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Headquarters Sessions

The Monkees

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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."

Customer Reviews

Blueprint for an album

Understand what we have here...a blueprint for an album, put together by four very young men who have a point to prove. Fans of the Monkees should appreciate this intimate look at the creative process, and the barebones production that they were able to assemble into some catchy pop tunes. After taking a critical beating when it was "discovered" that the group did not play most of the instruments on their first two multi platinum albums, the Monkees staged a revolt. The four of them went into the studio without the producers and session musicians featured in their previous efforts. The result is "Headquarters". As far as singles go on this album, "No Time" (written by the Monkees, but "given" to a favorite sound engineer *Hank Cicalo* ), "For Pete's Sake" (written by Peter Tork), "Randy Scouse Git" (written by Micky Dolenz), and "You Just May Be The One" (written by Mike Nesmith) show proof positive that the four actors brought together to make a TV show could in fact function as a "real" band. The fact that this album featured the Monkees on almost every instrument (with only minor background assistance from others) forever shuts the door on the claim that they were "imitation musicians". The Rhino produced "Headquarters Sessions" gives a very interesting behind the scenes look at the evolution of the group, and the nuts and bolts construction of the original album. The subsequent "Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, and Jones" album is a superior overall effort, because after "Headquarters" hit # 1 (which it did for one week in 1967), the band realized they were better when they used studio collaborators like virtually every other rock group of the day. Nesmith has grown into an accomplished artist and businessman, and Tork and Dolenz continue to prove their chops on stages across the country to this day. The Monkees were for real, and critics who say otherwise just aren't very bright.

"The Monkees Prove Their Critics Wrong"

1967 was perhaps on the greatest years in Rock N' Roll history. The Beatles were about to release "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"; Brian Wilson was working on "Smile"; Jim Morrison and "The Doors" got banned on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and the Summer of Love was about to take America by storm. Yet for my money, the story of "Headquarters" tops them all. After great success with such hits as "Last Train To Clarksville" and "I'm A Believer" it seemed that "The Monkees" could do no wrong. When word got out that other musicians played on their records , they were crucified by the media. To prove their critics wrong, they became a self-contained group. Hear the process on this special album that saw limited release. Be a "fly on the wall" as "The Monkees" create some of their best music. Download this album while you can.

Revelatory

This set, as revelatory in its own "minor" way as the "Pet Sounds Sesions" box, demythologizes the ludicrous assumption that the Monkees couldn't play their instruments (yawn). What you hear here is the potential for a tremendous group of musicians with a great sense of humor and a very grounded approach to what they both were and were not capable of. Peter Tork's sensibility is especially evident, and I find myself listening to his hypnotic demo of "Can You Dig It" over and over, despite all the little mistakes. Mickey Dolenz was a pretty terrible drummer, yet his enthusiasm so exceeds his limitations that his tendency to bash his kit mercilessly is effectively irrelevent (never mind his unparalled vocal expressivity). One of Mike Nesmith's greatest songs, the as-good-as-the-Beatles "The Girl I Knew Somewhere," is so rigorously worked by the band, that it's hard to imagine other, allegedly "authentic" bands investing so much effort in their output (Jefferson Airplane, perhaps?). There was so much untapped potential in the Monkees that it's a shame so many forces consipred against them. These guys were great.

Biography

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...
Full Bio

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