Once Upon a Time in the Top Spot: The Monkees, Headquarters
48 years ago today, Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork found themselves atop the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart for the third time in less than a year, but this time it mattered more than the other two occasions combined. Why? Because this time The Monkees played their own instruments, by gum.
When a band comes into existence with the aid of a television studio, it should come as no real surprise when said band tends to be at the mercy of that studio, but you can imagine the frustration such a situation would cause with the band members, particularly when those members have proven ability as musicians. It wasn’t an easy battle for The Monkees to win, but in early 1967, the guys made their way into the RCA Music Center of the World Studios on Sunset Boulevard and, in no time at all, they had come up with an album which they viewed as a real game-changer.
Headquarters was definitely a great album, but a game-changer? Well, maybe, but certainly not from a commercial standpoint. Yes, it turned a number of heads and made more than a few non-believers realize that there was more to The Monkees than just the prefabricated pop group they’d heretofore perceived them to be. Yes, it also set a precedent which led them into Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., which many have argued is the best album in the entire Monkees catalog. But from a commercial standpoint, the guys were finding themselves drifting downward: the first two albums went platinum five times over, the second two only went double platinum, and…well, let’s just say that the trend continued from there.
Creatively speaking, though, the opportunity to play their own instruments and contribute creatively to their albums in a more substantial way truly brought out the best in The Monkees.
Don’t believe us? Just listen.