The July 15, 1967 issue of music industry trade magazine Cash Box featured an ad for The Monkees' double-sided smash single, "Pleasant Valley Sunday"/"Words":
Congratulations to Renny Simno on getting married last evening, and take a look at the groom's cake!
Last week, the Japanese label Oldays Records reissued The Monkees' classic fourth album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. on compact disc with bonus tracks. Read more about this release and take a look inside the package at Monkee45s:
On November 14, 1967, Colgems Records issued Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.:
Only a few seconds of video has ever surfaced for the clip filmed at Chicago's Fred Niles Studios (better known to Monkees fans as the Rainbow Room) for "Salesman," the lead-off track from The Monkees' fourth LP, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. Those shots, seen below, can be viewed in the second season episode "The Devil and Peter Tork."
I was hoping more footage had been unearthed for last year's Blu-ray set, but unfortunately, it seems nothing survives. The Rainbow Room sessions on August 2, 1967 were featured throughout many second season episodes, showcasing songs like "Randy Scouse Git," "Daydream Believer," "Pleasant Valley Sunday," "What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round?" and more.
Bill Martin's "The Door Into Summer" is one of many standout tracks on The Monkees' fourth album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. "The title came from the Robert Heinlein book The Door Into Summer, which was about time travel," Martin told Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval in the liner notes of the 1991 Listen to the Band box set. "The song is about the search for happiness, and is basically an anti-war song." Bill Martin also discussed the unique circumstances surrounding the recording of the song: "Micky tried singing it, and Mike tried it a couple of times also. They didn't like the echo at RCA, so they strung a mike from Studio A to the men's bathroom. Mike did his vocal in there to achieve the right effect."
The photo above was published in the Spring 2017 issue of Carmel Magazine and was denoted as being from Michael's personal collection. It seemingly shows Nez recording the vocal for "The Door Into Summer" in the men's room as Martin had recollected. (Michael's appearance also seems to match the August/September/October 1967 time frame in which the song was recorded.) However, in speaking with Andrew Sandoval about the story behind the photo, he neither confirmed nor rejected the idea that it was taken during the "Door" session, saying it was from Michael's archive and that he was unable to officially confirm its veracity.
An alternate mono mix of the song was made available on the 2007 deluxe edition of the Pisces album, which some believe features the men's room vocal take:
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.