Thanks a lot to Peter Mills for sharing this vintage review of The Monkees' fourth album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. And if you haven't already, make sure to check out Peter's excellent book, The Monkees, Head, and The '60s.
The Monkees filmed two unique segments that were featured on various episodes during the second season, highlighting two key tracks from Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. - Daily Nightly" and "Star Collector."
UPDATED @ 8pm EST: A great show by Andrew, and be sure to listen to Barry Mann's demo for "Love Is Only Sleeping" (at 5:26), a song The Monkees recorded in 1967, and appearing on their fourth LP, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.
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.
Thanks to Jennifer Winkle for these pictures from the final show on The Monkees' 2012 tour at New York City's Beacon Theatre on December 2, 2012.
Craig Smith wrote "Salesman," the opening track on The Monkees' fourth album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. Smith was a friend of Michael Nesmith's and a member of The Penny Arkade, a group Nesmith produced in the recording studio. Nez talked about the Arkade and "Salesman" with Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval: "I really liked the way they sang," he said in the liner notes of Rhino's 1995 compact disc release of the LP. "I was drawn to record 'Salesman' because it reminded me of Sir Douglas and the Tex-Mex oompah."
The song was later used to great effect in the second season episode "The Devil and Peter Tork," but not before stirring controversy at NBC. The January 1968 issue of Hit Parader reported that the episode had been rejected by the network because of the inclusion of "Salesman," which was thought to have been about drug use. "NBC said we're not putting that song out," Peter Tork recalled in Sandoval's book, The Monkees: The Day-by-Day Story of the '60s TV Pop Sensation. "They said, 'Because "Salesman's" got drug references in it.' In fact, it sort of does, but it's not direct and it's not approving by any stretch of the imagination. What it really says is, 'Salesmen are so sleazy, they'll sell anything.'"
By the time the episode aired on February 5, 1968, the song remained in the final cut of the show. Ultimately, Bert Schneider, one half of Raybert Productions that created The Monkees series, was convinced that the network's real problem was the use of the word 'hell' throughout the episode. Peter agreed with this assessment. "Bert felt that they didn't want to put the show on because they were pissed off directly and personally at having their idea of what's right and wrong challenged. They said it was centered on 'Salesman,' but he thought it was a red herring."
Shortly after experiencing success with "Salesman," Craig Smith fell on hard times by the 1970s. Abusing drugs and dropping out of society, Smith's life spiraled alarmingly. He's been the subject of writers previously, and now author Mike Stax has delved into his life in a new book, which was released last fall.
Here's a highlight from the Live Almanac's YouTube channel: a live version of "Salesman," a track from The Monkees' fourth LP, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. It was most likely recorded during one of the shows at Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan on October 3 or 4, 1968. One of the concerts in Tokyo was filmed and later aired on Japanese television, complete with Japanese overdubs introducing each song.
Mike Nesmith: lead vocal/guitar; Micky Dolenz: drums/backing vocals; Davy Jones: bass; Peter Tork: keyboards
I wrote about this a couple of years ago, but thought it was worth revisiting. The photograph above, taken by Bernard Yeszin, inspired the cover art for the Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. album in 1967. Andrew Sandoval wrote the following in the liner notes of the Pisces deluxe edition in 2007:
When cover artist Bernard Yeszin came to illustrate The Monkees’ fourth album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., he took a brave step. The group would be drawn in silhouette only, with just their respective astrological signs hinting at their identities. “The Monkees were so popular and so hot at the time,” says Yeszin of the concept, “that I could do just about anything that reminded you of The Monkees. I could do an album cover and just show their outline and people would identify them. People would know they were The Monkees.
Here's "Cuddly Toy" live in Japan in 1968:
And check out this version of "Cuddly Toy" by Ben Gibbard (who composed "Me & Magdalena" for The Monkees' new album, Good Times!) and Zooey Deschanel.
A big thanks to Rosemary Reedman who submitted this interview with Michael Nesmith that was published in the summer of 1967 in the British music magazine New Musical Express. Nez discusses the recording of The Monkees' fourth album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. (along with his idea on what the cover of the LP should look like), The Beatles, the L.A. and London pop scenes, and much more.
In his book, Andrew Sandoval writes that Michael's conversation with Keith Altham likely took place on June 23, 1967 as the The Monkees prepared to depart for Paris, France. For easier reading, click each image to enlarge.
Eddie Hoh was a session drummer for The Monkees throughout the late 1960s, most famously contributing to the Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. album and such singles as "Daydream Believer" and "Goin' Down." Sadly, Eddie passed away in November 2015.
WGN Radio in Chicago takes a look back at the life and career of Eddie Hoh:
Bill Martin, an extended member of the Monkees family, has passed away. Martin was a musician, songwriter, screenwriter, comedic actor, and voice actor.
