The Monkees – Good Times: The Official Nerfed Llamas Review – Still Monkee-ing Around After 50 Years
If you had told me on January 1st 2016 that not only would the Monkees release a brand new album (their first new album in 20 years) but that it would be a serious contender for my album of the year, I would have told you that you were crazy. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Monkees. Their brand of jangle-bubblegum-pop from the sixties is a tremendous list of amazing songs. Daydream Believer, Last Train To Clarksville, Pleasant Valley Sunday, Listen To The Band, and many more are as good to listen to today as they were nearly 50 years ago. Released today, May 27 2016, Good Times by the Monkees is a seriously great rock album that you should add to your collection ASAP.
The Monkees are celebrating their 50th Anniversary this year, and as such they have put together a variety of goodies for fans to enjoy above and beyond a new album release. Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork have embarked on a sizable tour throughout the end of Spring and all through the summer. Michael Nesmith may (huge emphasis on may) book a few dates to play with them as well. For all of the information on the tour, click this link. The fellows have also seen fit to release every episode of their original TV series, remastered in high definition, on Blu-Ray, along with a ton of extras including their feature film Head and ton of other bonus material, click here for info on ordering the Blu-Ray box set. Check out this comparison trailer to see how much they’ve cleaned the original video from the TV series up for the Blu-Ray release:
The album starts off raucously with an upbeat duet with Micky Dolenz and Harry Nilsson (using guide vocals that he had recorded before his death in 1994). What strikes you immediately is how authentically retro the song feels. It sounds like a song that could have been recorded during the late sixties. This a theme that is interwoven through the entire album, and is a testament to how much dedication Adam Schlesinger put into making this the best representation of the Monkees that it could be. Other latter day Monkees albums (Pool It, Justus) have been slaves to the studio sound of the time, and although they were good listens, they were missing that classic Monkees feel. Good Times has that feel in spades.
Michael Nesmith gets to lead the slower and more intimate Me & Magdalena (penned by Ben Gibbard), while Micky harmonizes. This track has a fierce intensity to it, as it conveys a message of love beyond measure. The lyrics are a maze and tell a multi-faceted story of love and serenity, which is exactly the kind of magic you would expect from a Nesmith fronted cut. Again, there is a sincerity in the way that the track is recorded that makes it feel less like a 50th Anniversary album and more like a group in the prime of their career.
Peter Tork gets a good chance to shine with his self written track Little Girl. What’s unusually unique about this song is how it seems like more of a track you’d hear on a Doors album. Bluesy and guitar led, Tork croons smoothly. It’s more soulful than what you might expect from the singer of the classic Monkees cut Auntie Grizelda, but certainly more in line with his lesser known recording Lady’s Baby.
Bottom Line: If you are a Monkees fan, this album is a must. If you are a fan of bubblegum pop, this album is a must. If you are a fan of good music in general, this album is a must. If I haven’t made it clear enough, Good Times! is a tremendous achievement by the Monkees and a better celebration of their classic sound than we could have ever expected. This album does not sound like the work of 70 year old men relieving their glory days, it sounds like a collaboration between a group of friends who wanted to come together to record the best music that they possibly could. Good Times! is akin to Paul Simon’s Graceland or Paul McCartney’s Flaming Pie in that it shows that the Monkees still have the magic after all these years. I highly recommend this album to music lovers of all different shades and dimensions. Good Times! can be purchased on CD or Digital right now, and will be available on Vinyl later this year in July.
Take a peak at the video below for a bit of extra insight into the making of the Monkees latest album Good Times!