The Beach Boys’ 24th studio album was KEEPIN’ THE SUMMER ALIVE (1980, Caribou). Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Mike Love, and Alan Jardine were re-joined by Bruce Johnston after a several year absence. He actually produced the record. It peaked at #75 on the Billboard Top LP’s chart and at #54 in the UK. Additional musicians on the album include: Ricky Fataar, Daryl Dragon, and Scott Mathews.
The album’s title track starts things off. It is one of two tracks penned by Carl Wilson (who sings lead) and Canadian rocker Randy Bachman (The Guess Who, Bachman-Turner Overdrive). Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh is featured on this fun, upbeat rock and roll song on which the Boys, now men, try to recapture their youth: “When it’s ice cream weather/Get the gang back together/Roll down your windows and ride/They’ll be sleepin’ in the sand dunes, dancin’ in the streets/They’re just tryin’ to keep the summer alive (5X)/When it’s ice cream weather all the girls will look better/The boys try to give them a ride/To the one last party fore the school bell rings/They’re just tryin’ to keep the summer alive”. ‘Oh Darlin’’ is a pleasant ballad of one in love: “In my life there’s never been another so perfect lover/Oh ho darlin’ now that I’ve found you/It’s like a missing piece of puzzle has appeared/And now my darlin’/My love surrounds you/And since you came into my life my love/Perfection’s never ever been so near”.
‘Some of Your Love’ was originally recorded in 1977. Mike Love sings lead on this peppy pop song about a high school relationship: “There’s nothin’ like a-romancin’ in the stands/Walking down the hallways a-holdin’ hands/Punchin’ up our jukebox favorite band/Cuddlin’ up in summer moonlight in the sand/Kiss me baby/Hold me tight tonight/Some, some, some of your love/A gimme some, some, some of your love now”. ‘Livin’ With a Heartache’ has an old country vibe to it and pleads for one’s romantic partner to return: “After all this time I still wish you were mine/I miss you every day/Come back to me and stay/Livin’ with a heartache (2X)/Please come back and stay with me/Give our love a chance and maybe you’ll see/My love is true like a heart of gold/I promise you a love you can hold”.
Chuck Berry wrote ‘School Day (Ring! Ring! Goes the Bell)’. It was released as a single back in March of 1957. A couple of months later it was the first track on Berry’s debut album AFTER SCHOOL SESSION. Al Jardine sings lead on the Beach Boys’ version of this fun rock and roll song with nice electric guitar work. Teens of yesteryear will relate to these words: “Back in the classroom open your books/The teacher don’t know how mean she looks.../Soon as three o’clock rolls around/You finally lay your burden down/Throw down your books, get out of your seat/And down the halls and into the street/Up to the corner and ‘round the bend/Right to the juke joint you go in/Drop the coin right into the slot/You gotta hear somethin’ that’s really hot!” ‘Goin’ On’ peaked at #83 on the Billboard Hot 100. It is an adult pop song of longing with a nice sax solo: “I love you, I miss you/I’m sorry, forgive me/Believe me my lover/There never could be any other.../Come be my redeemer/Awaken me beautiful dreamer/I love you/I miss you/Things won’t be the same/Till I’m with you”.
The next song, ‘Sunshine’, was originally called ‘Little Girl’. It is a playful pop song that speaks of lifelong commitment: “She can make you feel so fine/Like to love her all the time/It’s the reason I’m a-pleasin’ my sunshine/Some-a-day I’m gonna marry her/Some-a-way I’m gonna carry her/To a place where we can play in the sun/Like a full moon shinin’ bright/She’ll light up the darkest night/Will she squeeze me/How she’ll please me/Sunshine”. ‘When Girls Get Together’ dates back to 1969. Mike Love and Brian Wilson sing lead. The song includes these tender lyrics: “One bright springtime morning/I overheard an elderly lady’s voice/As I walked past her bench she told her friends of her great loss/After they’d gone away/Three little girls came skipping through the park/Talking of little boys and getting home before it’s dark/When girls get together”.
‘Santa Ana Winds’ is an easy listening number that uses harmonica and begins with these words that reflect on nature: “Here in Southern California there is a weather condition known as the Santa Ana Winds/Fire wind oh desert wind/She was born in a desert breeze/And wind her way through Canyon Way/From the desert to the silvery sea/In every direction/See the perfection/And see the San Gabriel Mountain scene/Santa Ana winds keep blowin’ across my eyes (2X)”. Last up is the Bruce Johnston composition ‘Endless Harmony’. Bruce and Carl Wilson sing lead, while Dennis Wilson contributes percussion. The latter would drown in 1983. This song is easy listening and autobiographical: “Ocean lovers who like to harmonize/They’re all cousins, friends, and brothers/And they make their Mamas cry/They’re record-making, heart-breaking/Just West Coast boys/What I know it’s a beginning of an endless harmony/Striped shirt freedom/Brave new heroes/Go out on the road”.
KEEPIN’ THE SUMMER ALIVE is a fun Beach Boys record that combines classic rock and roll sounds with more contemporary adult pop elements. The group’s signature harmonies are always a plus! Love of women, music, and nature are themes presented here. This album is leaps and bounds better than 1985’s self-titled album the group later released. I’m rating KEEPIN’ THE SUMMER ALIVE 98%. Any Beach Boys collector needs to have this project in their possession. For more info visit: www.thebeachboys.com.