Category: The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys – Summer Days (And Summer Nights)

ARTIST: The Beach Boys                     SummerDaysandSummerNights.album.cover

TITLE: Summer Days (And Summer Nights)

YEAR RELEASED: 1965

CHART ACTION: #2 US, #4 UK

SINGLES: Help Me Rhonda (#1 US, #27 UK), California Girls (#3 US, #26 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Let Him Run Wild, You’re So Good to Me, Girl Don’t Tell Me

LINEUP: Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, and The Wrecking Crew

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A backslide in quality, as Capitol wanted a less complicated, hit friendly record.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: There’s a definite rushed atmosphere here. Brian Wilson was off the road, but Capitol Records wanted more hits, less melancholy. So, Brian cranked out some fluff, re-did one song for a single (now Rhonda had an H and a shorter arrangement), and a couple pieces of the usual filler.

That was about half of the record – the other half was marvelous, with deep tracks “Girl Don’t Tell Me” (a Carl Wilson solo vocal that’s so so so good), “Let Him Run Wild”, and “You’re So Good To Me”, and a great cover of “Then I Kissed Her” offsetting the two hit singles, which were brilliant Brian Wilson joints.

I’m exiling the fluff, as usual, since when the Beach Boys get fluffy, they really sink low. If only Brian was able to do a whole album like “Let Him Run Wild”. Sigh.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Bruce Johnston was officially the bassist and Brian’s stand-in vocalist on stage, and he joined the band in their recording sessions from now until he left in 1973.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Alternate takes and a B-side 

GRADE: B-: I’m probably downgrading this a bit much, but it’s such a disappointment from their last album. Record companies….

The Beach Boys – The Beach Boys Today!

ARTIST: The Beach Boys                              BeachBoysTodayCover

TITLE: The Beach Boys Today!

YEAR RELEASED: 1965

CHART ACTION: #4 US, #6 UK

SINGLES: When I Grow Up (To Be a Man) (#9 US, #27 UK), Dance Dance Dance (#8 US, #24 UK), Do You Wanna Dance (#12 US).

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Please Let Me Wonder, Help Me Ronda (original)

LINEUP: Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Dennis Wilson PLUS The Wrecking Crew

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The first album where Brian entrusts his songs to the famous Wrecking Crew of studio musicians.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Brian Wilson’s songs were evolving, changing, become more complex, and the sound he wanted certainly wasn’t going to be replicated by the band itself. Brian had stopped touring after a mental breakdown, and the result was a leap forward in musical structure and complexity.

Starting with Dennis’(!) vocal for “Do You Wanna Dance”, the first side of up-tempo numbers have deep cut classics like “Good to My Baby” and “Don’t Hurt My Little Sister” along with the first two singles. Brian’s falsetto, my goodness…

The second side has three of Brian’s best ballads to date, especially “Please Let Me Wonder”. A couple of ok tracks, and the usual unbearable talky album filler (though it’s positioned at the end for easy exiling) are there.

It’s the first Beach Boys album that sounds like a conceptual whole without a lot of filler or half-assed instrumentals. Just one of THOSE cuts.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This album was only issued in mono on first release. Also, “Help Me, Ronda” was later remade as “Help Me, Rhonda”, shorter and punchier – and that’s the version everyone knows.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, the formerly unreleased stereo mixes along with some singles.and B-sides. 

GRADE: A-: A set up for Pet Sounds, though there’d be some detours on the way.

The Beach Boys – All Summer Long

ARTIST: The Beach Boys          AllSummerLongCover

TITLE: All Summer Long

YEAR RELEASED: 1964

CHART ACTION: #4

SINGLES: I Get Around (#1 US, #7 UK), Don’t Worry Baby (#24 US), Little Honda (#65 US, #11 UK), Wendy (#11 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: All Summer Long, Hushabye, Don’t Back Down, The Girls on the Beach

LINEUP: Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Al Jardine, Mike Love. Hal Blaine elped with drums.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Finally, an album with minimal filler and time wasting, though there are still a couple of real filler tracks.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This definitely is a summer album, with the perfect summer album opener (“I Get Around), one of the best motorcycle songs of the era (“Little Honda”), a beautiful, plaintive track (“Wendy”), and probably the best example of Brian Wilson’s falsetto (Don’t Back Down”)

The other tracks aren’t totally embarrassing. The surf instrumental by Carl Wilson is decent enough, and the song about drive-in movies is childish but harmless, and there is one that’s just recording studio chatter, but that’s easily skipped and it’s not cringeworthy.

