Saturday, June 1, 2019

"That Was Then, This Is Now" by The Monkees

Song#:  2786
Date:  07/05/1986
Debut:  88
Peak:  20
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  The last time The Monkees were on the Pop chart was back in 1970 with "Oh My My" (#98), a track from Changes, the last album officially put out under the group's name. By that point, The Monkees consisted of just Mikey Dolenz and Davy Jones. Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork had already departed. The album was basically one to satisfy a contractual obligation. Although they amassed six Top 10 hits included three #1's and their sales and popularity rivaled The Beatles, they were often looked down upon due to the assembled nature of the band and their offbeat TV show that lasted two seasons. Yet over the years their songs held up and critics were beginning to view them in a different light. Then along came MTV and when they were looking for something interesting to add to their schedule, The Monkees TV show seemed like a good fit. Not only did it have a nostalgia factor, but it was goofy fun and each show featured songs that were basically done in the style of music videos. In February of '86, the channel dedicated a whole day to airing reruns of the old show. It also just happened to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the band. The exposure renewed interest in The Monkees and their back catalog began selling. The kids channel Nickelodeon then started running the TV show daily. The resurgence prompted the band to get back together (minus Mike Nesmith who had other obligations) for an anniversary tour. In addition, a new compilation CD of their hits would be assembled titled Then & Now...The Best of the Monkees. For the disc, the group would record three new songs including this first single. It would end up being a surprise hit making the Pop Top 20 while getting to #24 at AC. The album would get to #21 and would go platinum. It was quite the comeback for the band.

ReduxReview:  This was a good song choice for a Monkees return. It was a straight-ahead pop tune with some 60's flare to it, yet updated for the 80s. Was it as good or as memorable as their classic hits? Nope. But it was solid enough to ride the momentum of all the attention they got from the revival of their TV show on MTV. I remember when MTV brought the shows back. It ended up being a big deal - probably more than what the channel or The Monkees even thought. A new generation really latched on to them and the band became popular all over again. They were everywhere. It was a well deserved return. I've always been a big fan. I have all their albums and all the extras (bonus discs, box sets, etc.).

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Although The Monkees were pared down to Dolenz, Tork, and Jones at this time, only Dolenz and Tork participated in making the new singles for the compilation. Davy Jones had a couple of issues with the new songs and chose not to participate. First, it seems that the tracks were going to be performed by studio musicians and then the vocals would be done by The Monkees - much like in the old days of the band. Jones didn't like that they were only on vocals and had little control over the rest of the track. Second, back in the day Jones had signed a deal with Bell Records for his 1971 self-titled solo album. Apparently, Jones did not have a good experience with the label and he was very soured by it all. Bell then turned into Arista Records headed up by Clive Davis. The new Monkees compilation was to be issued on Arista, which didn't set well with Jones. While he didn't work on the new recordings, Jones did perform on the anniversary tour. However, when it came time to do the new tunes in the show, he simply stepped off stage.  2) This song was originally written by Vance Brescia and recorded by his band The Mosquitos. It appeared on their 1985 indie EP of the same name. It seems that The Mosquitos were shopping around their EP to labels and Arista's Clive Davis happened to hear this song. He thought it was a perfect tune for The Monkees and sought to secure the song for them. It turned into at hit, but alas nothing much happened for Brescia and The Mosquitos afterward.


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