If you would have told The Monkees back in 1965, right before the beginning of Monkeemania, that in 2016 they would record a 50th anniversary studio album and supporting it with a 50 date cross-country tour, they’d have probably given you a humble grin, laughed politely, and quickly changed the subject thinking you were “bananas.” Whether they’d have hoped it was true or not, I can’t say, but the guys have done quite well for themselves as The Monkees and as individuals with endeavors beyond the made-for-TV pop culture phenomenon.
Early on the band had nearly as many critics as they had fans, claiming that they weren’t “for real” and were an American-made carbon copy of the Beatles. Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith, and Peter Tork have proved all of those critics wrong by continuing to be beloved household names across several generations of music lovers (I still watch the reruns every weekend!). Though each member has lived their lives being so much more than “just” a Monkee, the fact that they still warm the hearts of millions with their zany television antics and bright poppy tunes is reason enough to remind the world they never went away. They are true musicians with staying power that will resonate for another 50 years and longer.
Micky and Peter, two of the original four Monkees, are out on the road this fall promoting the newly released Good Times! album. Check (here) for a list of tour dates because they “may be coming to your town!”
Good Times!, produced by Fountains of Wayne’s bassist and movie composer Adam Schlesinger (That Thing You Do!, Music & Lyrics), is the perfect blend of pop and rock, reminiscent of the original Monkees sound while still sounding current and appealing to a new generation of listeners. A collaborative effort of old friends and new, the album features songs written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, Neil Diamond and Harry Nilsson. Even Weezer’s frontman Rivers Cuomo makes a songwriting appearance with “She Makes Me Laugh,” landing the honor of the song being the first single release. Mike Nesmith is a part of the album but is not out on tour with Micky and Peter, with the exception of a handful of shows he has chosen to join in for.
The late Davy Jones (2012) is featured on the album in a vintage vocal track on “Love To Love”, a Neil Diamond song recorded in 1969. Micky and Peter added their background vocals earlier this year and Peter recalls in the album’s liner notes, “that day in the studio, we could just pretend Davy was out getting a cup of tea or something.” The Monkees have maintained life-long friendships over the decades and were all devastated at the sudden passing of their comrade, the “Manchester Cowboy.” One of the many ways they keep Davy’s memory alive is by singing along with his vocal track on “Daydream Believer” when they perform it live. Micky refers to it as “Davy’s song” in interviews and says that it’s just not right without him.
As if to carry on an unspoken tradition, also included on Good Times! is a classic Carole King/Gerry Goffin song on the record that was originally recorded by The Byrds in 1968. With “Wasn’t Born To Follow”, Peter delivers a smooth and dreamy vocal on this very poetic and complex lyric. Since their debut, The Monkees have recorded over a dozen songs written by Carole King and a handful of co-writers, as King had a songwriting contract with music publishing giant and producer, Don Kirshner, the musical supervisor of The Monkees TV Show. These gems include “Pleasant Valley Sunday”,
“Porpoise Song” (Theme from Head), “Take A Giant Step”, “Sweet Young Thing” (with Mike Nesmith), “Sometime in The Morning”, and Star Collector.
Good Times! is sure to have your head bobbing along to the beat, and maybe even reminiscing about the good old days if you grew up in the 60’s. Or if you’re like me, an oldies lover that grew up in the early 90’s, you might find yourself wishing you could go back in time to experience Monkeemania. Either way, grab yourself a copy of the album today and pick up some tickets to a show! I will be attending and reviewing the St. Louis date, so stay tuned!
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