UPDATED 12/7: The 7a Records label made a big splash earlier this year with its first-ever release. The MGM Singles Collection brought together Micky Dolenz’s rare MGM Records sides in a lavishly designed and annotated presentation that was a fan and collector’s dream. Now, we’re thrilled to report that the Monkees specialists at 7a have turned their attention to another key figure in Monkees lore with the first-ever CD release today of 1980’s aptly-titled The First Bobby Hart Solo Album.
There was little Bobby Hart and his partner Tommy Boyce couldn’t accomplish. Subjects of the recent documentary film The Guys Who Wrote ‘Em, these talented singer-songwriter-producers were, individually or collectively, responsible for a string of hits that are still familiar today: “Last Train to Clarksville,” “(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone,” “Come a Little Bit Closer,” “Hurt So Bad,” “I Wanna Be Free,” “Valleri,” and of course, the immortal “Theme from The Monkees.” As if turning out hits for The Monkees and so many others wasn’t enough, Tommy and Bobby recorded three hip albums for A&M Records as a duo. They reached the Top 10 in 1967 with “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonite,” which crackles with youthful abandon, energy and, frankly, a killer AM radio-ready hook.
At the height of their fame, the telegenic tunesmiths made appearances on I Dream of Jeannie (opposite no less a personage than Phil Spector!), The Flying Nun and Bewitched. On the latter sitcom, Tommy and Bobby played what was arguably their grooviest concert ever – at the otherworldly affair for the elite “in crowd” of witches and warlocks, The Cosmos Cotillion! Elizabeth Montgomery even joined them during the episode to perform their 1969 single “A Kiss in the Wind” as good witch Samantha’s deliciously scheming cousin Serena. Samantha hoped to send those “howling hippies” back to Earth, but even she couldn’t help dancing along! But by the end of the tumultuous 1960s, the duo had broken up, torn apart by personal and professional conflicts. In the mid-seventies, however, they were reunited with The Monkees’ Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz as Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart, touring around the world and releasing both a studio and a live album. After the new group disbanded, they turned their attention once again to solo endeavors.
In 1980, WEA released The First Bobby Hart Solo Album. (Hart had previously released solo singles on Era, Infinity, and just prior to the album, Warner Bros./Curb. As for his old partner, Boyce had recorded a number of singles in the 1960s, some of which were collected on a 1968 RCA album. He made his proper long-playing debut under the alias of “Christopher Cloud” on a 1973 Chelsea Records LP.) How did it come about? As Hart recently explained, “I realized at the end of the ’70s that I’d never done an album – I’d had maybe a dozen or more, maybe 15, singles released over my career that started in ’58 on various labels, but never enough material for an album.”
Produced by Hart in Hollywood, the album contained nine songs penned by the artist in collaboration with Teddy Randazzo, Bobby Weinstein and Barry Richards; the latter also contributed background vocals as well as serving as associate producer. Among the tracks was a revival of “Hurt So Bad,” Little Anthony and the Imperials’ 1965 hit by Randazzo, Weinstein and Hart. It also saw a smash cover by Linda Ronstadt in 1980, the same year of The First Bobby Hart Solo Album.
Unfortunately, Hart’s solo statement never got wide release, issued only in a handful of countries including Italy, Germany and Scandinavia. 7a is coming to the rescue with an expanded CD edition remastered from the original master tapes. In addition, the new reissue overseen by executive producers Iain Lee and Glenn Gretlund features three previously unreleased bonus tracks – “You Can’t See Thunder,” “Runnin'” and “I’m Just Taking the Long Way Home” – as well as a deluxe 24-page booklet with song lyrics, new liner notes, rare photographs supplied by Bobby, and a new interview with him, too! 7a has also replaced the original cover artwork with a more attractive design based on the LP’s original rear cover artwork.
Bobby Hart went on to receive an Academy Award nomination in 1983 for his song “Over You” for the film Tender Mercies and recently published his memoir Psychedelic Bubble Gum: Boyce and Hart, The Monkees, and Turning Mayhem Into Miracles. 7a has more exciting music coming your way, too, including a CD of its acclaimed Dolenz collection plus planned releases from Davy Jones and Tommy Boyce! This eagerly-anticipated reissue of The First Bobby Hart Solo Album is available now in the U.K., with an Amazon U.S. and Canada release date of the 18th. It can be ordered at the links below!
- Funky Karma
- I’m on Fire
- I Can’t Fight It
- Hurt So Bad
- (You’re Breaking My Heart) Street Angel / I Get Crazy
- Still Hung Up on You
- First Impressions
- You Can’t See Thunder (previously unreleased)
- Runnin’ (previously unreleased)
- I’m Just Taking the Long Way Home (previously unreleased)