They quit before it became too embarrassing, and almost immediately their short run of hit singles, plus the TV theme, became oldies radio regulars. Dig deeper, though, because the Monkees’ catalogue is full of gems. Their influence is gentle but pervasive; it’s hard to think of any other group who could have released a song that would be covered by both the Sex Pistols and PJ & Duncan. “Whenever I think of the Monkees,” said the Go-Betweens’ Robert Forster in 1986, “it’s a sunny morning, the brightest colours, and David Jones’s eyes. Their music is perfect, as perfect as pop could ever be. Last Train to Clarksville has been written, and we are left with our own imperfection.
For anyone who dismisses the Monkees as an entirely manufactured pop group, I point them at Head and its impressive subversion of their image. At least Peter Stanley gets it.