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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: the Monkees, Dierks Bentley, Jim Breuer, Fifth Harmony and more...

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Tuesday, May 31, 2016

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MThe Monkees

"Good Times!"


Grade: B+

Who could have expected that 50 years after "The Monkees" debuted on NBC there would a) be an album by the "real" Monkees and b) that it would be arguably the best of the 12 the group has produced over that span. The first Monkees album since the "Justus" reunion project in 1996 is a labor of love for all concerned -- from surviving members Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork and Michael Nesmith to Fountains Of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger, who produced the 13-song set to the hip, all-star corps of artists who contributed songs. Dedicated to the late Davy Jones, who died 2012, "Good Times!" is a blast to the past, both vintage and contemporary. The group resurrects some leftover vintage tracks by regular Monkees writers such as Harry Nilsson (the rocking title track), Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart ("Whatever's Right") and Carole King and Gerry Goffin ("I Wasn't Born To Follow") with new but familiar-sounding contributions by Weezer's Rivers Cuomo, XTC's Andy Partridge, Death Cab For Cutie's Ben Gibbard and the Britpop superduo of Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller. The latter's "Birth of an Accidental Hipster" is a psychedelic treat, while the set's sentimental favorite has to be "Love To Love," an unreleased Neil Diamond composition from 1967 that restores the late Jones' original vocal and boasts some sonic nods to Diamond's own "Solitary Man." Most importantly the songs are strong from start to finish, and while Dolenz, Tork and Nesmith may sound a bit grizzled all these years later, that actually gives the songs a bit more gravity. Good times, indeed.

New & Noteworthy:

Dierks Bentley, "Black" (Capitol Nashville): The country star's eighth studio album is a diverse, richly crafted set that includes collaborations with Elle King, Trombone Shorty and Maren Morris.

Jim Breur, "Songs From the Garage" (Metal Blade): The comedian/actor gets his metal on with production by Volbeat's Rob Caggiano and guest appearances from AC/DC frontman-in-exile Brian Johnson.

Catfish and the Bottlemen, "The Ride" (Capitol): The energetic British group drops a sophomore set to follow 2014's lauded "The Balcony."

Miles Davis & Robert Glasper, "Everything's Beautiful" (Sony Legacy): Music visionary Glasper co-produced the new "Miles Ahead" film soundtrack and now builds new songs from the trumpet legend's music, with help from Erykah Badu, Stevie Wonder, Ledisi and others.

Fifth Harmony, "7/27" (Syco/Epic): The "X Factor" girl group welcomes guests Missy Elliott, Ty Dolla $ign and Fetty Wap on its second album.

The Posies, "Solid States" (MyMusicEmpire): The first new outing in six years from the power pop troupe (and latter-day Big Star adjuncts) from Washington State.

Also Out: Architects UK, "All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us" (Epitaph); Vincent Cross, "Old Songs For Modern Folk" (Rescue Dog); Extrema, "The Old School" (Punishment 18); Gold Panda, "Good Luck and Do Your Best" (City Slang); Vaghe Steele, "The Full Stream Ahead: The Prologue" (Other People); The Jelly Jam, "Prophet" (Music Theories); Beth Orton, "Kidsticks" (Anti-/Epitaph); Daniel Romano, "Mosey" (New West); Sick Puppies, "Fury" (DrillDown); Thrice, "To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere" (Vagrant); Travis, "Everything At Once" (Caroline); Tony Jo White, "Rain Crow" (Yep Roc)

From The Vaults: The Blind Boys Of Alabama, " Spirit of the Century" and "Higher Ground" (Omnivore); David Bowie, "A Reality Tour" (Columbia); Allen Ginsberg, "The Last Word On First Blues" (Omnivore); My Morning Jacket, "It Still Moves" (Deluxe Edition)" (ATO); The Muffs, "Blonder And Blonder" (Omnivore)

Soundtracks: Danny Elfman, "Alice Through The Looking Glass" (Walt Disney); "Bright Star (Original Broadway Cast Recording)" (Ghostlight); "Deadpool Reloaded (More Music From the Motion Picture)" (Milan); "Paint Your Wagon (Encores! Cast Recording 2015)" (Sony Classical Masters)

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