The Beach Boys released their debut album SURFIN’ SAFARI in 1962. Fast forward to mid 1965 and they released their ninth studio album SUMMER DAYS (AND SUMMER NIGHTS!!) on Capitol Records. It reached #2 on the U.S. Billboard 200 Albums Chart and #4 on the UK Top 40 Album Chart. This was the first album by the group that touring member Bruce Johnston sang and played on. In the liner notes Dennis Wilson shares: “I love the summertime most because we get around to all the towns and I can meet all the girls. We sang our hearts out for this new album and I hope you’ll flip out for it like we did”.
The album begins with ‘The Girl From New York City’, one of eight co-writes by Brian and Mike. Mike sings lead on this song about a fascination with girls: “She come out with her best friend for the summer in L.A./They took a spot and plopped down on the beach/Well, you find them there every day/And I said/’California guys all can’t peel their eyes from that girl from New York City/And L.A. boys all heard the noise/About that girl from New York City’”. ‘Amusement Parks U.S.A.’ was a #3 hit in Japan. It is a rock ‘n’ roll number with a carnival feel all around: “You’ll crash and burn in the bumper cars at Jersey’s steel pier/You’ll crack ‘em up when you stand in front of all the crazy mirrors/At first you’ll be a chicken at the jackhammer ride/But you’ll do it with a girl sittin’ right by your side/Let’s take your car and mess around at the park all day”.
Phil Spector, Ellie Greenwich, and Jeff Barry wrote ‘Then I Kissed Her’, a pleasant mid-tempo rock ‘n’ roll song: “I kissed her in a way that I’d never kissed a girl before/I kissed her in a way that I hope she liked forevermore.../Then I asked her to be my bride/And always be right by my side/I felt so happy that I almost cried/And then I kissed her (3X)”. ‘Salt Lake City’ is all about a place the band was really popular: “There’s a park near the city, yeah/All the kids dig the Lagoon now/It’s full of all kinds of girls/And rides and we’ll be flyin’ there soon now/And girl for girl they’ve got the cutest of the Western states/They got the sun in the summer/And winter time the skiing is great, yeah/Salt Lake City, we’ll be coming soon”.
‘Girl Don’t Tell Me’ features the first lead vocal by Carl Wilson on a Beach Boys studio album. It’s a light pop song about heartbreak: “Hi little girl, it’s me/Don’t you know who I am?/I met you last summer when I came up to stay with my grand/I’m the guy who left you with tears in his eyes/You didn’t answer my letters/So I figured it was just a lie.../Girl, don’t tell me you’ll write (2X)/Girl, don’t tell me you’ll write me again this time”. Next up is ‘Help Me, Rhonda’ (Single Record Version) with Al Jardine on lead and a different spelling than on the TODAY! album. This version reached #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart!
‘California Girls’ is one of my all time favourite Beach Boys songs. It’s a fun rock ‘n’ roll song with Mike on lead. It includes an organ break and hit #3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart. Here are a few of the lyrics: “The Mid-West farmers daughters really make you feel alright/And the Northern Girls with the way they kiss/They keep their boyfriends warm at night/I wish they all could be California girls/I wish they all could be California/I wish they all could be California girls”. ‘Let Him Run Wild’ aims to convince a gal she’s with the wrong guy: “When I watched you walk with him tears filled my eyes/And when I heard you talk with him/I couldn’t stand his lies/And now before he tries it/I hope you realize it/Let him run wild, he don’t care.../He’ll do the same with other girls as he did to you”.
Brian sings lead on ‘You’re So Good to Me’. It has a strong percussive beat and sings the praises of one’s girl: “You’re kinda small and you’re such a doll/I’m glad you’re mine/You’re so good to me/How come you are?/You take my hand and you understand when I get in a bad mood/You’re so good to me/And I love it, love it/You’re my baby, oh yeah/Don’t mean maybe, oh yeah”. ‘Summer Means New Love’ is a nice easy listening instrumental.
‘I’m Bugged at my Ol’ Man’ is one of three songs Brian wrote alone. This piano based number on which he sings lead, is no doubt directed at Murry, but is hilarious: “I’m bugged at my ol’ man/Cause he’s making me stay in my room/Darn my dad/I came in a little late.../Why did he sell my surfboard?/He cut off my hair last night in my sleep.../I tried to call up my chick/But he jerked my phone right out of the wall”. Last up is a short, dreamy acapella song, ‘And Your Dreams Come True’. Two of the five bonus tracks on the 2001 CD re-issue of TODAY! and SUMMER DAYS (AND SUMMER NIGHTS!!) are an alternate take of ‘Let Him Run Wild’, and the single ‘The Little Girl I Once Knew’. The latter begins: “We met when she was younger and I had no eyes for her/A few years went by and I saw her/Now I’m gonna try for her/Look out, baby/She’s not the little girl I once knew”.
SUMMER DAYS (AND SUMMER NIGHTS!!) is leaps and bounds more enjoyable than its predecessor TODAY! It consists of eight fun rock ‘n’ roll songs, two light pop songs, one instrumental, and one acapella selection. Girls are hands down the main focus of these songs. There are four happy songs about relationships and three about an attraction to girls, as well as three focused on heartache. I would say the songs are pretty family friendly compared to some of what is on the charts these days. There is a certain innocence to them. The group’s trademark harmonies are present throughout. I’m rating this record 97%. For more info visit: www.thebeachboys.com.