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 The Monkees

American/British Pop Group

Studio Albums

The Monkees (1966)

More of the Monkees (1967)

Headquarters (1967)

Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones Ltd (1967)

The Birds, the Bees and the Monkees (1968)

Head (1968)

Instant Replay (1969)

The Monkees Present (1969)

Changes (1970)

Pool It (1987)

Just Us (1996)

 

 

The Monkees

More of the Monkees  (1967) - 5.5

She (Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart), When Love Comes Knockin (At Your Door) (Carole Bayer Sager, Neil Sedaka), Mary, Mary (Michael Nesmith),  Hold On Girl (Carr/Keller/Raleigh), Your Auntie Grizelda (Diane Hildebrand, Jack Keller), (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone (Boyce Hart), Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow) (Neil Diamond), The Kind of Girl I Could Love (Nesmith/Atkins), The Day We Fall In Love (Linzer/Randall), Sometime In The Morning (Gerry Goffin, Carole King), Laugh (Margo/Margo/Medress/Siegel), I'm a Believer (Neil Diamond)

There is something of a rough charm about this album which seems to be an amalgam of songwriting talent thrown together at times in a rather haphazard way. Some of the big guns were wheeled out to help the Monkees who were limited once again mainly to vocals.

There is an underlying tension in the album with musical supervisor Don Kirshner exhibiting a control over proceedings that led Mike Nesmith to label it "The Worst Album in the History of the World." It may not be a great album but it certainly doesn't deserve that title. At times patchy, it does manage to mix early r and b with more jaunty tunes that made the group famous. With Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Neil Sedaka and Neil Diamond penning songs, it was always going to be a massively high selling album and so it turned out. At times it leans towards Merseybeat with Davy Jones' vocals giving a decided Brit feel to it. On other occasions there is more of a nodding acquaintance with West Coast pop and the likes of the Byrds.

The Day we Fall in Love and Auntie Grizelda are at times embarrassing but there is enough here in the shape of classic songs like I'm A Believer to keep the interest going.

Headquarters  (1967) - 6.5

You Told Me (Nesmith), I'll Spend My Life With You (Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart), Forget That Girl (Douglas Farthing-Hatlelid), Band 6 (Jones, Nesmith, Tork, Dolenz), You Just May Be The One (Nesmith), Shades of Gray (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil), I Can't Get Her Off Of My Mind (Boyce, Hart), For Pete's Sake (Tork, Joey Richards), 2 Mr. Webster (Boyce, Hart), Sunny Girlfriend (Nesmith), Zilch (Jones, Nesmith, Tork, Dolenz), No Time (Hank Cicalo), Early Morning Blues and Greens (Diane Hilderbrand, Jack Keller), Randy Scouse Git (Dolenz)

So just when you gain musical control of a project and release an album which goes straight to number one, the Beatles come along a week later with Sergeant Pepper. This was nevertheless a landmark album as the band recorded by themselves and went in the direction they desired. Fourteen tracks in just 30 minutes give a good idea of what is happening - good and very short pop songs.

The band step out from the shadows in songwriting terms as well and that makes this a much more grown-up album. There are a few highlights on the album. The Mann/Weil song "Shades of Gray" is a lovely song with a fine classical background and Abba-esque vocals. Mike Nesmith comes to the songwriting fore with three solo songs and a hand in two others and this helps to illustrate a band evolving. His songs almost have a Crosby/Stills feel about them and arguably Headquarters has more of a West Coast sensibility than the previous albums. This is particularly the case with "You Just May Be The One." There is also an interesting weirdness to the project with strange offerings such as "Band 6" and the spoken round "Zilch." Highlight of course is Dolenz' "Randy Scouse Git" which later morphed into "Alternate Title."

Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd (1967) - 5

Salesman (Craig Smith), She Hangs Out (Jeff Barry), The Door into Summer (Chip Douglas, Bill Martin), Love is Only Sleeping (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil), Cuddly Toy (Harry Nilsson),  Words (Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart),  Hard To Believe (Davy Jones, Kim Capli, Charlie Roberts),  What Am I Doing Hangin' Round?( Travis Lewis, Boomer Clark) Peter Percival Patterson's Pet Pig Porky (Peter Tork),  Pleasant Valley Sunday (Gery Goffin, Carole King),  Daily Nightly (Michael Nesmith),  Don't Call On Me (Michael Nesmith, John London),  Star Collector (Goffin, King)

The Monkees called upon some help from friends for this, their fourth studio in two years and again it fuses together a British and American feel with more idiosyncratic songs that by now had become something of a signature for the band.

There's more than a little nod to psychedelia on "Daily, Nightly" and once again Mike Nesmith shows himself as arguably the most accomplished songwriter in the band with that track and "Don't Call on Me." Overall it's a mixture of pop sensibility, ballads and more weirdness. On the down side the band seem to be pushing themselves into a corner where further development looks a few light years away.