The Beach Boys’ very first #1 hit, “I Get Around,” leads off All Summer Long with the perfect machismo. Somehow, Brian Wilson and cousin Mike Love created the perfect song for any guy…anywhere…including Dennis Wilson. This was Frankie Valli & The Four Season’s “Walk Like A Man” slammed together with Dick Dale surf guitar and “West Side Story” (trading finger snaps for handclaps).
As the group sings, “Get around, round round, I get around” it’s Wilson who – in top falsetto form – speaks his mind: “I get around, from town to town, I’m a real cool head, I’m makin’ real good bread…” This is quite possibly Brian at his street cred coolest, and “I Get Around” is all about “street cred.”
“I’m gettin’ bugged drivin’ up and down the same ole’ strip…I gotta’ find a new place where the kids are hip.” This beginning is total Brian Wilson. He was craving a new direction and a fan base that reached beyond teenagers. The Beach Boys were answering the call, and these tough and edgy lyrics – the perfect Wilson / Love one-two punch – speaks to the vernacular of a group of young men whose livelihood was being threatened by the newcomers from Liverpool. It was “go time,” and Mike and Brian answered the call.
Mike’s cutting lead vocal, Carl’s driving lead guitar at the :53 mark, Al’s bass playing and singing, and Dennis’ voice in the chorus and on the second sustained “round” at the 1:36 mark of the song are pop perfection. If Pet Sounds is the best Brian Wilson album (with the Beach Boys), and Sunflower is the best group album, then I submit that “I Get Around” is the groups’ best original single. Ask any casual fan. They will recognize names to countless other songs, but “Good Vibrations,” “Kokomo,” etc., are not as immediately recognizable as “I Get Around;” it defines an era in the group’s history.
On the heels of the 50th anniversary of The Beach Boys’ sixth studio album All Summer Long (July 13, 1964), fan publication Endless Summer Quarterly [ESQ] published its Summer 2014 edition dedicated to this definitive summertime album.
The new issue of ESQ offers the exclusive track by track interview that I conducted with the group’s frontman Mike Love. Love also discusses the firing of the band’s manager Murry Wilson, and his role from assisting in the control booth during the recording sessions. Along with this interview is a complete All Summer Long sessionography provided by historian Craig Slowinski, and very rare / previously unpublished pictures from the album photo shoot.
Throughout the 20-page All Summer Long featurette, additional track commentary is provided by Al Jardine, Wink Martindale, Wendy Wilson (Wilson Phillips / daughter of Brian Wilson), Carl B. Wilson (son of the late Dennis Wilson), Bobby Figueroa (California Surf, Inc.), Chris Farmer (Surf City Allstars), Philip Bardowell (Surf City Allstars), Probyn Gregory (Brian Wilson band) and Nick “Wonder” Walsuko (Brian Wilson band).
Exclusive to this article are Wendy Wilson’s and Carl B. Wilson’s comments on the Beach Boys’ cover version of “Hushabye” (originally released in 1959 by The Mystics).
“As a kid, I remember just loving the melody to ‘Hushabye.’ I can remember attaching myself to it for some reason. It’s such a sweet melody, and Dad’s falsetto sounds the most pure, which I love. It really shines in this song. It really reminds me of childhood. I also like it because it’s a good vocal warm up for me. Before I go onstage, I do my vocal warm-ups, and this is one of the songs that I sing, because of its cascading melody. [Sings the lead falsetto.] I just love that song, and I always will.”
— Wendy Wilson
“The harmony blend on ‘Hushabye’ really stands out to me. In my era – the eighties and nineties – when I was really starting to appreciate music, I didn’t grow up with music like that. Hearing Brian’s high parts…it just struck me.”
— Carl B. Wilson
The All Summer Long album is full of summer imagery bliss, but the Beach Boys had some friendly competition in Jan & Dean. Although Jan & Dean’s Ride The Wild Surf and Little Old Lady From Pasadena albums were not released until August and September of 1964, respectively, the focus of the Summer 2014 edition of ESQ is the studio albums that were recorded and released during those critical months. These three albums epitomize the Summer of 1964 perfectly, and 50 years later the music still provokes the very best of the genre.
