There’s something weird yet exhilarating about listening to a Christmas album on a warm late summer September night.
Weird because seriously it’s friggin’ September for crying out loud but exhilarating because this is not just any Christmas album, it’s a Monkees Christmas album. A very good Monkees Christmas album at that and that’s a quite good thing anytime of year!
Released almost exactly a year ago, give or take a few weeks, “Christmas Party” by The Monkees is probably the last (though hope against hope not) new album of Monkees music that will grace music lovers CD players or turntables and is certainly the last Monkees project to feature Peter Tork who passed away this past February.
Produced by retro pop maestro Adam Schlesinger, “Christmas Party” positively reeks of pure pop-rock bliss with a major ’60s swagger and retro Christmas bent that’s way better than it has a right to be.
As I said last year when I reviewed it on this very blog, this new Monkees album is quite good and features well sung new and old Christmas fare that a year later sounds even better than it did on its first few listens.
Like fine wine it just keeps getting better so what more enjoyable way to experience this album than to give it a spin on some nice new purdy vinyl – colored vinyl to boot.
Honestly when heard that a new Monkees Christmas album was on the way I was excited yet quite hesitant. I like Christmas music but it certainly wasn’t what I wanted the group to release after their superb “Good Times!” Lp from 2016.
Almost a year later I can safely say I’m not only glad but grateful The Monkees decided to release this album. It’s so well done and lovingly retro that it sounds good any time of year. Plus the death of Peter Tork lends a real poignancy to this album as it was his last recorded contribution to The Monkees and what a beautiful way to end his tenor in the group by performing “Angels We Have Heard on High” – chilling.
All four Monkees sound great on this Lp but Micky Dolenz in particular sounds as if he lives in a permanent time warp. His voice is as strong and as interesting as it was in 1967 which is a feat rarely duplicated by current pop singers let alone his musical peers.
Mike Nesmith’s two songs here are wistful and moving and are among the best of his group contributions while Davy’s songs from a 1990’s solo Christmas album fit perfectly and are a welcome touch to a terrific collection.
The reason I’m revisiting this Christmas gem is that “Christmas Party” was just released on vinyl this past week on September 13th and I just received a groovy limited edition red and white candy cane type pressing available exclusively from Monkees.com.
After giving this new pressing a spin tonight I’m happy to report that it sounds SUPERB on vinyl! This pressing is perfectly quite and has better sonics than it’s CD counterpart.
The music and vocals all shimmer on this lovely piece of colorful vinyl and the dynamics are just right, nothing too loud or jarring and less digital sounding than the CD. Not that the CD is bad by any means it’s just that this new vinyl pressing is done so well that it makes this album shine even more with a more pleasing aural presentation.
The cover is also totally groovy as well and there’s just something magical about holding a new slab of Monkees vinyl that just feels right as that’s the medium that I was introduced to the group with and looking at the large cover while the records spins on is just well … right.
There is a beautiful gatefold cover on this new vinyl pressing (which since I haven’t taken the shrink wrap off I can’t show you lol) and a nice photo insert with credits from the album inside the cover with the disc.
As usual I’ve included some photos of this new pressing as well as some photos of the limited Target exclusive CD version of the album that came out after my review of the album last year.
The Target CD contains two great bonus tracks (“Riu Chiu” and “Christmas is My Time of Year”) one of which (“Riu Chiu”) is included on this new vinyl pressing.
“Riu Chiu” of course comes form the Monkees’ 1967 Christmas episode and features all four members singing acapella on one of the most beautiful songs in the Monkees’ recorded canon while “Christmas is My Time of Year” comes from a mid-1970’s reunion of Dolenz, Jones and Tork with famed Monkees producer Chip Douglas.
Both songs belong on this Lp so if you can track down the Target version of this album that’s the way to go on CD at least as both songs are great and of course fit the theme of the album beautifully.
Really if you’re any kind of Monkees fan or fan of ’60s pop/rock music or Christmas music you need to check this album out. Of course you can wait until it’s actually the holiday season but for any curious Monkees geeks out there run don’t walk to get this new vinyl pressing. You won’t be disappointed!
Until next time be well and Merry Christmas even if it’s a tad bit early.