What’s best is that Brian Wilson is soon becoming the consistent and memorable songwriter and arranger that we know him for. Good musical times were coming.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: During the brilliant “I Get Around”, Brian fired his dad as the manager.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Single mixes and alternate takes.

GRADE: B: Not many to skip or exile, finally.

The Beach Boys – Shut Down, Volume 2

ARTIST: The Beach Boys

TITLE: Shut Down, Volume 2 ShutDownVol2Cover

YEAR RELEASED: 1964

CHART ACTION: #13

SINGLES: Fun, Fun, Fun (#5), I Get Around (#1), Don’t Worry Baby (#24)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Most all of the album are covers of known songs.

LINEUP: Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Al Jardine, Mike Love

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A split decision, with some classics and some filler.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Four tracks on the first side (“Fun, Fun, Fun”, “Don’t Worry Baby”, “The Warmth of the Sun”, “This Car of Mine”) are bonafide Beach Boys classics (major and minor). The other eight songs range from amusing filler (“In the Parkin’ Lot”, “Pom, Pom Play Girl”), and valiant attempt at “Why Do Fools Fall in Love”, down to blatant filler (two instrumentals and a cover of “Louie, Louie”).

Then there’s the inane “Cassius’ Love vs. ‘Sonny’ Wilson”, an excuse to fill 3:30 with trash talks and recycled hits. Who thought this was a good idea worth keeping on a record? Maybe a B-side?

The demands of Capitol Records for product meant that Brian Wilson could only do so much to make an album consistently excellent. For now, hits+filler was the rule.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Al Jardine marks his reappearance as a full-time member in the studio and photos.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a mono mix of one track, and a couple of oddities.

GRADE: C+: There’s some A+ stuff here, and then there’s the filler and obnoxious whatever it was.

The Beach Boys – Little Deuce Coupe

ARTIST: The Beach Boys LittleDeuceCover
TITLE: Little Deuce Coupe
YEAR RELEASED: 1963
CHART ACTION: #4
SINGLES: Be True to Your School (#6) (The single version is an alternate track)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: They repurpose the title track, 409, Shut Down and Our Car Club for this record. Of the new songs, this one has Spirit of America, A Young Man Is Gone and Custom Machine.
LINEUP: Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, David Marks, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After Capitol Records lifted two Beach Boys songs for a ‘hot rod’ compilation, Brian Wilson decided to record his own. Due to time constraints, four tracks were re-used.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Brian Wilson was already bucking the system. He didn’t like the fact Capitol re-purposed two of his car songs, so he wrote a bunch more, attached four previous car songs to them, and viola, the Beach Boys hot-rod album.

What’s more incredible is that this was released just weeks after Surfer Girl, and the sessions were done quickly right after those sessions concluded. He had some songs halfway done, and just finished them up post-haste.

It charted higher than Surfer Girl, but it’s not as great of a value with four retreads. Some of the songs definitely sound rushed; still the production is pretty solid considering everything.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Spirit of America” is about Craig Breedlove and his land-speed record car.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Outtakes and the single version of “Be True to Your School” are appended.

GRADE: C: Some good tracks, but most of the best songs are retreads.

The Beach Boys – Surfer Girl

ARTIST: The Beach Boys SurferGirlCover
TITLE: Surfer Girl
YEAR RELEASED: 1963
CHART ACTION: #7 US, #13 UK
SINGLES: Surfer Girl (#7), Little Deuce Coupe (#15) (actually the B-side to Surfer Girl)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Catch a Wave, In My Room (the B-side to a single off the next album, and it hit #23 as a B-side)
LINEUP: Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, David Marks, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson. Hal Blaine played on some tracks, and you can definitely hear that it’s him and not Dennis on “Our Car Club”.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A big leap and bound from their first two albums. There’s still a lot of filler but there’s a lot more care and thought here and only two instrumentals.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: “Surfer Girl” as you know, is an absolutely gorgeous ballad. The construction and recording of that so much more sophisticated than “Surfin’ USA” or any other of their early tracks. Unlike their first two albums, it wasn’t just that track that they put care into, either.

