The Monkees were assembled in 1966 by Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider for a TV series that would capitalize on that Beatles craze that had been going on for several years and showed no signs of abating. Don Kirshner was the band's musical supervisor and by album number three, Headquarters, they were no longer working together.
Davy Jones was the lone Englishman picked for the group that included Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork.
The songs picked below all features Davy Jones on lead vocals and even features a couple solo works.
11) The Girl From Chelsea: Credited to David Jones, written by the legendary Gerry Goffin-Carole King team and released in 1965 before the whole Monkees business, the single gives you a good idea of why Jones was picked to be a part of the Monkees enterprise. He had the look of a British pop star and a Bob Dylan-like folksinger. Quintessentially 1960s.
10) Valleri: The sheer optimism of the group is never better illustrated than with this Boyce-Hart number where the harmonies remind us of the British Invasion while the instrumental pieces reflect the psychedelic era and beyond. The song appeared on their fifth album, 1968's The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees.
9) I Wanna Be Free: This Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart tune is an orchestrated pop tune that makes the argument that the Monkees were not just some TV knock-off putting out sub-Beatles material, but a musical concern with real standards and practices. The song appears on their 1966 album, The Monkees.
8) I'll Be True To You: This Gerry Goffin- Russ Titelman pop tune should be required listening for all rock 'n' roll bands who insist on making it more complicated than it need be. There's a reason why certain formulas are used in pop music. It's because they work. Also appears on the debut album.
7) The Day We Fall In Love: Every pop star should be required to talk one of their tunes. It brings us a chance to put on the headphones and believe they are speaking to us personally. Who doesn't love the sound of voices in their head? Appears on the second album, 1967's More of the Monkees, which was released without the knowledge of the band members.
6) Shades of Gray: Headquarters was the transitional album for the group. It was the first to include substantial contributions from the actual members and the first without Don Kirshner looking over their shoulder and making the decisions. That said, Jones' highlights were written by outside writers, as producer Chip Douglas gave him "Forget That Girl," Boyce and Hart wrote up "I Can't Get Her Off My Mind" and Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil gave him this lovely orchestrated tune on which he shared vocals with Peter Tork.
5) Cuddly Toy: Of course, rock critics single this tune out. It was written by Harry Nilsson and eventually led a band to name themselves after it. The album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. is ranked alongside the rest of the first six as "one of their best."
4) When Love Comes Knockin' (At Your Door): For More of the Monkees, quality control (Don Kirshner) ensured they didn't flag. (Despite whatever misgivings the actual band had.) Unlike "real" bands who had to depend on their members to come up with hits, the Monkees had the use of the best and the brightest. This Neil Sedaka - Carole Bayer Sager track was designed to be sung in the car at top volume.
3) Daydream Believer: This tune, written by the acclaimed singer-songwriter and one-time Kingston Trio member John Stewart, may be Jones' most famous performance, though it comes the album The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees that was the group's first album to not go to #1, which may be as much an effect of having their TV show cancelled. Jones' own excellent "Dream World" opens the album.
2) Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow): (Were these guys the leaders in Parenthetical Rock or what?) While Micky Dolenz often took lead vocals on the big hits, Jones had some of the tastiest tunes in the catalog. This Neil Diamond-penned track may not have had the commercial impact of "I'm A Believer," but it's a longtime fave among Monkees' enthusiasts.
1) Girl: The Brady Bunch episode where Jones cut this track in the studio, with an adoring Marcia Brady looking on, is one the show's best and proof that he didn't need the rest of the Monkees around to be a success. (Ah, who's kidding who, any one of the tracks listed above could've taken the #1 spot.)
Now put him and the Monkees in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame before another Monkee passes.
- Davy Jones
- The Monkees
- Don Kirshner