Micky Dolenz — the sole surviving member of The Monkees — has announced a new EP of R.E.M. covers. Aptly titled Dolenz Sings R.E.M, it’s out on November 3rd. In anticipation, Dolenz has shared the lead single: his version of “Shiny Happy People.” Stream the song below.
In addition to “Shiny Happy People,” the four-song EP will feature Dolenz’s renditions of “Radio Free Europe,” “Man on the Moon,” and “Leaving New York.” The project will be released via 7A Records, and will be available on special yellow vinyl. Pre-orders are ongoing.
As revealed in a new interview with Rolling Stone, the multi-generational mash-up was the result of a conversation Dolenz had with 7A Records co-owner Glenn Gretlund. “I was talking to Glenn about what to do next,” Dolenz explained. “The band R.E.M. came up. I went, ‘Wow, that’s very cool.’ I’m a big fan… And I’ve heard through the grapevine that the band were fans of The Monkees. I found that incredibly flattering.”
One thing led to another, and Dolenz — who’s no stranger to cover albums, thanks to his 2010 tribute to Carole King and 2021 tribute to his former bandmate, Michael Nesmith — decided that he was going to make a full project of R.E.M. tunes. Speaking in a statement, he explained that it was a rewarding process, thanks to the high quality of the source material. “Once again, this EP reaffirms my long-held conviction that a solid recording always begins with solid material,” he said. “You don’t get much more solid than R.E.M. What a joy to sing these classics and honor a team of outstanding writers.”
If Dolenz’s cover of “Shiny Happy People” is any indication, though, the record will not only show off R.E.M.’s continually-resonant songcraft, but also Dolenz’s skills as a vocalist and recording artist. Teaming up with the late Nesmith’s son, Christian Nesmith, the record was produced largely in a home studio setting, and reimagines the songs in the context of The Monkees’ ‘60s, Wall of Sound-influenced style.
Get Micky Dolenz Tickets Here
According to Dolenz, he wanted the EP to feel unique, and sought to avoid anything sounding like “karaoke.” Speaking to Rolling Stone, he explained that he “didn’t listen [to the songs] before going to the studio,” in order to prevent himself from “just [mimicking] somebody else’s vocal.”
On a track like “Shiny Happy People,” this approach seems to have worked wonders. Though Dolenz was already familiar with that tune (unlike some of the others), he still reimagined it in the Monkees’ style, augmenting the song’s appeal to innocent times while still embracing the underlying tensions of “plastic” modern society that it touches upon. The single arrives with a music video featuring home footage from Dolenz’s childhood. Watch the video below.
For their part, R.E.M. seem thrilled with the project. Speaking to Rolling Stone, Michael Stipe said, “These songs are absolutely incredible. Micky Dolenz covering R.E.M. Monkees style, I have died and gone to heaven… ‘Shiny Happy People’ sounds incredible (never thought you or I would hear me say that!!!). Give it a spin. It’s wild… I am finally complete.”
Previously, Dolenz collaborated with R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, who co-wrote the title track for The Monkees’ final album, Christmas Party, and appeared on the record.
Last year, Dolenz embarked on a tour honoring his bandmates from The Monkees, and has followed up with more dates in which he’s played their 1967 album Headquarters in its entirety. He has 10 more shows booked for 2023, after which he’s looking at doing more (per Rolling Stone). Check out his full list of upcoming dates below, and grab your tickets here.
Dolenz Sings R.E.M. Artwork:
Dolenz Sings R.E.M. Tracklist:
01. Shiny Happy People
02. Radio Free Europe
03. Man on the Moon
04. Leaving New York
Micky Dolenz 2023 Tour Dates:
09/14 – Modesto, CA @ Gallo Center for the Arts
09/15 – Ojai, CA @ The Libbey Bowl
09/18 – Solana Beach, CA @ Belly Up
09/22 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Ace Hotel
10/10 – New Philadelphia, OH @ Kent State Performing Arts Center
10/11 – Tiffin, OH @ The Ritz Theatre
10/13 – St. Charles, MO @ The Family Arena
10/14 – Des Plaines, IL @ Des Plaines Theatre
10/15 – St. Charles, IL @ Arcada Theatre
10/27 – Angola, IN @ T. Furth Performing Arts Center