The Monkees Headquarters: Album Review

Monkees Albums

Photo: By Entertainment International (Billboard page 45) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Seeing as they were never supposed to be a real band, they had something to prove. What started with an idea for a children’s television series quickly grew into a massive worldwide sensation. The Monkees took over the music world with their catchy tunes and a staggering amount of recognition from their show. With their exploding popularity, they craved more than just the wacky hijinks that their writers allowed. They wanted to be a real band, which included writing their own songs and playing their own instruments. After a long legal battle, The Monkees gained the rights to their own music. Headquarters was the third album released by the Monkees, but the first where they had any creative influence. It was their first attempt at working together on anything other than vocals and many predicted failure. To the surprise of critics everywhere, this album proved The Monkees were no longer just actors, they were musicians.

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In the late 1960’s, radio was ruled by bands like the Beatles, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, The Moody Blues and so many other iconic bands that captured the turbulent times of the decade. The Monkees were an anomaly among the serious rock and roll music being produced at the time. But that was exactly what was needed for so manyHeadquarters was released on May 22, 1967. With a combination of folk, pop, and rock songs, the album intended to capture the essence of each of the boys themselves. Michael Nesmith had a reputation for being the leader of the group, which was made clear in both the television series and during the lengthy legal battles. He stayed true to his status with songs like “You Told Me,” “You Just May be the One,” and “Sunny Girlfriend” which he wrote and performed.

These samples of Nesmith’s writing style, slightly different than what Monkees fans were used to, showed a range that had not yet been displayed. Peter Tork stepped up with his song “For Pete’s Sake” and ended up playing it as the end credits theme on the show. Micky Dolenz showed off his creative and vocal abilities with “Randy Scout’s Git,” a song that was named “Alternate Title” for British audiences because of its negative connotations toward residents of Liverpool. While he meant it as a joke, it offended enough people to have its name changed. The teen heartthrob, Davy Jones, put his stamp on the album with “Band 6,” an instrumental selection that he and the other Monkees wrote to add depth to the album. These songs included the talents of all four Monkees and outlined the new path that the band was eager to take.

The album includes more unique tracks, such as “Zilch.” This is an attempt at acapella, where the boy’s voices are overlapped to create a completely new sound. While the song is presented like a vocal warm up that happened to be recorded, it also captured the fun that the Monkees were known for. The collective laughter at the end is the perfect way to show off the good times the boys were shown to have on TV. The fun went on with “No Time.” The upbeat tempo included vocals from all the Monkees and has a playful sound that anyone can groove to. Making sure their audiences knew they could stand on their own two feet, they made sure to never leave behind the fun that made them famous.

The Monkees faced an immense amount of scrutiny when fans discovered they did not write or play their own music. To show the world they were more than four boys on television, they took matters into their own hands. Headquarters blended the styles and talents of Micky, Mike, Davy, and Peter in a way that showed people everywhere what they were capable of becoming. After all, they were the new generation and they had something to say. In the end, all it took to keep them on top was a little unscripted entertainment.

The Monkees Headquarters – “You Told Me.”

The Monkees Headquarters: Album Review article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022

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