Summer Days (And Summer Nights!)

The Beach Boys

Capitol, 1965

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


I have always thought that the Beach Boys albums Today and Summer Days should have been released in reverse order. Beach Boys Today sets the foundation for Pet Sounds, while Summer Days (And Summer Nights) is in many ways a follow up to All Summer Long.

Summer Days (And Summer Nights!) is Brain Wilson’s swan song to his early Beach Boy roots. While he continued to experiment and develop the Beach Boy sound, the songs are simpler for the most part, and the issues of love, having fun, and girls are elementary.

The twin foundations of this album are two of the best-loved Beach Boys single hits. “California Girls” has an almost classical introduction before it hits its stride as a mid-tempo pure pop song. Mike Love’s lead vocal is not as nasal as usual and perfectly leads the listener along on this ode to girls everywhere. It remains one of the quintessential Beach Boys songs. “Help Me Rhonda,” with a lead vocal by Al Jardine, is a simpler track but would give the Beach Boys the second number one single of their career. It made its first appearance on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Beach Boys Today as “Help Me Ronda”. The transformation is remarkable, featuring a crisper sound and completely layered vocals. It provides a good example of how a song could evolve when Brian Wilson concentrated on it.

“The Girl From New York City,” Amusement Parks USA” and “Salt Lake City” are all similar up-tempo rockers with typical harmonies. While there is nothing extraordinary about any of them, they do provide a pleasant base upon which the album is built. “The Girl From New York City” is an answer song to the Ad-Libs hit “The Boy From New York City.” “Amusement Parks USA” takes this All-American summer pastime and turns it into a rousing tribute.  “Salt Lake City” is just as the title implies – a tribute song to the city.

Other songs of note include “Girl Don’t Tell Me” with lead vocal by Carl Wilson for the first time – which is remarkable, given the number of songs that the Beach Boys had produced up to this point. “Then I Kissed Her” is a stripped-down tribute to Phil Spector and his Wall of Sound that exerted influence upon Brian Wilson. “I’m Bugged At My Old Man” may seem like a goofy throwaway song, but given the relationship between Brian Wilson and his father, there is some bite in this satire.

Summer Days concludes with the beautiful a capella song “And Your Dream Comes True.” The Beach Boys’ voices always sound so pure when they are presented without instrumental backing. This wistful ballad is a fitting conclusion to the simple and in many ways spectacular early Beach Boys career.

Summer Days (And Summer Nights!) is not the masterful album of Beach Boys Today, Pet Sounds, or even All Summer Long. What it remains, though, is a pleasurable listening experience. Sometimes that is enough.

Rating: B

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© 2009 David Bowling and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol, and is used for informational purposes only.