The Monkees Forever

2016 ****

1. I'm a Believer
2. Valleri
3. You Just May Be the One
4. That Was Then, This is Now (Micky Dolenz & Peter Tork)
5. (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone
6. Pleasant Valley Sunday
7. Daydream Believer
8. Last Train to Clarksville
9. She Makes Me Laugh
10. A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You
11. Porpoise Song (Theme From 'Head') (Single Version)
12. Heart and Soul
13. Words
14. Goin' Down (Single Version)

2016 really was the Year of The Monkees. The celebration of their 50th anniversary resulted in their album of new material in 20 years. Good Times! was their most successful, most well-reviewed album since 1968. 2016 also saw a highly successful concert tour as well as the release of two new compilation albums: 50, a three-disc affair that includes two tracks from Good Times! and Forever, a single-disc album that is quite charming. Whereas I have opted to leave 50 on the shelves, I couldn't resist picking up a vinyl copy of Forever. Sure, it covers all-too-familiar territory, and its inclusion of "That Was Then, This is Now," and "Heart and Soul," from their '80s period, causes the album to have an uneven flow, despite how good the songs are in and of themselves. What's nice, though, is how well "She Makes Me Laugh," their big hit from Good Times!, fits in with their older material. That's what made Good Times! such a great album. Although it was mostly new, it fit in nicely with the classic Monkees we all know and love. What makes Forever such a charming little album is the cover design. The front cover looks like an old-fashioned button from the '60s, and the back cover has more button designs scattered around what looks like a sheet of notebook paper with the song titles seemingly written by hand. It's a treat of an album that appeals to the child inside of all of us: the new fans who are discovering a plethora of good music for the first time, as well as the '60s generation who never lost touch with their favorite band. I remember when I went to one of the Good Times! concerts, I was impressed at how many younger people were there. I distinctly remember late-teens and early-twenties girls and boys singing and dancing along, buying Micky's famous poncho at the gift table (I got one myself!), and holding conversations in the lobby about how cool The Monkees are. Are there plenty of songs Forever could have included but didn't? Absolutely. As it is, though, it's a nice, quick representation of some of The Monkees' best work, and it works very well as a treat to the old fans like myself and as a starting point for new fans falling in love for the first time.