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.
Friday Music is set to issue Headquarters: Stack-O-Tracks on 180 gram clear vinyl. It appears the LP will feature the instrumental backing tracks of the original lineup of songs.
Here are The Monkees during the recording sessions for their third album, Headquarters:
Episode #4! How Could HEADQUARTERS Have Been Different? "You Just May Be The One" Re-Mix! Super-Rare 2000 "Daydream Believer" by Davy Jones!
The following is an advance look at The Monkees, Head, and the 60s by author Peter Mills. It will be available in print and electronic editions from Jawbone Press on September 13 in the United Kingdom and October 25 in the United States. The Monkees Live Almanac would like to thank both Mr. Mills and Tom Seabrook of Jawbone Press for allowing fans to have an early glimpse at the book! You can pre-order at both Amazon US and Amazon UK.
CHIMES OF FREEDOM, OR EVERY LAST STINKIN’ LITTLE NOTE: HEADQUARTERS (1967)
The Beverly Hills Hotel opened in 1912, just as the cogs of the cinema industry began turning, and it is partly responsible for turning the surrounding area into the fabulous adjunct to the Hollywood Life it became, with its elegance, exclusivity, and rows of bungalows later used by legendary writers or actors or lovers or all three. Reclining in lush, water-sprinkled languor just off Sunset Boulevard, its walls are rightly famous for their easiness on the eye: flamingo pink on the outside, wedding cake iced-white within. I got to visit it one hot August evening at sunset and it was like passing through a portal to paradise; life could be a dream, sweetheart. So closely is it associated with the idea of California and Hollywood in the popular imagination that it became symbolic of that life long before it appeared, looking mysterious and not a little Hispanic, on the sleeve of the 1976 Eagles album Hotel California. Yet that image isn’t the hotel’s only claim to pop music fame; as the taproot of the very idea of Hollywood, it is somehow appropriate that it was at the Beverly Hills Hotel on January 25 1967, at a meeting to decide who controlled the music of The Monkees, Michael Nesmith put his fist through a wall in one of those exclusive bungalows (‘$150 a day’, according to TV Guide’s report of the incident later that year) and began the ‘palace revolution’ in such palatial surroundings.
Later Mike told his ‘angel of peace’, the ever-conciliatory [Bert] Schneider, ‘I blew it. I shouldn’t have lost my temper. But it’s horrible to be the number one group in the country and not be allowed to play on your own records.’ Schneider said, ‘Well it’s rewarding to see you guys act as a group rather than four egotists who don’t pull together.’ To which Mike replied, ‘It’s the first time we’ve had a wagon to pull.’
His mixed feelings are laudable, his advocacy of the strength of the group remarkable. Once that $150 a day wall was broken through, a special kind of freedom lay on the other side. For The Monkees, in the short term, that meant shutting down the TV show and prioritising the music. So even though they had started to work on their own material in advance of Kirshner’s formal dismissal later in the year, that declaration of independence in a cool and moneyed room unlocked a huge store of energy and ideas – to whit, Headquarters. It was recorded in a flash of white-hot activity between Micky returning from London on February 23 and the band’s next live gig in Winnipeg, Canada, on April Fool’s Day.
It was a little rough at first because we had never worked together. As things developed and Headquarters evolved there came a kind of camaraderie, and we were all pulling together to make this album that was supposed to be only them playing on it. In fact maybe my best contribution to The Monkees was that I wanted to see them doing everything on their records, with nobody in the background who wasn’t a Monkee. So if you hear a vocal part, you’re gonna hear Micky or Davy or Peter or Mike, and nobody else.
The album is the sound of liberty itself. The count-in at the opening of the first track, ‘You Told Me’, is a playful nod to the squonky equivalent on Revolver’s opener, ‘Taxman’, but also a gleeful little shout of autonomy, followed by those opening chimes of freedom on a 12-string guitar. Likewise, the reclamation of Nesmith’s second number on side one, ‘You Just May Be The One’, from the ‘TV version’ is complete, as the track does indeed feature just them – the four Monkees. Chip Douglas handled the bass on some of the tracks to allow Peter to add extra colours on keyboard and guitar but on this tune, already played in on a dozen gigs between New Year and February, it was the quartet alone:
Peter did play bass on a couple of songs – in fact he played on ‘You Just May Be The One’, and he really did a great bass part on that too. He played in a little different style to me, playing with a flat pick and I don’t. Maybe you can hear that on the record, I don’t know.
