Take the last train to Christmas, and enjoy pure pop goofiness, harmony and personality with the implausibly still-around Monkees, the late ‘60s TV sensations who are still as fun today as they were then.
Micky Dolenz handles most of the vocals, though Michael Nesmith sings on two songs and Peter Tork is on the banjo-laden “Angels We Have Heard on High.” Davy Jones, who died in 2012, sings lead on two tracks via tapes he recorded in 1991, backed by new instrumentation. His “Silver Bells” and “Mele Kalikimaka” will make a daydream believer out of you, too.
“Unwrap You at Christmas” sets the tone for this lighthearted holiday romp, leading into the whimsical “What Would Santa Do?”
Most interesting is “House of Broken Gingerbread,” with its unmistakable ‘60s psychedelic feel. Built around a funky guitar riff, “Christmas Party” arrives at the conclusion that one holiday blowout year is enough: “Remember last year/Cops had to shut us down twice.”
The Monkees also cover classic Christmas tunes from Roy Wood (”I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday”) Paul McCartney (”Wonderful Christmastime”), and the oft-covered “Merry Christmas, Baby,” which is way more bad-ass than one would expect from The Monkees.
Guest musicians include XTC’s Andy Partridge, R.E.M.’s Peter Buck and Adam Schlesinger, who produced as well.
— Wayne Parry (twitter.com/WayneParryAC)