Friday, June 3, 2016

Album Review: The Monkees - Good Times!

2016 marks the 50th anniversary of The Monkees and what could be better to mark that milestone than with an album of songs written by some of the best songwriters of this generation.

That is appropriate since the best songwriters of the 1960s wrote for the band back in their hey day.

Andy Partridge of XTC penned the catchy "You Bring The Summer" Rivers Cuomo contributed the bubble gum pop, "She Makes Me Laugh."  Dolenz handles the lead vocals on both of those songs, but rather than sounding like new Monkees songs, they sound like Micky Dolenz covering songs by Weezer and XTC.   That isn't a deterrent though, these songs are playful and fun. They have the Monkees spirit.

The whole album delivers what Monkees are known for, perfect pop songs, sung by Micky, Mike and Peter.

One of the album's shining moments is "Our Own World." The song penned by Schlesinger, of Fountains of Wayne, is pure pop perfection. Of course, this is the man that wrote "Stacey's Mom" He knows a thing or two about bubblegum pop music.

Mike Nesmith gets the other shining star "Me and Magdalena." This song sounds like it could have been pulled from 1968's The Birds The Bees The Monkees. It has that quirkiness that was found in a lot of Mike's later offerings for The Monkees. Micky's harmony vocals enhance the beauty of the album. He gets another stellar song on the Gallagher/Weller penned "Birth of An Accidental Hipster". Mike makes the songs his own which makes them all the better.

The bittersweet thing about this album is the inclusion of "Love To Love" a song featuring vocals by Davy Jones. This Neil Diamond penned tune features one of Davy's most hauntingly beautiful vocals. Its hard to believe that this song has only appeared on compilations prior to this album.

Peter contributes the folksy pop song "Little Girl."  It is so good to hear Peter singing something worthy of him, which isn't something that happened during the Monkees Hey day. It is a smart sweet song, much like its singer who got cast as the band's nitwit. He also gets the stunning "Wasn't Born To Follow," a Goffin/King song that seemed to be written especially for Peter. Even at 74 Tork delivers innocence in his vocals

The album closes with "I Was There (And I'm Told I Had A Good Time)." Which is the perfect song for a band that was as big as The Beatles for a brief period in the 60s. After all, when it comes to the 60s, if you can remember it, you probably weren't there. Micky's vocals are again spot on. This man can still rock out with the best of them.

For three guys who are in their 70s, this album is solid and proof that a good voice doesn't always fade with age. Mickey Dolenz sounds as good on Good Times as he did 50 years ago.

What is interesting about Good Times! is that that first half of the album is modern sounding, or rather the Monkees sounding like the songwriters who wrote for them on this album. The result there is The Monkees like you've never heard them before. The second half of the album is like a trip back in time. Its like the Monkees never changed in the 50 years since they burst onto the scene.

Good Times! reminds all of us that you don't have be twentysomething to make great music. This is one of the best albums you'll hear all year, and it will leave a smile on your face. Hey, Hey, It's the Monkees, and we're so glad they are back!

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