"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 true group recording session. 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 for consideration 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 untraditional 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.
And then there's the great story of the artwork behind Peter in these photographs from Harold Bronson's book, Hey, Hey, We're The Monkees:
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:
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!
Version One, recorded in July 1966 and produced by Nez, showcased ace session players like James Burton, Glen Campbell, and Hal Blaine. Peter is also featured in the mix, playing guitar. This version was only heard on the TV show during the first season, and didn't see an official release until 1990's Missing Links, Volume 2.
The second version, from the group's third LP, Headquarters, features The Monkees on the backing track and was produced by Chip Douglas.
Micky, Davy, and Michael performed Michael's song "Nine Times Blue" live during an appearance on The Johnny Cash Show in the summer of 1969.
Several different attempts were made recording the song, and each of them remained in the vault until years later. There's a version featuring Davy Jones singing the lead vocal (accompanied by Michael on acoustic guitar), recorded during sessions for The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees in early 1968:
Michael also tackled the song around the same time. Both of these attempts remained unreleased until the 2010 Rhino Handmade deluxe box set of the Birds album.
In the summer of 1968, Nez released his first solo album The Wichita Train Whistle Sings, an all-orchestral affair that included an instrumental take on "Nine Times Blue."
Nez actually demoed "Nine Times Blue" while recording Headquarters in early 1967:
Michael revisited the song once again in April 1968, accompanied by Red Rhodes on pedal steel and Chip Douglas on bass. It was this version that first saw the light of day on the 1987 compilation Missing Links:
Michael recorded "Nine Times Blue" once more in 1970, and it was featured on his initial solo album with The First National Band, Magnetic South.
More footage from this past weekend's special online show!
This is a fun and interesting listen. Hear the backing tracks for "Randy Scouse Git," "Pleasant Valley Sunday," "Love Is Only Sleeping" (early mix), "Papa Gene's Blues," "For Pete's Sake," "I'm a Believer," "You Just May Be the One," "Daydream Believer," "Sunny Girlfriend," "All of Your Toys," "We Were Made For Each Other" (Chip Douglas alternate version), "No Time," "Gonna Buy Me a Dog," and "Porpoise Song."
Last Friday evening, Micky and Peter debuted their new concert show in Palm Springs, California. "I'll Spend My Life With You" and "Tear The Top Right Off My Head" made their live Monkees concert debuts.
"I'll Spend My Life With You"
This song, long a favorite of Peter's, was written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. The Monkees recorded the track for their third album, Headquarters.
"I'll Spend My Life With You" was first put to tape during sessions for More of The Monkees, but this version remained unreleased until 1991's Listen to the Band box set:
"Tear The Top Right Off My Head"
One of several songs Peter wrote and recorded during sessions for The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees, "Tear The Top Right Off My Head" was relegated to the vaults in the late '60s, finally receiving an official release in 1991. I've always thought this track should have made the cut for the Birds LP.
"Tear The Top" was first previewed on the second season episode, "Hitting the High Seas."
Chip Douglas is fondly remembered by Monkees fans as the producer of the group's two most acclaimed albums, Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., along with some of their best single sides, including "Daydream Believer," "Goin' Down," "Pleasant Valley Sunday," "Words," and "The Girl I Knew Somewhere."
Chip was a noted musician even before Michael Nesmith approached him about taking over the production reigns for The Monkees after the dismissal of Don Kirshner. As a member of the Modern Folk Quartet and then later briefly with the Gene Clark Group, Douglas subsequently joined The Turtles, performing on and arranging their classic 1967 track, "Happy Together."
In this exclusive interview for the Live Almanac conducted by British broadcaster and longtime Monkees fan Iain Lee, Chip broaches a wide range of topics in relation to his history with the group. When formulating the questions, it was my goal to move beyond discussion of the Headquarters era, which has been chronicled in great detail. As a result, Iain gets Chip to talk about the inspiration behind his song "Steam Engine" and the expensive recording sessions that surrounded it, as well as his memories of "Today" and "I'm a Man," two tracks recorded during his tenure with The Monkees that never received a proper vocal. The 1976 Dolenz/Jones/Tork Christmas single, working with Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz in the early 1970s, Michael Nesmith's recording sessions, Peter Tork's reaction to Chip's role as Monkees producer, and much more are covered throughout the 30 minute conversation.
This interview has been in the planning stages since the summer of 2013, and I'm pleased that we are finally able to present it here on the Live Almanac's blog. I'd like to thank both Chie Hama, who played a key role in getting us in touch with Chip, and Iain for taking the time from his busy schedule to conduct the interview. And of course, thanks to Chip Douglas for being accessible to the fans and for all of his contributions to The Monkees and their recorded output.
Iain is currently working on another Monkees-related release, Micky Dolenz: The MGM Singles Collection, highlighting Micky's early 1970s solo singles. Be sure to check out the Facebook page for that project.
Enjoy the interview!