Little Deuce Coupe / All Summer Long
Audio CD | Extra Tracks, Import, Reissued, Remastered
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Two #4-charting albums, 28 tracks! Bonus cuts include alternate takes of Little Honda and Don't Back Down.
Released just one month after the Surfer Girl album, Little Deuce Coupe was, incredibly, the band's fourth album in less than a year. Brian Wilson and the band responded by turning in arguably their most consistent effort to date--and a concept album, to boot. Deuce Coupe expanded the band's subject matter to encompass 1963 America's burgeoning love affair with hot rods, surrounding previously released cuts such as the title track, "409," and others with strong new material (much of it cowritten by Wilson and a DJ, Roger Christian). A highpoint: the a cappella James Dean tribute "A Young Man Is Gone" (a reworking of Bobby Troup's beautiful "Their Hearts Were Full of Spring"), a prime example of Wilson's arranging genius and the band's vocal prowess. All Summer Long was notable not only for racheting up the band's standards and essentially bidding farewell to the surf songs that inspired both their name and reputation, but also for going toe-to-toe with one of rock's most explosive phenomena--Beatlemania--and coming away victorious, with the single "I Get Around" soaring to No. 1 in the spring of 1964. Essentially another loose concept record (revolving around the innocent hedonistic pursuits of an idyllic SoCal summer) that takes its cue from the effervescent title track, it also documents Brian's restless creativity pushing the band toward its performing peak. Bonus takes include the superior single take of band staple "Be True to Your School," alternate takes of "Little Honda" and "Don't Back Down," and the slightly salacious outtake "All Dressed Up for School." Both albums have also been sonically burnished via 24-bit digital remastering. --Jerry McCulley
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Top Customer Reviews
Capitol pushed for the release of an all-automotive album by the band. They had done well with the Shut Down album in July of '63, which had 409 and Shut Down among its various artists' car songs, and wanted another. Simple observation told them that a lot more people had cars than surfboards. They also didn't have much faith in either trend lasting and wanted to strike while the iron was hot. They didn't think the Beach Boys were going to be around more than another year or so, either.
But the Beach Boys were happy to provide a car album. Brian had found a good collaborator in Roger Christian, an L.A. disc jockey who was so avid on the car scene that he wrote poetry about cars, some of which was adaptable as song lyrics. Brian liked to collaborate at this point and had done so before with Gary Usher. Seven of the twelve songs here are Wilson-Christian creations. It's a very strong album, almost as strong as Surfer Girl. The Beach Boys style had really come together by now, especially the complex harmonies for which they became known. An otherwise minor song like Ballad of Ole' Betsy ends with a remarkable a capella verse, and A Young Man Is Gone is full of Brian's Four Freshmen influenced harmonies and sung a capella all the way through. As on the other albums there is a nod to the Fifties with its doo-wop sound.
Be True To Your School wasn't exactly a car song but it does mention cruising around town with the decal in back and the spirit of the song fit anyway. We get two takes on this song here, the album and the single versions. Brian was already very meticulous about his songs and was constantly striving to improve them until they matched what was in his head. This is not the only time the album and single versions differed. The singles usually had the later version and Brian's changes were always improvements. Be True To Your School is nice in its original form but becomes much stronger and practically cinematic in its single incarnation with its motor sounds, drums and cheerleaders, a work of pure inspiration.
Despite the carry-over songs from Surfer Girl, Little Deuce Coupe was one of the band's biggest albums. Part of the reason for its success and the success of the group in general was the focus on things guys liked. The Top 40 scene in the early Sixties was universal among teens and preteens, but it was aimed a bit more toward girls. Boys and girls both listened to the same radio stations and bought singles and the occasional album, but it seems that the girls must have been buying more and were the more fervent part of the audience. The teen magazines and teen idols were certainly pitched to them, and its easy to see that the girls outnumbered the boys considerably in the audience of American Bandstand and the T.A.M.I. show. The girls provided the initial spark of Beatlemania. The Beach Boys, and later on the whole guitar band sound of the British Invasion made music more appealing to boys and got them more involved in the scene than they had been.
With the Summer of '64's All Summer long, the Beach Boys laid claim to all teen activities and the most cherished season of all. The band had an uncanny knack for doing just the right thing at the right time. Not one song on the album focuses on surfing and had they continued on that subject they might have doomed themselves to obsolescence. The only beach song focuses on the girls and otherwise it's all motor bikes, miniature golf and of course the drive in, in which you're admonished not to try to sneak your buddies in the trunk and to watch enough of the movie to tell your parents about it later. It's an all-encompassing album of Summer and teenagers at a particularly happy and prosperous moment in the country's history. The cover said it all.
The album is the last with simple, direct songs and melodies. Brian's composing and arranging was soon to undergo a quantum jump once he was free of touring with the band once and for all. Already there's the amazingly unique opening to Wendy. Little Honda and Wendy should have been a two-sided single in the Fall. Instead they were put out on that odd EP, "Four by the Beach Boys". No one knew what to make of an EP in America. Many teens had bought the album already anyway; the Beach Boys albums sold remarkably well for a Top 40 group. EP's were oddly mid-priced. They were much bigger in Europe where teens weren't as prosperous in general to buy albums. In America that audience didn't really exist. I fortunately lived in an area where the two songs were played as much as if they had been a single and conjure up sunny October memories. But most radio stations didn't give them much airplay and they languished on the charts.
Other Beach Boys staples are on the album: an instrumental for Carl, an ode to the Fifties and one of those truly unique, love 'em or hate 'em "Recording Sessions" where we hear the band cutting up in the studio, like the "Cassius vs Sonny" track on Shut Down vol.2. The two versions of Little Honda again show how Brian's instincts always improved a song. The single (here on the actual album) is tightened up lyrically and punchier sounding than the earlier version. All Dressed Up For School is a real rarity.
Of the first three double-LP CD's, this is the strongest with two major albums that really show the group at its best during it's early years.
The first album on this CD is `Little Deuce Coupe', which is a Great album. There are lots of familiar hits here but the whole album is great. "A young man is gone" is still one of the most stunning songs in Beach Boys history. A five-star album.
The second album of this CD is `All Summer Long', which is also a Great album. My only complaint is their inclusion of "our favorite recording sessions" which is just another useless and irritating `behind the scenes' track that subtracts from the enjoyment of the album. Despite that small irritant, this is also a five-star album.
Be sure you get this CD with the bonus tracks which includes "All dressed up for school".
Overall, this CD is worthy of a Sixth star. Highly Recommended.
The albums contain some of the group's most famous songs, but the reason fans might want to pick up this CD is that it contains some of the best of the band's songs you may have never heard, such as "Ballad of Ole' Betsy", "Cherry Cherry Coupe", "No-Go Showboat", "Custom Machine", "Drive-In", and "Don't Back Down".
Fans of the Beach Boys or of Sixties surf rock in general would definitely find this a worthwhile purchase.
As for the songs...."I Get Around" was pretty much my theme, and "409", "Shut Down" And "Little Duce Coupe" kept my pedal to the metal. "Drive In" sums up the nature of the Beach Boys, they sang about my every day life. The things I did. Great album.