The Beach Boys released four albums in 1964, with one being a live concert. ALL SUMMER LONG (Capitol) was released on July 13th, and was the group’s sixth studio album overall. It hit #4 on the U.S. Billboard 200 Albums Chart, and was arranged and produced by Brian Wilson. Group members on the album are: Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Mike Love, and Al Jardine. Session musicians used include Hal Blaine and Glen Campbell. This was the last regular studio album the group recorded before Brian’s nervous breakdown in December 1964 and his retirement from touring. In the album’s original liner notes, Brian writes: “People ask me sometimes how I come up with my ideas. Sometimes I don’t know. The feelings you get from going to school, being in love, winning and losing in sports-these are my inspirations...I love to make records that my friends like to hear”.
‘I Get Around’ is one of seven Brian Wilson/Mike Love co-writes. The duo share lead vocals on this their first #1 single in America, and their first Top Ten hit in Great Britain. This fun rock ‘n’ roll song includes a lead guitar break, handclaps, and these lyrics: “We always take my car cause it’s never been beat/And we’ve never missed yet with the girls we meet/None of the guys go steady cause it wouldn’t be right/To leave their best girl home now on a Saturday night/I get around from town to town/I’m a real cool head/I’m makin’ real good bread/I get around”. George Lucas used ‘All Summer Long’ for the closing titles of his 1973 film ‘American Graffiti’. This breezy pop song makes use of the xylophone and opens with these words: “Sittin’ in my car outside your house/’Member when you spilled coke all over your blouse/T-shirts, cut-offs, and a pair of thongs/We’ve been having fun all summer long/All summer long you’ve been with me/I can’t see enough of you”.
Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman wrote ‘Hushabye’, which was a Top 20 hit for the Mystics back in 1959. This pretty ballad would be a good one to sing to your young daughter: “Lullabye and goodnight/In your dreams I hold you tight/Lullabye and goodnight/Till the dawn’s early light/Pillows lying on your bed/Oh my darling, rest your head/Sandman will be coming soon/Singing you a slumber tune”. The Beach Boys did not have a hit with ‘Little Honda’, but it went Top 10 for the Hondells. It’s a happy rock ‘n’ roll tune: “It’s not a big motorcycle/Just a groovy little motorbike/It’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys/That two wheel bike/We’ll ride on out of the town/To any place I know you like/First gear/Honda, Honda/It’s alright, faster, faster/Second gear/Little Honda, Honda/I lean right, faster, faster/Third gear/Honda, Honda/Hang on tight, faster, faster/Faster, it’s alright”.
Brian Wilson and Gary Usher co-wrote the romantic ballad ‘We’ll Run Away’. It makes good use of the Hammond organ and includes these thoughts: “They warned us that we can’t live on love forever/But we just tell them we’ll get by somehow/Our problems will be greater/We’ll worry ‘bout them later/We’ll run away and get married anyhow/If other kids went through it, then I know we can do it/If our love is that much stronger/It will last that much longer”. ‘Carl’s Big Chance’, penned by Brian and Carl, was originally called ‘Memphis Beach’. It’s the last surf-guitar instrumental recorded by the group. It’s a dandy, bouncy, danceable song, featuring Carl on guitar.
Mike and Brian share lead vocal duties on ‘Wendy’, a song about heartbreak: “Wendy, Wendy what went wrong, oh so wrong?/We went together for so long/I never thought a guy could cry/Till you made it with another guy/Oh Wendy, Wendy left me alone/Hurt so bad”. ‘Do You Remember?’ is an upbeat rock ‘n’ roll song that praises rock ‘n’ roll artists: “Chuck Berry’s gotta be the greatest thing that came along/He made the guitar beats and wrote the all-time greatest song/Well now, do you remember all the guys that gave us rock and roll?/Elvis Presley is the king/He’s the giant of the day/Paved the way for the rock and roll stars/Yeah, the critics kept a knockin’, but the stars kept a rockin’/And the choppin’ didn’t get very far/Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire!”
‘Girls on the Beach’ features the group on lead vocals and at times sounds like ‘Surfer Girl’. It was the title song from the only beach movie the group appeared in. Some of the lyrics are: “How we love to lie around/Girls with tans of golden brown/The girls on the beach are all within reach/And one waits there for you/Girls on the beach/The sun in her hair/The warmth of the air on a summer day”. ‘Drive-In’ is a fun rock ‘n’ roll ditty all around: “A big buttered popcorn and an extra large coke/A few chili dogs and man I’m going broke/Down at the drive in/Yeah at the drive in/We love the drive in (2X)/Don’t sneak your buddies in the trunk ‘cause they might get caught by the drive in/And they’d look kinda stupid gettin’ chased through the lot/Around the drive in”.
‘Our Favorite Recording Sessions’ is just banter of the Boys goofing off in the studio. Last up is ‘Don’t Back Down’, a song about courage when it comes to surfing: “When a twenty-footer sneaks up like a ton of lead/And the crest comes along and slaps ‘em upside the head/They’re not afraid, not my boys/They grit their teeth, they don’t back down/Don’t back down, you gotta be a little nuts/Don’t back down/But show ‘em now who’s got guts/Don’t back down/Don’t back down from that wave”. A CD re-issue of LITTLE DEUCE COUPE/ALL SUMMER LONG would include some bonus tracks. Two were alternate takes of ‘Little Honda’ and 'Don’t Back Down’. Another was ‘All Dressed Up For School’, with Carl singing lead. The school girl fantasy goes way back: “All summer long she had a crush on me/But I just couldn’t care at all/But those new to school threads really did it for her/Now she’s turned into a doll/All dressed up for school/Dressed up for school, ooo what a turn on!”
ALL SUMMER LONG really does find the Beach Boys in very fine form! The group’s harmonies are spot on. The group shows a maturity on this record that isn’t on their earlier records consistently. Girls are the main topic here, with cars coming in second. The faster paced rock ‘n’ roll cuts outweigh the ballads. David Leaf wrote in 1990: “This was really the first time the Beach Boys recorded a complete album about their own Southern California lifestyle”. Though the Beatles were popular at the time, the Beach Boys could certainly hold their own! I’m rating ALL SUMMER LONG 95%. For more info visit: www.thebeachboys.com.