Having been a fan since childhood, I went in with a little trepidation about this reunion effort, a celebratory gesture released nearly 30 years after The first Monkees disc hit the stores in October 1966.
After rehearsing with other people’s songs, the four principles went along with Mike Nesmith’s plan to only record songs written and produced by themselves, with instruments played only by them (an idea hatched by Nesmith in an early ’80s interview) and released on an independent label.
Well, it works, and they do very well as players and writers, though the final product can’t compare to their ’60s work. Opening with a remake of Mike’s “Circle Sky” (originally recorded for the film Head in 1968) which doesn’t touch the hem of the original, but has a certain garage band charm that puts its theme of “it looks like we made it once again” into the basket for a good first salvo.
This is quickly followed by more modest, modern stylizations and Micky’s ’50s-ish “Unlucky Stars” that don’t quite cross the bridge. Then Mike comes back with the very un-Monkees sound of “Admiral Mike” (sung by a very convincing Micky), a gloriously nasty (in terms of lyric and music) cannonball aimed at bad journalism that sells ads rather than enriches the reader, but one could also read it as a needed rant against greedheads.
Micky puts some imaginative writing into the shuffling “Dying of A Broken Heart” (“I went through Nixon and a drug or two”), and the Foreigner-type boogle number “Regional Girl” (“I think he’s gonna wind up pouring Pepsi in a cup”). Peter’s “Run Away from Life” (sung by Davy) has a stylized vocal that is appropriate, and has some nice echo on the bridge, while Peter sings the lovely, piano and drum-centered “I Believe You” (which is really about believing in certain things that may not pan out).
So, while as the last official Monkees album, it’s okay, not great (though a third of the tunes are really good), but it showed that the Monkees could make it once again. The Monkees