The Monkees ‘Headquarters’ Turns 45 Years Old
All was not sunshine in early 1967 for the Monkees. Sure, their TV show was a huge hit and their second album, ‘More Of The Monkees,’ was a massive seller. But the band sought creative freedom, and they found it with their third record, ‘Headquarters.’
Those two facts, along with a number one hit single ‘I’m A Believer’ had made them the biggest selling band in the land. That status had the boys feeling their oats, and they wanted more.
What they really wanted was to be a real band and have control over their destiny. Kind of tough to do when you are under the thumb of Don Kirshner, who, as musical supervisor of the television show, pretty much called all the shots. This was not sitting well with the Monkees, Michael Nesmith in particular, who famously argued on behalf of the band and, upon confrontation from Kirshner waving their contract claiming victory, put his fist through a wall, telling Don ‘that could have been your face.’
Kirshner was fired and the lunatics took over the asylum, which in this case was a wonderful thing. The resulting album, ‘Headquarters,’ not only stands as one of the crowning jewels in the Monkees catalog, but one of the finest albums by any band from the era. It is a true garage band rock and roll album circa early 1967, before everything exploded into psychedelic bliss and confusion. It’s part folk rock, part garage rock, some pure pop, with a hint of psychedelia and a little country thrown in.
Almost every note on the recordings was played by Micky Dolenz (drums), Michael Nesmith (guitar), Peter Tork (guitar, bass, keyboard, banjo) and Davy Jones (percussion). The exception being the bass guitar, which was played by Chip Douglas, who also produced the album. The songs were primarily written by Nesmith, Dolenz and Tork, with two contributed by Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart, and one by Brill Building legends Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil.
Songs such as ‘You Told Me,’ ‘You Just May Be The One,’ and ‘Sunny Girlfriend‘ showed that Nesmith was truly a songwriter to be reckoned with. These are all great songs as good or better than any other “garage” bands from the time. ‘For Pete’s Sake,’ written by Tork, became the closing theme music for the second season of the group’s television show, and Dolenz’ classic ‘Randy Scouse Git‘ managed to name check Andy Warhol, the Beatles and the counter culture in general in one fell swoop. The song was a hit in the UK, though the title was changed to ‘Alternate Title’ as a jab at the UK label who demanded it be changed due to its real title being slang, roughly translated as a ‘horny Liverpudlian bastard.’
Released the last week of May, 1967 on the Colgems label, the album featured zero, count ‘em, zero singles in the US! But that didn’t stop the album from topping the US charts upon release. Though it was toppled from the top position the following week by the Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ album, ‘Headquarters’ would plant itself firmly at the number two slot for nearly three months. The Monkees would go on to make more great records for the next couple of years, but this was really the end of an era in many ways.
The times had definitely changed by the time the second season of the show was on the air, and their teen-centric appeal was no match for the brooding underground about to overtake the party. Pardon the poetry, but this is where the caterpillar became the butterfly.