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Changes

The Monkees

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Album Review

Calling their final album Changes made sense for the Monkees. Mike Nesmith had just departed, leaving only Mickey Dolenz and Davy Jones to hold down the fort. The other big change was that after years of struggling to have their voices as songwriters and musicians heard, the remaining duo basically gave up and let the producers take over. The musical reins were given to legendary producer Jeff Barry (who had just come from a huge success with the Archies) and he and his cronies like Bobby Bloom wrote and performed the songs. Apart from one track written by Dolenz (the goofy country rock novelty "Midnight Train"), the Monkees were on hand to provide vocals only. While this could be seen as some kind of defeat and the end of the Monkees as an actual rock band, Changes ends up being a very good bubblegum record. Barry’s production is light and frothy, the songs are hooky and fun, and both Dolenz and Jones perform admirably given the likely somewhat humiliating situation. There are songs that rock harder than you’d expect ("99 Pounds," "Oh My My"), very sweet ballads (the gospelly "Tell My Love" and "You’re So Good to Me"), silly novelty songs ("I Love You Better"), a fun tropical-themed love song ("Acapulco Sun"), and even a vaudeville-y a Boyce & Hart number tacked on the end of the album (the wickedly out of place "I Never Thought It Peculiar"). There are even a couple songs that might make a discerning fan’s homemade best-of comp, namely the achingly pretty Dolenz-sung ballad "Ticket on a Ferry Ride" and "Do You Feel It Too, " a heartfelt love song that shows Jones at his sincere best. It may not be an incredibly inspired album, but it is a lot of fun and if they had stuck together (and with Barry), they could have had a nice little run of albums. Sadly, though, the record tanked completely and the Monkees name was retired soon after its release. [Rhino's 1994 reissue of the album added three very good bonus tracks, two of which ("Do It in the Name of Love" and "Lady Jane") were taken from the duo’s final sessions with Barry (and were eventually released under Dolenz and Jones’ own names on Bell Records in 1971. The other track ( "Time and Time Again") is a Jones co-write that was supposed to be on the record but was cut. Possibly because its hazy folk-jazz feel was too out of place. It is one of Jones' stronger efforts and shows that had he stayed serious about making music, he could have done some interesting things.]

Biography

Formed: 1965 in Hollywood, CA

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '10s

"Hey hey, we are the Monkees/You know we love to please/A manufactured image/With no philosophies." In 1968, the Monkees addressed their own reputation in the song "Ditty Diego (War Chant)," which summed up the bad rap they'd received in the music press since they first emerged in the summer of 1966. The Monkees were talented singers, musicians, and songwriters who made a handful of the finest pop singles of their day (as well as a few first-rate albums) and delivered exciting, entertaining live...
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