Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Standing Upright

Who would have thought that someone would ask in 2016 "have you heard the latest Monkees album?" But a new one is out, the aptly named Good Times!  And it's a hit, having charted in the top 20.  The tunes are by songwriters old and new, but generally feature a throwback sound, which is just what the audience wants.

The Monkees were developed as a TV show in the mid-60s, but became a gigantic musical act, and--despite how the hip people felt back then--had wonderful songs.  It helped they had the best producers, songwriter and session players, but it also worked out the four were pretty good musicians.

Their first five albums, released while their show was on the air, went platinum in an age when that was rare, and the first four went to #1.  Once the show was over, however, and their movie Head flopped, no one paid much attention to them any more. But they kept turning out good material. Perhaps not at the same level, but it was still there if you wanted to look for it.

Head has held up fairly well as a film, and the soundtrack, perhaps not quite as good as what they had for their TV show, features some solid stuff.  I enjoy the freakout number "Do I Have To Do This All Over Again?"written and sung by Peter Tork.

Then came their Torkless album Instant Replay.  Without a TV show (though perhaps with the support of Marcia Brady) it only hit #32, but there are fine songs on it--some from older sessions.  For instance, the Goffin/King "I Won't Be The Same Without Her," sung by Mike Nesmith.

Their next album, The Monkees Present, only hit #100.  But once again, some nice tunes.  For instance, the Boyce and Hart "Looking For The Good Times," sung by Davy Jones.

By their next album, Changes, Mike Nesmith had left.  It only hit #152 and seemed to be the end of the line, but there were still numbers worth sampling.  For example, "Oh My My," by Jeff Barry and Andy Kim, sung by Mickey Dolenz.

The band called it quits (or did one of them leave, making the other guy a solo act against his will?), but there was a revival of interest in the 1980s when MTV aired their show.  So The Monkees (just Dolenz and Tork at the time) recorded a single, "That Was Then, This Is Now," written by Vance Brescia.  It went to #20, and deserved to be a hit.

The Monkees (usually Dolenz, Jones and Tork) went on to record a bit more, shoot a TV special, and tour a whole lot.  Then Davy died in 2012.  Mike has returned and their new album is out there for everyone to enjoy.  People seem especially to like the Rivers Cuomo song "She Makes Me Laugh."


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10:21 PM, July 11, 2016  

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