Hey, hey they they’re the Monkees…and they’re not monkeying around. In fact, the pop/rock band has just embarked on a 6-month nationwide tour as it prepares its first album of new material since 1997 (“Good Times!”) – all just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Monkees’ television debut. Reporter Andy Greene recounts exactly what’s what in the latest issue of Rolling Stone.
While far from being among the young generation (Micky Dolenz is 70), the band still has something to say, thanks in large part to a range of contemporary and historical songwriters who are contributing material to the LP, due June 10th. That includes River Cuomo and Noel Gallagher as well as older tunes from the 60s, written for the group but never recorded, from heavyweight authors Harry Nilsson, Carol King and Neil Diamond.
Perhaps most touching will be the release of the Diamond penned song “Love to Love” which will feature vocals from the late Davey Jones. To help ease the loss, Michael Nesmith (he of the perpetual stocking cap) has returned to record with Peter Tork and Dolenz for the first time since the band’s breakup in 1971, although Nesmith won’t tour.
From the iconic guitar-shapred logo to the breezy, catchy tunes, the Monkees brand has endured as have their fans who are sure to pack venues just as sure as they consumed the group’s music back in the day. Wikipedia notes, in fact, that the Monkees have sold over 75 million records worldwide, outselling at their peak in 1967 the Beatles and the Rolling Stones combined.
Nostalgia is a powerful and incredible thing. Far from one-hit wonders, the Monkees run on TV and radio lasted a mere three years. Yet, long before social media, the band’s promotional tentacles stretched to multiple platforms that included everything from teenybopper magazines to toys (I possessed a very odd-looking, multi-headed pull and play). Timing was also kind, as the group offered fun and escape and an alternative to the tension, drugs and revolution of the Vietnam era. Best of all, their music made your toes tap and their antics made you laugh. Welcome back.