 5:  1) Tomorrow and Me  2) The Upside of Goodbye  3) Different Drum  4) Roll With the Flow  5) Two Different Roads

(Owned on CD as part of the two-fer And the Hits Just Keep on Comin' / Pretty Much Your Standard Ranch Stash)
3.00 stars
Vote downBookmarkVote up
And The Hits Just Keep On Comin'
Michael Nesmith
RCA Victor (1972)

This was his fifth RCA release in slightly more than two years and was so highly thought of by RCA Victor of Canada, that they decided not to issue it here at all. Luckily I had a good friend in the U.S.A. who picked me up my copy. I have heard some people say this is Nesmith at his best but I'm not convinced. It features the somewhat sparse sound of an ever faithful Red Rhodes on steel and Papa Nez on rhythm guitar and vocals. All songs are Nesmith originals although some of the songs featured had been composed years before. It was a chance to get them recorded and perhaps out of the way. Most, if not all, tracks are sparsely arranged and it seems are little more than fancy demos than a finished product. “Different Drum” definitely falls into this category. It would have been nice to hear a full band arrangement and a more intense vocal of this classic. However, I'm sure that's what Michael wanted because, like Sinatra, he always seemed to do things his own way. And good for him. Some outstanding tracks include “Two Different Roads”, “Harmony Constant” and the single “Roll With The Flow”. There’s a good feel to this LP especially where couple of times, just prior to a guitar break, Nesmith chirps “Go Red!”.  With that cue, Red Rhodes dives into one his classic steel guitar solos that by now are so entertaining and familiar. In short this record doesn’t compare to his previous four LP’s. But then, because of the high quality of those recordings, it would have been hard pressed to do so anyway.


Simple slide and acoustic-guitar country music from ex-Monkee Michael Nesmith.  I'm not a great fan of this genre unless it's got some catchy hooks.  This doesn't have many, but it is sincere and thoughtful.

Something in the timbre of Nesmith's voice seems to grate with me.  I don't enjoy listening to it.   Occasionally he seems to be singing close to the limit of his range.  However, I do like his hits "Rio", "Joanne" and "Eldorado to the moon".  Unfortunately none of those are on this album.  

I've added them to my CD-R version of it however. (-:



Genre: country-rock

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  Pretty Much Your Average Ranch Stash

Company: RCA Victor

Catalog: APL1-0164

Country/State: Houston, Texas

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD 6357

Price: SOLD $20.00


So most Monkees fans simply never forgave Michael Nesmith for abandoning bubblegum pop for country-rock.   That's unfortunate since over the early years of his post-Monkees career Nesmith released a steady stream of engaging country-rock tinged albums that were easily as good as the kind of stuff better known bands like The The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, or Poco were churning out.  


Self-produced and arranged, 1973's "Pretty Much Your Average Ranch Stash" (cute title), found Nesmith returning to a full band attack after stripping down his sound for the previous "And the Hits Keep On Coming".  Musically the set offered up another mixture of country-rock tinged Nesmith originals and cover tunes.  Divided between a side of originals and a side of covers, the four side one originals simply kicked the crap out of the side two covers which were simply too traditional for my ears.  No matter, Nesmith seldom sounded as comfortable, and while most of this stuff will be too country for most folks, there was a real charm to much of the collection.   Highlights included getting to hear Nesmith's version of 'Some of Shelly's Blues' and the ballad 'Winonah'.


"Pretty Much Your Standard Ranch Stash" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Continuing   (Michael Nesmith) - 3:55

Nesmith has always displayed a penchant for songs with heartbreak lyrics and 'Continuing' stood as a classic addition to his catalog.  A simply gorgeous country-rock melody that should even appeal to folks who don't like the genre.  Robert K. Warford's banjo arrangement at the end of the song was simply to-die-for.    rating: **** stars

2.) Some of Shelly's Blues   (Michael Nesmith) - 3:21

Although The Monkees recorded it and then put it on the shelf, most folks will recognize 'Some of Shelly's Blues' as a Nitty Gritty Dirt Band hit probably not realizing Nesmith wrote it.  I'm not sure Nesmith's version will make you forget the hit version (or The Stone Ponies' version), but this take certainly had its share of charm with Nesmith turning in one of those fascinating world weary vocals.  One of Nesmith's classic songs.   rating: **** stars

3.) Release   (Michael Nesmith) - 3:49

Exhibiting a breezy, slightly jazzy feel, 'Release' may not have been as good as the first two tracks, but I'll readily admit that it was the album's hidden treasure ...  yeah another heartbreak lyric.  One of Nesmith's best vocals with Orville Rhodes turning in a wonderful pedal steel guitar solo, as did the twin lead guitar line up of Jay Lacy and Robert K. Warford.    rating: *** stars

4.) Winonah   (Michael Nesmith - Linda Hardgrove - James Minor) - 3:56

Side one's most country-oriented number (complete with anti-alcohol lyric "bar rooms are a prison, whiskey is no key ..."), 'Winonah' was also one of the album's prettiest songs.  This coming from someone who doesn't have an ear for country music.    rating: *** stars


(side 2)
1.) Born To Love You   (Cindy Walker) - 3:55

A straightforward country ballad, 'Born To Love You' was pretty with a nice Nesmith vocal performance, but way too country for my tastes.   rating: ** stars

2.) The Back Porch and a Fruit Jar Full of Iced Tea - 8:19

Clocking in at over eight minutes,  'The Back Porch and a Fruit Jar Full of Iced Tea' was a two part medley that sounded like a rehearsal for Hee Haw.  

   a.) The F.F.V.   (traditional - arranged by Michael Nesmith) - 

'The F.F.V' (the acronym stood for Fast Flying Vestibule), was based on a traditional folk song also known as "Engine 143" and "The Wreck On The C&O".   In case anyone cared, the song commemorated an October 1890 train wreck.  Nesmith gave the song a spoken word arrangement that simply didn't do much for me.   rating: ** stars

   b.) Uncle Pen   (Bill Monroe) - The cover of Bill Monroe's 'Uncle Pen' was somewhat more enjoyable, but again was a straightforward bluegrass tune that served to give his backing band an opportunity to shine.   rating: ** stars

3.) Prairie Lullaby   (Billy Hill) - 4:12

The album ended with a cover of Billy Hill's 'Prairie Lullaby'.  Again, quite pretty, but unless you felt a need to hear Nesmith yodel (seriously), I'd suggest you pass.   rating: ** stars


So what you get is half of an album that was great and half of an album that probably had little appeal to anyone other than country fans.