Our next pick for the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide is Looking for the Good Times; Examining the Monkees’ Songs, One by One (heretofore known as “Long Title”), by Michael A. Ventrella and Mark Arnold. Celebrating the legacy of one of the hottest pop culture phenomenons from fifty years ago, Long Title presents an in-depth exploration and critical analysis of every song recorded by the pre-fab four. This is the perfect gift for the die-hard Monkees fan on your holiday shopping list, but it’s also pretty terrific for anybody with an interest in 1960’s rock music or pop culture.
Readers will discover the band’s detailed history,including a listing of all live performances and TV appearances, and a listing of all of their singles and albums that made the Billboard charts.The authors also spill the beans behind all the secrets of their recordings: which of The Monkees played what instruments on each song, when it was recorded, how well that song did on the charts, whether there were any interesting cover versions of the song done, and when it first appeared on a record. Long Title is profusely illustrated with album covers, single covers, live performance pictures, and trivia pictures.
The PR reminds us why The Monkees matter:
“Here we come. Walking down the street. We get the funniest looks from everyone we meet. Hey, hey, we’re The Monkees!” The idea of creating a tv series about a wacky rock group similar to The Beatles had been unsuccessfully kicked around Universal Pictures and Columbia Pictures since 1962, but by 1965, The Beatles were on their second tour, and their Help! album, single, and tour created a popularity wave called Beatlemania. The enormous success of their A Hard Day’s Night album and single convinced Screen Gems to green light the tv series idea, and The Monkees were born. A fake band seemed odd in the real world still reeling from race riots, John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and the Vietnam War, but delightful Davy Jones, peppy Peter Tork, madcap Micky Dolenz, and comparatively serious Michael Nesmith were too busy singing to bring anybody down. Fake became steak by late 1966, and with help from super musicians Tommy Boyce, Bobby Bart, Neil Diamond, Chip Douglas, Carole King, John Stewart, and others, the series skyrocketed to hit status along with #1 music albums and hit singles, such as “The Last Train to Clarksville,” “I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone,” and “I’m a Believer.” Authors Michael A. Ventrella and Mark Arnold now analyze all The Monkee’s songs and albums produced over 50 years.
Long Title serves much the same purpose as one of the greatest books about The Beatles, An Illustrated Record by Alan Carr and Tony Tyler. It’s great to have all the facts, data, chart details and record releases compiled along with a critical analysis of each to place every song within the proper context of what it meant to The Monkees’ legacy. You can order it from any bookseller using the ISBN number, or just visit Amazon. Also available in Hardcover, for extra-fancy gift giving.