The Monkees | Headquarters – 1967

The beginnings of a strange self awareness

Despite friendships with John Lennon and Frank Zappa, and having Jimi Hendrix their opening act on tour, the Monkees seek credibility.

“Hey hey we are the Monkees, you know we aim to please. A manufactured image with no philosophies” –  from The Monkees movie – ‘Head

In 1967 my father moved to Sydney, the family followed in 1968. It was a career move for him, he was a salesman for a truck component firm. As a kid, and even now, I never really knew what he did, or why he was taking control of his career. I always thought that a career meant you were travelling down a hill, out of control at tremendous speed. This may be due to my early difficulties with spelling.

By this, their third album, The Monkees are beginning to take control of their careers. They were formed in 1966 in response to the impact the Beatles, with their zany, madcap antics, had made in the US. There was money too be made from this.

The TV show only lasted from 1966 to 1968. During that period the Monkees recorded 58 episodes, released 6 albums, completed a world tour (including Australia in 1968) and a feature film. These guys were busy. The went on to record a further three albums in the next two years.

They were a big hit for a little time but have remained in the memory of so many. The Monkees sold 50 million records worldwide.

Their songs were written by some of the best songwriters around, Neil Diamond, Boyce & Hart, Carolyn King, and Gerry Goffin and the band was the best sessions muso’s around. These muso’s went on to play on both Sgt Peppers and Pet Sounds.

Steven Stills (of Buffalo Springfield and later Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) auditioned for The Monkees with his friend Peter Tork. Stills failed the audition due to receding hairline and dental hygiene problems. Harry Nielsen also auditioned, not sure what his failures were at that time.

There is a lot of trivia around the Monkees, probably because they are trivial. It ain’t necessarily a bad thing. I’ve listened to a lot of self-important music, but many serious young insects. It’s good to have something lighter.

Marg mentioned the other day that the music she remembers from childhood are the novelty songs, and that maybe the simple, repetitious song style stay in long term memory. Song like, ‘Purple People Eater’, ‘Itsy Bitsy, Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka dot bikini’.

For me, I remember in 1966 ‘Snoopy vs the Red Baron’ by the Royal Guardsmen (censored on Australian radio because of the word ‘bloody’. The Royal Guardsmen were still performing and recording just a couple of years ago with Snoopy vs Osama. When your on a good thing …)

With the move from Melbourne to Sydney, the other novelty song the sticks in my memory is Melborn & Sideny by the Idlers five, we played this over and over. A song that states that Melbourne is the greater city and that “Sydney girls are way out front, but we’ve got stronger beer.”

This love of novelty may be a slight on the Monkees, who despite there manufactured beginnings were attempting to achieve credibility. The album ‘Headquarter’ is fun, with some good pop songs. It is not a great album. This is the album where the Monkees take control, aka – play on their own tracks, and it shows. It is an album of simple arrangements and lots of tambourine.

The Monkees were a wacky, zany bunch. John Lennon called them the Marx brothers of music, I’d take it as a compliment. They are silly and at times irritating, but there was an edge to them. The occasional appearance by Frank Zappa on the TV show and movie and the tour with Jimi Hendrix show a different side to the Monkees. It demonstrates the direction they wanted to take. Unfortunately it wasn’t a direction their fans and management were pursuing. Hendrix was heckled by Monkees fans.

The tour with Jimi Hendrix was meant to give the Monkees credibility and Jimi some much needed US exposure early in his career. Jimi’s manager got him out of the tour by concocting a story that the Daughters of the American Revolution complained that his act was too lewd and erotic.

The Monkees must have achieved some sort of credibility,  in 1979 the Sex Pistols went on the cover their song ‘Stepping Stone’.

This album is not lewd or erotic, just pop. No great singles, but some good songs, performed and sometimes written by the Monkees, the best being ‘You told me’, ‘You must be the one’ and ‘For Pete’s Sake’, the latter is the song heard at the end of Monkees episodes.

Well worth a listen for those with pop sensibilities.

This is a year I will return to, nice to get a Monkee album done, but there are better 1967 albums:

Are you Experienced? | Hendrix           Sgt Peppers | Beatles Velvet Underground | Velvet Underground

Personnel
  • Michael Nesmith: vocals, pedal steel guitar, 6-string guitar, 12-string guitar, organ
  • Davy Jones: vocals, tambourine, jawbone, maracas, etc.
  • Micky Dolenz: vocals, drums, guitar
  • Peter Tork: vocals, keyboards, 12-string guitar, bass guitar, 5-string banjo
  • Chip Douglas: bass guitar
  • John London: bass guitar on “The Girl I Knew Somewhere” and “All of Your Toys”
  • Vince DeRosa: French Horn on “Shades of Gray”
  • Fred Seykora: cello on “Shades of Gray”
  • Jerry Yester: additional guitar on “No Time”
  • Keith Allison: additional guitar on “No Time”
Track listing
Side 1
  1. “You Told Me” (2:22) (Michael Nesmith)
  2. “I’ll Spend My Life With You” (2:23) (Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart)
  3. “Forget That Girl” (2:21) (Douglas Farthing-Hatlelid)
  4. “Band 6” (0:38) (Micky Dolenz/Davy Jones/Michael Nesmith/Peter Tork)
  5. “You Just May Be the One” (2:00) (Michael Nesmith)
  6. “Shades of Gray” (3:20) (Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil)
  7. “I Can’t Get Her Off Of My Mind” (2:23) (Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart)
Side 2
  1. “For Pete’s Sake” (2:10) (Joey Richards/Peter Tork)
  2. “Mr. Webster” (2:02) (Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart)
  3. “Sunny Girlfriend” (2:31) (Michael Nesmith)
  4. “Zilch” (1:05) (Micky Dolenz/Davy Jones/Michael Nesmith/Peter Tork)
  5. “No Time” (2:09) (Hank Cicalo)
  6. “Early Morning Blues and Greens” (2:00) (Diane Hildebrand/Jack Keller)
  7. “Randy Scouse Git” (2:35) (Micky Dolenz)
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One Response to The Monkees | Headquarters – 1967

  1. Pingback: A life in albums | michaelsprott

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