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Friday, 30 December 2016

Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!: Day 365 - Good Times! in 2016

With all the really good albums released in 2016 it was quite hard to pick my most favourite one as the choices were quite tough but one album in particular really stood out for me and since its release back in May I have played it at lease once or even twice a week at times.

 Good Times! - The Monkees
Rhino Records
Produced by Adam Schlesinger & Andrew Sandoval
Released 27th May 2016
US Chart #14
UK Chart #29

Good Times! (Deluxe Version with Bonus Tracks)

CD Deluxe Edition
 Good Times!
Track Listing (with songwriters noted)
1. "Good Times" (Harry Nilsson)
2. "You Bring The Summer" (Andy Partridge)
3. "She Makes Me Laugh" (Rivers Cuomo)
4. "Our Own World" (Adam Schlesinger)
5. "Gotta Give It Time" (Jeff Barry/Joey Levine)
6. "Me & Magdalena" (Ben Gibbard)
7. "Whatever's Right" (Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart)
8. "Love To Love" (Neil Diamond)
9. "Little Girl" (Peter Tork)
10. "Birth Of An Accidental Hipster" (Noel Gallagher/Paul Weller)
11. "I Wasn't Born To Follow" (Carole King/Gerry Goffin)
12. "I Know What I Know" (Michael Nesmith)
13. "I Was There (And I'm Told I Had A Good Time)" (Micky Dolenz/Adam Schlesinger
14. Terrifying (Zach Rogue)
15. "Me & Magdalena (Version 2)"  (Ben Gibbard)

In the US the Vinyl Release included a bonus Limited Edition 7". This was only available from Barnes & Noble.

Side 1
Side 2

All tracks including the bonus 7" and tracks featured on the Deluxe Edition of the album are included in the Playlist above.

Today it is the 74th Birthday of Michael Nesmith of The Monkees.  It would also have been the 71st Birthday of Davy Jones of The Monkees (he passed away 29th February 2012).

I know I posted about their Good Times! album way back in May but it is a good time to revisit it I think as I've updated the Playlist to include all tracks from the album as well as the bonus tracks from the Deluxe and Bonus 7" single.

When I was thinking about some of my favourite albums of 2016 one of the best I think was this first studio album in 20 years from The Monkees and released in their 50th Anniversary year! People might wonder why on earth a bunch of blokes in their Seventies are still making music (and still going out on tour as well!). One listen to this album and you can really understand exactly why they are still at it. Their is a real freshness to the sound and a new spring in their step (or shuffle!).

The owners of Rhino Records (John Hughes and Mark Pinkus) were the ones who first floated the idea of a new album from The Monkees to celebrate their 50th Anniversary. Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne was hired to produce the album. The project initially was going to include unreleased songs by a number of the songwriters they used back in the 1960s - Carole King & Gerry Goffin, Neil Diamond, Tommy Boyce, Harry Nilsson and Bobby Hart . The plan was expanded and newer writers like Andy Partridge (XTC), Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie), Paul Weller/Noel Gallagher and Schlesinger himself ended up contributing freshly written songs.

All four of The Monkees are represented on the album including a long lost vocal from Davy Jones.

Peter Tork, Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith (coming out of semi-retirement) also have contributed a song each. Most of the vocals are by Micky Dolenz but Peter Tork takes the lead for Little Girl and the Carole King & Gerry Goffin penned I Wasn't Born to Follow, and Michael Nesmith for I Know What I Know. Gibbard's Me and Magdalena has Dolzenz and Nesmith singing together as does Weller & Gallagher's Birth of an Accidental Hipster.

Some tracks on the album have their roots in songs going back to the 1960's: album opener Good Times was originally a 1967 demo from Harry Nilsson that they managed to turn into a duet between Micky Dolenz and Nilsson! There's also Love To Love, which had been a discarded song written by Neil Diamond and is here with an updated backing track but with the original vocal by Davy Jones. Whatever's Right and also Gotta Give It Time use music from original tapes recorded in the 1960's.

The newer songs I think sound absolutely stunning and in some ways whilst it sounded like it could be a bit of a car wreck with such a diverse bunch of writers, they actually made it that the songs could only have been recorded by The Monkees.

Reviews for the album were generally very positive (the negative ones were quite few - The Evening Standard and The Irish Times and The Times gave it a bit of mixed review). A 4 out of 5 review by The Independent, who declared that Good Times! was "probably The Monkees' best album, after their hits compilation." The New York Times concluded their review  "Fifty years later, the Monkees are still endearing", while Record Collector stated "to everyone’s considerable relief and delight, they’ve pulled it off. They really have," and gave the album four stars. Rob Sheffield, writing for Rolling Stone said, "Monkees freaks have waited far too long for this album. But it was worth it." Barry Divola in the Australian edition of Rolling Stone gave it full marks whilst noting "Producer Adam Schlesinger of Fountains Of Wayne knows a thing or five about classic pop, and although Good Times! is a Frankenstein's monster of something old, something new and something in between, he manages to orchestrate the whole thing into something beyond an embarrassing heritage act." Ultimate Classic Rock declared it "is nothing short of a masterpiece."

Mojo music magazine ranked it #30 in The 50 Best Albums of 2016.

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