Four days ago, my friends at Naked Persimmon posted a long list of everything we know about the Monkees’ plans for this year — their tour, album, and Blu-Rays. However, even since then, we’ve had new information about the album, so I thought I’d cover just what we know about the album here. I’ve done this once before, but there’s a lot more news since then.
The album is called “Good Times!”, is produced by Adam Schlesinger, and is a mixture of new stuff and rejigged 60s material, largely unreleased. I created a mixcloud playlist a couple of months ago of those songs we already knew about, but we’ve got a lot more information since then.
The new tracks feature, among other musicians we don’t know about, all three Monkees on their instruments, plus Schlesinger and Andrew Sandoval, Michael Nesmith’s son Christian and Micky Dolenz’s sister Coco. Micky has said in interviews that he takes “90%” of the leads, though this is an exaggeration just from what we know.
The CD and download versions come out on May 27, and the standard CD tracklist is:
1. “Good Times” (Harry Nilsson)
This is a song dating back to 1968, a Nilsson demo recorded at a session produced by Nesmith and featuring Nesmith on guitar. The track has been completed this year, with a new vocal by Micky turning it into a duet.
2. “You Bring The Summer” (Andy Partridge)
This one is, according to Partridge on Iain Lee’s radio show, Partridge writing in the style of Neil Diamond (“Because Goffin and King would be too difficult”). It seems to be the track that people were most excited about.
3. “She Makes Me Laugh” (Rivers Cuomo)
This is the first single, written by Rivers Cuomo of Weezer, and will be out next week.
4. “Our Own World” (Adam Schlesinger)
We know nothing of this song, but Schlesinger has a good track record with powerpop type stuff.
5. “Gotta Give It Time” (Jeff Barry/Joey Levine)
Presumably this is the same song that is listed here (warning — 90s flashing-background website may trigger epilepsy) as being recorded by Freddie and the Fourgone Conclusions. In which case it’s this:
(EDIT Discogs says of the song “[it] was originally a demo given to the Monkees but was never recorded” so this is almost certainly the same song.
6. “Me & Magdalena” (Ben Gibbard)
All we know about this is that Gibbard is the principal songwriter with the indie band Death Cab For Cutie. I don’t know their music, but anyone who names their band after a Bonzos song is probably someone who’ll get the tone right for a Monkees record.
7. “Whatever’s Right” (Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart)
An uncompleted leftover from the 60s. John Hughes of Rhino says this is as good as Boyce and Hart’s best work (he said “It’s not another Tear-Drop City”, talking about how it wasn’t left in the vaults for a reason).
8. “Love To Love” (Neil Diamond)
A previously-released track (in fact released in two different versions) with Davy on lead. They’ve apparently taken the lead vocal and built a new track around it, including harmonies.
9. “Little Girl” (Peter Tork)
This is presumably this song, which was recorded by Tork and James Lee Stanley fifteen years ago for a duo album they did, but as you can tell from the (overlong) introduction to this live version probably dates back much further.
10. “Birth Of An Accidental Hipster” (Noel Gallagher/Paul Weller)
The first time the two writers have ever co-written anything, this has been described as a psychedelic epic in the vein of “Shorty Blackwell”. Nesmith takes the lead.
11. “I Wasn’t Born To Follow” (Carole King/Gerry Goffin)
A country-pop song that the Byrds recorded. A backing track for this was cut in the 60s, featuring Wrecking Crew members, and this is what’s being built on.
12. “I Know What I Know” (Michael Nesmith)
Early reports said that Dolenz was singing lead on this one (which Nez has already made available a few years ago as a solo track, downloadable from his website) but more recently it’s been talked about as a Nez lead. Hopefully we’ll get some Micky/Mike harmonies, as the blend of their voices is the best thing about the Monkees music for me.
13. “I Was There (And I’m Told I Had A Good Time)” (Micky Dolenz/Adam Schlesinger)
The closing track is presumably a nostalgic look back at the 60s, since the “I’m told I had a good time” line is one Dolenz trots out in every interview and show, specifically about a party he attended with the Beatles in 1967 which inspired his song “Randy Scouse Git”.
The download version will have two bonus tracks that aren’t on the CD — Terrifying by Zach Rogue and an alternative version of Me & Magdalena.
FYE (which is apparently a US record store chain) will have an exclusive CD version which will also feature A Better World, a Peter Tork song produced by Andrew Sandoval and featuring a string quartet.
The vinyl won’t be out til late July. In most places the vinyl will feature the standard tracklisting. FYE will have an exclusive teal vinyl version.
Barnes & Noble will also have an exclusive vinyl version, which will come with a 7″ of A Better World backed with Love’s What I Want, another Andy Partridge song, also produced by Sandoval, and featuring Bobby Hart on organ.
Everyone involved has been talking about the album having the feeling of Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd, and while this is clearly a marketing ploy (in the same way as everyone was saying that the Beach Boys’ fiftieth anniversary album sounded like Pet Sounds, which of course it didn’t) as Pisces is the fans’ favourite album, by quite some way, it still sounds from all we know like this will be a genuinely worthwhile album.
I will, of course, be reviewing it on May 27…
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(Tomorrow — a post on politics).