January 07, 2008
I grew up in the mythical sixties with two older brothers. The age span was fairly significant: They were six and nine years older than me. As a result, they had a profound influence on me, from clothes (literally in the case of hand-me-downs) to hairstyles to (perhaps most importantly) music.
Somehow my brothers were able to share their vast record collection, a feat of brotherly love rarely achieved by any siblings (I believe the norm is, "Keep away from MY stuff!!!"). I had my own feeble collection which remained fairly feeble until my oldest brother went away to college when I was nine. But between 1964 (when I started getting my first singles) and 1969 the general rule was this: The older brothers got the "coolest" new releases and "the kid" got the leftovers.
For the most part, we never paid for any of these records. My father used to get a lot of free albums because of his newspaper job -- some good, many bad -- and he found a record store that gladly traded new albums for the bad castaways. Trading day was a major event for us three boys. We'd submit our lists and hope that Dad was able to make a decent deal with the record store and get the majority of whatever we asked for. Like I said, the older bros got the cream of the crop but I didn't care -- new vinyl was new vinyl. I also, of course, benefited from whatever they got. As long as the bedroom door wasn't closed (with I'm guessing a strategically placed towel), I was able to partake in their listening sessions. So, I could be turned on to The Beatles' Rubber Soul, The Beach Boys' Smiley Smile or The Mothers of Invention's Freak Out and then retire to my room and groove on the sugary sweet sounds of Three Dog Night or the more rockin' Dave Clark Five.
And then, hey hey, there was The Monkees. I think I was too young to know (or care) that they were a manufactured band. But I had "sophisticated" enough taste to know a good song when I heard one. And there's no denying that "Last Train to Clarksville" and "I'm a Believer" were great songs. Plus, as a kid still in elementary school, how could I not love the wacky TV show which borrowed equally from The Beatles' Help (which I saw with my entire family at a drive-in!) and The Marx Brothers? So, I was a fan -- a proud one at that who would defend The Monkees as best as possible whenever my brothers got on their high, older horse.
But a strange thing happened in 1967 when The Monkees released their 3rd album, Headquarters. Unbeknownst to me, this was the first time that Mickey, Davey, Mike & Peter actually played their own instruments on a Monkees record (well, Davey played tamborine) plus the album featured songs written by Mickey, Mike and Peter. I'm guessing my brothers got wind of this because for the first time, they actually were interested in coming into my room to listen to a record.
Let's not fool ourselves: Headquarters is no Revolver. Hell, it's not even a Golden Hits (well, that's up for debate). But there's some very good songs on the album, including Peter Tork's "For Pete's Sake" (which became the new end credits song for The Monkees TV show) and Mickey Dolenz' "Randy Scouse Git" as well as some good-natured goofs like "Zilch" ("Mr. Dobolina, Mr. Bob Dobolina"). But the standouts are the original Mike Nesmith tunes, "You Just May Be The One," "Sunny Girlfriend" and today's mp3 morsel, "You Told Me." Derivative, yes (the intro and the bassline both ape The Beatles' "Taxman"), but still this song has it's own catchy charm (and dig that tambourine by Davey!).
To listen/download, click the fabricated four above. If you like it, you can buy the special edition CD here. And, as a bonus, check out this subversive clip from the TV show in which Frank Zappa, dressed as Mike Nesmith, interviews "Frank Zappa" (played by Mike Nesmith). Far out: