Sunday, December 1, 2013


The Monkees made their choice and turned everything on its head with the adventurous artistic achievements of this commercial disaster.   The group had started out as a fictional band conceived and put together for a television show; but  Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork, and Davy Jones had struggled to find legitimacy and play their own instruments on their records.  With the success of 'Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.', the various members of the band produced their own sessions with other musicians for much of  'The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees'.   In the meantime, Nesmith released an instrumental solo album  'The Wichita Train Whistle Sings' with a full orchestra. 

After their television show was cancelled, the Raybert Productions team of producer Bert Schneider and director Bob Rafelson worked with a then unknown Jack Nicholson and the Monkees to create a motion picture.  The plot was conceived during a drug fueled weekend trip to Ojai, California with the brainstorming session tape recorded by Nicholson. Tork remembers:   "Jack was fabulous. We adored him, all of us. Michael practically fell in love with him, in a manly sort of way."   Dolenz concurs: "He was such a wonderful, charismatic, funny guy. Jack spent a lot of time with us. He hung out on the [TV] set and came out on tour, just picking up the vibe."    In the end, The Monkees were frozen out of screenwriting credit and staged a protest at the beginning of filming.  They never worked with Schneider and  Rafelson again after 'Head'

The surreal stream of consciousness film was touted in the trailer as the  "most extraordinary adventure, western, comedy, love story, mystery, drama, musical, documentary satire ever made (And that's putting it mildly)."   The film was a flop and the accompanying album only made it to number forty-five on the album chart. 

The 'Head' album features snippits from the film interspersed with songs.  Credits include The Monkees:    Micky Dolenz on vocals and drums on live version of "Circle Sky";    Davy Jones on vocals, maracas, and organ on live version of "Circle Sky";    Mike Nesmith on vocals, guitar, electric organ, and maracas; and    Peter Tork on vocals, electric guitar, and bass guitar on live version of "Circle Sky";      with Ken Bloom, Keith Allison, and Bill Chadwick on guitar; Danny Kortchmar on guitar on "As We Go Along"; Leon Russell and Ralph Shuckett on keyboards; Douglas Lubahn on electric bass; Harvey Newmark, Richard Dey, and John Gross on bass; Earl Palmer, Dewey Martin, and Mike Ney on drums; Eddie Hoh on drums and cowbell; Lance Wakely on guitar and bass; Brendan Cahill, Michael A. Glass, and Dennis Bruce on percussion; William Hinshaw and Jules Jacob on horn; Justin Ditullio, Raphael Kramer, Emmet Sargent, Eleanor Slatkin, Gregory Bemko, David Filerman, Jan Kelly, and Jacqueline Lustgarten on cello; Max Bennett, Clyde Hoggan, James Hughart, and Jerry Scheff on string bass; Michael Rubini on piano; Pete Candoli, Marion Childers, and Anthony Terran on trumpet; Richard Leith and Lewis McCreary on trombone; John R. Hoening and Tony McCashen performing some unknown function and some unknown musician on organ and flute.  Jack Nitzsche did the arrangements on "Porpoise Song" and "As We Go Along"; while Russ Titelman was conductor on "Porpoise Song".  Ry Cooder, Neil Young, and Carole King all played guitar on "As We Go Along"; and Stephen Stills provided guitar on "Long Title". 

Micky Dolenz considers:   "The movie was using the Monkees to deconstruct the studio system," Dolenz reckons. "There's a scene with me and Teri Garr in the old west and I get hit by arrows and I say, 'Bob, I can't do this fake shit any more.' Well, that was a metaphor for people being fed up with the studio system...It was misunderstood by a lot of people...Most of our fans couldn't get in because there was an age restriction and the intelligentsia wouldn't go to see it anyway because they hated the Monkees."

Davy Jones thought Rafelson and Nicholson were just "practising their film techniques. They were throwing us to the 'gators at that point...We were pawns in something we helped create but had no control over.  We should have made Ghostbusters, OK?"