The album showcases Nesmith’s flourishing songwriting styles – pop-folk (‘You Just May Be The One’), country-pop (‘You Told Me’), a sound greatly assisted by Tork’s banjo, and pure ’67 pop with a gloss of psychedelia (‘Sunny Girlfriend’, complete with backward cymbals). It also allowed Peter Tork to expand his musical contributions many fold – playing guitar, banjo, and keyboards, arranging for cello and French horn (‘Shades Of Gray’) and writing ‘For Pete’s Sake’ (with his flatmate Joey Richards) which became the end-title theme for the second series, signalling the changes in the TV show as well as in the studio. It is a freedom song for the group as well as a claim on the rights of a whole generation. As Tork’s lyric declares, ‘We gotta be free!’, echoing sentiments of the first album’s ‘I Wanna Be Free’ while remaking and expanding it, exchanging the individual wish for the collective assertion. In spring ’67, youth culture was on the threshold of the Summer of Love, and this song, with its bluesy guitar picking, washes of organ, and effortlessly soulful vocal from Dolenz, chimes perfectly with that. The Monkees’ apparent escape from their gilded cage is a fine metaphor for a cultural transformation and a flight into freedom.
© 2016 Peter Mills / Jawbone Press
"You Just May Be the One" was written by Michael Nesmith in the pre-Monkees days. Chip Douglas, who produced Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., remembered the song from when Nez would perform it with Bill Chadwick at The Troubadour in Hollywood. "That's when I kinda first got to know him," Douglas told Andrew Sandoval. "I saw him with Chadwick. In particular, they were doing 'You Just May Be the One.' That is the one song that I remember I was real impressed with because I remember those harmonies: Bill Chadwick hitting that high A note there [on the bridge]. So when the song came up for suggestion to put on the album, I said, 'Yeah, that's great. Can we do that same harmony on there and everything like you guys used to do it?' He said, 'Sure, Micky will do it.'" (Bill Chadwick later worked with The Monkees behind the scenes and wrote several songs for the group, including "Zor and Zam.")
Now take a moment to vote in the Live Almanac's latest poll (in the blog sidebar to the right): "What are your two favorite Monkees B-sides?"
"All of Your Toys" is one of the most historically significant Monkees songs, recorded in January 1967 at the height of the group's simmering feud with musical supervisor Don Kirshner. Along with an early version of "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" and "She's So Far Out, She's In," the song represented The Monkees' first recordings as a fully functioning, self-contained band. But there's a rather complicated backstory leading up to its recording.
After a rigorous audition process that included more than 400 applicants, Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork had been chosen as The Monkees in November 1965. Filming of the pilot episode had been completed by December, and the show was sold to NBC by February 1966. Music mogul Don Kirshner, known as "The Man With the Golden Ear," was brought into the Monkees project in the summer of 1966. Initial rehearsals by The Monkees to play their music on record and as a live act had progressed through the spring of 1966, but deadlines were fast approaching to meet the pending debut of The Monkees television series on NBC in September. The group's grueling schedule of filming, recording, and rehearsing caused Kirshner to streamline the process. He refused to allow The Monkees to play their instruments on record, instead having them provide only vocal work in the studio, and it was Kirshner who selected the songs The Monkees were to perform. Kirshner oversaw the first two Monkees singles and albums, which achieved incredible success in late 1966 and early 1967.
