Friday, December 20, 2019

Monkees 10: Christmas Party

Given the critical success of the first new Monkees album in 20 years, it should surprise no one that a follow-up would shortly be in the works, considering the advanced years of the vocalists. Extra points if you guessed it would be a Christmas album. Sure enough, Christmas Party attempts to recreate the recipe of Good Times!, using the same producer, some of the same songwriters, and plenty of modern technology to bring Davy Jones back from the grave.
If you’re good at math, you’ll also notice that eight of the thirteen songs are sung by Micky Dolenz, with no other Monkee involvement. His tunes include new holiday songs from the fingers of Andy Partridge, Rivers Cuomo, novelist Michael Chabon, and Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey from R.E.M. and the Minus Five. After he gets those out of the way, he tackles more modern rock ‘n roll standards, including “Jesus Christ” by Big Star, “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day” by Wizzard, and most daringly of all, “Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney. Finally, his cover of “Merry Christmas Baby” proves he ain’t no blues man.
Since a Micky Dolenz Christmas album wouldn’t be as lucrative for anybody, Michael Nesmith contributed two covers recorded on his own: Mel Tormé’s unstoppable chestnut “The Christmas Song” and the more obscure but quite lovely “Snowfall”. An unrecognizable Peter Tork added a vocal-and-banjo rendition of “Angels We Have Heard On High”, while Davy’s vocals on “Mele Kalikimaka” and “Silver Bells” come from 1991. As ever, Davy knows how to work a room, a professional to the end. (Smart consumers and Monkeemaniacs would have rushed to their nearest Target store to get two exclusive bonus tracks: “Ríu Chíu”, sourced from the TV show’s 1967 Christmas episode, and “Christmas Is My Time Of Year”, originally recorded by Micky, Davy, and Peter in 1976 for the still-active fan club.)
There aren’t a lot of rock ‘n roll Christmas albums, and we’ve already covered the better ones. One’s enjoyment of Christmas Party depends on how much one can stomach an aging yet unflappably enthusiastic Micky Dolenz. Frankly, the ones he doesn’t sing are more successful, and the album is paced mostly well. We wanted to hate it, and we don’t. And it is just once a year.

The Monkees Christmas Party (2018)—3

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