JAN & DEAN

NOTE: Jan and Dean were the Beach Boys' contemporaries and friends throughout the 1960s.  And while their music often travelled similar paths, J&D were never truly on a level with Brian Wilson's compositions.  Rolling Stone dubbed them 'the clown princes of rock 'n' roll' - a title which they wore proudly.  Jan Berry and Dean Torrence did influence The Beach Boys' sound in one important way - that of using studio musicians - 'The Wrecking Crew'  - to polish the sound of their records in the studio, making their tracks sound like something that only Phil Spector could produce, and lifting their three-minute pop songs into thunderous mini-masterpieces which eclipsed the sound of other, similar groups.  For more info visit their web site at: JanandDean.com and also at The Official Jan & Dean Fan Site.

Jan & Dean (1959)
Dore Records 101 [LP];  K-Tel 5035-2 [CD];
Released May 21, 1996

1. Clementine
2. Judy
3. My Heart Sings
4. Rosie Lane
5. Oh Julie
6. Baby Talk
7. You're on My Mind
8. There's a Girl
9. Jeanette, Get Your Hair Done
10. Cindy
11. Don't Fly Away
12. White Tennis Sneakers

Bonus tracks:
13. We Go Together
14. Gee
15. Such a Good Night for Dreaming         
16. Baggy Pants (Read All About It)
17. Judy's an Angel
18. Clementine [Single Version]

REVIEW:  Jan & Dean's first album, released on Dore in 1959, shows the sound of the duo firmly rooted in doo-wop and rock, with driving bass lines reminiscent of Mike Love's contributions to the Beach Boys, and tongue planted firmly in cheek for such send-ups as the album's lead-off track, a rock 'n' roll cover of the folk standard "Clementine".  Next follows a rather soggy ballad, "Judy" which standard chord progressions as Jan proclaims his girl 'a work of art'.  The next song, "My Heart Sings" is a fun, bopping doo-wop swayer with strong two-part harmonies which would become J&D's trademark.  "Rosie Lane" is a mid-tempo ballad again featuring nice two-part harmonies and a high harmony vocal by Sally Stevens.  Another girl's name is featured in "Julie" which is a honky-tonky piano-driven clunker - not much to like is this dragging number.  Next comes the strong bass-line vocal and doo-wop hit "Baby Talk" which boasts a memorable hook and cute lyric marking it as a clear hit single.  Already it's become clear to me that Jan & Dean's forte is upbeat rockers, since their ballads are mostly soggy evocations of girl's names - like the next song, "You're On My Mind" which at least has interesting falsetoo sighs and xylophone boosting an otherwise interminable track.  "There's A Girl" returns the duo to their strengths with a fine track of doo-wop harmony singing and even the occasional falsetto trilling which forshadows their comparisons to Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys.  One of the albums best tracks follows: "Jeanette, Get Your Hair Done" which is also the hardest rocking track on the album, and has a nicely leering vocal.  "Cindy" follows, a chugging song that has a lot of charm in it's modulating track and percussive, stop-and-start arrangement.  "Don't Fly Away" also has a strong track in the classic doo-wop tradition, even if it has a predictable chord structure - it surprises with lush piano chords invading the arrangement.  "White Tennis Sneakers" finishes the original album in good form with another funny love song to a girlfriend's footwear and a strong rhythm plugging along.  In it's reissue of this album, K-Tel has filled out the album with singles which didn't make the orginial LP, with the dramatic, string-laden "We Go Together" lifting an otherwise gushy lyric and sweet harmony singing; ditto for the following track, "Gee" which is a bouncy 50's style love song.  Next comes the panoramic "Such A Good Night For Dreaming" which features choral background singers and a lush production; "Baggy Pants" is similarly thickly produced with a strong bass line and lots of backup singers.  The goopy "Judy's An Angel" follows, sounding like second-rate Everly Brothers, but given an ultra-professional polish, while the final track is an echo-laden remix of "Clementine".

Jan & Dean: Teen Suite - 1958-1962
Varese Sarabande VSD-5590 [CD]; 
Released July 4, 1995


1. Jennie Lee - Jan & Arnie 
2. Gotta Getta Date - Jan & Arnie 
3. Gas Money - Jan & Arnie 
4. Bonnie Lou - Jan & Arnie 
5. I Love Linda - Jan & Arnie 
6. Beat That Can't Be Beat - Jan & Arnie 
7. Baby Talk 
8. Jeanette, Get Your Hair Done 
9. There's a Girl 
10. Clementine [Single Version] 
11. White Tennis Sneakers 
12. We Go Together 
13. Gee 
14. Baggy Pants [Read All About It] 
15. Heart and Soul 
16. Midsummer Night's Dream 
17. Tomorrow's Teardrops [Issued as Jan Berry] 
18. Wanted, One Girl 
19. Something a Little Bit Different 
20. Whole Lotta Lovin' [#] 
21. She's Still Talking Baby Talk [#]