In January 1967, an unsettled Michael Nesmith, who along with his fellow bandmates had commenced performing live concerts, made his unhappiness over how The Monkees' music was being created clear in an interview with The Saturday Evening Post. "The music had nothing to do with us. It was totally dishonest. Do you know how debilitating it is to sit up and have to duplicate somebody else's records?" Peter, Micky, and Davy joined forces with Michael in the ensuing battle against Kirshner. During a tense meeting with the band and Kirshner in a Beverly Hills hotel room that same month, the situation between Kirshner and The Monkees, particularly Nesmith, escalated. "The incident when Mike Nesmith put his fist through the wall at the Beverly Hills Hotel is very vivid and near and dear to my heart," Kirshner told Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval years later. "I had flown out to the Beverly Hills Hotel to give the boys a quarter of a million dollars apiece from some of the royalties on the first album. Mike had given me a lot of heat that he didn't like the records and he didn't like the albums. He wanted to do it his way. It was a little disconcerting to me because every album and single I put out was number one, but he had a right to his opinion." When Nesmith threatened to quit unless The Monkees were given some control over their musical output, Kirshner's attorney proceeded to remind Michael about his contract. Nez responded - by punching his fist through the wall - telling the attorney, 'That could’ve been your face.' "I was very impressed," Kirshner chuckled, "because I thought the Beverly Hills [Hotel] had pretty strong walls."
Despite these tumultuous events, Kirshner agreed to meet with Chip Douglas, recently selected by Michael as a potential producer for The Monkees. Douglas had been a member of the Modern Folk Quartet and later The Turtles, and despite never producing a record previously, he had arranged The Turtles' 1967 smash "Happy Together." Kirshner gave permission for Douglas to produce a session with The Monkees later that month.
Gathering together at RCA Hollywood on the morning of Monday, January 16, 1967, The Monkees conducted their first recording session under their own auspices. With Micky behind the drums, Davy on maracas and tambourine, Michael playing an electric 12-string guitar, and Peter handling bass, acoustic guitar, and harpsichord, the quartet tackled three songs that day. (John London, a friend of Michael's from Texas and his stand-in on The Monkees' TV show, played bass while Peter handled harpsichord duties.) The first song attempted was Baker Knight's "She So Far Out, She' In," which was performed live by The Monkees during their earliest concert performances and was later tracked during the sessions for the Headquarters album. (It was ultimately left unfinished.) The rest of the session was dedicated to songs that the group and Douglas hoped would make up both sides of the next Monkees single.
"All of Your Toys" was submitted to the group by one of Michael's friends from the pre-Monkees days, Bill Martin, and "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" was a Nesmith original. "We thought ['All of Your Toys'] was going to be a great single," said Chip Douglas. "That was when I first became involved. I got real excited about the song when Bill Martin showed it to me. I didn't realize at the time that it didn't have a chorus." Described by AllMusic critic Matthew Greenwald as "a whimsical ballad with some dark undertones," the song, despite its promise, went unheard for twenty years. Unfortunately for The Monkees and songwriter Martin, Screen Gems was unable to acquire the publishing rights to "All of Your Toys" from its original holder, Tickson Music, for which Martin worked. As a result, Screen Gems nixed the song for single release. This landmark Monkees recording languished in the vaults until 1987 when Rhino Records compiled an album of previously unreleased Monkees songs.
Sadly, Bill Martin, who went on to have a successful career in music, film, and television, passed away on January 27, 2016.
In the aftermath of the sessions that produced "All of Your Toys," Kirshner coaxed Davy to fly to New York and cut a few tracks with studio musicians. In a hardball move, Kirshner selected two songs from those sessions, Neil Diamond's "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" along with the first recorded version of "She Hangs Out," and issued them as a single in Canada in February, without the approval of The Monkees or Raybert. This power play resulted in Kirshner being fired and the single withdrawn. "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" reappeared as a single in March, supported by a new version of "The Girl I Knew Somewhere," this time with Micky on lead vocals as opposed to Michael.
The hurdles surrounding The Monkees when recording "All of Your Toys" were numerous. A war for control over their own music against a kingmaker like Don Kirshner, the pressure of recording a hit song at the moment their careers were skyrocketing, and a watchful press looking to expose The Monkees as musical frauds because of their non-traditional origins, makes the history and legacy of "All of Your Toys" that much more vital. Today, The Monkees Live Almanac celebrates it as the Song of the Day.
The Monkees performed "All of Your Toys" live in concert for the first time during their highly successful 45th Anniversary World Tour in 2011.
A stereo remix of the song was made available in 2007 on a 2-disc expanded edition of The Monkees' third album, 1967's Headquarters:
The master backing track for "All of Your Toys" was included on the 2001 Headquarters Sessions box set:
Andrew Sandoval's book, The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story of the '60s TV Pop Sensation,
was referenced and quoted for this article.