Hi! My name is Billy and I love music, but I’m guessing that if you subscribe to the Record Archive newsletter you do too. I used to be on the radio, but I’m not anymore… I even had my own show where I could play whatever I wanted. Now I’m sitting at home waiting for a time when I can go back to my job at the Archive, and I’m listening to a lot of music until that time.
In the coming weeks I want to write about recent releases that I’ve enjoyed. Or maybe I want to tell you about some upcoming albums that I’m looking forward too, and you should be on the lookout for. I could also revisit some classic albums and DVDs, and tell you why I think they deserve some of your time. In other words, I have no idea what I want to do. To paraphrase Stymie from The Little Rascals… I don’t know where we’re going, but we’re on our way.
This week I thought I’d focus on the new release from The Monkees. Yes, I said The Monkees. I know that two of them (Davy Jones and Peter Tork) have passed away. I also know that even 50 years after their debut there is still a “they’re not a real band” stigma. I can argue about that all day, and if you’re in that camp I hope you stop by the store someday when it reopens and we’ll chat. That’s not why I’m here today… I’m here to tell you about “The Monkees Live: The Mike and Mickey Show”.
Michael Nesmith and Mickey Dolenz went on tour in the summer of 2018 (I was lucky enough to catch the show in Cleveland, OH that year) and have toured as a duo since. The new live album from M&M is pure joy for me, capturing performances from a string of concerts in March of 2019.
Backed by a group of excellent musicians, including family members of Nez and Dolenz, they shed the wacky comedy bits and overproduction of past Monkees tours to focus on the music. You’d never be able to tell from listening that both of these guys are in their 70s. Mickey’s voice is as strong as ever, still singing in the original keys. Mike’s Texas twang is relaxed and confident. The two old friends sound like they are having fun.
The 80 minute disc covers five decades of songs… all the huge hits, deeper cuts that are fan favorites, and newer songs from the 2016 album “Good Times”. In fact a couple hidden gems on this new live album are newer songs… The Birth Of An Accidental Hipster (written by Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher), and the Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie) penned Me and Magdalena fit right in with all the classic songs from the 60s. Even people that don’t like The Monkees have to admit that their catalogue has songs by some of the greatest writers of all time… Neil Diamond (I’m A Believer), Carole King and Gerry Goffin (Pleasant Valley Sunday), Harry Nilsson (Cuddly Toy), Mann & Weil (Love Is Only Sleeping), Boyce and Hart (Last Train To Clarksville , Stepping Stone), and of course Michael Nesmith himself (What Am I Doing Hanging Around, Papa Gene’s Blues).
In fact if there is a flaw in “The Mike and Mickey Show” album it’s that to fit the concert on a single disc they took out the songs from Mike’s solo career that were performed during the tour. I’m glad I got to see tunes like Joanne and Different Drum at the show I attended. The only other nit I have to pick is that during the acoustic section of the show they do an “unplugged” version of Randy Scouse Git… the best part of the original studio version is the pounding bass drum, and now it’s not there. Oh well, if that’s my biggest complaint I’m lucky.
I give “The Monkees Live: The Mike And Mickey Show” 4 stars out of 5… an 8 out of 10… Two Thumbs Up… An A-… you get the idea. You can buy it at the Record Archive online store here . You can even get a digital copy there if you choose (I like getting actual CDs and records).
Stay safe everyone. -Billy