CD REVIEW: THE MONKEES – Good Times!
27 May, 2016
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
As hard as it is to imagine The Monkees making any kind of album at all fifty years on from their assembly for a television show, it’s impossible to think they could have made a better one than this glittering gem that plays to their many strengths and abundantly rich history.
Their twelfth studio album, and the first since 1996’s Justus, Good Times! pulls together a little of everything which made the band so great.
For starters, Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork and Michael Nesmith were adamant that their late fourth part, Davey Jones, would be present, so they dug up his recording of Neil Diamond’s Love To Love, from the 1967 sessions that eventually became third album Headquarters. Originally recorded with producer Don Kirshner, once he was outed the band insisted on recording only their own compositions, so this one (and who knows how many others) was shelved. Given a lick of paint and new backing vocals from his surviving bandmates, it’s a repolished gem.
Next, producer Adam Schlesinger (Fountains Of Wayne) started accumulating previously unreleased tracks by songwriters for the band’s initial run, as well as inviting some contempories to come up with a song for the project.
The result reads like a dream team: songs by Harry Nilsson, XTC’s Andy Partridge, Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo and even a co-write by Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher (the suitably mod groove of Birth Of An Accidental Hipster).
Dolenz takes lead on most of the tracks, with Nesmith and Tork mainly focussing on backing vocals and some music, but all three contribute new songs to the project (the Dolenz/Schlesinger closing track I Was There (And I’m Told I Had A Good Time) is hilariously appropriate).
The Monkees fought long and hard to be recognised as songwriters and musos – indeed, to be seen as a real band – for many years, but here they wisely accept that much of their best music was made in collaboration with others, and, older & wiser, they go with the flow. The result is a wonderful album which invokes the spirit of the band like nothing they’ve made since their earliest days, and a credit to all those involved. One imagines Davey Jones would approve.
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