Their first album where they played their own instruments, more or less…this also features the delicious talents of Turtles bassist and arranger Chip Douglas. This album is a great mix of garage, bubblegum and polish. This is quality POP, no question about it.
I tend to judge a Monkees album on the quality of the Davy Jones songs because they tend to be the worst. “Shades Of Grey” passes the test. I guess this was their “As Time Goes By” and frankly I like this better. “I Can’t Get Her Off Of My Mind” is another story – pedestrian schlock, say no more. Worst ending to an album side ever – they should have flew in “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” – a favorite single track since I was a wee lad.
Songwriting is top-notch all around, but of course Mike brings the best songs to the table – “You Told Me” and the remarkable “You Just May Be The One.” Sadly, Mike does not feature until the middle of side two with “Sunny Girlfriend” but here is the greatness about this album – the second side is fantastic…starting with the familiar “For Pete’s Sake” aka the song they played on the closing credits on the show and into the dreamy and sad “Mr Webster” (a highlight for Mickey). The aforementioned “Sunny Girlfriend” which ends on an outright Stones quote and then next is the experimental spoken “Zilch.” “No Time” which starts off like a “Slow Down” Beatles rip picks it up a little until we end with a great mellow jazzy Davy tune “Early Morning Blues & Greens” and then a personal favorite in “Randy Scouse Git.”
I experienced the Monkees phenomenon twice in my life – once as a kid watching reruns on TV and again as a twentysomething during the revival in the 80’s (which to my ears was also part of my own general 60’s pop/garage discovery which saw the rise of Rhino records and all those Pebbles/Rubble/Nuggets comps I couldn’t get enough of).
I think I may need to revisit Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. too because “I Can’t Get Her Off Of My Mind” certainly blows the momentum here and in hindsight Pisces may be the better album but Headquarters still has nowhere the same amount of filler as most of their other albums before and after, (for the record, I need to revisit Head too – the film and the album).
I should necessarily add that the inclusion of 20 additional tracks and/or a replay of the entire album in mono – while cool and all – definitely dilutes the power of what was once a 30-minute release. While I understand the “value added” most of the time extra tracks should be on another disk entirely and sequenced uniquely. The special place that a “last song” has is greatly diminished when followed up by scraps and minutia or even great single tracks.