It took a while, but the new Monkees’ album Good Times is finally out on long playing vinyl records and it was worth the wait.
Available from Rhino Records, the album warms up nicely on the 180-gram black, perfectly centered and quiet-when-it-needs-to-be-quiet vinyl pressing in comparison to the CD. Don’t get me wrong, the CD sounds quite good (as per my review of it several months ago, which you can read by clicking here).
But, face it, The Monkees were a band that existed primarily in two media for most of us fans: Television and Records. Heck, they even used to have their records available on cereal boxes — and those have been reissued by Rhino (in modern cardboard simulations, cereal not included). So it makes good sense that the fine new Monkees album would eventually be released as a long player.
There are two special editions out here in the United States. The chain of music and video entertainment stores called FYE offers an exclusive colored vinyl option, pressed in lovely teal swirl wax. This is a standard weight album but it sounds real nice and from my initial spins sounds just as quiet as the black vinyl. Actually — and I know this will annoy some readers who are passionate in their dislike for colored vinyl — but it sounds pretty much the same as the black vinyl version.
After a couple of listens to each version, I will say that perhaps — perhaps — the black vinyl gets the edge in warmth and overall listening enjoyment, and I can’t really say why. I might just be psychological. Both records were pressed from the exact same stampers (same numbers in the deadwax on my copies) and sound virtually identical.
The real reason you may want to opt for the black vinyl exclusive version from Barnes and Noble is the inclusion of a fine bonus disc: a nifty 45 RPM single with two non-LP tracks!
This single features two tracks previously only available on the Japanese CD edition of Good Times, which is blocked from sale on line here in the US on Amazon … Believe me, I tried to buy the download of the songs from Amazon and iTunes overseas and was blocked (grumble grumble).
Anyhow, the 45 RPM single sounds way way better than the digital version I eventually heard which someone posted up on YouTube. The “A-side” is called “Love Is What I Want” written by Andy Partridge of XTC fame. This song really should have been on the album as it sounds so much like a vintage Monkees tune, its almost a little unsettling. If he had been a Brill Building writer during the 60s, Andy Partridge “Love Is What I Want” might have been a hit single alongside “Daydream Believer” and “Pleasant Valley Sunday.” It has that classic Monkees vibe going on.
Oh… what’s that, Dear Reader? You don’t know what The Brill Building was? Ok, get yourself over to the Wiki for a quick read here.
Speaking of 45s, I have to mention a nifty Monkees release that came out on Record Store Day earlier this year in celebration of the band’s 50th Anniversary. They issued a special 45 RPM single shaped like The Monkees’ logo (!) featuring Mono mixes used in the TV programs of the songs “Saturday’s Child” and “You Just May Be The One.” Of the two songs, the latter sounds best and actually quite good — punchy single speaker fidelity! But, the real reason to buy the disc is pure fun. There is nothing particularly audiophile about a release like this — it is technically a picture disc after all — but it sounds pretty good for what it is and is simply a fun thing to put on from time to time.
Anyhow, back to Good Times, this album gets better with each listen. I liked it from the get go, but over the months since its release, Good Times is already showing its timeless qualities. This music sits comfortably right up there with classic later-period Monkees albums like Headquarters and The Birds, The Bees and The Monkees.
If you didn’t want to buy the album before on CD because it was, well, only on CD, I understand. Now you can buy it on vinyl and I’m quite sure you’ll be very happy with it, especially the black vinyl version.
Its a well made — and well titled! — record full of Good Times that remains my pick for “the” feel good album of 2016.