Friday, June 3, 2016

CD (Fan) Review – Good Times! by The Monkees

The Monkees’ first new album of the 21st century is finally here, and it sets the tone perfectly for the celebration of the group’s 50th anniversary.

Gone are the 1980s gloss rock of Pool It! and the 1990s garage band grit of Justus (both of which are very fine albums and are grossly and unfairly underrated).

In their place is a bright, sparkling, feel-good sound that recalls the musical and cultural zeitgeist of the band’s 1960s heyday, circa 2016.

Produced by Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne and Ivy, the record combines newly completed tracks from the 1960s (allowing the late Davy Jones to appear on Neil Diamond’s very 60s-ish “Love to Love”) with new songs written by surviving Monkees members Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, and Michael Nesmith, as well as Schlesinger and members of Weezer, Death Cab for Cutie, and Oasis.

Even though Dolenz, Tork, and Nesmith are now in their 70s, they sound as vibrant as they did 20, 30, and 50 years ago. And they get to really showcase their voices to great effect, especially as this time around most of the instrumentation is handled by other musicians.

Vocal/song highlights include Dolenz on the exuberant “Gotta Give It Time,” Jones on the aforementioned “Love to Love,” Nesmith on the poetic “I Know What I Know” (although the version on Nesmith's Videoranch Web site is far superior), Tork on the folksy “I Wasn't Born to Follow,” and Nesmith and Dolenz on both the beautiful “Me and Magdalena” (especially the deluxe album version) and the Heady, psychedelic “Birth of an Accidental Hipster.”

I like Good Times! very much, as well as Pool It! and Justus. They are all equally excellent albums in their own right, each with its unique strengths and infectious idiosyncrasies.

Good Times! is the ultimate 50th anniversary gift from the remaining Monkees to each other, to Davy Jones, and to the fans.

--Raj Manoharan

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