Other than the tragic passing of Davy Jones, the last few years have been what us Monkee-maniacs have wished for; not only has Michael nesmith rejoined the group for TWO tours, but also the group is finally getting some respect from rock critics. A certain magazine started in San Francisco in 1967 has shown pure disdain for the group for years, and even THEY gave the 2012 tour a rave review. As for me, I've been a fan ever since I was a little kid and the TV show went back into syndication in 1980; watching the group hang out, crack wise, chase beautiful girls, mock authority and make music, who WOULDN'T want to devote their life to being a musician?
Too much has been said about who played on their records, and to me it's irrelevent as all that matters is the music that has proven its staying power (although my favorite LP of theirs is Headquarters, where each member plays on every track and the group spirit is one of pure joy). Too much emphasis is placed on the deception, and not enough people know, for example, that Davy Jones learned how to play bass for the 1967 tour so Peter Tork could play organ on a few tracks. Unlike so many teenybopper fads that have come since, there was no lack of talent among this group. In fact, each member (other than Peter, who cut his teeth performing in Greenwich Village) recorded music before the inception of The Monkees in 1966.
Michael Nesmith is often singled out (unfairly) as the one with talent, and while there is no denying the power of Nez' songwriting, production and southern fried soulful vocals, to make such a statement discounts the incredible vocal skills of Micky Dolenz, the showmanship of Davy Jones, and the dedicated musicianship of Peter Tork. Nez was the first to release a record, however, and his 1963 single 'Just A Little Love' was released in 1963 credited to Mike, John And Bill. The record was re-released in 1966, and Michael's talent is shown in full effect here. While the recording and performance is a tad restrained and lacking confidence, this song wouldn't sound out of place on his First National Band LP's; his voice was practically as mature as it became with a little bit of experience and seasoning, and the track is also an early example of folk rock.
Of the early recordings, a record that Micky Dolenz recorded with his group The Missing Links (no joke) probably had the most commerical potential; in fact, when it was eventually released in early 1967 as an obvious cash-in, it *did* make the charts. It's a typical 1965 party-rock dancer, and the track was cut just before Micky was signed by Screen Gems to play Micky Dolenz, Monkee.
Bonus: the a-side was the (overproduced but still very good) "Until It's Time For You To Go"; watch a young Nez on the Lloyd Thaxton Show promote the song, JUST before the beginning of The Monkees: