50 years ago lightning struck America like a magic storm, and I don’t just mean the Monkees. Pop culture was exploding in so many ways. Everywhere you looked, everything was awesome. Frank Sinatra was still great, bossa nova even! The Beach Boys created Pet Sounds. James Bond was super fun, including all the super spy spoofs. We had Raquel Welch, mini skirts, the Justice League of America, beach movies and Dick Dale – King of the Surf Guitar. Star Trek. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. The space age race and crazy cool space toys. Major Matt Mason. The Outer Space Men (aliens) from Colorforms. The list goes on and on, and of course the Beatles were at the top of their game and it was time for an American Hard Day’s Night.
Enter “four insane boys.”
I didn’t watch the Monkees during their prime time slot at night. At least I don’t remember that being a thing. I was one of those Banana Splits and Scooby-Doo kids that caught the Monkees on Saturday mornings with Kellogg’s cereal commercials. Bottom line, my generation didn’t think of the Monkees as the American Beatles. We thought of them as fun. We wanted to live in the beach house, ride around L.A. in the Monkeemobile, fall in love every week and never have real jobs. But best of all, wow, the music was awesome, and guess what, kids? They’re still making it happen!
Good Times is the latest offering from the Monkees and the first Monkees album produced after the death of Davy Jones. However, fear not, we still get a great Jones track, but let’s just go ahead and take the good times track by track:
Track 1: “Good Times.”
Written by Harry Nilsson.
You know, the dude that wrote “Without You,” and all those other great songs in the 60s and 70s? Yeah, he cut this track for the Monkees but it apparently got vaulted as the show preemptively and stupidly ended too soon. Anyway, instead of just recording a new version, the band was able to keep Nilsson’s vocal (and guitar work) so Micky could duet with his long lost pal. Their voices blend seamlessly as if they intended the tune to end up this way all along.
Track 2: “You Bring the Summer.”
Written by Andy Partridge.
Yeah, that Andy Partridge! No, not the Partridge Family. XTC! And he’s a great lyricist. This is one of my favorite tunes on Good Times, and I will no doubt be obnoxiously playing it all summer. “I’ll bring the chips and the dips and the root beer. Even though dark purple rain clouds are near, you bring the summer.” Awesome! And Micky nails it all the way to Mike and Peter’s great closing backgrounds. Love it.
Track 3: “She Makes Me Laugh.”
Written by Rivers Cuomo.
Weezer time! This song is so good it almost makes me cry, and serves to forgive for any dumb songs Rivers may have written over the years. Haha. Just kidding (sort of). My favorite. Micky sounds as good as he ever has. People say that often about musicians singing well after the height of their popularity. True here. This is one of the best Monkees songs ever recorded.
Track 4: “Our Own World.”
Written by Adam Schlesinger.
If I were the producer, hell yeah, I’d write a song, too! Adam has all the street cred, tho, not only an award winning songwriter/producer – the bass player for Fountains of Wayne. Again, another great Dolenz lead vocal. I would think the other guys would have strangled Micky by this point for doin’ monkee flips on the first four tracks.
Track 5: “Gotta Give it Time.”
Written by Jeff Berry and Joey Levine.
This tune definitely sounds like one of rescued songs from the vault. I know Berry wrote tons of hits and he’s in the hall of fame and Joey got his start the year the Monkees took off. This time machine stuff is very cool.
Track 6: “Me & Magdalena.”
Written by Benjamin Gibbard.
Makes me wanna check out the Death Cab For Cutie catalog for some gems, cuz I think most Monkees fans are thankful for this song. Both Micky and Mike wanted to sing this, so we get a double lead that proves these guys can step back into that flying saucer and spin anytime they want. Perfection.
Track 7: “Whatever’s Right.”
Written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart.
How cool is it to have a Boyce & Hart tune! This song sounds like it came straight out of a beach party dance scene. Dig it.
Track 8: “Love to Love.”
Written by Neil Diamond.
What? Want some Davy? Hell yeah, you do. “Love to Love” is an A+ tune that’s been around from the days of the second season of the Monkees TV show, and truly, should have been on one of the original albums despite whatever conflicts existed with Don Kirshner. I first heard “Love” on the Monkees: Missing Links, Vol. 3 album and then on the Headquarters deluxe version, and if that’s not enough, it was played for years on XM radio’s Underground Garage station. However, this is the final/official mix with the rest of the Monkees filling in backgrounds. To put this in perspective, it’s like when Brian Wilson finally put the finishing touches to one of the songs on Smile. “Love to Love” fits perfectly on this album, and it’s so refreshing and welcome to hear Davy’s voice on this record.
Track 9: “Little Girl.”
Written by Peter Tork.
I love Peter’s voice. He didn’t get as much opportunity as he should have to explore his vocal ability in the Monkees, but it’s essential here. He says this song was meant to be a follow up to “I Wanna Be Free” for Davy, and I’m super happy to hear it now.
Track 10: “Birth of an Accidental Hipster.”
Written by Noel Gallagher.
I don’t know much about Noel or his band Oasis. Obviously, I’m aware they’re popular, at least in England, but here’s the cool thing. That English vibe definitely taps into the late Beatles period. I only wish Davy were on this one. Nice job.
Track 11: “Wasn’t Born to Follow.”
Written by Carol King & Gerry Goffin.
Ever hear of them? Yeah, you have. So sublime for Monkees fans. Peter Tork. Sounds like classic folk and yet modern. Yo, Peter, did ya ever think of teaming of with Al Jardine of the Beach Boys for at least one tune? I mean, what the heck, did someone miss a memo?
Track 12: “I Know What I Know.”
Written by Michael Nesmith. Sung by Mike Nesmith. Nothing to hate here. Have you bought the album yet?
Track 13: “I Was There (And I’m Told I Had a Good Time).”
Written by Micky Dolenz.
Perfect closer. There are also two bonus tunes that are fun. You can find them on I-Tunes. If you wanted a review that was more objectionable, you ain’t gonna get it here. I love Good Times!
May 28, 2016
"The Monkees Good Times!: Review"
by Bradley Mason Hamlin.
Copyright © 2016 by Mystery Island Publications.
Published 06.01.16. All rights reserved.
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