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Review The Monkees: Headquarters (1967)

January 30, 2009 by  
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The Monkees: Headquarters (1967)

Here’s the album that quashed a thousand arguments, the Kryptonite to any Monkees naysayers. Yes, after the rushed debacle that was More of the Monkees, the boys took control, ousted maestro Don Kirshner, and recruited Turtles member Chip Douglas (NOT one of My Three Sons) to produce. Their vow: To perform the entire album themselves.. Otherwise, it’s all Peter, Mike, Mickey, and Davy, on bass, guitar, drums, and tambourine, respectively. The boys also wrote 8 of the 14 songs themselves. The resulting album is less professional than The Monkees‘ previous albums, but in a good way.

By the admittedly narrow definition of a “classic” as a song that is instantly recognizable, there are none on Headquarters. But two songs could fit on the farther end of the spectrum. The gentle Shades of Gray made a greatest hits compilation here and there. It’s a great example of band chemistry: Davy and Peter take turns on vocals, and Mike’s signature pedal steel guitar is prominent. Mickey’s military style drumming anchors it all. The lyrics are the dictionary definition of earnest, but still manage to connect. For Pete’s Sake is the other song novice Monkeemainacs might recognize. It played over the closing credits of the T.V. show for awhile. It’s a groovy document-of-its-time, with lyrics like “we were born to love one another / we must be what we’re going to be / and what we have to be / is free” it’s clear the Summer of Love was fast approaching.

speaking of The Beatles, they also get a mention in what might be the album’s best song, Mickey Dolenz’s Randy Scouse Git.

The other bonus tracks are rawer. Peter Gunn’s Gun is a jam that doesn’t offer much besides a glimpse into the looseness of the album sessions. Same for Jericho, but there’s some funny Mickey riffing, and an impromptu version of the spiritual Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho. Pillow Time is basically a recorded rehearsal of a song that later appeared on The Monkees Present. Mickey sings the song unaccompanied, and mixes in a lot of banter, including a plea for hamburgers.

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