The Monkees have delivered one of the greatest comebacks of the new century. Helmed by producer Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne), Good Times! sees the surviving Monkees, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork, working with a mix of contemporary songwriters alongside tunesmiths used in their heyday.
Celebrating their 50th anniversary, the set kicks off with the title track, a raucous duet from Dolenz and Harry Nilsson. (Nesmith produced Nilsson’s scratch vocal in 1968, while Dolenz was added seamlessly in 2016.) XTC’s Andy Partridge contributes the first slice of sheer sonic joy, You Bring the Summer, cut this year. Dolenz sounds as good as he did in 1967.
Rivers Cuomo (Weezer) penned the almost equally infectious She Makes Me Laugh while Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie) offers up the mid-tempo marvel Me & Magdalena. The latter is superbly sung by Nesmith with Dolenz offering a close harmony. The new tunes are rounded out by the psych-rock of Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller’s Birth of an Accidental Hipster.
A raid on the vaults yields Davy Jones singing Neil Diamond’s Love to Love. Known to completists, the rarity has been remixed with additional backing vocals from Dolenz and Tork. Tork then hits it out of the park, singing lead on I Wasn’t Born to Follow (his new vocal was added to a Goffin-King backing track from 1968).
Only a supreme optimist could have hoped that the Monkees would come up with an album as good as this in 2016. Great songs, clever production and the whiff of nostalgia have created a genuine modern classic.
- Sean Sennett
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