Tork says:  
 "The movie dropped like a ball of dark star.  The simile of a rock in the water is too mild for how badly that movie did...My whole goal had been to be a member of a band that worked. The next thing I know we're making a movie and it doesn't have anything to do with the business of being in a band together...There's some weight behind the idea that Bob and Bert wanted to wreck the Monkees, to stop it cold in its tracks.  I've never known for sure. Bert and Bob might have thought out loud: 'Let's kill the Monkees!' Or they may have not thought so out loud but at some unconscious level, they were sick of the Monkees and wanted to do something else...It was a joy seeing a movie being made, but I didn't like working for Bob Rafelson.  I did what he told me, but I can't say that I ever had any heart connection with him...It was probably more confusing to me than it was to the average moviegoer...Most people are dazzled by the psychedelia, and that's fine, but for me finally the point of the movie is the Monkees never get out...Which is to say Bob Rafelson's view of life is you never get out of the black box you're in. There's no escape...There might have been a scene where we get out...We jump in the water and get away."

Mike Nesmith reflects:   "I never thought of the Monkees negatively. The public rejection of the show and the band was hard to take but understandable. People were confused in those early days of TV, especially about what constituted authenticity, and there was a fear that corporate interests were at work and somehow manufacturing a hit. Everyone in the arts knows this is impossible, but it was an easy sell and an easy scandal to create by the press of the times. So a few journalists led the charge of "condescension...But as you point out, that charge fell on many deaf ears, especially among the kids at the time who not only got a good taste of well-made music but also understood TV and where it fit in their life. Many very accomplished players started their musical careers based on those Monkees shows and records, and I feel most gratified to have been a part of that. It is a nice legacy, and I'm proud of it and happy to see it finally get the recognition."


full album:

01. 0:00 Opening Ceremony
02. 1:12  Porpoise Song (Theme From Head)
03. 4:17 Ditty Diego (War Chant)
04. 5:14 Circle Sky
05. 8:16 Supplicio
06. 9:02 Can You Dig It
07. 12:25 Gravy
08. 12:32 Superstitous
09. 12:40 As We Go Along
10. 16:32 Dandruff?
11. 17:12 Daddy's Song
12. 12:42 Poll
13. 20:56 Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again
14. 23:36 Swami (Plus Strings)
15. 28:57 Ditty Diego-War Chant (Prev. Unissued Version)
16. 33:28 Circle Sky (Live Version)
17. 36:31 Happy Birthday To You (Prev. Unissued)
18. 36:50 Can You Dig It (Prev. Unissued Mix)
19. 40:16 Daddy's Song (Prev. Unissued Mix)
20. 42:22 Head Radio Spot (Prev. Unissued)

Side 1
1. "Opening Ceremony" Charles Irving 1:20
2. "Porpoise Song (Theme from Head)" (Gerry Goffin, Carole King) Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones 2:56
3. "Ditty Diego – War Chant" (Jack Nicholson, Bob Rafelson) Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork 1:25
4. "Circle Sky" (Michael Nesmith) Michael Nesmith 2:31
5. "Supplicio" 0:48
6. "Can You Dig It?" (Peter Tork) Micky Dolenz 3:23
7. "Gravy" Davy Jones, I. J. Jefferson 0:06
Side 2
1. "Superstitious" (Dialogue from The Black Cat) David Manners, Bela Lugosi 0:07
2. "As We Go Along" (Carole King, Toni Stern) Micky Dolenz 3:51
3. "Dandruff?" Bela Lugosi, Charles Macaulay, Logan Ramsey, Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, Bob Rafelson, Peter Tork, Davy Jones 0:39
4. "Daddy's Song" (Harry Nilsson) Davy Jones 2:30
5. "Poll" Michael Nesmith, Davy Jones, Peter Tork, Frank Zappa, Timothy Carey 1:13
6. "Long Title: Do I Have to Do This All Over Again?" (Peter Tork) Peter Tork 2:39
7. "Swami – Plus Strings, Etc." (Ken Thorne) Abraham Sofaer, Micky Dolenz, Teri Garr, I. J. Jefferson 5:21

"Ditty Diego — War Chant" (Alternate Take) (Nicholson, Rafelson) - 4:30
"Circle Sky" (Live Version) (Nesmith) - 2:20
"Happy Birthday to You" (Mildred Hill, Patty Smith Hill) - 1:02
"Can You Dig It?" (Peter on Lead Vocal) (Tork) - 3:25
"Daddy's Song" (Mike on Lead Vocal) (Nilsson) - 2:06

"Head Radio Spot" - 2:03

motion picture

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