The Monkees – Good Times!
2016, Rhino Entertainment
1. Good Time
2. You Bring the Summer
3. She Makes Me Laugh
4. Our Own World
5. Gotta Give It Time
6. Me & Magdalena
7. Whatever’s Right
8. Love to Love
9. Little Girl
10. Birth of an Accidental Hipster
11. Wasn’t Born to Follow
12. I Know What I know
13. I Was There (And I’m Told I Had a Good Time)
Digital Bonus Tracks:
15. Me & Magdalena (Version 2)
Micky Dolenz – Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals, Drums
Peter Tork – Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals, Banjo, Organ, Keyboards, Guitar
Michael Nesmith – Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals, Guitar
Davy Jones – Lead Vocals
Producer: Adam Schlesinger
Fifty years after their debut album, who would have ever thought The Monkees would release a new album in 2016? Without Davy Jones (R.I.P.)? With Michael Nesmith?
Smartly, the album doesn’t try to sound contemporary as 1987’s Pool It! and 1996’s Justus attempted. Instead, Good Times! offers up thirty-seven minutes of ’60s-style rock ‘n’ roll and power pop that the Monkees are known for. This sound is partly achieved because the archives were opened and a few unused songs were dusted off. “Good Time” was a song Harry Nilsson had demoed for the band. It has been turned into a duet between Nilsson and Dolenz. “Love to Love” was penned by Neil Diamond and originally recorded with Davy Jones on lead vocals during the Headquarters sessions. It was previously released as a bonus track years ago, but this version features the addition of backing vocals from Dolenz and Tork.
“Whatever’s Right” is a track from the songwriting team of Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart (these guys wrote the Monkees theme song and “Last Train to Clarksville” among other popular Monkees song). “Gotta Give It Time” and “Wasn’t Born to Follow” also were written by frequent Monkees contributors during the group’s heyday. Finally, there’s “Little Girl”, which was written by Peter Tork and intended for Davy to sing on back in the day, but was forgotten before any recording could be done.
So you’ve got six tracks that are deeply rooted in prime Monkees era. They were either written, demoed, or recorded during the late ’60s by people who already had an established connection with the group and I appreciate their inclusion.
But how does the new stuff fare? Well, it’s actually extremely good, and it still captures the spirit of The Monkees despite being written (or co-written) by members of Weezer, Oasis, Fountains of Wayne, and Deathcab for Cutie. My four of my five favorite songs come from these new sessions. “She Makes Me Laugh” (written by Rivers Cuomo of Weezer) is already one of my all-time favorites from the Monkees. Another track that you’d swear was cut in the 1960s is “You Bring the Summer”. Rounding out the best of the new are the ballads “Me & Magdalena” and “I Know What I Know”. Michael Nesmith is on lead vocals for both of those tracks and wrote “I Know What I Know”.
Sadly, Nesmith is not joining Dolenz & Tork on the upcoming tour due to a book deal commitment, but has expressed he’s open to touring later this year. I hope that happens, because these guys are all in their 70’s and it’s really sad that all four members didn’t get to give the world one more tour & album before Davy passed away in 2012.
I imagine this is going to be the last Monkees album and it’s a high note to go out on. This is a must-have release for anyone who is a fan of the band.
Highlights: “You Bring the Summer”, “She Makes Me Laugh”, “Me & Magdalena”, “Love to Love”, “Birth of an Accidental Hipster”, “I Know What I Know”