7a Records has already delivered a treasure trove of releases from Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, and Michael Nesmith on CD and vinyl. Is anyone missing from that list? Now, 7a has just announced its first release from the late Peter Tork: the first-time reissue of his only solo album, 1994’s Stranger Things Have Happened, in a deluxe, expanded edition. It’s due on December 4 in the U.K. and December 11 in the U.S., and will feature a generous nine bonus tracks on CD – including several seeing their first release in the digital domain – and six on vinyl. (This is the album’s first appearance on vinyl.)
The path to Stranger Things Have Happened was a long one. Tork was, by and large, musically inactive during the 1970s as he came to terms with the ups and downs of fame and struggled with sobriety. (He did help produce a single for Dolenz and record some material for Nesmith’s label.) In 1980, he achieved a hard-won sobriety, and the following year he entered the studio to record a new single. Peter Tork and The New Monks released a new version of The Monkees’ Boyce and Hart-penned “(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone” b/w a revival of Jackie Wilson’s timeless “Higher and Higher,” but the small release on an independent label didn’t make much noise – in the U.S., at least. Peter took the New Monks to Japan where he embarked on a successful concert tour, much as Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz did. (Their sojourns to Japan have been chronicled by 7a on a pair of recent releases.) That rare single makes its first CD/digital appearance on this reissue.
Peter then reconnected with his folk roots in New York City, re-establishing himself in small Greenwich Village clubs without the shadow of The Monkees following him. Everything changed for him, though, in 1986 when the second wave of Monkeemania hit the States. He recommitted to the group and toured with them through 1989. When it was time to go solo again, he formed the band The Dashboard Saints with whom he played around L.A. and once again in Japan. Crucially, he hooked up with old friend James Lee Stanley of Beachwood Recordings. Stanley would shepherd Tork’s new music and the album that became Stranger Things Have Happened.
The LP featured six songs penned by Tork including two remakes from his recent days back with The Monkees: “MGBGT” (a live version of which was on the flipside of the group’s “Heart and Soul” single) and “Gettin’ In” which had appeared on the Pool It! album. An acoustic version of “Take a Giant Step” was another echo of The Monkees filtered through Tork’s own sensibility. His live band joined him for the album as did some special guests including Mackenzie Phillips and Owen Elliot-Kugell (daughters of The Mamas & The Papas’ John Phillips and Cass Elliot, respectively), Eagles’ Timothy B. Schmit, Wings’ Laurence Juber, Micky Dolenz, and Michael Nesmith.
While Peter never recorded another solo LP, his collaboration with James Lee Stanley blossomed into a number of studio and live releases from the twosome; he also cut five albums, including a live set, with his group Shoe Suede Blues. He also reunited with The Monkees for several reunion tours in various configurations through 2016. Peter died in 2019 after a battle with cancer at the age of 77.
7a’s CD reissue of Stranger Things Have Happened boasts new cover artwork. It’s housed in a digipak and is accompanied by a 32-page full-color booklet featuring a comprehensive new essay by Mark Kleiner. The limited LP version is pressed on 180-gram neon magenta splatter vinyl. The bonus tracks (nine on CD, six on vinyl) fill out the story with demos, live versions, acoustic duo performances with James Lee Stanley reflecting how the songs were originally conceived, both sides of the New Monks single, and a folk song recorded for a magazine.
Look for Stranger Things Have Happened on December 4 in the U.K. and December 11 in the U.S. from 7a Records. You’ll find pre-order links for both Amazon and 7a’s preferred retailer Deep Discount and the complete track listing below! (Do note that Amazon links are not all yet active though placeholders are up.)
Peter Tork, Stranger Things Have Happened (Beachwood Records BR 2522, 1994 – reissued 7a Records, 2020)
- Stranger Things Have Happened
- Get What You Pay For
- Sea Change
- Giant Step
- Gettin’ In
- Tender Is
- Higher and Higher
- Milkshake – with James Lee Stanley
- MG-BGT – with James Lee Stanley
- Miracle – with James Lee Stanley
- Pirates – with James Lee Stanley (*)
- Get What You Pay For (Live) (*)
- Easy Rockin’ (Demo) (*)
- I Truly Understand (from The CooP: The Fast Folk Musical Magazine SE 105, 1982)
- (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone – with The New Monks (Claude’s Music Works single MW 1001, 1981)
- Higher and Higher – with The New Monks (Claude’s Music Works single MW 1002, 1981)
(*) CD-only bonus tracks