ATTENTION: HEADQUARTERS The Monkees

The Pre-Fab Four – now
Three – return to the stage to celebrate their breakout album and their lost
colleague.

 

BY MICHAEL BERICK

 

Daydream believers will have their dreams come true this
month. The three surviving Monkees – Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz
– are touring together for the first time since 1997, and for their first
American tour with Nesmith since 1969. (It starts this week in California; view tour
dates here.
)

 

The occasion of this tour is bittersweet celebration. These
concerts will be commemorating both the 45th anniversary of the
band’s hard-fought-for Headquarters album
(the first record where they played their own instruments) and the passing of
their beloved bandmate Davy Jones, who passed away earlier this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

During a recent conversation, Dolenz revealed that the guys
had been talking about doing this 45th anniversary tour even before
Jones’ death, but it was the Los Angeles private memorial service where tour
talk fell into place. While chatting with Nesmith and Tork in a corner of a
room, Dolenz said he made the suggestion: “Well, you guys want to start a
group?”

 

The idea of a memorial concert in Los Angeles evolved into
doing one in the cities where Jones had family and friends (L.A., New York and
London), which then snowballed into a 12-city tour. “We aren’t calling it the
Davy Jones memorial tour or anything of that nature. It sounds a little weird
to me,” Dolenz explained, while adding, “[Davy] will certainly be remembered in
a very special way. The fans will be very pleased I think with the way that we
pay our homage to him.”

 

(below: Dolenz &
Tork today)

 

 

 

 

On this tour, the band naturally will spotlight a number of Headquarters songs along with performing
classic Monkees hits like “I’m A Believer,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday” and “Last
Train To Clarksville.” The concerts will also feature a wide of Monkees tunes
as well as utilizing plenty of video and other multi-media elements, which is
something that fans have enjoyed at recent tours.

 

(below: Nesmith today)

 

 

 

 

According to Dolenz, the Monkees’ enduring popularity is
because they “really touched a nerve. It really has become quite an important
part of the American cultural landscape.” He was quick to give credit for the
work to the songwriters, TV writers, producers and the other behind-the-scenes
people who helped make the Monkees “into something bigger than the sum of its
parts.”

 

 Dolenz offered two reasons for the generation-spanning appeal
for the Monkees TV show. On the show,
the band was not famous; unlike, as he pointed out, the Beatles in their
movies. “They were famous and we were
always trying to be famous. That is a
real important distinction, because the kids around the world back then – and
even today – who are struggling to start a group in the basement, can identify
with the struggle.”

 

He also noted that the show’s comedy had a timeless quality.
“The show was not satirical or topical. John Lennon once said it was like the
Marx Brothers. The comedy did not date, like I Love Lucy or The
Honeymooners
– the humor is just the human condition. You can watch it to
this day.”

 

The sense of timelessness also forms the central core of
Dolenz’s new album, Remember, which
he introduced recently at a special listening session/press conference in L.A. that BLURT attended
(see story here). It’s a collection of cover songs resonating personally with
Dolenz. The concept, he explained,
came about after he started telling stories about music that meant something
special to him. Selections include his Monkees audition song “Johnny B. Goode”
and “Good Morning, Good Morning,” which was the first Beatles recording
sessions he attended.

 

 Some songs are ones he recorded while a Monkee (“I’m A
Believer,” “Randy Scouse Git,” “Don’t Ask For Love” and “Sometime In The
Morning”) and some are tunes he nearly recorded.  The old Bread hit, “Diary,” Dolenz revealed,
was a song that had been offered to him in the Monkees’ waning days. “And I
turned it down like an idiot. I didn’t think I should be doing a ballad at the
time.” He also stated that the power pop classic “Sugar, Sugar” was
figuratively the straw the broke the camel’s (or in this case, Nesmith’s) back.
The Monkees rebelled against their producers over recording this tune – Dolenz
said it wasn’t so much the song as the control over song selection – with
Nesmith threatening to quit and Dolenz jetting to England where he met the
Beatles.

 

 Whether a Monkees track or not, Dolenz and his producer
David Harris have done an inventive and extensive job in reinterpreting these
songs with vastly different arrangements. Dolenz describes “Diary” as having a
Coldplay-like vibe, while Dolenz’s own “Randy Scouse Git” now possesses a
heavier, more ominous vibe.  As a result,
this is a covers album that sounds familiar yet different.

 

This new Monkees tour, however, will rely on more familiar
renditions of Monkees’ songs, although Dolenz noted that during rehearsals that
he to teach Nesmith some of his own lyrics. “He hasn’t sung these songs in 40
years,” Dolenz said with a laugh. Still, he described the rehearsals as going
great, exciting him about this new tour – particularly with the opportunity to
once again share the stage with Nesmith.

 

“I love playing with him.” A multitude of Monkees fans also are
loving the fact that Mike, Peter and Micky are playing together again.

 

Leave a Reply