When looking at the album covers, we see that the Beach Boys posed with models for the cover shoot. Jan & Dean, on the other hand, posed with a different type of model…Kathryn Minner (aka, “The Little Old Lady”). I think the Beach Boys came out on the better end of that one. LOL!
Also included in the new issue of ESQ is a second 13-page featurette, where California cohort Dean Torrence of Jan & Dean discusses the duo’s Ride The Wild Surf and The Little Old Lady From Pasadena albums.
Although Dean was involved on “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena,” a common question asked of him is why his lead falsetto is not on the recording. In the new issue Torrence said, “You’ve got to realize that there were no cell phones in that day. If Jan got some studio time that opened up, and there came a time and he could get in the studio…Jan had one phone number for me, and that was my family’s phone. Jan would call that one number…knowing most likely that I was probably at college…and if he couldn’t reach me, the next call would be to Lou’s office to see if either P.F. Sloan or Steve Barri were around. Since they actually showed up everyday to an office, they were there 95% of the time. So there were occasions…especially on LPs, where you have a lot of songs to do…that somebody else got the call to lay down a vocal part…or falsetto part, that was either Jan’s or mine. That was just the nature of the business.” (more in the new issue…)
Of Jan & Dean’s “The Anaheim, Azusa And Cucamonga Sewing Circle, Book Review And Timing Association,” Probyn Gregory said, “In 1964 Jan Berry created what is arguably his most ambitious composition and orchestration… Here Jan is at the absolute peak of his powers. There are three sonic homages in ‘The Anaheim, Azusa And Cucamonga Sewing Circle, Book Review And Timing Association’: first and most obvious, the Beach Boys’ ‘I Get Around’ verse and instrumental break in its own verse / instrumental break, which these days might be so close as to be lawsuit material (‘I Get Around’ was still so fresh as to be performed by the Beach Boys on Ed Sullivan just after ‘Anaheim...’ was released as the flip side of ‘Ride the Wild Surf’); second a J.S. Bach Christmas chorale called, ‘Lobt Gott, ihr Christen allzugleich,’ which had struck Jan’s fancy during a UCLA course in Bach he had taken that very year. This is jazzed up in the intro and repetitions of that section; and lastly himself in the end tag with, ‘Go grannies go,’ a la ‘Little Old Lady from Pasadena.’ This track utilizes a dizzying array of Wrecking Crew session musicians (Hal Blaine and Earl Palmer on drums just for starters), and there even exists an alternate (unrecorded) arrangement for even MORE instruments. Phil Sloan and Steve Barri were singers on the multiple dates it took to record this, and remember being put through their paces vocally by an exacting Jan. Personally, for me the harpsichord makes it, in tandem with the thunderous pomp of unison Fender bass, Danelectro 6-string bass and Bellzouki lines. ‘Anaheim...’ does not stray from the tried and true Jan & Dean formula of comedic lyrics set to state-of-the-art pop arranging, dealing as it does with not one but a bevy of docile-by-day senior hot-rodders. Key changes abound, nothing new…maybe the flip side had even more of those. In the J&D canon, this gem is often unjustly pooh-poohed. I believe it represents a high-water mark of Jan’s craft in multiple aspects of song construction and delivery, showing him the equal (at that time) in some respects of Brian Wilson.”
Whether it was cruisin’, the beach, the drive-in, surfin’, or just kickin’ back and listening to the your favorite tunes while watchin’ the waves…summer tunes in 1964 were synonymous with the Beach Boys and Jan & Dean. Not even The Beatles were able to touch the genre. The “Fab Four” knew nothing about the West Coast sound, but like everyone else, they were eager to learn. Who could blame them? This is pop music supremacy.
To pick up your copy of this one-of-a-kind limited edition collectible, be sure to order the Summer 2104 issue of Endless Summer Quarterly today.
©2014 David Beard / All rights reserved
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