The Monkees are celebrating their 50th anniversary with a new album, Good Times! It features music not only written by the Monkees themselves but also by some of their favorites 60’s songwriters (Neil Diamond and Carol King, to name a few) as well as more contemporary songwriters (Andy Partridge of XTC, River Cuomo from Weezer, Noel Gallagher from Oasis, and more).
And while there’s a lot on this album of significance for Monkees fans, the most significant fact is that it’s a great album. Whether or not you’ve ever heard of the Monkees, Neil Diamond, or River Cuomo, you can still appreciate this fun album.
The Monkees are best known for their catchy pop songs, and this album has plenty. A good example is “You Bring The Summer”, written by XTC’s Andy Partridge, who, in his quirky style, writes a summer song that takes place in winter.
But the Monkees also have deeper tracks where they stray from the pop sound, and they do so on Good Times! as well. Take a listen to Noel Gallagher’s and Paul Weller’s “Birth of an Accidental Hipster”.
Each Monkee puts in some amazing vocal work. Micky Dolenz shoulders most of the pop songs, and demonstrates that age has not taken away his range. Peter Tork, who sang lead on the least amount of Monkees songs back in the 60’s, offers some of his best vocal work to date. Mike Nesmith offers a startlingly sparse arrangement of his song “I Know What I Know”, in which his voice seems both strong and frail at the same time. Davy Jones is also featured on this album despite his passing in 2012, due to vocal tracks unearthed for the Neil Diamond song “Love to Love”.
The album also comes with a fun little sticker sheet featuring items from their show.
I won’t do a song by song review here, but would urge you to listen to the album (it’s on YouTube here) and judge for yourself.
Ironically, Davy Jones, who passed away in 2012, may have predicted this album in 1969, with the song “Looking For The Good Times” from the album, The Monkees Present. Davy, your bandmates found the Good Times for you.