The Monkees (1966) - The Monkees - All about the album ...

A funny band that was praised by the Beatles themselves...

History of The Monkees Album (1966)

"The Monkees" is the initial album of the group of the same name (on the other side of the envelope there is an alternative name - "Meet The Monkees"), published in the fall of 1966 in America by Colgems Records and RCA Records - for all other countries.

The release of the series and the birth of the group

The group appeared after a series about a rock band that never existed was shown on TV. The idea was born by two Hollywood masters, Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, in 1965. Inspired by the film "A Hard Day's Night" about the famous Beatles, they also decided to reflect in the cinema the development of a rock band and relationships within it. "The Monkees" is a parody reference to the name "The Beatles". Even the principle of deliberate lexical distortion is repeated: instead of Beetles (Beetles), the Beatles called themselves with a change in one letter, and in the same way Monkeys (Monkeys), are written with the replacement of "y" with "e". Moreover, these errors do not affect the pronunciation of words.

"The Monkees"
"The Monkees"

While still in development, the series was bought by the television company Screen Gems. And this created some difficulties: the authors of the idea wanted to be based on the real story of the Los Angeles folk-rock band Lovin' Spoonful. But she had an agreement with another company, so the publication of music from the series on records was excluded. It was necessary to start looking for another group, and in this variant and this situation, to create it. And already in the September issues of 1965, in the Los Angeles newspaper editions of Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, an announcement was made about the creation of a staff of a rock band.

The Monkees group. Photo: NBC Television/Getty
The Monkees group. Photo: NBC Television/Getty

The principle was taken from the Beatles: four actors resembling the appearance of the Beatles were selected - Americans Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork, Mickey Dolenz and Englishman David Jones. Dolenz acted as a drummer, the others were guitarists. First of all, they recruited guys for their acting abilities, but not for their musical ones. They needed to perform songs without taking part in writing and recording musical compositions.

Interesting sound

Everything related to the musical part of the series lay with Don Kirshner, the head of the musical branch of Screen Gems. He had to develop from scratch the musical idea of the new band. At first, he wanted to involve one of the Hollywood composers in the process, but this did not arouse interest in the professional environment. Therefore, producers Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart were found, who were inspired by the idea. They quickly made four compositions and recorded their demo versions with their own voices.

Kirshner allowed Mike Nesmith to serve as producer on The Monkees records when he was not performing those songs. Nesmith attracted the members of the band not only as vocalists, but also - for example, Peter Tork - as a guitarist. But Boyce and Hart later noted that when the entire composition of the group gathered, crazy competition began, which slowed down the process. That's why usually the studio work went with each one separately.

According to Nesmith, Mickey Dolenz's vocals provided the group with a unique sound, and despite the ambition of everyone else, it was he who most often performed the songs. And even when everyone tried to win back their own, the participants without a doubt trusted Dolenc to sing.

A frame from a TV series that turned into a famous GIF
A frame from a TV series that turned into a famous GIF

A frame from a TV series that turned into a famous GIF

To publish and sell records, they created a special conglomerate "Colgems Records", and it included "Columbia - Screen Gems" and such a powerful market leader as "RCA Records".

Before the television series appeared on the screens, in the summer of 1966, 45 appeared on sale with the composition "Last Train to Clarksville" (Last Train to Clarksville) and the song "Take a Giant Step" on the back. By the time the series aired in September 1966, the composition was in the top Billboard rating, taking the first position in November.

The composition is similar to the "Paperback Writer" of the Beatles, and this was noted by critics. According to the script of the series, it is sung by a military man who dials the number of the woman he loves and persuades her to catch the last train to Clarksville: this way they can stay together for the night, and in the morning he has to leave for work somewhere far away, and it is not clear whether they will be able to see each other again . And will he still be alive?

Members of the pop group The Monkees Davy Jones, Peter Tork, Mickey Dolens and Michael Nesmith, 1966
Members of the pop group The Monkees Davy Jones, Peter Tork, Mickey Dolens and Michael Nesmith, 1966

It is interesting that in Tennessee there really is a town with that name - Clarksville, and not far from it in Fort Campbell the 101st American Air Division is located, but here, as they say, the authors hit intuitively: Boyce and Hart were only looking for consonance.

Fame and achievements

The composition "I'll Be True to You" became a hit in 1965 by the British "The Hollies". The second album composition "Saturday's Child" (Child of Saturday) was once regarded as hard rock. Fans in 1966 perceived the initial guitar riff in much the same way that heavy metal is listened to today.

Newspaper page about the band
Newspaper page about the band

The album was released about a month after the release of the series - October 10, 1966. It turned out to be the first of four successively released popular albums of the group and maintained its leadership in the Billboard 200 hit parade for 13 whole weeks, and then was recognized five times platinum. In 1967 he was the leader of the British hit parade.

And the series, which went with the same name and was broadcast in 1966-1968, gained immense popularity in the States. Often considered the American version of the film about the Beatles. In 1967, the album's sales broke the records of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones - moreover, in their sum!

The Beatles and The Monkees

Of course, promotion in the American media was important, especially since America's business was not at all interested in being content with second roles after the success of the British. It is important. But let's not discount the charisma of this amazing four, chosen at first as an illustration, and then passed the way to original, unique creativity. The Monkees had a strong influence on the atmosphere of the 60s.

Miki Dolenz and Paul McCartney
Miki Dolenz and Paul McCartney

The Beatles on The Monkees…

The Beatles themselves, who became the prototypes of the film, actively followed the course of events and spoke very kindly about the film:

John Lennon:

“I’m sure they are the most gifted comic actors after the Marx Brothers. I've always followed them." "Monkees"? They have their own niche, and that's okay. Try to stream every week and see if it's half as good!"

Paul McCartney:

“I am a fan of their music and the characters themselves. I watch their broadcasts all the time."

George Harrison:

“They are growing, I see it every time I see them. They are still looking for themselves. And when they finally understand this, they have every chance to become great.

Ringo Starr:

“I think the good combination of sound with all sorts of tricks and other things makes them famous among children. And for me, including. “They are not copies of us at all, are they? They have their own way, is it not noticeable?

Album's cover

Album cover of the band's self-titled album "The Monkees"
Album cover of the self-titled album by The Monkees

Regarding its front side, fans have built a number of opinions. The image is a photo from left to right of Mike, Mickey, Peter and Davey. And it is striking that the last three are looking into the frame with smiles, and Mike says something annoyed. He was just showing dissatisfaction with the lengthy photo shoot, and fans are fantasizing what he could say.

According to one popular version, Mike asks the photographer to shoot after the count of three, and he was filmed just at the moment of saying "three". There is another point of view. Mike tells the photographer to shoot until he counts to ten, after which he leaves the set because he can't take it anymore. And then it seems that the frame took place at the time of counting "six".

On the back, in a series of film imitations, the top three are from "Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers" and the bottom two are from "The Spy Who Came In From The Cool."

There was a typo on the first versions of the cover: the composition "Papa Gene's Blues" was called "Papa Jean's Blues", according to the version of the cover and the label of the disc.

Since the recording was carried out with the participation of involved musicians, there is a list of those who were involved in the sessions. Among them, it is quite possible to find popular future musicians who have been seen in a variety of creative teams and projects.


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