We present a methodology for computing vibrationally and time-resolved pump-probe spectra, which takes into account all vibrational degrees of freedom and is based on the combination of the thawed Gaussian approximation with on-the-fly ab initio evaluation of the electronic structure. The method is applied to the phenyl radical and compared with two more approximate approaches based on the global harmonic approximation the global harmonic method expands both the ground- and excited-state potential energy surfaces to the second order about the corresponding minima, while the combined global harmonic/on-the-fly method retains the on-the-fly scheme for the excited-state wavepacket propagation. We also compare the spectra by considering their means and widths, and show analytically how these measures are related to the properties of the semiclassical wavepacket. We find that the combined approach is better than the global harmonic one in describing the vibrational structure, while the global harmonic approximation estimates better the overall means and widths of the spectra due to a partial cancellation of errors. Although the full-dimensional on-the-fly ab initio result seems to reflect the dynamics of only one mode, we show, by performing exact quantum calculations, that this simple structure cannot be recovered using a one-dimensional model. Yet, the agreement between the quantum and semiclassical spectra in this simple, but anharmonic model lends additional support for the full-dimensional ab initio thawed Gaussian calculation of the phenyl radical spectra. We conclude that the thawed Gaussian approximation provides a viable alternative to the expensive or unfeasible exact quantum calculations in cases, where low-dimensional models are not sufficiently accurate to represent the full system. (C) 2018 Author(s).