Monday, June 20, 2011

On my turntable (Monkees edition): Headquarters

Headquarters (1967)
When the time came to begin work on The Monkees' third album things between the group and music supervisor Don Kirshner had become too hot to handle. The show's producers had to make a choice, and they knew that Micky, Mike, Peter, and Davy were irreplaceable. The short version of the story: Kirshner got his walking papers and The Monkees were suddenly handed the control they wanted in making their next album.
"The Girl I Knew Somewhere", 1967

The first task on the band's to-do list: enlist a producer. Nesmith approached Chip Douglas, who was the current bass player for The Turtles. For Nez, who wanted as much control as possible, Douglas was a clever choice, since he'd never played the role of producer before. Mike told him not to worry, that he was confident that Chip would do a great job.

The record-buying public got its first taste of the The Monkees as a band on Nesmith's "The Girl I Knew Somewhere", which was issued as the b-side to Kirshner's last recording for the group, Neil Diamond's "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" (which featured studio players and one sole Monkee, Davy Jones).  As the bands' third single shot up the charts they were busy hunkering down in the studio creating the material for what was, in essence, the first real Monkees album.
The finished product, Headquarters, was an honest-to-goodness melting pot of the combined talents of the group. At least half of the material was penned by the members of the band (3 by Nez, 1 from Dolenz, 1 from Tork), comprising the more memorable moments on the LP.
Upon its release in the spring of 1967, Headquarters zoomed to #1. The following week the album was hijacked from the top spot by the arrival of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. While the sales of Headquarters did not equal those generated by the first two LPs, the album should still be seen as an enormous achievement. The Monkees had battled the Machine and actually won. Micky, Mike, Davy, and Peter, four guys cast to portray a band for a tv show, were now an actual living, breathing band. 

Some additional tidbits:
  • Headquarters was the only Monkees LP in the U.S. to not generate a single. Micky's "Randy Scouse Git" became a huge hit overseas when it was issued as a single under the name "Alternate Title"
  • Peter's song "For Pete's Sake" replaced "(theme from) The Monkees" in the closing credits of the show's 2nd season (the song also happens to be my favorite of all time. Love it. I seriously want it played at my funeral.)
  • Hip Hop artist Del tha Funkee Homosapien sampled Peter's voice from the track "Zilch" as the basis for his 1991 hit "Mistadobalina"
  • Headquarters would sadly turn out to be the last Monkees album of the '60's to feature all four as a cohesive musical unit. In 1996 the band reunited for the fully self-penned & produced CD Justus.
  • Micky has gone on record saying that the reason Peter left the Monkees in 1968 was that the band strayed from the band format of Headquarters (that and exhaustion). Peter himself has said that Headquarters was the highlight of his Monkees experience.

Up next: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, ltd...


Jay said...

Chip Douglas' middle name is FART THING?

Jeff said...

Yes. His parents thought that would be cute. No it's Farthing, only one T.

Jeff said...

Fart Thing is a song by Prince.