16 AUGUST 1966
The Monkees' debut single ‘Last Train to Clarksville’ was released in the USA, where - thanks to their recently-launched TV show - it went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It peaked at #23 in the UK.
This song had 'Beatles' written all over it. The TV show, after all, was in the vein of the movie 'A Hard Day's Night', and the prominent guitar riff in 'Clarksville’ followed the 'Ticket to Ride'/'Day Tripper'/'Paperback Writer' sound. Just as the Beatles were going 'all weird' with psychedelic experimentation, along came the Monkees to carry on their jangle-rock radio-friendly sound.
There was a less 'poppy' aspect to this record that the production company and most of the public missed - it was written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart as a subtle anti-Vietnam War protest song. The 'last train' that the protagonist is taking here is the first step of a journey to Vietnam.
The only Monkee to feature here is Micky Dolenz, and musical backing was provided by Boyce and Hart's own band 'The Candy Store Prophets'.
B-side: 'Take a Giant Step'
Released: 16 August 1966
Recorded: 25 July 1966, RCA Victor Studios, Studio A, Hollywood
Label: Colgems #1001
Producers: Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart