I would like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season, and say thank you for your continued support of this website and blog. I'm sure we can all agree that we are looking forward with great anticipation to the New Year and the celebration of The Monkees' 50th Anniversary!
The photo above was utilized on a 5" x 7" fold-open Christmas card in 1967. Inside the card was the inscription "Let there be Peace on Earth and let it begin with me." According to Marty Eck's book, The Monkees Collectibles Price Guide, this card is believed not to have been mailed en masse and was only sent to a small group of people.
At the conclusion of the second season episode "The Christmas Show," which aired on December 25, 1967, The Monkees performed "Riu Chiu," a traditional Spanish carol dating from the 16th century.
An official studio version was recorded in October 1967, featuring Monkees producer Chip Douglas on vocals who was substituting for an absent Davy Jones. It went unreleased until 1990's Missing Links Volume Two.
It is likely that The Monkees learned the song from Douglas, who himself performed it with his former band The Modern Folk Quartet on their 1964 album Changes.
In a 2012 interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Peter Tork revealed his admiration for "Riu Chiu."
"I would say my favorite song we ever did was 'Riu Chiu.' It's an a cappella song, all in Spanish, that we did only once before TV cameras, and the harmony blend was perfect. It's totally crackerjack!"
From the booklet of The Headquarters Sessions, here's the original track listing for The Monkees' third LP, Headquarters. What do you think?
Note that the listing above includes the second recorded version of Michael's "The Girl I Knew Somewhere," which I've always felt should have been a part of Headquarters. It was also a Top 40 hit in early 1967 as the B-side of "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You."
This is the final track listing for the album as it was released on May 22, 1967:
These two songs come from A Beachwood Christmas, featuring Peter Tork, James Lee Stanley, and company.
Here is Peter's banjo rendition of "Angels We Have Heard on High":
This track, "I Remember Christmas," was written by Peter's brother, Nick. (FYI: These videos are mislabeled!)
When Headquarters was released on May 22, 1967, the album quickly soared to #1 on the charts, and then settled in comfortably at #2 for the rest of the Summer of Love while The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band stood at the top. Like Sgt. Pepper, no single was ever released from Headquarters (at least in the United States). However, other countries did see a single release from The Monkees' third LP, and Micky's "Randy Scouse Git" (renamed "Alternate Title" in England and elsewhere because of its dubious translation) was most often the choice. It peaked at #2 in the United Kindgom in July 1967, and made an impact on the charts in countries like Germany and Australia.
The songs from Headquarters, however, were afforded a wide exposure on The Monkees' television series. When first season episodes were aired in reruns during the summer of 1967, the original soundtracks were altered to feature selections from Headquarters. Later, episodes early in the second season also included "Randy Scouse Git," "No Time," and "Sunny Girlfriend." And perhaps most noteworthy, Peter Tork's composition, "For Pete's Sake," became the closing theme to the TV show during its second season.
Take a moment to vote in the Live Almanac's new poll (in the blog sidebar to the right), where fans are being asked to select two Headquarters tracks that would have made the best singles to represent the LP at radio. Think of it as choosing two A-sides for two different singles, and feel free to leave your opinions regarding your selections for the B-sides in the comments!
Micky's early 1970s singles, originally released on the MGM label, were recently collected for the first time ever courtesy of Iain Lee and Glenn Gretlund of 7a Records, both longtime Monkees fans and co-producers of Micky Dolenz - The MGM Singles Collection.
Released in the summer of 2015, the set (made available as a gatefold vinyl and digital download) featured the A and B-sides of Micky's tenure at MGM, including his collaboration with Michael Lloyd, dubbed Starship, that yielded the 1972 single "Johnny B. Goode"/"It's Amazing to Me." Micky placed his stamp of approval on the project, and conducted several interviews in support of it. "It's really a great package," Micky told Examiner.com. "Over the years, I've had versions of those songs, one on a tape here, on a disc here, on a demo here," he said. "It's nice to have them all in one package."
