Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, and Rhino Records are flabbergasted to say the least. The Monkees’ new album “Good Times!” is still number 1 on amazon.com’s CD chart six days after its release. It’s also a respectable number 22 on iTunes.
The Monkees are in high resurgence. They sold out Town Hall in Manhattan last night, attracting fellow 60s stars Gene Cornish of the Rascals and Mike Love of the Beach Boys. The crowd skewed older but there were plenty of young people. Earlier, my 25 year old waitress at Joe’s Pub (where I saw Bebe Buell rock the crowd at Women of Letters) said to me: “The Monkees? I love the Monkees!” Huh?
If only Davy Jones were alive to see all of this. Mike Nesmith Skyped into the show last night, which he may do on future dates. (His mother invented Liquid Paper– say no more. He doesn’t have to tour.) But Micky and Peter have a terrific band, their videos are totally fun running behind them, and the boys– 70 years old now– don’t lack for energy. Micky’s sister Coco is the main back up singer, making it family affair.
The Monkees were really active from 1967-69. They had a two season TV hit, churned out a dozen top 40 songs, and then hit the wall with a dud movie and album each called “Head.” They were AWOL for the 70s and had a brief Renaissance in the 80s with a hit called “That Was Then, This is Now.” Micky and Davy each performed on Broadway and in touring stage shows. Davy died in 2012 at the young age of 66 from a heart attack. It looked like the Monkees were over.
Not so fast. Last fall, Adam Schlesinger of the Fountains of Wayne was approached by Rhino Records, where the Monkees catalog is parked. It was their 50th anniversary. Schlesinger rounded up some contemporary songwriters who echoed the Monkees’ songwriting bench from the 1960s– like Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Neil Diamond, Harry Nilsson, and Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. The new songwriters gave hits– short, punchy, full of hooks. And Schlesinger dressed them up to sound like modern Monkees.
Now the album is a hit. The Monkees will be touring all year and then go to Australia. In the show they do all the old hits, some new songs, and play along with Davy’s famous video for “Daydream Believer.” The audience sails out on a cloud of pop nostalgia. The set is 30 songs– THIRTY– with an intermission, and it never feels long.
I still love “Randy Scouse Git”:
PS Yes we had drinks with Micky after the show– legendary DJ Jim Kerr was there too. Micky is shocked, the Rhino people are shocked, they don’t know what to say. Micky told me: “If we make the top 40 this week, I’ll be happy.” When the numbers are counted on Friday, “Good Times!” should be top 20. Wait and see…