As a young punk fan, I always found it a little bewildering that Minor Threat did a cover of The Monkees song, “I’m Not Your Stepping Stone.” In fact, this blew my little want to be punk mind when I was fourteen. You see, we didn’t have cable when I was a kid. As a result, I spent my summer days watching old reruns of shows like I Love Lucy, Mr. Ed, and The Monkees. It was one of those secretes I pushed down deep into my soul, but I really like The Monkees. I fully understood that they were cornball and not even real musicians. I was wrong though. Yes, The Monkees were one of the original producer made boy bands, but even The Monkees got tired of that lifestyle. They fought their producers, songwriters, and record company to take control of their own musical career. They even made a movie, Head, that was meant to be the antithesis of The Monkees T.V. show. In fact, the movie has no real narrative and is fairly nonsensical. The best part, and hell, it adds credibility to The Monkees, is when Frank Zappa shows up and tells Davy Jones that he is just too white. It was The Monkees fight against the large music machine that step them up as a hero for the punk scene to come. Now, I know that this seems highly unlikely, but it happened.
Now, I get that a Monkees’ album seems out of place as a forgotten vinyl classic. But Head, the soundtrack to the acid trip of a movie, is not the bubble gum pop you would expect. Without any songs written by Bobby Hart or Tommy Boyce (the masterminds behind numerous Monkees’ bubble gum hits of the era) Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork step up to write some of the best songs of their careers. Nesmith’s tune “Circle Sky” is probably my favorite Monkees tune of all time. The song is a showcase of the talent that was soon to come through Nesmith’s First National Band. In fact, it wouldn’t be long before Michael Nesmith left the group to form the First National Band (a band that is on country rock par with The Flying Burrito Brothers). Micky Dolenz’s vocals on the Carol King penned “Purpose Song” are otherworldly. The band never seemed so cohesive and tight as they did on Head. Head is the Monkees’ take on psychedelic rock.
The biggest problem with Head is that it is a soundtrack album. The album itself only has six songs on it. The rest of the tracks are snippets from the movie itself. The snippets are irrelevant and do distract from the overall cohesiveness of the album, but with a set of songs this strong, you’ll tolerate the distraction.
The vinyl copies of Head had a foil cover to imitate a mirror, so that when you looked into it, you saw your own head. Original copies of this LP can run between $40-$50, but it has been recently repressed. Represses can run $20 and up depending on what specific package you choose to buy.