The Monkees – Head

The Monkees were one of the most controversial bands of the 1960’s.  They were controversial because many people could not decide if they were really a band or not.   Conceived first as a television series the group was made of up two established musicians Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork, an English Broadway performer, Davy Jones and a former child star, Micky Dolenz who was also toured with his sister as part of a folk singing duo. 

Despite rumors to the contrary all of them could play from the beginning though it is true that Micky was not a drummer he was able to play guitar and Davy played a little piano. The group was only allowed to sing on their first two albums however by their third album the four young men were in control.  Sadly by the time the fourth album was recorded the news that the band hadn’t played their instruments on their first two albums had hit the streets and the group had a new nick name, though not one they liked “The pre-fab four.”   Almost no-one believed that they had begun to produce their albums on their own and play their own instruments.  Many of their fans turned against them.   It was just prior to this point in their careers that work started on the movie Head.  Their producer Bob Rafelson, the four boys and a then unknown actor by the name of Jack Nicholson locked themselves in a hotel room for a weekend and hammered out script ideas for this very different film and fate continued to turned against The Monkees.  They had lost popularity by the time the film was released and the producer and studio for the film refused to give them even partial writing credit.  In addition the studio provided poor publicity information to the point that much of the public had no idea what the movie was about or even who was involved.   

So what is or rather was Head?  It is an expression of the ‘60’s in a very strangely put together movie.  There are portions of the movie that seem very much like the Monkee’s television show, but the rest… not so much.  It is a collection of skits and short bits that in most cases are fun to watch.  The Monkee’s make fun of the film, their show, their music, the government, the drug culture and also use the film to convey an anti-war message.  In many ways one could say it is a collection of skits that have absolutely nothing to do with one another and you would be justified to do so.   There are a few bits that fall flat, and a few that will make you think, a few that will puzzle you and a few that will flat out make you laugh.  The film is uneven, but worth a look.  The music really is pretty good and covers a variety of musical styles and the mood is generally positive. The film is also more adult than anything the band had done before.   The movie crashed and burned in the theaters largely due to bad promotion and their new found lack of popularity.  The film has since become a cult film.  If you are interested in the 1960’s it’s a film that is worth seeing and perhaps it might make you take a different look at that phenomena that was and is The Monkees