Brought into The Monkees' orbit by his friend Michael Nesmith, Martin's initial contribution to the group came in the form of "All of Your Toys," a song recorded in early 1967 during the very first sessions to feature The Monkees supporting themselves instrumentally in the recording studio. Unfortunately for Martin, Screen Gems was unable to acquire the rights to "All of Your Toys" from its original holder, Tickson Music, for which Martin worked. "All of Your Toys" remained unreleased until it was finally aired on the Missing Links compilation in 1987. After Martin eventually signed with Screen Gems, The Monkees recorded another of his compositions, "The Door Into Summer," which found a home on 1967's Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. album and stands today as one of the LP's finest cuts. Martin later collaborated on songs with an assortment of artists, including Harry Nilsson ("Rainmaker," covered by Michael on his third solo effort, Nevada Fighter), Dan Fogelberg, and The Turtles. He also performed with a variety of bands throughout his career, including playing keyboards for Linda Ronstadt.
In the early '80s, Bill appeared in Nesmith's Elephant Parts and then co-wrote the screenplay to the 1987 movie Harry and The Hendersons (with Steven Spielberg as executive producer). In 1997, he made a cameo appearance in The Monkees' ABC television special (as the refrigerator tour guide). Martin lent his voice to various animated series throughout the years, too, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, and multiple Star Wars video games.
When The Monkees played in Seattle, Washington on their 2013 summer tour, Michael dedicated that evening's performance of "The Door Into Summer" to Bill.
In 1989, Martin was interviewed by Paris Stachtiaris and John Di Maio on the Headquarters radio program:
Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval took a moment to remember Bill Martin on Facebook:
"Davy Jones used to like to go around quoting his favorite Martinism: 'Hummus where the heart is.'
All four Monkees loved him..."
Take note of the announcement of the 'new single,' "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You"/"She Hangs Out." This single (released only in Canada, briefly), was scrapped after musical supervisor Don Kirshner was fired. The resultant 45, "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You," backed with Michael's own "The Girl I Knew Somewhere," arrived in record shops in March 1967.
The original version of "She Hangs Out" (produced by Jeff Barry under Kirshner's reign) differed greatly from the one that appeared on The Monkees' fourth album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.
The Pisces version featured The Monkees on the backing track and was produced by Chip Douglas:
Eddie Hoh made his name in the music industry in the 1960s as a noted studio session drummer. Born in Forest Park, Illinois on October 16, 1944, Eddie got his start playing on the Los Angeles club circuit in 1964. He eventually joined forces with the Modern Folk Quartet in 1965, a group that included future Monkees producer Chip Douglas and legendary rock/Monkees photographer Henry Diltz. During this period, Eddie participated in the recording of "This Could Be the Night," written by Harry Nilsson and Phil Spector (and produced by Spector).
By 1966, Eddie was drumming on albums for such artists like Donovan, and by the Summer of Love, Eddie was part of the touring group for The Mamas and The Papas, appearing live onstage with the band at the Monterey Pop Festival. He began working with The Monkees as their studio drummer in the summer of 1967 after Micky Dolenz decided he was no longer going to sit behind the kit after recording the group's third LP, Headquarters.
Eddie can be heard on most of The Monkees' fourth album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. (except on "Hard to Believe" which features Kim Capli on drums, and "Cuddly Toy," which features Micky). The album's single, "Pleasant Valley Sunday," is a highlight of Eddie's recorded work with The Monkees, along with being one of the group's most recognized songs.
Micky Dolenz recalled Fast Eddie in a 2011 interview with Modern Drummer. "Yes, he was pretty cool. He was fast, alright, I’ll tell ya! Eddie was also a good friend who came over to my house frequently to party."
Micky and Eddie share drumming duties on the Pisces standout track "The Door Into Summer."
Most likely because of his previous friendship with Chip Douglas, Eddie quickly became immersed in the studio with The Monkees, playing on "Daydream Believer," "Goin' Down," "Zor and Zam," the studio take of "Circle Sky," and the extended drum-heavy ending of "Star Collector."
In 1968, Eddie performed on one of the seminal rock albums of the late '60s, Super Session, a collaboration between Al Kooper, Mike Bloomfield, and Stephen Stills. It produced the underground classic, "Season of the Witch," written (and originally recorded by) Donovan. Eddie was the drummer on both versions of the song.
Eddie continued to participate in Monkees recording sessions through 1969, drumming on tracks like "Oklahoma Backroom Dancer," "While I Cry," "Auntie's Municipal Court," and "Writing Wrongs."
And check out this alternate mix of "Tapioca Tundra" where Eddie lives up to his nickname:
After working with various other artists throughout the late 1960s, Eddie apparently stopped recording and performing. Chip Douglas, in a 2015 interview with this website, did confirm that Eddie played drums on the 1976 Monkees Christmas single, "Christmas Is My Time of Year." But a 2006 biography in Great Rock Drummers of the Sixties noted that he "reportedly has been out of the music business for some time, down on his luck." A Facebook page dedicated to Eddie was created earlier this year, and members of the Steve Hoffman Music Forums have been discussing his work for quite a while now.
Eddie Hoh passed away on November 7, 2015. He was 71.
For additional reading, please visit Ultimate Classic Rock's remembrance of the late Eddie Hoh.