This song has two versions. They have completely different arrangements. The backing vocals are completely different. The one I knew from the '80s revival has Mike singing, backed by either Micky or Boyce (I genuinely can't tell; I'm going to assume it's Micky). I just found out about this one this week. This one has Peter singing - Peter! - backed by Davy (and probably Mike, and maybe Micky mixed way in the back; it's hard to hear because this mix is made of mud).
The one that ended up on the show, with Mike singing lead, is by far the better version; the arrangement is much crisper and fuller. I suspect that this other one was a demo, someone trying Peter out just to see if he could do it; Peter's not a bad vocalist, but he's got a limited range, and this song pushes it. Put him up against Mike and Davy's impressive projection and it's easy to decide to put him in the backing track, holding a few notes. Put him against Micky and - ah, no. You can't. It's just not fair. Mike's got an authentic, rough-hewn sound, but he's got power behind it (and a Texas lilt); Davy's got precision and polish (and a Manchester accent); Micky's got pipes like an organ. How could Peter's merely decent voice stand up against that?
One of the reasons I think this is either a demo or an early take is that Peter makes several audible errors, and his phrasing sounds like he just got handed the sheet music an hour ago. Mike's version swings more. If I had to choose, as presumably someone (Kirshner? Rafaelson?) did, which one of these to polish in the studio and send out into the world, I'd've made the same choice they did (well, no, let's be honest, I'd have cut a version with Micky double-tracked against himself or with Davy backing and weighed that against the Mike version).
But - here this one is, having survived somehow. Here's Peter's naive vocal, mixed against Davy trying to make him look good, and that muddy mess in the back that's Mike (I'm pretty sure I can hear him specifically on at least one chorus) and maybe Micky, too, trying not to show off. Here's this much simpler hook, this more loping tempo. Here's what may be one of the few non-live versions of a Monkees track prior to Headquarters with all four of them present on the track. Here's poor Peter, the only one who isn't just playing a greatly simplified caricature of himself in the show, telling his audience: I'm not the person you have this image of in your head. I'm not just doing this for the money.
This is - I can't say "this is precious," because that phrase has taken on sarcastic baggage that this doesn't deserve. But it's the only word I can come up with. This is something rare, and maybe a little fragile, something that was discarded and got cruft on it and someone tried to make it right again because they saw the value in it. Here's Peter, singing lead for the first time, and it's not the ferocious, almost angry thing Mike made of it, or the dismissive, laughing thing Davy would have made of it, or the sharp-edged and glittering thing Micky would have made of it. It's vulnerable and a little breaky around the edges, and it makes me want to cry in a way that the commercial release doesn't.
Having heard it now, I am immensely glad this version survived.
On to three more shows ( Behind The Cut )