REVIEW:  Sharing eight tracks with the above release, Teen Suite has many more early and rare tracks that should be interesting to collectors - Jan Berry's earliest recordings can be found here, when he was paired not with Dean Torrence, but with Arnie Ginsburg.  The two friends had recorded the song in Jan's parents garage using a metal chair and piano stool to make the tik-tikking percussion sound.  Arnie takes the high lead vocal while Jan contributes Bom-be-bom bass which are laden with natural reverb and beefed up with a honking saxophone.  The songs here are basic churning early rock and roll, with a very young Arnie sounding almost pre-pubescent with a high clear voice, and Dean's thick, deep voice providing an interesting contrast.  "Gas Money" has a memorable honky-tonk rhythm and catchy melody, while "Bonnie Lou" is an obvious attempt to clone "Jennie Lee".  "I Love Linda" is pretty stale songwriting which is distinguished by whining high vocals by Jan.  The final song in Jan & Arnie's half-dozen songs is the frantic "Beat That Can't Be Beat" which has moronic lyrics and the first appearance of a falsetto vocal by Arnie.  By the time Jan had paired up with Dean Torrence, there is a distinct difference in the music - "Baby Talk", the first single by the pair, has closer harmonies, and a looser, more laid-back sound.  The track is also drenched in reverb, which would become a precursor to Jan & Dean's obsession with the sound of their records, leading them to hire studio musicians 'The Wrecking Crew' to augment their sound. The eight songs which follow the Jan & Arnie tracks are all from either thier debut album or contemporary singles, which have a denser production than the album tracks.  The final seven songs are all various singles, including the rock 'n' roll rave-up "Something A Little Bit Different", the Jan Berry single "Tomorrow's Teardrops" which signalled an extremely short-lived solo career, and the follow up to their 1959 hit "Baby Talk" - "She's Still Talking Baby Talk" all of which were on previously hard-to-find collectors singles.  A great collection, but you can own both of these early discs and have very little overlap.


Jan & Dean Take Linda Surfin' (1962)
Liberty Records 3294 [LP]; One Way Records 18686 (With Ride The Wild Surf) [CD]; Released June 7, 1996

 



1. Linda 
2. Walk Like a Man 
3. Surfin' 
4. Let's Turkey Trot 
5. Rhythm of the Rain 
6. Mr. Bass Man    
7. Walk Right In    
8. Best Friend I Ever Had    
9. Gypsy Cried    
10. My Foolish Heart    
11. When I Learn How to Cry    
12. Surfin' Safari

REVIEW:  It didn't take long for Jan & Dean to jump on the Surfing music bandwagon after The Beach Boys had national charting action with "Surfin' Safari". On this, their first genre album, they tackle covers of not only the first two Beach Boys hits, "Surfin'" and "Surfin' Safari", but also take on the 4 Seasons with their cover of "Walk Like A Man". The cover of "Surfin'" is identical in both sound and performance to The Beach Boys' version - in fact if you didn't know better, you'd swear it was Brian & Co. singing, since Jan & Dean multi-track their voices to imitate the denser four-part harmonies of the original. The album's lead-off track, "Linda" actually sound a lot like Jan and Dean's earlier stuff, with lots of "la-la-la Linda's" pointing the way to the duo's doo-wop beginnings. Jan & Dean also tackle the latest dance craze on "Let's Turkey Trot" which has chirpy female background vocals, and the boys intoning phrases like "gobble-gobble diddle-dit" and finishes with Dean telling the listening audience that they're going to give up the twist, and other dances in order to devote all their energies to The Turkey Trot. Next follows a cover of "Rhythm of the Rain" with nice multi-tracked harmonies and an organ break. "Mr. Bass Man" is a silly tribute to a bass singer (Jan) who's bopping along while Dean sings in a fruity falsetto, eventurally turning into a sort of 'dueling banjos' of doo-wop. A cover of "Walk Right In" follows, which is not my favorite song, and with Dean's squeeky falsetto again present throughout it's almost enough to make my ears bleed. "The Best Friend I Ever Had" is an Everly Brothers-like duet with strong harmonies and strings empahsizing the melodramatic story of a boy stealing his best friend's girl. "The Gypsy Cried" starts out with Dean's brilliant falsetto trying to match Lou Christie's original version, but not succeeding. "My Foolish Heart" has a full string section and an upbeat boom-chuck rhythm that manages to make everything sound slightly off-kilter, despite the serious lryic. Same goes for "When I Learn How To Cry", a great, upbeat song saddled with an overwrought lyric. The final track, and the only other 'surfing' related song on the album is a stiff cover of "Surfin' Safari" which sounds robotic and overly processed when compared with the original. An OK album, but better was to come.


Jan & Dean: Surf City (1963)
Liberty Records 7314 [LP];  BGO 633 [CD] (Paired with Dead Man's Curve/New Girl In School);
Released August 2, 2004

1. Surf City
2. Memphis
3. Detroit City
4. Manhattan
5. Philadelphia, Pa
6. Way Down Yonder In New Orleans
7. Honolulu Lulu
8. Kansas City
9. I Left My Heart In San Francisco
10. You Came Along From St. Louis
11. Tallahassee Lassie
12. Soul City

