The Monkees leads were hired to portray a band on television. However, they also had great musical talent. So it was bound to happen that Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork pushed for more control over the music associated with their names. But that shift didn’t happen until their third album, headquarterscalled her producer “the sound of freedom itself”.
“We’re not the only musicians on this album,” reads the back cover of the LP. “But occasionally an extra bassist or horn player would play under our direction, so it’s all ours.”
headquarters changed the Monkees’ career as musicians. In The monkeys and More from the Monkees, Tork, Jones, Dolenz and Nesmith had minimal involvement in its production. However, all they did was provide the vocals for the songs, apart from Nesmith, who managed to get several author credits.
The album has a country rock element. Of particular note are Nesmith’s “You Told Me”, “You Just May Be the One” and “Sunny Girlfriend”. Tork’s “For Pete’s Sake” was strong enough to be used as the closing song The monkeys‘Second season.
Monkees producer Chip Douglas discusses headquarters in the book The Monkees, Head and the 60’s by author Peter Mills, per The Monkees Live Almanac,
“The album is the sound of freedom itself,” said Douglas. “The count-in at the beginning of the first track ‘You Told Me’ is a playful nod to the shrill equivalent of Revolver’s opener ‘Taxman’. But it’s also a hilarious little yell of autonomy followed by the opening bells of freedom on a 12-string guitar.”
However, Douglas admitted that working as a quartet “was tough at first because we had never worked together”. He explained in Mills’ book: “As things developed and headquarters a kind of camaraderie developed. We all pulled together to make this album that only they should play on.”
In an interview for John Gilliland’s “Pop Chronicles,” Nesmith spoke about the quartet’s development as a musical group. “It almost goes without saying how it worked out,” Mike replied.
“It went very well. But not because we learned to work as a unit, group or anything.” That perception changed slightly as the quartet became more involved in the production of their records.
During headquarters became a hallmark of The Monkees’ sound, which evolved throughout the rest of the band’s career, it was also essential for Douglas. Also, he was most proud of that one contribution to the finished LP.
“Perhaps my best contribution to The Monkees was wanting to see them do everything on their records with nobody in the background who isn’t a Monkee,” he admitted. “So when you hear a vocal part, you hear Mickey or Davy or Peter or Mike and nobody else.”