Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Monkees Do Their Thing (January, 1967)

In 1965, 437 hopefuls auditioned for what became the sitcom known as "The Monkees". As we all know, four guys: Michael Nesmith, David Jones, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork passed said auditions. Amongst some of the others was none other than Stephen Stills but he couldn't get out of his recording contract. 
Imagine a band with Nesmith and Stills. Wow.
Bla bla bla. Old news.
Recording sessions for the project began in June, 1966 with the first single "Last Train To Clarksville" released that August. The TV show debuted on Monday, September 12, 1966. This was after "Clarksville" had already reached #1. The first LP was released that October and- along with the follow up "More Of The Monkees"- is still one of the biggest selling albums in history.
Bla bla bla. Old news.
Now, here's where my thread gets interesting......
Because of silly union rules, The Monkees were not allowed to perform the instruments on the first two albums and singles. This did not sit well with Nesmith and Tork. In fact, Nesmith made sure he would produce some of his original tunes and that they be included on the albums. While recording, he would always have Peter Tork playing guitar or bass on said recordings. I guess he felt it gave the tunes some legitimacy. Rightfully, they became fed up with their vocals only contributions and they rebelled. In January, 1967, they went into the studio and recorded the songs featured in this thread. It was hoped that they would make up their third single but control freak, Don Kirshner, wasn't having any of it. To quote Peter Tork: "Kirshner acted as if the barbarians were at the gates of the Holy Roman Empire". 
So, what became of that planned third single? Well, Kirshner found as many loopholes as possible to keep it from being released. The song intended as the "A" side, "All Of Your Toys", was not a Screen Gems copyright and The Monkees contract clearly stated that all their tunes had to be released as such. To reach a compromise, they asked if the intended "B" side, "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" (written by Michael Nesmith) be released as the flip side to "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" which was written by Neil Diamond and a guaranteed hit (reached #2). 
Kirshner decided to go against their wishes and released "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You / She Hangs Out" in Canada. Both tunes, in their full-session-player-glory, feature only one singing Monkee (Jones). Shortly after, Kirshner was fired from the Monkees project. 
For Monkee geeks like me, it was a blessing as the next two albums were easily the best they ever produced: "Headquarters" (reached #1) and "Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd" (#1....and my fave).
Eventually, the third single became "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You / The Girl I Knew Somewhere". The latter being re-recorded in a higher key with the more commercial voice of Micky Dolenz on vocals instead of Nesmith. "All Of Your Toys" and the Nesmith sung rendition of "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" languished in the vaults until 1987 and 1995, respectively.
Here ya go. Dig in. 

"All Of Your Toys":
"The Girl I Knew Somewhere" (Nesmith Vocal Version):
"The Girl I Knew Somewhere" (45/Micky Dolenz Vocal Version):
"The Girl I Knew Somewhere" by Gary Owen:

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