Despite the lack of chart success for Micky's output during this era, the tracks are remarkably diverse and have stood the test of time. In the most recent Live Almanac poll, fans were asked to choose their two favorite songs from the collection, and "Oh Someone" took top honors. Written by Monkees associate (and Davy's stand-in on the TV show) David Price, the song is notable as the first collaboration between Micky and Peter since Peter left The Monkees in late 1968. Coincidentally, "Oh Someone" came together after a chance encounter Price had with Peter in 1971. The superb liner notes of the MGM Singles Collection, written by Mark Kleiner Biggar, elaborated on the meeting. "I was walking down the street in Hollywood when I looked up and there was Peter," said Price. "We hadn't seen each other in a while, and he said, 'I'm recording up at Micky's; why don't you come up?'" The song took a few hours to record, and featured Price on rhythm guitar, Peter on bass, and Micky behind the drums. A scorching lead guitar part by Price's friend B.J. Jones finished off the proceedings.
"Daybreak" was composed by Micky's close friend, Harry Nilsson. Nilsson, of course, had contributed "Cuddly Toy" and "Daddy's Song" to The Monkees years before, and both he and Micky were members of the infamous late night Los Angeles party group The Hollywood Vampires in the early 1970s. "Daybreak" featured former Monkees producer Chip Douglas on bass, who also compiled a video for the song that ultimately was not circulated at the time of the single's release in 1973. It surfaced on YouTube this past summer via Iain Lee as a promotional vehicle for the MGM Singles Collection.
You can order Micky Dolenz - The MGM Singles Collection on a couple of different formats. The gatefold vinyl LP is available on Amazon UK and via Amazon in the United States. The vinyl is also for sale (at a great price) through online retailer Ernie B's. You can also download it digitally on both Amazon and iTunes, with bonus tracks. And even better news, the MGM Singles Collection is slated for release on compact disc in the future!
The latest project from 7a Records showcases Bobby Hart's first solo album, which is also now available.
Can you spot both Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper in the clip from Head below?
This photo and holiday message was originally published in the December 1968 issue of Monkees Monthly.
The image on the right was used as a Christmas postcard to members of the Monkees fan club in 1967. Marty Eck, who published The Monkees Collectibles Price Guide in the late '90s, described the postcard:
Recently on Twitter, XTC's Andy Partridge and Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval have had exchanges about Andy writing a song for The Monkees. After doing a little research online, I found a 2006 interview with Andy where he talked about the impact The Monkees had on him, and a contest he won through Monkees Monthly.
"Aha! The Monkees. Important for me, as they further compounded the 'Hard Days Help' ethos, where groups live together in a kooky house, have adventures and get girls without trying. This sucker was reeled in. Two friends of mine, Steve Warren and Brian Foster, seemed plugged into the mainline of their favourite bands by getting Beatles Monthly and The Rolling Stones Book respectively. These were pocket-sized magazines full of photos and fan news. I should therefore take Monkees Monthly. Now, this august periodical held a drawing competition with the princely sum of £10 as a prize. I could draw, I loved to caricature and if I could win that money perhaps I could get a better tape recorder to capture my early musical fumblings."
"Bloody flip! There it was in issue 23, December 1968. My scruffy, scratchy cartoon of Micky Dolenz (the easiest one to draw) had won, along with four others, £10. I think we got hold of that second hand Grundig for about £21. My dad generously helped me with the extra cash. It was so heavy and chunky with smooth ivory coloured push buttons and a funny optical eye device which I never knew what it's purpose was. Something about the amount of tape left on the reel?"
Partridge talked about The Monkees with Guitar Player in 1992:
"I have a very split background." One half of me wanted to be in The Monkees, and use the guitar as a fishing rod to get girls out of the water, go back to the group house where we all lived together, wear the group uniform, have the group haircut. I used to do everything I could — and I was pretty passable — to look like Peter Tork. I had the haircut, and from my mother's mail-order catalog, I got a shirt with a double-breasted panel and the hipsters with the big, wide plastic belt. I was living the image in 1967 and 1968."
He also discussed the growth in his musical tastes, while always wanting to stay rooted in the style of The Monkees:
"...I was trying to learn from the pop technicians, the Jimi Hendrixes, the Jimmy Pages, the Rory Gallaghers, mixed in suddenly with this enormous dollop of melodic jazz scribbling, and I was trying to fashion songs out of it that wouldn't go amiss in The Monkees. XTC came out of that eventually."
Here's Andy with XTC performing "Senses Working Overtime" (which happens to be my favorite XTC track) on a Dutch TV show in 1982.
And just last year, Partridge gave a shout-out to Micky Dolenz on Twitter:
"It was Micky who inadvertently and unknowingly gave me a big leg up with my dreams
of being a pop god."
He also revealed his favorite Monkees song: