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Headquarters Sessions

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Album Review

Like many Rhino Handmade releases (available only via Internet), the Monkees' Headquarters Sessions is marketed for fanatics. Indeed, this set - which contains over three discs filled with all the outtakes and studio chatter you could ever hope for or need — is essentially the Holy Grail of Monkees material. Informal versions of "Cripple Creek," "Don't Be Cruel," "Nine Times Blue," "The Story of Rock and Roll" (made into a modest hit by the Turtles), and "She's So Far Out, She's In" are only a handful of the set's rarites. On the tracks that would become the Headquarters album, it becomes obvious this was an amateur band struggling to get through a simple take. However, you can feel the camaraderie (even though Davy Jones is absent from most of this) between musicians Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork, while actor Mickey Dolenz is heard numerous times throughout apologizing for yet another drum flub. In this potentially volatile scenario, there is a sense of friendship and lack of studio ego, which is exactly why this package is so charming. These are mainly actors, struggling to prove their musicianship, maintaining their cool while finding out the hard way how difficult the recording process actually is (and how good Don Kirshner's studio musicians were). After Headquarters, the Monkees would never attempt to go into the studio again depending wholly on themselves. Their individual musical direction, especially in Nesmith's case, would be required from then on, with the final results being mixed at best. Along with the mainly unreleased instrumental versions of these tracks, studio flubs and conversations is the scrapped mono version of Headquarters with a completely different song sequence that included Nesmith's "The Girl I Knew Somewhere."


Formed: 1965 in Hollywood, CA

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '10s

"Hey hey, we are the Monkees/You know we love to please/A manufactured image/With no philosophies." In 1968, the Monkees addressed their own reputation in the song "Ditty Diego (War Chant)," which summed up the bad rap they'd received in the music press since they first emerged in the summer of 1966. The Monkees were talented singers, musicians, and songwriters who made a handful of the finest pop singles of their day (as well as a few first-rate albums) and delivered exciting, entertaining live...
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