Color me old.
I know I’ve said in the past that I was going to try and stay away from excessive anniversary posts … “and here I go again” (just a nod and a wink to today’s post – Monkees fans will get it).
Yesterday, May 22, was the 55th anniversary of The Monkees seminal album “Headquarters”.
It just seemed to me that the double nickel anniversary of one of my all-time favorite records couldn’t go past without some kind of special mention from me. Okay seeing as today is May 23rd I may have missed the exact anniversary by a day but nonetheless here we are.
As I’ve said many time before on this blog the “Headquarters” album may be my favorite album by The Monkees. This 1967 album was the first time that the make-believe television creation actually morphed into a real pop/rock group.
The “Headquarters” album was the first time that the four group members/actors who comprised the TV show cast of “The Monkees” were allowed to play all of the instruments (errr, well mostly all) on a full Monkees album.
The previous two Monkees albums (“The Monkees” and “More of the Monkees”) featured scant instrumental work featuring one or two group members and mainly used session players with vocals provided by the four Monkees.
This method of working did produce some exceptional pop records and while the results speak for themselves (the first two Monkees albums sold over 5 million copies each!) there was some kind of magic that happened when the group took over the reigns and actually became The Monkees for real.
Now of course there’s no way you can compare the playing of the four Monkees to the exceptional chops of the session players who played on the first two Monkees albums. By comparison the actual four Monkees sounded more like a very good garage band with a lot of spirit.
But here’s the magical thing. This “garage band” and amateur sounding Monkees not only hold up damn well to the studio pros but the excitement and energy the group generated made the “Headquarters” album just as fun, more fun in fact, to listen to as the first two albums.
It also didn’t hurt that group members Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz provided quite a few self-composed songs on the album that were first-rate pop songs which were as good as many of the songs on their first records – the giant hits withstanding.
There’s just an energy and a feeling of freedom as well as an adventurous to the songs and performances on the “Headquarters” album that really makes it come alive in a way the first two records didn’t in comparison. Plus there’s something about the rough garage band quality of the “Headquarters” Monkees that matches the on-screen Monkees perfectly.
Of course the on-screen Monkees were a band struggling to be The Beatles who quite never seemed to make it in the music industry. A band like that would probably sound less polished and less slick than The Monkees of their first two mega-selling albums.
All one has to do is watch of the rerun version of an early Monkees episode entitled “Royal Flush”. In the 1967 summer rerun version of this episode the 1966 song “This Just Doesn’t Seem to Be My Day” is replaced with the song “You Told Me” from the then current “Headquarters” album.
While I love the song “This Just Doesn’t Seem to Be My Day” there’s an energy and excitement that the song “You Told Me” injects into the romp from this episode that makes that rerun version my preferred way of seeing the “Royal Flush” episode.
To me The Monkees of “Headquarters” are much better suited to the on-screen Monkees and as far as the show is concerned make a much better match for the fictional garage band then the super slick studio Monkees.
Of course both versions of The Monkees are great but there’s an extra magic present in the “Headquarters” Monkees and really this version of the group fits the TV show much better and would have made a better choice for the TV show if the goal was about striving for the better show vs striving for the hit record.
Enough said. There’s my two cents about the “Headquarters” album.
Today in honor of the albums 55th anniversary I thought I’d share a few of the different versions of the “Headquarters” album that I own on vinyl as well as CD.
(Note: this isn’t even all the versions I own of the “Headquarters” album – seriously, I know – but these are some of the favorite ones from my collection)
So today we have the following versions – see photos above and below:
- An RCA original stereo German vinyl pressing
- A stereo “Beards” RE second vinyl pressing that came out I’m guessing in late 1968 (still in the shrink wrap no less)
- A Japanese Arista CD issue from around 1992 with a groovy uniquely-colored back cover (this Arista version features the album completely remixed from the multi-tracks like the 1987 US CD version)
- The original Rhino 1994 CD release with bonus tracks plus hype sticker and card
- A Rhino CD release from around 2011 with no bonus tracks but with the small hype sticker
- A Friday Music 2 CD Deluxe Edition which is Friday Music’s reissue of the Rhino 2 CD Deluxe Edition which contains a ton of outtakes and rarities from the “Headquarters” sessions
Plus as an extra bonus I threw in a photo of my lithograph of the “Headquarters” album signed by all four Monkees that was offered via mail order for a brief time by Rhino Records in 1996.
Well there you have it. Just my little tribute to The Monkees “Headquarters” album on its 55th anniversary.
That’s all for now.
Until next time be safe and well and see you soon and listen to some Monkees!