The Beach Boys- All Summer Long (1964)
Updated: May 9
The Beach Boys- All Summer Long
Released July 13, 1964
April 2- May 19, 1964, except "Drive-In" October 18, 1963
About the Beach Boys
The surviving Beach Boys are now more like Beach Great Grandpas, but at one time, they were extremely popular young hitmakers who helped shape American popular music and culture. The Beach Boys formed in 1961 in Hawthorne, California. The original lineup included Brian Wilson, his brothers Carl and Dennis, cousin Mike Love and Brian's friend Al Jardine. The group was managed by Wilson's dad Murry. Under Brian Wilson's direction, the Beach Boys worked hard on vocal harmonies drawing influence from the many '50s doo-wop groups they had heard as youths. They showcased their signature vocal stylings by singing pop tunes about surfing, girls, cars, and "fun, fun, fun." The group signed to Candix Records in 1961, and their first single, "Surfin'," became a regional hit. In 1962 things exploded for the group; they signed with Capitol Records and released their first album Surfin Safari which peaked at #32 in 1963. Also, in '63, the boys released three popular albums Surfin' U.S.A., Surfer Girl, and Little Deuce Coupe.
The Beach Boys 1964
Moving into 1964, the Beach Boys were riding a massive wave of success, and they released albums like Shut Down Volume 2, All Summer Long, Four By The Beach Boys, Beach Boys Concert, and The Beach Boys Christmas Album. That's a lot of Beach Boys for one year! Despite the group's success and continued interest in what now became a winning formula, Brian Wilson was not happy riding the same old wave. He felt threatened by the British Invasion bands and the undeniable talents of the Beatles. In response, Wilson wanted to change the group's sounds to turn the Beach Boys into Beach Men. By year's end, the pressure got to him, and Brian stopped touring with the group and began suffering panic attacks. Also, Murry was relieved as manager during the year, although he remained a close advisor.
All Summer Long!
The album that most exemplified the beginnings of a new direction for the Beach Boys was All Summer Long! Which charted at number 4 on the Billboard charts. It was the first album to start incorporating themes that were not only related to surfing, cars, etc. It was also one of the first concept albums with pieces that drew from Wilson's experiences as a typical Southern California teenager. Brian Wilson focused on showcasing more robust harmonies and advanced arranging characteristics for the album. While discussing the album, Brian Wilson mentions, "We needed to grow. Up to this point, we milked every idea dry…We did every possible angle about surfing and then did the car routine. But was needed to grow artistically." This change in direction would result in two of the Beach Boys' most creative efforts Today! (1965) and the masterpiece Pet Sounds (1966).
Following All Summer Long!
Determined to match the success and creativity of Pet Sounds, Brian Wilson went to work on a follow-up album called Smile. During this time, his mental state worsened and was heightened by addiction. The album cost the studio and the Beach Boys a boatload of money and was held from release. By 1967, the Beach Boys fan base was split in two, with some favoring Brian's more creative efforts and others wishing to return to their earlier sound. That year the group released the more simplified Smiley Smile, which failed to chart higher than 41 in the U.SThey quickly countered the disappointment with a soul-influenced album called Wild Honey (1967) which sold better but still showed a decline in the group's popularity.