REVIEW:  Jan & Dean's next album was quickly thrown together to capitalize on the runaway success of the hit single "Surf City" - which was a song that Brian had given them out of friendship and went all the way to number one! But rather than put together an album of surf songs, J&D instead decided to create a travelogue of the United States, making the mythical "Surf City" simply one of the stops on their musical tour. The seminal title track leads off the album with Brian Wilson's high falsetto anchoring the incredibly catchy chorus and driving track. Chuck Berry's "Memphis" is covered next, in a credible cover version which even manages to capture Berry's original guitar licks. Next comes the dreary "Detroit City", which, although it's expertly produced, still is a drag as a song, and no amount of double-tracked vocals can hide it. Amazingly Jan & Dean then cover a Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart classic: "Manhattan", and instead of being a complete disaster, their boppin', jazzy update of the chorus works - one of my favorite tracks on the album. Next comes the buzzing surf-guitar vibe original "Philadelphia, Pa." and it's canny tribute to Dick Clark's American Bandstand with clever inserts of other hit songs - it's a great track; next is a thundering update of "Way Down Yonder In New Orleans", transforming the track into a full-bore rocker! "Honolulu Lulu" is a second surfing song, boasting the attributes of a surfing honey - it's another great, bopping track, very much in the mold of the Beach Boys. Lieber & Stoller's "Kansas City" is next, with a chugging backing track and high falsetto inserts on the chorus. "I Left My Heart In San Francisco" is next, receiving again a rich arrangement on the verse before breaking into a rock beat on the chorus, again working much better than I would've expected. Burt Bacharach-style trumpets punctuate the opening of "You Came A Long Way From St. Louis" and carry along the bouncy, fun track. Hot guitars open "Tallahassee Lassie" which feature hilarious "Wooo's!" from the boys and wonderful harmonies "ooohs" in this hot rocking stomper. "Soul City" has a thick, Phil Spector chorus crooning deep in the thunderous organ/drum track, with Party!-like vocals and handclaps finishing out this fine album in high style. A great album.


Jan & Dean: Drag City (1964)
Liberty Records 3339 [LP]; One Way Records 18839 (Paried with Pop Symphony No. 1) [CD];
Released March 11, 1996

1. Drag City
2. I Gotta Drive
3. Drag Strip Girl
4. Surfin' Hearse
5. Dead Man's Curve
6. Schlock Rod, Pt. 1
7. Schlock Rod, Pt. 2
8. Popsicle (Popsicle Truck)
9. Surf Route 101
10. Sting Ray
11. Little Deuce Coupe
12. Hot Stocker

REVIEW:  After the success of "Surf City" Jan & Dean again followed the Beach Boys' lead and shifted gears to change their focus from surfing to cars, and this time, the album stays focused on the subject for the entire run. The disc begins with the revving engine and excellent single "Drag City" with Beach Boys-like bass lines and falsetto during the chorus; it sounds like a lost Brian Wilson composition from this era, which is no surprise, since Jan & Dean were using the same sidemen on their sessions that Brian himself was using. An earnest spoken-word intro continues the drag theme with "I Gotta Drive" - and one thing that distinguishes J&D's records from the Beach Boys is Jan & Dean's penchant for using strings and horns on their pop records; on this track they're particularly noticable; also the duo isn't shy to put in lots of effects into their records, like the sound of a roaring crowd which shows up near the end of the track. Next is the mariachi feel of "Drag Strip Girl" with its militant march tempo and solo trumpet signalling it's start. Even though the song itself isn't great, the arrangement, both instrumental and vocal are top notch, making the song sound better than it is. Jan and Dean then return to their 'bom-bom' vocal roots with "Surfin' Hearse", which is a clever novelty song with a funny lyric. Next comes the infamous "Dead Man's Curve" which would figure so prominently in Jan & Dean's history, and listening to it here it's impossible to not think about the prophetic nature of the song; it's a great track, disturbing and driving, with the shrieking chorus and spoken word middle eight. "Schlock Rod (Parts 1 & 2)" are hilarious, with Part One sounding like a reworked "Monster Mash" and tons of clanking, grinding sounds in the background as Jan & Dean speak/sing the lyrics concerning this Frankenstein-like Hot Rod. Part Two is a sound-effect laden continuation of the same song, with more laughs in its two minutes than Brian Wilson ever managed to put into any of his attempts at broad humor; but you can see where Brian got the idea - Jan & Dean were masters at putting humor into rock 'n' roll. The next song is an ideal song for these two clowns, with "Popsicle Truck" combining all their best attributes, from chiming sound-effects, to their patented 'bom-bom' vocals and a light, sunny lyric to go with the frantic track.  Next comes the thick, chunky chords and sweet vocals of "Surf Route 101" - with prominent trumpet licks and spoken word interludes.  Next comes J&D's first ever instrumental: "Sting Ray" but even then they can't help but add some spoken inserts (in stereo) amid the catchy handclaps (also in stereo!) and guitar lead.  Next comes a cover of the Beach Boys' "Little Deuce Coupe" in a faithful cover, and the final track is a Gary Usher tune: "Hot Stocker", a memorable song closing a fine album.


