All Summer Long

The Beach Boys

Capitol, 1964

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


All Summer Long is the great transition album in Beach Boys history. Without it there would be no Pet Sounds. The second Beach Boys album to be released in 1964 , it marked the moment where the group's sound had fully evolved, the vocal interplay and complexity at the level everyone remembers. What sets this apart from earlier releases is that the songwriting has improved, putting this one nearly on the level of sophistication as Pet Sounds.

Yet the difference is the shiny optimism here. While critics and some fans prefer the darker pop of "Good Vibrations" from a few years down the road, others like me prefer "I Get Around," which makes its first appearance opening this record. I remember the title track being used to end my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 American Graffiti; it's a mystery that it never became a hit single. The high harmonies of Brian and Carl Wilson are some of the best in rock history, not just in Beach Boys history.

The good news just keeps coming. "Little Honda," "Do You Remember," "Girls On The Beach," "Drive-In" and "Wendy" are all well-produced and are terriffic. Even "We'll Run Away" and "Hushabye" are more than adequate. This is the first Beach Boys album (with apologies to "Little Deuce Coupe") that has no filler.

Even the instrumental "Carl's Big Chance" shines; I have seen the Beach Boys in concert five times and remember being impressed with just how well Carl could play the guitar. See, Brian Wilson may have been the brains behind the Beach Boys, but Carl Wilson was the soul, and "Carl's Big Chance" was the last pure Beach Boys surf instrumental that gives him a rare chance to shine.

The comedy bit "Our Favorite Recording Sessions" was a prefabricated attempt to present to the public what "fun" recording sessions actually were for the Beach Boys. Knowing Brian Wilson, cuts like this one probably took days to put together. However, the last note on the piano there is the first note of the closing "Don't Back Down," which sports somewhat more disconcerting lyrics than previous songs.

I bought All Summer Long when it was released and I never tire of it. Now, in my late 50's, it takes me back to a simpler time where I had a full head of hair, the sun shone brightly in the summer and the Beach Boys were one of America's greatest pop bands. It always makes me smile, which is nearly the highest praise I can give it. 

Rating: A-

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© 2007 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.