Moving into the next several decades' some form of the Beach Boys continued to persevere through many issues and tragedies, including the negative press surrounding Dennis' friendship with murderer Charles Manson, Brian Wilson's mental collapse and hospitalization, Steven's firing, Dennis' death at 39 (drowning) Carl's death at 51 (cancer), Jardine's resignation and touring under the "Beach Boys" name without permission, Brian Wilson's firing, a multitude of lawsuits, and several failed albums. Some hits were thrown in, an induction into the rock and roll hall of fame, and a successful touring schedule allowed the Beach Boys to work for over 60 years! (Awards:Grammy Lifetime Acheivement Award, Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, Songwriter Hall Of Fame for Brian Wilson)
(+ means "recommended track" and * means released as a single)
Track 1- "I Get Around" is the signature piece from the record. The lyrics are considered autobiographical, relating to the group's reaction to fame and the stress of finding new places and sounds to continue to connect to their audiences. It was the group's first number-one hit and Wilson's finest effort as an orchestrator and arranger. The song included strong harmonies and a multitude of instruments, including timbales, a six-string bass guitar played by session master Glen Campbell, a tenor saxophone, a baritone saxophone, a harpsichord, and a Hammond organ. It's easy to miss all of these intricacies, but these details make for a pretty remarkable achievement for a pop song. The song was a game-changer for the group and popular music. (*+)
Track 2- "All Summer Long" was written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love. It was released as a single in the U.K. but did not chart highly. The lyrics reflect a groovy summer experience and a wardrobe that includes "T-Shirts, cut off, and a pair of thongs." Listen for marimbas, a tenor saxophone, and a piccolo (or fife). Through these quirky orchestration and arrangement characteristics, Brian Wilson was proving that he was the real deal and that pop music didn't have to be simple and formulaic to be digestible.(+)
Track 3-"Hushabye" was a cover of The Mystic 1959 Doo-wop hit. There's some impressive vocal layering on this one. It's one of the finest examples of vocal writing in pop music. That's what the Beach Boys were great at. Lyrically it's a perfect song for any speech therapist teaching "oo's" and "ah's."
Track 4- "Little Honda" sounds like a commercial for the merits of the nimble Honda scooter, which the Beach Boys enjoyed. No Harley Davidsons for these beach bums. Although not a hit for the Beach Boys, the U.S. surf rock band The Hondells scored a top ten hit with the song and named their first L.P. Little Honda (Mercury). It's a goofy tune but is made palatable by Brian Wilson's arranging and production brilliance.
Track 5- "We'll Run Away" was written by Brian Wilson and frequent early collaborator Gary Usher. The song is a doo-wop-style ballad about a young couple eloping. The piece represents a shift in lyrical content for the group, showing a certain seriousness that had nothing to do with the beach, cars, or surfboards. Take notice of the heavy use of the church organ on this one.
Track 6- "Carl's Big Chance" is an instrumental track meant to showcase Carl Wilson's guitar playing. It's played in the then-popular instrumental surf rock format on a trebly guitar with a good amount of echo and slap-back effect.
Track 1- "Wendy" is about a cheating girlfriend. Brian Wilson named his second child Wendy. Not sure why he would name her after a cheating girlfriend who made him "cry when she made it with another guy" Wendy Wilson found her own fame as a member of the 1990 pop group Wilson Phillips. The song offers some advanced harmonies and a well-crafted key change. You can hear a cough or a sneeze at around minute 1:20 and then some light chatter behind the organ solo. It's another incredibly layered piece for the time. The song was originally credited to only Brian Wilson, but Mike Love sued Wilson for shared rights for the piece, and his name was added. The song peaked at #44 on the Billboard Chart. (*+)
Track 2- "Do You Remember" "Do you remember all the guys who gave us rock and roll?" The Beach Boys do. The song is a tribute to 1950s rockers like Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and Elvis Presley. One of the interesting mentions is Danny and the Juniors, a Philadelphia Doo-Wop band that scored the hit "At The Hop." It's really cool when a song's lyrics make mention of the past.
Track 3- "Girls on The Beach" is another brilliant display of polyphonic harmony singing and one of the last songs Wilson would write with a beach theme. The song inspired and was included in the film The Girls on the Beach (1965 Paramount).
Track 4- "Drive-In" celebrates the group's love of drive-in movies and the make-out culture surrounding the mostly obsolete experience of seeing a film from the discomfort of your car. The song showcases subtle musical technicality set to pretty lame lyrics.
Track 5- "Our Favorite Recording Session" offers a bunch of outtakes and studio goofiness. It is interesting to hear the boys interacting.
Track 6- "Don't Back Down" is the closing number representing the group's final song with a surfing theme. It's as if the band was closing out an era with this one. Despite a calculated shift from surf music, the Beach Boys would always be associated with surf rock. If they were trying to remove the surf image from their brand, they should have considered choosing a name that doesn't have the word "beach" in it.
All Summer Long was still poppy and marketable to bleach-blond teens. However, hidden in what could easily be considered frivolous commercial fluff are some remarkable harmonies and orchestration characteristics from the group's true genius, Brian Wilson. Chart position: #4 on Billboard Charts.