Life at 33 1/3: The “Rubber Soul” of the Beach Boys

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The Beach Boys: Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) (Capitol)

“Summer Days (And Summer Nights!)” was overshadowed by both its predecessor, “The Beach Boys Today!” and its successor “Pet Sounds”, (“Beach Boys’ Party!” doesn’t count).

This was very strange as the album delivered two of the group’s strongest single B-sides, “Girl Don’t Tell Me” (what other song captures the bittersweet teenage memories of a summer vacation love?) and “You’re So Good To Me” (Brian Wilson in superb voice).  There was also the glorious, cascading British 1967 stop-gap single (while waiting for “Heroes And Villains”) “Then I Kissed Her” (a Phil Spector cover that beats Spector in his own game), the single version of “Help Me, Rhonda “(Al Jardine’s big moment), the lush, delightful instrumental “Summer Means New Love “(would fit “ Pet Sounds “ like a glove) and wonders of all wonders, the totally unpretentious and girl happy slice of cheerful California-pop, “California Girls “.

There’s not many albums in the world with that many winners on it.  The remaining six songs are not exactly slow burners either, with the exception of Brian’s attack on his father, Murray Wilson, “I’m Bugged At My Ol ‘Man” (but that one is so hilarious you wouldn’t lose it for the world).

The reason the album was received with slight disappointment is probably because it was perceived as a resignation, a step backwards to 1964.  Capitol was not very happy with the turn the group took on “The Beach Boys Today”.  They wanted more normal “Beach Boys music” about girls and cars and life on the Californian beaches.  Brian Wilson apparently obeyed.  The lyrics are lighthearted, there’s loads of beautiful girls and everything seems to be hunky dory, even in Salt Lake City.

But the music tells a completely different story, it’s neither smooth or easy.  The arrangements are bold and build soundscapes that are as related to “Pet Sounds” as The Beatles’ “Rubber Soul” is to “Revolver”.  There’s more here than meets the eye – or ear.  Take the intro to “California Girls”, a seemingly uncomplicated little pop song, it’s complicated, it’s beautiful, it creates expectations which gives the song an extra boost when it finally takes off and turns to gold.

If you tell me that this is your favorite Beach Boys-LP, I will shake your hand and say: Respect!

Released: July 1965

(All songs written and composed by Brian Wilson/Mike Love, except where noted).

Side One

1. “The Girl from New York City” 1:54

2. “Amusement Parks U.S.A.” 2:29

3. “Then I Kissed Her” (Phil Spector/Ellie Greenwich/Jeff Barry) 2:15

4. “Salt Lake City” 2:00

5. “Girl Don’t Tell Me” (B. Wilson) 2:19

6. “Help Me, Rhonda” 2:46

Side Two

1. “California Girls” 2:38

2. “Let Him Run Wild” 2:20

3. “You’re So Good to Me” 2:14

4. “Summer Means New Love” (B. Wilson) 1:59

5. “I’m Bugged at My Ol’ Man” (B. Wilson) 2:17

6. “And Your Dream Comes True” 1:04

Produced by: Brian Wilson

Personnel:

Al Jardine – lead, harmony and backing vocals; electric rhythm guitar; hand claps.

Bruce Johnston – harmony and backing vocals; acoustic grand piano, hammond organ, celeste; hand claps.

Mike Love – lead, harmony and backing vocals; hand claps.

Brian Wilson – lead, harmony and backing vocals; bass guitar; acoustic upright piano; hammond organ; hand claps, timpani.

Carl Wilson – lead, harmony and backing vocals; lead, rhythm, acoustic and twelve-string guitar; hand claps.

Dennis Wilson – harmony and backing vocals; drums, tambourine, hand claps.