The Monkees: Good Times! (Warners)

 |   |  1 min read

Birth of an Accidental Hipster
The Monkees: Good Times! (Warners)

Half a century after they first appeared as a made-for-television pop band, the surviving Monkees (Mickey Dolenz, Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork) have reconvened to tie up some unfinished business and record new songs written for them by the likes of Noel Gallagher with Paul Weller, River Cuomo of Weezer and Andy Partridge (XTC).

Nesmith and Tork also wrote a song apiece, and Dolenz gets off a casual throwaway at the end with I Was There (And I'm Told I Had A Good Time).

Produced by Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne), these 13 songs leap across time. The pleasant Love to Love was written for the band in the Sixties by Neil Diamond – referencing Cherry Cherry a little in this treatment – and features the late Davy Jones beamed in from the demo; the enjoyable optimistic title track comes from a demo written by the late Harry Nilsson (although far from his greatest moment) who duets with Dolenz on it from beyond the grave; and the Boyce-Hart Whatever's Right is as pleasingly formulaic as many of their Sixties hits for the band and others.

But Nesmith brings no magic to a plodding treatment of Wasn't Born to Flow which falls well short of the Byrds' poetically psychedelic-folk version (heard in Easy Rider) and his original I Know What I Know isn't up to much, if anything.

Tork's Little Girl is a chintzy folksy piece of no fixed relevance.

The contemporary writers see the Monkees through a colourful pop kaleidoscope and go for the cheery end of their spectrum: Partridge's delightful You Bring the Summer is a breezy, handclap slice of shiny lightly psychedelic pop with backwards guitars (and a sentiment which sounds like Cliff Richard and the Shadows from '63 more than the Monkees); Cuomo also goes for a similarly picnic blanket-cum-happy days with She Makes Me Laugh; Schlesinger most effectively replicates the Monkees' McCartney-lite sound and period with Our Own World.

Gallagher and Weller nail the more musically baffling latter end of the Monkees career with their psyche-pop Birth of an Accidental Hipster given to Nesmith and Dolenz. It's even got phasing.

Nesmith brings something special to the thoughtfully adult ballad Me and Magdalena (written by Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard).

Those who admired the Monkees at the time always felt Nesmith was the musical pivot but mostly he is a disappointment here, and Dolenz is the most enthusiastic (as he always was).

Other than the somewhat un-Monkee Partridge song, it is that Nilsson-Dolenz opener and the Dolenz throwaway at the end which most suggest the Monkees' magic, because they don't take themselves too seriously.

Disappointingly uneven and just a curious footnote to an enjoyable pop career which ended in '68.

For more on the Monkees see here

Share It

Your Comments

Relic - Jun 2, 2016

just my plastic cup of frozen coke–but then I still listen to “Love You” BeachBoys-1977, try playing “Good Times” for someone, but save the backstory and song credits till later, the combined history and skill just leaps out of this one. GRAHAM REPLIES: Agreed, in a way. If you don't think "Monkees" then it is about half of a decent album. But there's still a lot of mundane tripe!

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Anika Moa: Love in Motion (EMI)

Anika Moa: Love in Motion (EMI)

Curiously enough, the initial whisper on this fourth album by the New Zealand singer-songwriter was that she had, after albums of an acoustic persuasion, "made a rock album". That... > Read more

John Murry: The Graceless Age (Universal)

John Murry: The Graceless Age (Universal)

With all the high-profile, well-marketed albums around it's inevitable small players from darker corners go overlooked, but this extraordinary debut of original material by a Tupelo-born... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Buenos Aires, Argentina: Days of Heaven

Buenos Aires, Argentina: Days of Heaven

There’s a typewriter in Heaven. I’ve seen it -- and for me, who has spent a good part of my life tapping on a keyboard, this was a depressing discovery. I’d thought Heaven,... > Read more

Various Artists: Panama!3 (Sound Way)

Various Artists: Panama!3 (Sound Way)

This third installment of this excellent and enjoyable on-going series of music pulled from old singles is subtitled "Calypso Panameno, Guajira Jazz and Cumbia Tipica on the Isthmus... > Read more