25 September 2023

Christmas Party

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Reviewed by Ian Phillips.

By The Monkees, Rhino Records 2018.

Yes, you did read the album title and band correctly.

When I came across this CD in my in-box I did a double take too.

It has become my practice to review a Christmas album each year and this time it was hard to go past this one.

Three of the four original members of the Monkees are still with us, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork but the diminutive Davy Jones died a number of years ago.

I have not heard anything from them as a band for a very long time although we do know that after the Monkees ended, Michael Nesmith in particular went on to a substantial solo career and his Rio song became a world-wide hit.

On Christmas Party the Monkees once again provide their unmistakable vocals while session musicians provide the backing.

In other words, it’s a continuation of the early Monkees recording processes.

Although Davy Jones is no longer with us his voice was lifted from vintage recordings and appears on two of the tracks on the disc, Silver Bells and Mele Kalikimaka, so the band really was back together again.

The songs on Christmas Party are drawn from a wide variety of sources from the R&B holiday standard Merry Christmas Baby to Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmastime through to Wizard’s yuletide classic I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day.

The album also includes songs that were newly written for the band by a group of talented songwriters including Rivers Cuomo of Weezer (What Would Santa Do) and Andy Partridge of XTC (Unwrap You At Christmas).

The producer, Adam Schlesinger, teamed up with celebrated author Michael Chabon to write House Of Broken Gingerbread and Peter Buck of REM and Scott McCaughey of Minus 5 wrote the album’s title track, Christmas Party.

So, what’s the album like?

Well it’s pleasant and inoffensive but I have heard a lot better and I wouldn’t rush out and grab a copy unless I was a dedicated fan or a nostalgia freak.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad album, it’s just that I was hoping for some of the energy and excitement of Last Train To Clarksville and I’m a Believer.

I didn’t find it although they do a great bluesy job of Merry Christmas Baby.

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