Jan & Dean: Dead Man's Curve/New Girl In School (1964)
Liberty Records 3361 [LP]; BGD Records 633 (Paired with Surf City) [CD];
Released August 2, 2004
 

1. Three Window Coupe
2. Bucket "T"
3. Rockin' Little Roadster
4. "B" Gas Rickshaw
5. My Mighty G.T.O.
6. New Girl In School
7. Linda
8. Barons, West L.A.
9. School Days
10. It's Easy As 1,2,3
11. Hey Little Freshman

REVIEW:  With the surprise hit of "Dead Man's Curve" off of the Drag City album, Jan & Dean were forced to rush-release this album to capitalize on its success, much like Brian Wilson found himself having to do during the same time period. The result is a mish-mash of cover songs, tracks lifted from earler albums and quickly-written originals. Starting off with "Dead Man's Curve" the album swerves into the Jan Berry/Roger Christian original "Three Window Coupe", later covered by The Rip Chords, and a good example of typical hot-rod music, boasting about the attributes of their car. Dean Torrence gets a writing credit on "Bucket T" with its memorable stuttering chorus, and Roger Christian shows up again as writer for "Rockin' Little Roadster", another brass-heavy track better than most car/drag songs from the period. Jan Berry contributes ""B" Gas Rickshaw" another instrumental with lots of plucked strings and crashing cymbals; it's not exactly a surf/car instrumental, but it has some cool oriental flavoring which distinguishes it. Next comes another straight-up Roger Christian car song "Mighty G.T.O." which sounds a little pale here, without any fire or spark. Next comes the much-maligned single "New Girl In School" which had begun life as "Gonna Hustle You" but due to pressure from their record label, who felt the lyric was too suggestive, the lyrics were changed and the song was recut into the purer "New Girl". It's a good single nonetheless, with that certain Brian Wilson stamp (he received a writing credit). Also dumped on the album was the lead-off track from Jan & Dean take Linda Surfin', "Linda" which gets a needless reprise here. A second instrumental shows up with the slow bump and grind of "Barons West L.A." and Chuck Berry's "School Days" shows up in a fine rocking take, then the cool, breezy "It's As Easy As 1,2,3" makes it's first appearance - (it also shows up on their next album) and it's different from anything J&D have done before, with prominent female vocals duetting with Jan throughout the song. Finally, the album closes with the fine, bouncy "Hey Little Freshman" which sounds much purer than the Beach Boys similarly themed "Hey Little Tomboy" a decade later.


Jan & Dean: The Little Old Lady From Pasadena (1964)
Liberty Records 7377 [LP]; One Way Records 18448 [CD];
Released June 7, 1996
 

1. Little Old Lady from Pasadena
2. Memphis
3. When It's Over 
4. Horace the Swingin' School Bus Driver 
5. Old Ladies Seldom Power Shift (Bucket Seats)
6. Sidewalk Surfin'
7. Anaheim, Azusa & Cucamonga Sewing Circle, Book Review & Timing Association
8. Summer Means Fun
9. It's as Easy as 1, 2, 3
10. Move Out, Little Mustang
11. Skateboarding, Pt. 2
12. One-Piece Topless Bathing Suit

REVIEW:   On J&D's third album of 1964 (they would eventually have five), the humor is ratched up with impressive results and the boys enlist Brian Wilson to sing the high harmonies on the title track, which leads off the album with a classic J&D composition. Next follows a repeat of Surf City's "Memphis" with lots of background chatter making it sound like a Beach Boys Party! outtake. Next comes a real rarity, a Brian Wilson-style ballad, "When It's Over", a fantastic, heartfelt sobber, with delicate vocal by Jan and unusual clinking percussive effects. Next comes the heavily orchestrated "Horace, The Swingin' School Bus Driver" with where it feels like too much effort was put into the arrangement; it clearly overpowers the slight subject matter, and would have been served better by a scaled-down track. Next comes the jittery, ticking instrumental "Old Ladies Seldom Power Shift" a fine surf-style composition, and the re-written "Catch A Wave" cover: "Sidewalk Surfin'", which, other than the rewritten lyrics, is an almost note-for-note recreation of the Beach Boys track. The best track on the album, "The Anaheim, Azusa & Cucamonga Sewing Circle..." is a tour-de-force of shifting key changes, high-concept humor, and wondeful vocal acrobatics by Jan & Dean. Next comes the P.F. Sloan/Steve Barry hit, "Summer Means Fun" which was covered by virtually every surf group on the scene, and J&D's version is right up there with the best of them, with high harmonies and a cascading harmony change near the end. Next comes the slushy "It's As Easy As 1-2-3", which sounds like AM-radio filler after what's come before, although it's interesting to hear the prominent female vocals on a Jan & Dean track. Next comes a second-rate Jan Berry/Brian Wilson/Roger Christian track, "Move Out Little Mustang" which doesn't add much to the album, and is sung mostly by The Fantastic Baggys!  Followed by another Jan Berry composition, "Skateboarding, Pt. 2" which is nothing but an intrumental re-write of "Frere Jacque" with lots of percussive effects and skateboarding sounds thrown in. The final track is the wink-wink, nudge-nudge "One Piece Topless Bathing Suit" which is only OK to my ears, sounding too lumbering for it's own good. So there's about three-quarters of a good album here, with the B-side far patchier than side A.


