MONKEEMANIA continues, for some reason. Rhino Records struck gold last year when reruns of the Monkees TV show and a reunion tour dovetailed rather profitably with Rhino's re-release of the nine original Monkees' albums.

With the Monkees back on the concert circuit and their first newly recorded album in 18 years due soon, Rhino has scraped together two albums of previously unreleased material.

"Missing Links" would have been more aptly titled "Studio Clinkers." It draws together 12 cuts originally deemed unworthy of inclusion on the Monkees' albums. Actually, the collection varies from outright insipid (anything sung or written by Davey Jones) through mediocre to listenable (anything sung or written by Mike Nesmith). Anyone who believes that the sterling pop song- writing teams of Boyce/Hart and Goffin/King were infallible should check out their four duds here.

There never has been a live Monkees album, and the rationale for the release of the nearly unlistenable "Live 67" is a mystery. Pieced together from three different poorly recorded concerts, "Live 67" reveals the hapless Monkees struggling to make the transition from TV artifact to flesh-and-blood rock band. Their offkey vocals, ragged harmonies and pathetic instrumental play mean that the only real energy here comes from the frenetically wailing young girls. It seems a shame that the teeny-bop audience had to pass hands from the Beatles to these chumps -- sorry, chimps.


"Missing Links" (Rhino 70150); "Live 67" (Rhino 70139). Appearing Friday at Merriweather Post Pavilion with Weird Al Yankovic.