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Today/ Summer Days Summer Nights
Extra Tracks, Import, Reissued, Remastered
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Two 1965 classics, garnished with alternate takes of Dance, Dance, Dance; I'm So Young, and Let Him Run Wild ; a studio version of Graduation Day, and the single version of the Little Girl I Once Knew.
Put simply, this is the Beach Boys at their mid-'60s prime. Ironically, the band's greatest evolutionary leap was spurred by its leader, Brian Wilson, who decided to drop out of the band's live performances after a December 1964 nervous breakdown to concentrate on honing the Beach Boys' studio sound. With Wilson's productions gaining a significant new depth and confidence (note the innovative modulations on "Dance, Dance, Dance"), the first half of Today seems a logical, upbeat step forward from its predecessors. But it's the album's second act that steals the show, setting the stage for the triumph of Pet Sounds. Indeed, it's easy to imagine gorgeous, introspective tracks such as "Please Let Me Wonder," "She Knows Me Too Well," and "In the Back of My Mind" intertwined with the best of Sounds. Set against that standard, the follow-up, Summer Days, feels like a step backward, despite the presence of another Wilson world-beater production, "California Girls," and the band's second No. 1 single, "Help Me, Rhonda." Ever pressured by commercial concerns, Wilson and the band created what was in essence the true follow-up to the All Summer Long album. Still, there's a level of musical sophistication to tracks such as "The Girl from New York City," the Phil Spector tribute "Then I Kissed Her," and especially "Girl Don't Tell Me" and "Let Him Run Wild." Reissued (with 24-bit digital remastering) in a long out-of-print twofer edition to mark the band's 40th anniversary and Lifetime Achievement Grammy, this set features several bonus tracks as well as the insightful notes of David Leaf (The Beach Boys and the California Myth). Bonus cuts include the spectacular "The Little Girl I Once Knew" and revealing outtakes of "Dance, Dance, Dance," "I'm So Young," and "Let Him Run Wild," along with a studio version of a song previously only available on the Beach Boys Concert collection, "Graduation Day." --Jerry McCulley
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I used to have both albums in my collection back in the 1960s and took them off to college. Somehow along the way, they got lost or played so often they were hardly listenable. I remember seeing the Beach Boys in a concert back in 1965 or 1966 when they came to the Cleveland Ohio area where I grew up and still live today. I have a ticket for their cuncert this summer and of course they are enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame of which I am a member. I could have bought this CD at the store at the rock hall, but it costs a lot more there than on Amazon.com.
The "Summer Days (and Summer Nights)" album was perhaps the last of their old "sun and surf" sound albums. The next year (1966) the Beach Boys released their magnum opus "Pet Sounds" which I didn't like at first, but now have in my CD collection. It seems that the Beach Boys sound and music changed into a more mature sound after the Summer Days album. So this is a great collection of their sound reflecting the innocence of being a teen ager in the mid 1960s before college and Vietnam intruded on all that innocence. Yes, it takes me back to the carefree days of high school when our biggest concern was pimples and not having a date for Saturday night.
I've owned 2 other Beach Boys CDs "Endless Summer" & "Pet Sounds" for years, and they are both great, but I am so glad I added this one recently. Along with those two albums, I would say that "Today" is the one other essential Beach Boys album to get if you want to capture these guys at their absolute best. I just can't believe I didn't know about this album before. As for the other album on this CD (Summer Days - Tracks 13-24), it's not as cohesive since it has a healthy dose of filler. However, there are some great tunes (Girl Don't Tell Me, California Girls, Let Him Run Wild, You're So Good to Me), but I already have those on my "Endless Summer" CD, so its not a big deal to me. However, for those who don't have those tracks, they're icing on the cake. The "Today" album (Tracks 1-11) alone make this album well worth the purchase if you like the Beach Boys. For a first purchase, "Endless Summer" or "Sounds of Summer" may be a better place to start ("Endless Summer" is easily one of my 10 "desert island" discs). However, if you already have one of those and you're a fan, go for this one, its great!
In the past couple of years, whenever I get my fill of the best new music out there, I go into the archives and look for albums I missed. Especially if they are priced right like the Beach Boys two-fer remasters have been. The Today/Summer Days (and Summer Nights) package introduced me to a lot of Beach Boys songs I'd never heard before. Oh, I knew Help Me, Rhonda from radio airplay and California Girls just happens to be the first record I bought when I was just ten years old. But there are quite a few other great songs here whose melodies have staying power.
In addition to the aforementioned two songs, I have come to really like Do You Wanna Dance, When I Grow Up (To Be A Man), I'm So Young, Let Him Run Wild, and the instrumental Summer Means New Love as well as secondary versions of a couple favorites. You'll note a big difference in sound quality between the album version of Help Me, Rhonda and the version that was released as a single.
If you are a fan of the Beach Boys on any level, Today/Summer Days (and Summer Nights) is a CD you should add to your music library. The CD comes with an informative booklet containing an interesting story about the album and the band as well as song-by-song commentary that will tell you just about all you could want to know about each of them. The booklet also contains pictures and other pertinent album info. Get it while its cheap, you won't be sorry.