When the Beach Boys released BEACH BOYS PARTY! on November 8th, 1965 on Capitol Records, believe it or not, it was their third album that year! Capitol wanted a Beach Boys album available for Christmas present purchases and this was the result, as PET SOUNDS was not yet completed. Brian Wilson shares: “One night in June of 1965, I and the other Beach Boys invited some friends to the recording studio to take part in what was to be the first and only live party album. We even had some beers for everybody...The party album was a challenge for us to try our hand at spontaneity. It worked...So call some friends and sit down and join the party as you listen to this one. Have a good party”. Author David Leaf notes: PARTY’S instrumentation, with the exception of a bass guitar, was all acoustic. Basically, it’s just bongos, guitars and exuberant vocals and voila, a top ten LP”. The album reached #6 on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart!
The party begins with Mike Love singing lead on ‘Hully Gully’. It is a rock and roll song all about having a good time: “Well, there’s a dance spreadin’ ‘round like an awful disease/Hully, hully gully/You just shake your shoulders and you wiggle your knees/Hully, hully gully/Well, there’s a dance spreadin’ round from coast to coast/Hully, hully gully/Well, when me and my baby do it that’s how we do it the most/Hully, hully gully/Mama, hully gully/Papa, hully gully/Baby, hully gully too”. There are three John Lennon/Paul McCartney tracks here. The first two are from A HARD DAY’S NIGHT. ‘I Should Have Known Better’ is about puppy love: “Oh, oh I should have realized what a kiss could be/That this could only happen to me/Can’t you see?/Can’t you see?/That when I tell you that I love you, oh/You’re gonna say you love me too/And when I ask you to be mine/You’re gonna say you love me too/You love me too (3X)”.
‘Tell Me Why’ is a peppy rock and roll song of one experiencing heartache: “Well, I gave you everything I had/But you left me sittin’ on my own/Did you have to treat me, oh, so bad?/All I do is hang my head and moan.../If there’s something I have said or done/Tell me what and I’ll apologize/If you don’t, I really can’t go on/Holding back these tears”. ‘Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow’ is a fun, non-sensical crowd favourite: “The funniest sound I ever heard/Papa-oom-mow-mow (2X)/But I can’t understand a single word.../The weirdest sound/I can’t figure it out/Wee, this sound makes me slap and shout.../Papa-oom-mow-mow”.
Johnny Rivers took ‘Mountain of Love’ to #6 in 1964. This great rock and roll song uses harmonica to good effect. It is a song of longing: “Standin’ on a mountain lookin’ down on a city/The way I feel is a doggone pity/Teardrops fallin’ down the mountainside/Many times I’ve been here, many times I’ve cried/We used to be so happy when we were in love/High on a mountain of love.../Wedding bells are ringin’ and they should’ve been ours”. ‘You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away’ is from the Beatles’ HELP! soundtrack. Dennis Wilson takes the lead on this pretty, melodic song of heartache: “Here I stand, head in hand/Turn my face to the wall/If she’s gone I can’t go on/Feeling two foot small/Everywhere people stare/Each and every day/I can see them laugh at me/And I hear them say/’Hey! You’ve got to hide your love away’ (2X)”.
‘Devoted to You’ was a Top Ten hit for the Everly Brothers in 1958. Brian Wilson and Mike Love sing lead on this tender ballad which finds a guy making several promises to his girl: “I’ll be yours through endless time/I’ll adore your charms sublime/Guess by now you know/That I’m devoted to you/I’ll never hurt you, I’ll never lie/I’ll never be untrue/I’ll never give you a reason to cry/I’d be unhappy if you were blue/Through the years my love will grow/Like a river it will flow/It can’t die because I’m so/Devoted to you”. Brian says ‘Alley Oop’, a fun rock and roll song, is “about a guy of ancient times that nobody ever fooled with”. It really could be a children’s song given these silly lyrics: “He’s the toughest man there is alive/Alley Oop/Wears clothes from a wildcat’s hide/Alley Oop/He’s the king of the jungle jive/Look at that caveman go/He’s got a chauffeur that’s a genuine dinosaur/Alley Oop Oop, Oop (3X)/And he can knuckle your head before you count to four/Alley Oop Oop, Oop (3X)”.
Phil Spector and Leroy Bates wrote ‘There’s No Other (Like My Baby)’. It is a romantic doo-wop ballad with good harmonies: “Walkin’ down the street/In a crowd/Lookin’ at my baby/Feelin’ so proud/Well, there’s no other/Like my baby, oh, no, no, no/Woah, there’s no other/Don’t mean maybe, oh, no, no, no/While I was dancing/My baby by my side/Whispered to her/Someday she’ll be my bride”. Next up is a playful mash-up of two of the group’s rock and roll hits, namely ‘I Get Around’ and ‘Little Deuce Coupe’. The songs still deal with cars, but include some alternate lyrics: “I’m getting awfully mad driving down the street/Ow!/I just don’t want to be bugged sitting next to my sweets.../She’s got a competition clutch with the four on the floor/And she purrs like a kitten till baa-baa-baa”.
Al Jardine takes the lead on Bob Dylan’s folk protest song ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’’. It reminds us that every generation has their own strong beliefs and opinions: “Come mothers and fathers throughout the land/And don’t criticize what you can’t understand/Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command/Your old road is rapidly agin’/Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand/For the times they are a-changin’’. Last up is ‘Barbara Ann’. It was penned by Fred Fassert and was a success for the Regents. It went on to become a #2 hit for the Beach Boys in 1966. Brian shares lead vocal duties with Dean Torrence of Jan and Dean. It is a song about being infatuated with one girl: “Went to a dance looking for romance/Saw Barbara Ann/So I thought I’d take a chance/Barbara Ann, take my hand/You’ve got me rockin’ and a-rollin’/Rockin’ and a-reelin’/Barbara Ann/Tried Betty Sue/Tried Betty Lou/Tried Mary Sue/But I knew it wouldn’t do”.
What could have easily sounded like a hastily thrown together, rather stupid collection of songs poorly performed, does not. Instead, on PARTY! you still get the signature Beach Boys vocals, but this time accompanied by a genuinely raucous, fun-loving, carefree vocal ensemble in a room that largely seems to be made up of females. This album truly does sound like a live party, with lots of laughter and chit-chat going on during and between songs. How many people were actually intoxicated during the recording of this album, we may never know. I’m rating BEACH BOYS PARTY! 98%. For more info visit: www.thebeachboys.com.
On August 19th, 1968 the Beach Boys released their third album of that year entitled STACK-O-TRACKS (Capitol). When it was originally put out, it included a sixteen page book with the lyrics, lead lines, bass lines, chords, and photos. Years later, writer David Leaf would note: “STACK-O-TRACKS, unlike any official LP ever released by any other group, presented only the backing tracks of many of the Beach Boys’ records, putting forth the concept that Brian’s great music, even without the surf and car lyrics and more importantly, even without their incredible vocals, was worthy of consideration”. I would say that nearly all of these songs stand up pretty well in their instrumental versions. They would be good to perform karaoke to, or to perform seriously with you and your friends on vocals at a talent show. This was the first Beach Boys album not to make it onto the U.S. or U.K. charts, but it is a neat collector’s item. Musicians who played on Beach Boys records over the years include: Hal Blaine, Glen Campbell, and Leon Russell. I’m rating STACK-O-TRACKS 85%. For more info visit: www.thebeachboys.com.