“Sorry for the delay between our recent single releases.” That’s the basic message for you from the Monkees. “Apologies all round for keeping people waiting”—that’s the way Micky puts it. But there is a very important reason for the delay. A very strong one.
Remember how the critics of the Monkees latched on to the story that there was some funny business about the early records? You know the thing… “they don’t play on their records and the whole scene in the studios is a manufactured one”. It was also said they didn’t have any say about what material they recorded.
Whatever was true then, and we’ll talk more about that later in this piece, the whole scene has changed. Now the Monkees have the final say on their discs… and that is a process which takes time. When you get four separate individuals putting forward their own views, then obviously you don’t come to a decision in just a few moments.
Of course this new idea is better all round. For the Monkees themselves AND for us, the fans. It was tough on the boys being caught up in such a fast-moving panic when they first erupted on the pop scene… they couldn’t pay attention to all sides of their careers. Now we know that what we get in the way of records is all their own choice. And this goes for LP’s as well, natch!
An improvement. But you wouldn’t think so to hear the moaners and the knockers having a right old go. There are a lot of these people who just can’t give the Monkees credit for anything. So they get their tiny heads together and come up with something that is dead hurtful to our boys. They say, believe it or not, that the Monkees were recently SCARED to bring out a new single, in case it didn’t do too well in the charts.
Which adds up to that old saying, which we’ve heard Mike Nesmith say more than once: “Sometimes we feel we can’t win, whatever we do.”
If it went the other way and the boys brought out a new single every month of the year, then you’d hear the old stories about them being a mass-produced group, bringing out numbers willy-nilly to cash in as quickly as possible. And they’d also be accused of taking no care over their releases.
See the point? There are always people lurking with ready-made stories, or fibs if you like, whichever way Davy, Micky, Mike and Peter decide to go. Now the boys are delaying things so they are all, each and every one, sure that they’ve come up with the best value for money. They’re 100 per cent concerned that their fans should get the best of the Monkee world.
At one point, “Love Is Only Sleeping” was rumoured to be the new single, out in mid-October. But the BBC television folk put back the start of the fabulous new series, so the obvious thing was to hold up the record. There were problems, too, on the American side.
Now, of course, we know about the new single… “Day Dream Believer” and “Going Down”. And, equally of course, we know that it’s darned good and really reflects the way the boys seem to improve with every new platter.
And even some of the knockers have agreed that each LP is better than the one that went before. So the Monkees ARE progressing, as we knew they would. Which is totally untrue of a lot of the groups who get high in the charts and go on turning out the same old stuff month in and month out.
It’s hard to stay good-tempered and Monkee-like when so many hard things are said about the boys. Some of us would like to lock the knockers in a room and really give them a telling-off, like pointing out that the boys are the only world group who give us a top-class telly-series week after week AS WELL AS regular hit records. And that’s not counting the back-breaking tours they make so the fans can have a time-of-a-lifetime watching them working “live”.
Well, it’s “Sorry For the Delay” repeated again. But remember when Micky Dolenz spearheaded the Monkee invasion of Britain? Lots of you spent ages waiting for him at the airport and again at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London’s Park Lane. In swept Micky, large as life and twice as beautiful, but with his hair all over the place and lacking a shave. He deserved a medal for going straight into the lion’s den of reporters, Fleet Street-type, all of whom seemed to want to knock the Monkees.
He said then: “Okay, we didn’t play on our first records. But that was because we didn’t have time, what with the TV series. We CAN all play instruments, though, as we’ve proved on our stage shows.” Look how little space that got in the papers. Micky was, as ever, being honest… but the only bit that really got reported was “We don’t play on our records”.
After that rough Press conference, I congratulated Micky on his showing. He said: “I wanna go on record, too, as saying that we’re all going to fight hard to get the right to select our own material. It’s all happened so quickly that we haven’t been able to handle everything, but fight we will to make sure that eventually we can decide for ourselves what numbers are best to go on disc.”
Now that could have been just big-star chat. But we know our Micky, don’t we, and we know that underneath all the gagging he is a straight-talker. When all the boys got back to America, they did just what he said. They fought and fought until it was agreed that in future they could make up their own minds about what material they’d record. What’s more, of course, they also demanded to MAKE time, no matter what, so that they could all play on all their sessions in the studios.
Mike also told us: “When these guys keep on at us about our musical ability or lack of it, we feel it’s no good us grousing. What we have to do is PROVE ourselves and the best way to get through is to make records that show us in the best light. I read that records like “Clarksville” sound like old-style Beatle records and that we’re copying. We’re not. We try to be ourselves, which is why it’s so important that we get to pick our own material.”
And Davy said, above the screams that greeted him at his London hotel: “All we ask is a chance to show people what we’re really like and what we can do. We want to be around in the business for a long time to come. We must go forward, musically, and whatever the critics say we do have the talent in the group to do just that.”
It’s been a long struggle. The boys have won through. And to go back to the first paragraph again… they’re sorry that we’ve been kept waiting longer than expected. But THEY know that we fans understand… and we do!
Let’s tell all the knockers once again to SHUT UP and leave the Monkees alone.