50 years ago today, The Monkees commenced work on "Pleasant Valley Sunday." Andrew Sandoval documented the June 10, 1967 session at RCA Hollywood, one day after The Monkees' triumphant concert performance at the Hollywood Bowl, in his book, The Monkees: The Day-by-Day Story of the '60s TV Pop Sensation:
Gerry Goffin & Carole King's "Pleasant Valley Sunday" is one of Chip Douglas's most complex productions for The Monkees. Sadly, session tapes will not survive for this landmark date so it is impossible to follow this wonderful creation step-by-step. The basic track is most likely recorded with Chip Douglas and Eddie Hoh forming the rhythm section of bass and drums while Michael and Peter perform on electric guitar and piano. Union documents indicate Micky is also present for this session, and it is quite possible that he contributes some acoustic guitar to the track. Additional guitar overdubs will be recorded tomorrow.
Chip Douglas: "Mike played the lead guitar. That was my riff that I threw in there and taught to Mike. Not many guitar players can play it the right way. ... It's kind of an offshoot of the Beatles song 'I Want To Tell You' but in a different tempo and with different notes.
"I wish I could hear the original demo, because I can't recall if I got a [lyric] line right or not. It's in the bridge, 'creature comfort goals can only numb my soul and make it hard for me to see.' For 'make it hard for me to see,' for some reason I had the impression that I didn't do the right line in there, or changed it possibly. I couldn't understand that line, or something like that. One of those great mysteries.
"I do remember seeing Carole King up at the Screen Gems office from across the room after we did 'Pleasant Valley Sunday.' She kind of gave me this dirty look. I thought, 'Was it that line that I got wrong, perhaps? Or didn't she like the guitar intro?' It was faster, definitely, than the way she had done it. She had a more laidback way of doing stuff."
Michael Nesmith: "I remember that we went after the guitar sound. Everybody was trying to get that great big present guitar sound - Beatle [amplifiers] in the studio, playing really loud trying to get the sound, and it just ended up sounding kind of ... like it does. Kind of wooden. There was a tube-type of limiter/compressor called a UREI 1176, and boy you could really suck stuff out of the track. That was the first time that we really could do it. I think everybody got a little carried away with the 1176 on that record."
On June 11 and 13, 1967, "Pleasant Valley Sunday" was treated to overdubs, including backing vocals from all four Monkees.
In a 1982 interview with Bruce Pollack, Peter Tork discussed the blending of Micky and Michael's voices throughout "Pleasant Valley Sunday":
"A notion of mine that I was really pleased with took over at one point, and that was having two guys sing in unison rather than one guy doubling his own voice. So you've got Mike, who was really a hard-nosed character, and Micky, who's a real baby face, and these two voices blended and lent each other qualities. It's not two separate voices singing together, it's really a melding of the two voices. Listening to that record later on was a joy. "
"Pleasant Valley Sunday" was issued as Colgems single #1007 on July 10, 1967, right in the middle of The Monkees' ultra-successful summer tour that year. It was backed with "Words," written for the group by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. The single is considered to be one of their most successful (certified Gold just four days after release), and it's worth noting that radio gave attention to both sides. As a result, "Pleasant Valley Sunday" peaked at #3 in Billboard while "Words" topped out at #11. The songs were later featured on The Monkees' fourth album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.
On this day in 1967, The Monkees' third album, Headquarters, was released. Read more about this landmark Monkees LP in the Live Almanac's archives.
"I’m always thinking and working on stuff. I get offers and I’m doing my 'Little Bit Broadway, Little Bit Rock and Roll' show in New York again at the end of March [at 54 Below, under the old Studio 54 location]. We’re talking about another Monkee project. Nothing to announce at this point, but it’s in the air because this year is the 50th anniversary of our first real tour. So there’ll be stuff going on this summer and fall and then, well you just never know."
This highlight from the first season of The Monkees aired 50 years ago tonight on NBC. The article also examines The Monkees' comments at the end of the show regarding the Sunset Strip riots (an event referenced later by Michael Nesmith in the song "Daily Nightly").
And check out all of the Gretsch gear below that was prevalent throughout this episode!
