he long awaited official Christmas album from Micky, Mike, Peter, and Davy or as we know them better as The Monkees has finally arrived in stores and all other media platforms to hear. I’ll start by saying that I wouldn’t consider this a project that they worked collectively on as for one reason we’re missing the departed Davy Jones who passed away in 2012, but he has been represented in this collection of Christmas ditties as he would have said.
Peter Tork contributed one track from a collection that was released through a small record label back in the nineties by friend James Lee Stanly, but we’ll give him an excuse as rumor has it he’s not well health-wise, Mike Nesmith did contribute two articles to the compilation which were well produced, and of course we can’t forget Mickey Dolenz who’s voice still sounds as good as the recordings from 52 years ago, he contributes the most to this illustrious collection of fine crafted tunes. This I will also say is not your typical Christmas album of traditional Christmas songs although there are a few sprinkled throughout the 13 tracks standard edition of the album 15-tracks if you buy the Target store Exclusive edition, there are some new ones as well that we’re always in hopes of an artist who puts out a Christmas collection will become a traditional classic down the road.
This album was only 50 plus Years In The Making…But Well Worth The Wait. We all know that in the 50s and 60s it was not as the term coined in the day a hip thing to record a Christmas album although there are a few exceptions from that day to the rule like Phil Spector’s classic Christmas album which still sells many copies every year, The Beach Boys, and of course Elvis, but then the 80s and 90s came along and it seemed like everyone at that time put out some form of Christmas album lots of country artists especially but some classic oldies artists as well did like Dion, Freddy Cannon, and even Johnny Maestro and the Brooklyn Bridge as well, so why didn’t the Monkees do this then when we had all four members alive and well?? No one really knows that answer except the Monkees themselves at this point, we can assume that their schedules could not match up to get in the studio to do something although they did in 1987 which was a Christmas medley for MTV that year and featured Mike Nesmith dressed as Santa Claus in the video, this medley should have been included as a bonus track for the Target exclusive as we got two classic songs extra that weren’t newly recorded for this album so why not the one more from 1987? again no one knows that answer except them.
Micky contributes the most to the collection as usual and they’re all good rockers for your party this year starting with “Unwrap You At Christmas”, “What Would Santa Do”, “House Of Broken Gingerbread”, “Christmas Party”, which sounds like he’s remembering his buddy Davy during the holidays as you hear Davy’s voice talking at a party at the beginning before the song really gets started, “Jesus Christ”, that rounds out the new songs we’ve never heard from anyone at Christmas time then Micky pays homage to a few Christmas classics like Roy Wood’s “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday”, Sir Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime”, and how can we forget the blues classic done by so many artists including Otis Redding, Chuck Berry, Elvis, and even Charles Brown’s “Merry Christmas Baby” all terrific from Micky’s fine-tuned voice who still can belt out all of our favorite Monkee classics along with new material.
Mike’s choices for carols are nice ballads but well suited to his vocal stylings as he croons out “The Christmas Song”, penned by Mel Torme is always a classic no matter who does it, then his second contribution which I’ve never heard before called “Snowfall”, has a classic singing cowboy music arrangement and vocal styles where you can picture the cowboys sitting around the campfire out in Texas where Nesmith is originally from drinking their coffee telling stories, and someone has a guitar and starts playing and singing this prairie Christmas carol.
Peter Tork donated”Angels We Have Heard On High” a traditional christmas favorite just seems to unfortunately sit there…sorry Peter not a particular favorite on the album, and now we move on to our departed friend Davy Jones mind you these two tracks are from a christmas album Davy had put out privately at some point in his career and they were stellar versions on his album, but what they did for the album was stripped the musical arrangements out of the original tracks and put new orchestration on them performed by Micky, Mike, and Peter the first of the two are “Mele Kalikimaka”, which most of us are used to hearing during the holidays by Bing Crosby, now I do like the new orchestration arrangement on the tune I however don’t like the way they did the vocals for Davy, it sounds as though he’s singing in to a tin can and very echoed throughout this one, Davy’s second piece contributed and again reconfigured orchestration wise is “Silver Bells” musically sounds good and it doesn’t sound as though they did anything to the vocals.
That concludes the 13-tracks in the standard edition of the album that was released on October 12th, but if you were a true Monkee fan and had to have it all you waited a week and you went to Target stores and got the exclusive edition available only at Target with two bonus songs and the bonus tracks are “Riu Chiu” which all four monkees participated in recording back in 1967 for their christmas television episode but was recorded during the “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, LTD.” sessions and then the second bonus track is a rarity unless you were in the Monkees fanclub in 1976 you couldn’t get this on any official rhino release until now and that’s “Christmas Is My Time Of Year” which features Micky, Davy, and Peter on vocals for this one and that’s what closes out the Target Exclusive edition it’s well worth the price vs. buying the standar the exclusive is $10.99 and the standard is $13.99 now why pay more for less songs when for less money you get extra unless you’re not a die hard and need to have those extras then I guess it’s okay.
This as I said was not a collective project worked on together really in the studio with the exception of the two tracks contributed from Davy Jones’s estate the rest were all done as I’ll put it probably through dropbox and no one saw each other for the recording sessions on this project which is too bad considering the three remaining members were able to work together in the studio for their previous album release “Good Times” which came out for the 50th anniversary of the Monkees and their television show in 2016, this Christmas collection had the same production people as “Good Times” and I’ll assume overseen by Mike and Micky at the most separately of course not collectively as I’ve been stating, I do hope that the three will put together another collection of new songs soon before it’s too late. We’ll just have to wait and see, but until then go out and get this collection of fun Christmas tracks you won’t be really disappointed at all out of five stars I give it a 4.5.