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Also, PISCES, AQUARIUS, CAPRICORN & JONES LTD. -Ian!

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.

This disc contains songs and snippets of dialogue from the Monkees’ full-length feature film of the same name. Although their Emmy-winning television program had been cancelled in the spring of 1968, the quartet quickly regrouped and, with the assistance of budding actor/director Jack Nicholson, created a 90-minute surreal cinematic experience — replete with matching soundtrack. Without question, both the movie and album are the most adventurous and in many ways most fulfilling undertaking to have been born of the Monkees’ multimedia manufactured project. The music featured on both the screen as well as this album is a long strange trip from the Farfisa-driven bubblegum anthem “I’m a Believer.” Perhaps even more telling is that Head became the first Monkees long-player not to include a Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart composition. As such, the talents of each member are uniquely showcased — especially those of Peter Tork, whose contributions were previously too few and far between. Ironically, his acid rocker “Long Title: Do I Have to Do This All Over Again” and Eastern-flavored “Can You Dig It?” are not only among the best of the six original compositions on the soundtrack, but also among his finest Monkees offerings, period. Other notable tracks include Micky Dolenz’s vocals on two Carole King works: the ethereal “Porpoise Song,” which was co-authored by Gerry Goffin, and the Toni Stern collaboration on the pastoral “As We Go Along.” The 1994 CD reissue includes six “bonus selections.” Primary among them are the live version of Michael Nesmith’s balls-to-the-wall rocker “Circle Sky” — which highlights the self-contained quartet at its most incendiary — and an unissued version of the Harry Nilsson-penned “Daddy’s Song,” featuring an alternate lead vocal from Nesmith rather than Davy Jones.

-Tim Sendra, allmusic.com

DOWNLOAD:
The Monkees-HEADQUARTERS (1967)
The Monkees-HEAD (1968)
320kbps

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