While their first two albums had filler almost from the word go after the single, the next two tracks on this album, “Catch a Wave” and “Surfer Moon” are also exquisite productions. They are well sung and well-played given the limitations of the Beach Boys as musicians.

Then there’s “In My Room”, a stunner of longing and loneliness that was incredibly sophisticated. Any songwriter would be glad to have that in their arsenal, much less a band that was known for surfing and car ditties. That track may be among the Beach Boys best ever, including the sophisticated productions later in their career. The magic on that track starts immediately, with Brian solo, then adding Carl and Dennis one after the other until the whole group sings the chorus.

Yeah, there’s some dross here. Two instrumentals and a song based on “Old Folks at Home” Those can be exiled. This is still the best of any pre-Beatles Beach Boys album.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Mike Love had a head cold during some of the vocal sessions. You can tell during “Catch a Wave” and “Hawaii”.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, some oddities, including “In My Room” sung in German, of all things.

GRADE: B: I’ve exiled three songs out of 12, but dang there’s some great stuff here.

The Beach Boys – Surfin’ USA

ARTIST: The Beach Boys Surfin'USACover
TITLE: Surfin’ USA
YEAR RELEASED: 1963
CHART ACTION: #2 US, #17 UK
SINGLES: Surfin’ USA (#3 US, #27 UK), Shut Down (#23 US) was the B-side!
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: They covered a couple of surf instrumentals, but nothing else made any impact.
LINEUP: Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Mike Love, David Marks
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second LP shows improvement in vocal harmonies but still weak on songs and verrry short (24 1/4 minutes).

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Brian Wilson knew he could get the Beach Boys to sing the way he wanted them to – that’s one thing he could control. While improving his songwriting and learning production, he drilled the group on their harmonies. The result was a marked improvement in the vocals over their debut album.

Two songs, the A and B side above, stand out head and shoulders over the rest. Most of the other tracks are disposable, but at least the vocal tracks are sung well. They do have five (!) instrumentals in the 12 tracks, which means that this is more product than anything else. It sold a lot of records, but I doubt if anyone played Side 2 more than a handful of times.

They weren’t totally ready for prime time yet, but “Sufrin’ USA” and “Shut Down” showed they were getting close.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: One reason for the better vocals is that Brian and producer Nick Venet decided to double track the vocals, resulting in close to the classic Beach Boys sound.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: C-: Two monster tracks, a few throwaways and five half-hearted instrumentals (well, Carl tries his best on guitar, but still..). Most of this is exiled.

The Beach Boys – Surfin’ Safari

ARTIST: The Beach Boys Surfin'SafariCover
TITLE: Surfin’ Safari
YEAR RELEASED: 1962
CHART ACTION: #32
SINGLES: Surfin’ (#75), Surfin’ Safari (#14), Ten Little Indians (#49)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: 409, Summertime Blues
LINEUP: Mike Love, David Marks, Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Nick Venet
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The debut album, mostly recorded over three days in the fall of 1962, and only recorded because “Surfin’ Safari” was a big hit.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Somehow, “Surfin’” a quick independent recording, hit the Top 100, and then a demo tape made its way to Capitol Records. From that tape, believe it or not, they took “Surfin’ Safari” and “409” straight from that, released them as a single, and well, there you go.

Brian Wilson and his songwriting partner Gary Usher with some help from Love wrote a few more songs, they covered “Summertime Blues” and an instrumental. The Boys played their own music, supplemented by Venet.

It’s…rudimentary. A lot of it is schlock – well sung schlock, but schlock. Brian hadn’t developed his knack for melody or arrangement yet, and if he had I doubt if the rest of the group could deal with it. Except for a few songs, this isn’t worth having around, really, unless you’re a total die-hard collector.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Al Jardine appears on “Surfin’” but he left the group to go to college and Marks came in to replace him.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with three additional tracks that you really don’t want anyway. Unless, of course, you’re a die-hard.

GRADE: C-: You have to start somewhere. I think I kept four songs out of 12? The rest range from meh to embarrassing – like “County Fair”. Love sings lead on eight of the tracks, too.