Jan & Dean: Command Performance - Live In Person (1964)
Liberty Records K22P 231 [LP]; One Way Records 18687 (Paired with Jan and Dean Meet Batman) [CD];
Released August 20, 1996

1. Surf City
2. Little Honda
3. Dead Man's Curve
4. I Get Around
5. All I Have to Do Is Dream
6. Theme from The T.A.M.I. Show
7. Rock & Roll Music
8. Little Old Lady from Pasadena
9. Do Wah Diddy Diddy
10. I Should Have Known Better
11. Sidewalk Surfin'
12. Louie, Louie
13. Freeway Flyer [Live][*]

REVIEW:  A fine concert, although to say that it's live is about as honest as a three-dollar bill, since the entire performance seems to have recorded in the studio, with the sound of screaming girls inserted into the background to give it a live ambience. But it's still a good album with tight versions of Jan & Dean's biggest hits up to that point; Hal Blaine conducts the thick orchestra, which includes a full brass section, and the Fantastic Baggys provide backing vocals. The album kicks off with "Surf City" in a fairly sterile, but faithful presentation, then Jan & Dean take off on a cover of The Beach Boys' "Little Honda"; next comes "Dead Man's Curve" with the sound suprisingly good, even on the falsetto lines. The only difference is in the spoken interlude, which was undeniably recorded live, with lots of asides and flubs. A second Beach Boys cover is performed, "I Get Around", with Jan & Dean giving a spot-on rendition, with only the inclusion of the brass section and screaming audience marking it as a J&D version. Next comes a sweet version of the Everly Brothers' "All I Have To Do Is Dream" similar to the one found of the Beach Boys' Party! album. Strangely enough, Jan & Dean then perform the "Theme From The T.A.M.I. Show", which was a prominent song at the time, but it ends up sounding like a commercial during the set list. Next is a straightforward cover of "Rock And Roll Music", followed by "The Little Old Lady From Pasadena" which sounds identical to the studio version, except some of the background vocals seem to be excised. Next follows a cover of "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" which has lots of audience participation; then Jan and Dean do a white-bread cover of The Beatles' "I Should Have Known Better" before launching into their re-write of "Catch A Wave": "Sidewalk Surfin'". The original album closed with a brass-laden version of "Louie Louie". On the CD a studio version of "Freeway Flyer" is included as a bonus track, a very Beach Boys' sounding track. I can see why this album gets such bad raps from critics, since it's obviously a false representation of how the duo sounded live, and so many of their hits aren't included, instead being substituted with cover versions of other artist's hits; but as a casual listen, it's OK, it's too bad that more personality couldn't have been injected into the songs.


Jan & Dean: Ride The Wild Surf (1964)
Liberty Records K22P 172 [LP]; One Way Records 18686 (Paired with Jan & Dean Take Linda Surfin') [CD];
Released June 7, 1996


1. Ride the Wild Surf
2. Tell 'Em I'm Surfin'
3. Waimea Bay
4. She's My Summer Girl
5. Restless Surfer
6. Skateboarding, Pt. 1
7. Sidewalk Surfin'
8. Surfin' Wild
9. Down at Malibu Beach
10. Surfer's Dream
11. Walk on the Wet Side
12. Submarine Races
13. Someday (You'll Go Walking By) [*]

REVIEW:  Jan & Dean's foray into the world of movie soundtracks was a big success, allowing them to expand their already big sound for the silver screen. It's also their first true surf music album, taken up after The Beach Boys had left the subject behind. The title track is a classic of surf music; with huge crescendos and violins adding to the epic sweep of the lyrics, which were written by the surf triumverate of Jan Berry, Roger Christian and Brian Wilson. The Fantastic Baggys donate their talent to the next track, "Tell 'Em I'm Surfin'" which features the Baggys' distinctive backing vocals. Next is "Waimea Bay" which attempts to mythicize the popular surfing spot. Next is one of Jan and Dean's most memorable songs, "She's My Summer Girl" with it's weird spoken opening: "Eleven bees for wasps... eleven bees... and a bumblebee..." and the trippy piano lick which leads into the song with great "day-dun-dun-dun" backing vocals. Next comes the surfer's anthem "The Restless Surfer" which is a great drifter song, hampered only by the terminally off-key singing througout. The instrumental "Skateboarding Pt. 1" returns in a ticking arrangment with car horns and more effects than the previous take, taking the track up a few notches, and "Sidewalk Surfin'" makes it's third appearance on a J&D album. A new Berry/Christian/Wilson song makes an appearance, "Surfin' Wild" which boasts of being able to go 'surfin' all day and sleep on the sand'; it also boats a strange, buzzing break, but isn't one of Brian's more memorable efforts. Next comes the re-write of "School Day (Ring Ring Goes The Bell)" now titled "Down At Malibu Beach" but not improved for all the changes. Next comes the dreamy "A Surfer's Dream" with Jan & Dean singing an octave apart throughout, and whining strings creating a sound cushion beneath. Next comes the great tik-ticking "Walk On The Wet Side", an insistant instrumental not unlike the Batman TV theme. Finally, the goofball recording of "The Submarine Races" is next, with the song sabotaged by an intrusive oddball. It's a funny novelty to finish out a fine album.