And don't forget to check out this interview with guest star Vito Scotti, who also appeared in Head:
A new page has been added to The Monkees Live Almanac website, chronicling The Monkees' appearance at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles, California this past September, which Michael Nesmith said would be his last with the group. The essay examines Michael's history with The Monkees since the group's revival in 1986 as well as the Pantages concert itself.
I'd like to say a big thank you to Sherri Hansen who provided most of the photos you will see on the page (with more on the way to be added at a later date). A shout-out as well to Elliott Marx, who shared his wonderful audience recording of the show on SoundCloud, and to all the fans who uploaded their video footage to YouTube. Please enjoy - and I welcome any feedback.
And check out the great photo of The Monkees from the Justus era, taken in Santa Monica, California in late 1996.
Thank you to everyone for their continued support of this website, and for a wonderful 50th Anniversary celebration of The Monkees!
Sandra Schock recently shared some of her Monkees artwork with the Live Almanac. Here's a sketch of The Monkees inspired by their September 2016 performance at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles. For more of Sandra's artwork, be sure to visit her on Facebook and Twitter, and stay tuned to the Live Almanac for a page devoted exclusively to this show, Michael Nesmith's final performance with The Monkees.
Adam Schlesinger, who made his name reviving power-pop as half of Fountains of Wayne, gathers together a crew of clever songwriters – including Rivers Cuomo, Ben Gibbard, Andy Partridge, Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller – to provide top-shelf material for a reunion that lives up to the album's title and its exclamation point. But though Good Times! updates the Monkees' sound, it also keeps one foot in the past: A tweaked Sixties demo allows Micky Dolenz to perform a virtual duet with the title track's composer, the late Harry Nilsson; and Davy Jones (who died in 2012) appears via a 1967 outtake. Septuagenarians have never celebrated puppy love so winningly. K.H.
Sandra Schock recently shared some of her Monkees artwork with the Live Almanac. Here's a great sketch of Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork with their touring band. For more of Sandra's artwork, be sure to visit her on Facebook and Twitter.
The Live Almanac would like to extend a warm thank you to Micky, Peter, and Michael Nesmith for all of the fun and excitement they brought to the road this year. I'd also like to recognize Andrew Sandoval, who produced the tour, along with the entire staff and crew that worked behind the scenes. Andrew was also kind enough to share photos of set lists from numerous shows on the tour with the Live Almanac, and that was much appreciated. If only Davy Jones had been around for it all.
With that being said, the 50th Anniversary concerts wouldn't have been the success they were without The Monkees' touring band: Wayne Avers (guitar/musical director), John Billings (bass), Rich Dart (drums), Dave Alexander (keyboards), and Coco Dolenz (vocals/percussion). Everyone involved with the tour should take a bow!
In the meantime, I'm going to begin work on my essay for the 50th Anniversary Tour page here on the Live Almanac, along with creating a page dedicated exclusively to Michael Nesmith's final concert with The Monkees at the Pantages Theatre this past September.
I would also like to take a minute to thank everyone for their constant support of this website and blog. I have been overwhelmed by your kind email notes and well-wishes. I continue to be astonished by the traffic flow the site receives!! I was also honored that The Monkees Live Almanac was mentioned this year in online articles published by industry websites like Billboard and others, and author Peter Mills gave a shout-out to the Live Almanac in his newly published book, The Monkees, Head, and the 60s (which I highly recommend):
John Wilson, Alan Adkins, Jim Catapano, Fred Velez, Patrick Zappi, Daniel Eckert, Mark James Melhi, Amy Collen, and Brian Marchese also deserve recognition. In honor of The Monkees' 50th Anniversary, they composed essays for the Live Almanac (and in Brian's instance produced a podcast) celebrating the group's history and impact, and their work has greatly enhanced this website.
Finally, a hearty thank you to John Hughes, Andrew Sandoval, Dan Wingate, and everyone at Rhino Records, who provided Monkees fans with two monumental releases this year. Good Times!, The Monkees' first studio album since 1996's Justus, shot to the upper echelons of the charts and captured the spirit of the group's '60s recordings, due in large part to Adam Schlesinger, who produced the LP. Rhino's Blu-ray set, which featured all of the Monkees episodes, Head, and 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee restored from their original prints (along with a bevy of bonus features), allowed The Monkees' legacy on film to jump into the 21st century.
Now, stay tuned to The Monkees Live Almanac in 2017 for all it will bring to Monkees fans!