Looking for the Good Times

 

Monkees cover

Monkees back cover

This has such a great cover that I had to include the whole thing!

The Monkees’ music has not been given the attention it deserves, given as it was written by some of the greatest songwriters of their era. This book examines each song, in the order in which it was recorded, and gives trivia and other information about each song.

More details about the book can be found on its webpage.

Paperback / Hard cover | ebook

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.

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.

— Rudy Panucci, Charleston Gazette-Mail

Some rock ‘n roll histories are designed to tell the stories of significant performers, genres, composers, producers, or record companies that shed light on the backgrounds, influences on, and legacies of their respective subjects. Some rely on considerable research, interviews, or their own experiences to go behind the scenes to show how popular music was made. Some of these histories go beyond the music and reveal much about the culture of the times and and are more than an exploration of a particular band or performer.

Other books have a more specific focus with a much more targeted audience.  Such titles are often written by devoted fans and are usually meant to interest fellow aficionados of a particular group or personality. Such is the case for Looking for the Good Times — it’s obviously meant for Monkees fans who don’t mind reads based on personal opinions and not so much critical analysis.

Following a concise history of the group, The book looks at the complete Monkees song canon arranged  in chronological order based on recording dates. The authors believe this order also helps show the evolution of the band as it changed more than some listeners might think. The authors  include pretty much every song issued during the 1960s run, many tunes issued on various compilations in the subsequent decades, some tracks they never heard but apparently found listed somewhere, alternate takes, and some rehearsal bits released on one post-break-up collection or another.

Clearly, interest in the music of The Monkees will be what draws readers to this volume, or not. Unless you’ve devoted the same amount of  time to listening to all those hours of Monkees records, out-takes, deep cuts, and alternate versions, readers will likely learn all sorts of trivia they didn’t know before. Me, I decided there’s a large body of Monkee music, especially the Missing Links collections, that I have missed and should try out. — Welsey Britton, Book Pleasures

Michael Ventrella and Mark Arnold have teamed up to offer a song-by-song discography of  The Monkees, in chronological order, and give us information on every one of their songs.  We learn more about hits like “Last Train to Clarksville,” “I’m a Believer,” “Daydream Believer,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” etc., and also are able to explore lesser known tracks like “The Girl That I Knew Somewhere,” “It’s Nice to Be With You,” and “Tapioca Tundra.“

When we look at the hits discussed in the book, we find that, in most cases, just one Monkee is active on the song.  It is only Micky, and several session musicians and backup singers, on “Last Train to Clarksville” and the TV show theme song, for instance.

All of these songs were examined, including occasional commentaries by the various Monkees, allowing us a clearer understanding of the creative process, the evolution, and the consistent success of the group.  Of course by the end of the 1960s things sort of petered out, but the fact that these songs have lived on into future generations is a testament to their longevity.

Monkees fans might not agree with the authors’ opinions about various songs, and their not listing the session musicians involved with each track is a disappointment, but what the book does contain is quite commendable.  For those interested in pop music producing during the 60s, when a most fertile period is responded to with a marketed TV phenomenon, the book offers the sort of details that readers will find fascinating.  The Scott Shaw cover art is wonderful. — James L. Neibaur, Neibaur Writer’s blog

Superb must have book for Monkees fans! Of course the authors express their opinions of the songs, that’s the whole point of the book!! I don’t always agree with the opinions but that’s the fun of reading a book like this. The listing of songs and albums is excruciatingly complete. The wraparound cover illustration is full of references that take hours of study to fully get. I learned a lot of things I didn’t know, and I’m a die hard fan. As a life time Monkees fan I can’t say enough about how great this book is! — Mark Hancock

My husband bought me this for my birthday, and I couldn’t be happier! Long Title: Looking For The Good Times delivers exactly what it promises: two knowledgeable fans taking readers through the Monkees songs one by one. Mark Arnold places each song in musical and societal context, allowing us to see how each song fit its time, and Michael Ventrella lends musical expertise to explain the strengths and weaknesses of each composition.

I enjoyed this book for two reasons. First, the reading experience is flexible. If you’re grabbing a quick bite to eat you can enjoy one or two song analyses, but if you have a spare hour on the train you can delve deeper into a full album session.

Second, if you’re a fan like me who knows almost every song by heart, each song starts playing in your head as soon as you see the title. It’s like having your own personal Monkees concert that lasts for days!

Is the reader going to agree with Arnold and Ventrella’s opinions all the time? No, of course not. Music is subjective, and we can love even a bad song for many reasons that have nothing to do with its production values. And that’s okay. Because the bottom line is that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks—music is about how it makes you FEEL. And the Monkees music—even the “bad” songs—makes me feel pretty good.

Long Title: Looking For The Good Times is worth every penny for the insights of Arnold and Ventrella, as well as the memories each song brings back. I recommend it for all Monkees fans! — Kerry Gans

This book was published late last year and is a thorough look at every Monkee song that has seen … or almost seen … the light of day over the past 52 years. While any Monkee fan pretty well knows that the Monkee bible is Andrew Sandoval’s marvelous work, this book dispenses with most of those details to get to the point: Is the song good or not, and in both cases, why?

Like any book of this nature the reader must enter with an open mind in that the authors are brutally honest in their like/dislike of the music. I felt like I was sitting down with a couple of friends and kicking thoughts and ideas around. M & M don’t always agree and neither do I, but that is the fun.

Beyond the always interesting reviews, each song has recording dates, which Monkee(s) is/are involved in the process and (most importantly) what albums the various mixes of the music can be found (i.e. the Rhino Handmade editions). With so many CD releases containing several versions of these tunes this reference simplifies things if the reader wants to check on a title in mono, stereo, etc. Each album is examined as well. The book also kicks off with a history of the group to set the table.

The cover art by Scott Shaw is the best I’ve seen on a Monkee book, and inside there is a reference that names all the characters depicted (and there are a bunch!). There are plenty of rare past and present pictures throughout (sadly only in black and white, but a minor issue).

As stated, I certainly don’t agree with all of the views here (I would love to sit down with Michael over coffee to discuss the merits of “She”… but I don’t drink the stuff so ditch that idea) but the book is an interesting and enlightening journey. I strongly recommend it as essential to any Monkee collection!” — Danny Kidd

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