Jan & Dean's Pop Symphony No. 1 (1964)
Liberty Records 7414 [LP]; One Way Records 18839 (Paired with Drag City) [CD]; Released March 9, 1996
 

1. Little Old Lady from Pasadena 
2. Baby Talk 
3. Honolulu Lulu 
4. Dead Man's Curve 
5. Surf City 
6. It's a Shame to Say Goodbye 
7. Drag City 
8. You Really Know How to Hurt a Guy 
9. Sidewalk Surfin' 
10. Heart and Soul
11. New Girl in School 
12. Linda

REVIEW:  I know that orchestral arrangements of pop artists catalogues has been in vogue ever since rock 'n' roll came into being, with the supposedly 'dangerous' music being watered down for the blue-haired crowd by 101 Strings, Lawrence Welk, et al., but this may be the first time that the original artist helped in the arrangements and conducting of his own works!  Jan Berry takes up the baton with George Tipton and the Bel-Aire Pops Orchestra (yet another fine group lost to the mists of time) to recast these decidedly light-weight pop ditties into classical masterpieces!  Well, no.  Although the arrangements are at least imaginative, and the orchestra is clear and defined throughout, the music still sounds for the most part like either a.) high-class elevator music, or b.) a soundtrack to a television show from the 1960s.  The problem is pretty basic, and unsolvable - these songs aren't very challenging or melodic in their original incarnations, and gussying them up in ribbons and flounces can't hide the fact that "Baby Talk" is essentially a three-note song.  OK, I like the oriental flourishes that appear in "Surf City", and the brass fanfare that begins "Drag City" is pretty cool in a medieval sort of way, but this isn't an album that I'm going to pop in to my CD player often.  Plus it all begins to sound the same after awhile, with the same orchestral forces brought to bear on each song; I would've preferred to hear some variation in style from track to track, but it's pretty much the same guys playing their versions of these songs over and over and over, and there's not much change in flavor.  It's not even as cheesy as the 101 Strings Play The Hits Of The Beach Boys
album, which at least is a guilty pleasure to listen to.  So, I dunno - if you're into collecting this sort of cultural prostitution, more power to you, but it's just not my bag.

Jan & Dean: Folk 'n Roll (1965)
Liberty Records 3431 [LP]; BGO Records 636 (Paired with Ride The Wild Surf) [CD]; Released November 9, 2004

1. I Found a Girl
2. Hang on Sloopy
3. I Can't Wait to Love You
4. Eve of Destruction
5. It's a Shame to Say Goodbye
6. Where Were You When I Needed You
7. Beginning From an End
8. Yesterday
9. Universal Coward
10. It Ain't Me Babe
11. Folk City
12. Turn, Turn, Turn

REVIEW:  Jan and Dean left their carefree fun sides behind and found thier social conciousnesses for Folk 'n Roll, and the world pretty much shrugged and said "eh." A strangely bi-polar album for the clown princes of rock, the album begins with "I Found A Girl" which is a straight ahead pop song, using full brass and harmonica, sounding nothing like a folk song, but then the album veers off into the garage-rock of "Hang On Sloopy" which again shows that although Jan and Dean can talk the talk, they have trouble walking the walk in this mannered rendition, which trades vocal tics in place of white soul. I mean, they pretend to continually slap at flies during the song, what's up with that? The song pretty much self-destructs at the end due to their inablility to sing it straight. "I Can't Wait To Love You" is much better, a slice of pure pop songwriting with a huge hook on chorus - my favorite song on the album. Next comes the first head-turner, "Eve Of Destruction" which is sung straight, unfortunately Jan tries too hard to mimic Bob Dylan's vocal mannerisms, chewing his lyrics and his voice turning into a shrill whine on the chorus. It's painful to listen to. Next comes the straightforward pop ballad "It's A Shame To Say Goodbye", a song cut from the cloth of the Everly Brothers early works, and clearly out of place here, but gentle and sweet. Next comes P.F. Sloan's "Where Were You When I Needed You", probably the most successful folk number here, but Jan still feels the need to twist his vocal inflections into a parody of folk singers, and it sounds contrived. The challenging "A Beginning From An End" is next, a sort of backward version of "Leader of the Pack", sounding far too earnest for Jan & Dean's fans, but an interesting song. Paul McCartney's "Yesterday" is next, and Dean nails it in a simple, unadorned version that favorably compares with the original. "The Universal Coward" is an original composition, a heavy-handed 'message' song, filled with obvious platitudes that is carried by a good melody and taut arrangement. Next is the one Dylan cover, "It Ain't Me Babe" which thankfully is also sung straight, without any of the vocal mannerisms that marred earlier songs. "Folk City" is an odd duck, an enharmonic rewrite of "Surf City" that practically destroys the melody, turning it into a thuggish clone of the original. The Byrds' "Turn, Turn, Turn" is the closing track, a fine cover which manages to capture the jangle of the original version. The album is undoubtedly a strange duck, a daring curiousity which is worth hearing.


Jan & Dean Meet Batman (1966)
Liberty Records 3444 [LP]; One Way Records 18687 (Paired with Command Performance) [CD];
Released August 20, 1996

1. Batman Theme   
2. Origin of Captain Jan & Dean/The Boy Blunder
3. Robin the Boy Wonder
4. Vit-A-Man a Day
5. Mr. Freeze
6. Doctor's Dilemma
7. Stench in Time
8. Batman Theme
9. Hank of Hair and a Banana Peel
10. Fireman's Flaming Flourish
11. Joker Is Wild
12. Tiger, Tiger, Burning
13. Flight of the Batmobile
14. Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight

REVIEW:  After only one stab at relevancy with Folk 'n Roll, the comic rock 'n' roll duo Jan & Dean decided it just wasn't for them, and having fallen in love with the camp television show Batman, they approached DC comics and persuaded them to allow them to create an entire original album based on the television show.  With apparent great glee, Jan & Dean pull out all the stops, using all their knowledge of studio trickery and pulling in every professional studio musician they had worked with in the past to create this astounding comedy album/reverent  homage to the caped crusader.  Part old-time radio show, part frat-boy college prank, the album contains scattered original songs, from the opening pastiche incorporating parts of the "Batman"-TV theme, "The Little Old  Lady From Pasadena" and lots of in-jokes.  Dean Torrence takes the role of young ward Dean "the boy blunder" while Jan Berry is the prima-donna "Captain Jan" who receive their powers and mission from a little old lady (from Pasadena) on track two.  Dr. Vit-A-Man and his wretched wife Hypo plan to spike the water in Surf City and take over the world.  Jan & Dean have to return from a concert tour to save the world.  Jumping in their 'atom-powered Woody' (insert your own joke here) they screech into the Surf City resevoir.  The cliff-hanger ending apes the original TV series habit of ending the program with the heroes in a perilous situation.  "Mr. Freeze" is an chunky instrumental with castinets sounding like a ticking bomb; then the episode continues with the ape-like police commissioner and his two children looking for help (earlier they claim that they can't use the Beach Boys since "they don't know anything").  The album shifts gears with the duo taking on their arch-rival "The Garbageman" and have to fight constant nausea in order to defeat their foe.  A faithful cover of the "Batman Theme" opens side two of the album with Jan & Dean continuing their battle against The Garbageman.  Jan & Dean are in concert again later (sampling from their Command Performance album) when they have to tackle The Fireman, which leads into the original song "The Joker Is Wild" only to find that the Fireman (who's constantly burning himself) has scorched Surf City.  "Flight Of The Batmobile" is an ode to the atom-powered woody and like the rest of the album is as off-kilter musically as the storyline.  A truly bizarre album which would prove to be Jan & Dean's last - Jan Berry crashed his car at Dead Man's Curve, suffering irreperable brain damage during the creation of this album.


Jan & Dean: Save For A Rainy Day (1967)
J&D Records 101 [LP]; Sundazed Music Inc 11035 [CD];
Released June 11, 1996

1. Yellow Balloon [Version Two]
2. Here Comes the Rain
3. Lullaby in the Rain (California Lullaby)
4. Taste of Rain [Version Two]
5. Yellow Balloon
6. Here Comes the Rain
7. Pocket Full of Rainbows
8. When Sunny Gets Blue
9. Like a Summer Rain
10. Raindrops
11. Rain on the Roof
12. Crying in the Rain
13. Taste of Rain
14. Save for a Rainy Day Theme
15. Yellow Balloon [Stereo]
16. Taste of Rain [Stereo]
17. Rain Clouds Long Gone [Mono Version][#][Instrumental]
18. When Sunny Gets Blue [Stereo][#][Instrumental]
19. Pocket Full of Rainbows [Stereo]
20. Rain on the Roof [Stereo]
21. Yellow Balloon [Stereo][#][Instrumental]
22. Taste of Rain [Stereo][#][Instrumental]
23. Save for a Rainy Day Theme [Stereo]

REVIEW:  This last album, Save For A Rainy Day, is a Jan & Dean album in name only, with no participation from the still hospitalized Jan Berry.  Even the picture on the cover isn't of Jan, but his brother Ken standing in for him.  So it's Dean Torrence alone who created this album with the help of Joe Osborn on bass, Larry Knechtel on piano, James Buron on guitar and Mickey Jones on drums, as well as several others, stitching together a thematic album using rain as the unifying pattern.  Some have tried to claim this is a concept album along the lines of Brian Wilson's Smile, but Jan & Dean Meet Batman had a higher claim to that title than this disc, which simply presents rain-related song after song without any particular connecting message or idea.  Still, it's a fine album, especially since Jan Berry had been the driving force behind the production and writing of Jan & Dean's albums.  Dean Torrence experiments with his own talent here, and Sundazed Records has gathered the original album with several alternate, unreleased, and instrumental tracks from the same sessions into a comprehensive package of the sessions.  Dean has always had a pleasant voice, and he uses it effectively here, often singing all the harmonies as well as the leads, and he covers songs like "The Yellow Balloon" (with four versions found on this CD), John Sebastian's "Rain On The Roof", "Carol King's "Cryin' In The Rain" and "When Sunny Gets Blue" with panache, and the sound here is scaled back from the Jan & Dean sound, with a simpler garage-band sound that is miles away from the string and brass-laden cuts that Jan Berry used to fill their records with.  It's actually a more contemporary sound (for the times) than the more heavily orchestrated J&D albums managed, and suits Dean very well.  It's hard not to listen to the careful lyrics of "Lullaby In The Rain" without feeling it's meant for Jan: "I'll take care of you, no one will hurt you... we'll be friends now."  But for the most part, this album is straightforward pop, light and free from the uncertainty about the future that Dean Torrence must've surely been feeling at the time.


