The Monkees – Headquarters (1967)

Headquarters is the third album issued by the Monkees and the first with substantial songwriting and instrumental performances by members of the group itself, rather than by session musicians and professional songwriters. After a struggle for creative autonomy with their record label, the group had been allowed, to a degree, to record by themselves. Headquarters reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and was certified double platinum in the United States with sales of more than two million copies within the first two months of release. It peaked at No. 2 on the UK charts.

Track Listing

Side 1
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. “You Told Me” (Michael Nesmith) Michael Nesmith 2:25
2. “I’ll Spend My Life with You” (Tommy Boyce / Bobby Hart) Micky Dolenz 2:26
3. “Forget That Girl” (Douglas Farthing Hatlelid) Davy Jones 2:25
4. “Band 6” (Micky Dolenz / Davy Jones / Nesmith / Peter Tork) N/A (Instrumental) 0:41
5. “You Just May Be the One” (Nesmith) Michael Nesmith 2:03
6. “Shades of Gray” (Barry Mann / Cynthia Weil) Davy Jones, Peter Tork 3:22
7. “I Can’t Get Her Off My Mind” (Boyce / Hart) Davy Jones 2:27
Side 2
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. “For Pete’s Sake” (Tork / Joey Richards) Micky Dolenz 2:11
2. “Mr. Webster” (Boyce / Hart) Micky Dolenz 2:05
3. “Sunny Girlfriend” (Nesmith) Michael Nesmith 2:33
4. “Zilch” (Dolenz / Jones / Nesmith / Tork) Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork 1:06
5. “No Time” (Hank Cicalo) Micky Dolenz 2:08
6. “Early Morning Blues and Greens” (Diane Hildebrand / Jack Keller) Davy Jones 2:35
7. “Randy Scouse Git” (Dolenz) Micky Dolenz 2:40

AllMusic Review: After the release of More of the Monkees, on which the band had little involvement beyond providing vocals and a couple Mike Nesmith-composed songs, the pre-fab four decided to take control of their recording destiny. After a well-timed fist through the wall of a hotel suite and many fevered negotiations, music supervisor Don Kirschner was out and the band hit the studio by themselves. With the help of producer Chip Douglas, the band spent some time learning how to be a band (as documented on the Headquarters Sessions box set) and set about recording what turned out to be a dynamic, exciting, and impressive album. Headquarters doesn’t contain any of the group’s biggest hits, but it does have some of their best songs, like Nesmith’s stirring folk-rocker “You Just May Be the One,” the pummeling rocker “No Time,” the MOR soul ballad “Forget That Girl,” which features one of Davy Jones’ best vocals, Peter Tork’s shining moment as a songwriter, “For Pete’s Sake,” and the thoroughly amazing (and surprisingly political) “Randy Scouse Git,” which showed just how truly out-there and almost avant-garde Micky Dolenz could be when he tried. Even the weaker songs like the sweet-as-sugar “I’ll Spend My Life with You,” the slightly sappy “Shades of Gray,” or the stereotypically showtune-y Davy Jones vehicle “I Can’t Get Her Off My Mind” work, as they benefit from the stripped-down and inventive arrangements (which feature simple but effective keyboards from Tork and rudimentary pedal steel fills from Nesmith) and passionate performances. Headquarters doesn’t show the band to be musical geniuses, but it did prove they were legitimate musicians with enough brains, heart, and soul as anyone else claiming to be a real band in 1967. [Rhino’s 1995 reissue adds six previously unissued tracks recorded during the Headquarters sessions including an early take of the single “The Girl I Knew Somewhere” and rare demos “Nine Times Blue” and “Pillow Time.”] — Tim Sendra

Schill Score: 7/10


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