Cheer Up Sleepy Jean: The Monkees Story

The National Broadcasting Corporation formed a band in 1965 called The Monkees. Their moptop haircuts, singer/tambourinateer with a British accent, jangly rhythms, tight harmonies, and misspelled-animal-as-band-name were all bold and revolutionary... when The Beatles did it. Combine the fact that their first two albums—More of the Monkees and The Monkees—featured little to no original material and studio musicians playing the backing tracks, and the band that doesn’t it make it easy for music snobs to like them. But once this band, which consisted of two very extraordinary musicians and two… other people, had the reigns of their career, they went forth to produce some very fine and very overlooked material.

Over the past two years, Rhino Records has been releasing The Monkees’ back catalogue. Last year, their “Pre-Fab Four” first two albums made their ways back to the shelves, and now in 2007 we can once again listen to their breakout records Headquarters (a sadly overlooked album that hit number one for one week, but was subsequently stuck at number two behind Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band) and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. Their music has a wonderful psychedelic pop feel, their earlier releases feel a little more legitimate as, even though the backing tracks are all studio musicians, we know it’s more from a studio refusing to let a bright young band play and not incompetence. And we can only hope that with the release of Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. this year, it is only a matter of time until the DVD release of their Jack Nicholson-penned film “Head.”