The Monkees

Take a Giant Step

Song Review by

"Take a Giant Step" was one of the selections chosen by Don Kirshner -- then head of Screen Gems-Columbia Music -- for the Monkees' first album. Kirshner's nickname as "the Man With the Golden Ear" was well deserved, as evidenced by his impressive stable of talent. Among them were the established (then) husband-and-wife team of Gerry Goffin and Carole King -- who had already scored huge hits with the Chiffons' "One Fine Day" and "Locomotion" for Little Eva, among others. The song's garage rock feel caught the attention of folk/blues enthusiasts Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder, whose L.A.-based combo the Rising Sons were covering it in their live sets. They also recorded it, although their version remained unreleased until the 1992 Rising Sons Featuring Taj Mahal & Ry Cooder collection was issued. Then Mahal revisited the number as the title track to 1968's Giant Step, his long-player. As was customary -- if not standard operating procedure -- at the time, Kirshner and Monkees producers Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart created an instrumental backing with some of the finest pop/rock studio stalwarts that Hollywood had to offer -- such as heavyweights Louie Shelton (guitar), future Canned Heat member Larry Taylor (bass), Billy Lewis (drums), Gene Estes (percussion), and Michel Rubini (harpsichord). When Micky Dolenz added his lead vocal, the tune was deemed good enough for the flip side of the Monkees' debut single, "Last Train to Clarksville." The 45 was unleashed several weeks prior to the premiere of the TV show and immediately shot to the top of the charts, leading the way for the ensuing Monkeemania. The popularity of "Take a Giant Step" resulted in a prominent spot in the Monkees' TV series episode "Royal Flush" and a subsequent appearance later that season in "The Chaperone," with an alternate vocal. Other interesting readings include Chant's rendition on 1992's Here No Evil: A Tribute to the Monkees and the deliciously psychedelic version by Grateful Dead associates Tom Constanten and Bob Bralove on Dose Hermanos' Search for Intelligent Life in 2000.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The Monkees 1966 Rhino 2:31
No Image 1980 EMI Music Distribution 2:30
No Image 1981 MFP
More Greatest Hits 1982 Arista 2:36
Then & Now...The Best of the Monkees 1986 Arista 0:00
Listen to the Band 1991 Rhino 2:32
Hey Hey We're the Monkees 1996 DJ Specialist 2:32
Anthology 1998 Rhino 2:34
20 Greatest Hits 2000 2:33
Music Box 2001 Rhino 2:33
The Definitive Monkees 2002 WEA / WEA Int'l 2:31
Original Album Series 2010 Rhino 2:31
Monkeemania: The Very Best of the Monkees 2011 Rhino 2:31
The Monkees 50 2016 Rhino 2:35
Summer of Love [2017] 2017
Various Artists
Rhino 2:31