After the release of More of the Monkees, on which the band had little involvement beyond providing vocals and a couple Mike Nesmith-composed songs, the pre-fab four decided to take control of their recording destiny.
After a well-timed fist through the wall of a hotel suite and many fevered negotiations, music supervisor Don Kirschner was out and the band hit the studio by themselves.
With the help of producer Chip Douglas, the band spent some time learning how to be a band (as documented on the Headquarters Sessions box set) and set about recording what turned out to be a dynamic, exciting, and impressive album.
Headquarters doesn't contain any of the group's biggest hits, but it does have some of their best songs, like Nesmith's stirring folk-rocker "You Just May Be the One," the pummeling rocker "No Time," the MOR soul ballad "Forget That Girl," which features one of Davy Jones' best vocals, Peter Tork's shining moment as a songwriter, "For Pete's Sake," and the thoroughly amazing (and surprisingly political) "Randy Scouse Git," which showed just how truly out-there and almost avant-garde Micky Dolenz could be when he tried.
Even the weaker songs like the sweet-as-sugar "I'll Spend My Life with You," the slightly sappy "Shades of Gray," or the stereotypically showtune-y Davy Jones vehicle "I Can't Get Her Off My Mind" work, as they benefit from the stripped-down and inventive arrangements (which feature simple but effective keyboards from Tork and rudimentary pedal steel fills from Nesmith) and passionate performances.
Headquarters doesn't show the band to be musical geniuses, but it did prove they were legitimate musicians with enough brains, heart, and soul as anyone else claiming to be a real band in 1967.
[Rhino's 1995 reissue adds six previously unissued tracks recorded during the Headquarters sessions including an early take of the single "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" and rare demos "Nine Times Blue" and "Pillow Time."].