Jan & Dean: Take Brian Surfin'  
EMI (Japan) Special Products
66038 [CD];
Released 2002; Re-released May 24, 2007

take
                                                    brian surfin
1. Ride the Wild Surf [Berry, Christian, Wilson] 2:17
2. Sidewalk Surfin'[Christian, Wilson] 2:18
3. Surf City [Berry, Wilson] 2:31
4. She's My Summer Girl [Altfeld, Berry, Wilson] 2:56
5. Drag City [Berry, Christian, Wilson] 2:19
6. Surf Route 101 [Berry, Christian, Wilson] 2:00
7. The New Girl in School [Berry, Christian, Norman] 2:29
8. Dead Man's Curve [Single Version] [Berry, Christian, Kornfeld] 2:34
9. Surfin' Wild [Berry, Christian, Wilson] 2:15
10. Move Out, Little Mustang [Berry, Christian, Wilson] 1:49
11. (When Summer Comes) Gonna Hustle You [Berry, Wilson] 2:17
12. When Summer Comes (Get a Chance With You) [Berry, Wilson] 2:36
13. Vegetables [Parks, Wilson] 2:20
14. Surfin' Safari [Love, Wilson] 2:05
15. Surfin'[Love, Wilson] 2:16
16. Little Deuce Coupe [Christian, Wilson] 1:59
17. The Little Old Lady from Pasadena [Altfeld, Christian] 2:26
18. Barbara Ann [Fassert] 2:18
19. Palisades Park [Barris] 1:58
20. Dead Man's Curve [Berry, Christian, Kornfeld] 2:49
21. Surf City [Berry, Wilson] 2:23
22. Drag City [Berry, Christian, Wilson] 2:53
23. Sidewalk Surfin' [Christian, Wilson] 2:49
24. The New Girl in School [Berry, Christian, Norman] 2:42
25. Surf City [live] [Berry, Wilson] 2:59
26. Little Honda [Love, Wilson] 2:22
27. Dead Man's Curve [live] [Berry, Christian, Kornfeld] 3:29
28. Sidewalk Surfin'[Christian, Wilson] 2:03
29. I Get Around [Love, Wilson] 2:32

REVIEW:  This Japanese import does Beach Boys fans a service by collecting all of the tracks which Jan & Dean and Brian Wilson collaborated on, as well as tracks that Jan & Dean covered from the Beach Boys catalog, and songs that Jan & Dean recorded, that the Beach Boys themselves would cover.  What's so surprising about seeing these songs all together on the same disc is noting how many hits Jan & Dean owe to Brian's involvment: most of their biggest hits are here, from the number one single "Surf City" to the soundtrack theme song "Ride the Wild Surf" - from "Drag City" to "Gonna Hustle You" Brian Wilson contributed much of the vital ingredients to these hits.  And the crossover between the two groups is also impressive: Jan & Dean covered many early hits by their friendly rivals: "Surfin' Safari," "Surfin'," "Little Deuce Coupe" "I Get Around," "Little Honda" and the rewritten "Catch A Wave" ode to skateboarding: "Sidewalk Surfin'."   Then there's the songs the Beach Boys would sing: "Palisades Park" "The Little Old Lady from Pasadena" and "Barbara Ann" (which the Beach Boys would take to number one).  There's a later collaboration, with the Van Dyke Parks/Brian Wilson penned "Vegetables" which appeared on the Masked Surfer's album.  In short, this disc is a remarkable document between the two groups decades-long friendship - a musical combination which benefitted both bands - from Brian Wilson, Jan & Dean got many of their most popular hits, while Brian adopted Jan & Dean's use of session players to augment the Beach Boys studio work, and also, to a degree, borrowed the duo's sound to build upon.  If you're a Beach Boys fan who hasn't yet gotten the urge to explore the Jan & Dean collection - this CD might just be your turning point.


Jan & Dean: Carnival of Sound
Rhino Entertainment Company RHM2 521476 [CD]
Released February 22, 2010


In 1967-68, following a decade of major chart success with Jan & Dean, Jan Berry returned to the studio after a life-threatening automobile accident in 1966.

The result was a Sunshine Pop / Psychedelic masterpiece a big-studio Wrecking Crew album that officially remained shelved for more than 40 years . . . until 2010.

CD Edition 29 tracks featuring mono, stereo, and alternate takes. Plus a 32-page booklet with extensive liner notes.

Deluxe Edition CD plus a 10-track vinyl LP (mono) with a hardbound gatefold jacket and extensive liner notes.

For track listing and credits, click here

REVIEW:   Jan & Dean's "lost" album, recorded during the years 1966-68, finally sees the light of day, thanks to the tireless efforts of Andrew Sandoval and Rhino's Handmade label.  Never sequenced as a proper album, Andrew chose the track lineup himself, and furthermore wrote the definitive booklet tracing the history of this aborted project.  Begun shortly before Jan Berry's traumatic injuries which he received in a car crash, Carnival of Sound fully showcases his producing chops, which, while impressive, show just how immersed in the bells and whistles of the studio experience Jan & Dean had become, giving an overly polished sheen to songs which both deserved the effort, like the mildly psychedelic "Girl, You're Blowing My Mind", and "Carnival of Sound", but also slathered onto lesser lights, like "Mulholand" and "Fan Tan", which practically sink beneath the over-ripe production flourishes.  In particular, Jan & Dean seem to have 'discovered' the sitar for these sessions, and that instrument is hammered onto numerous tracks, whether the song calls for it or not.  While some may laud Carnival as Jan & Dean's Smile, its not nearly as experimental: the first half of the album, as sequenced by Andrew Sandoval, is the most successful, with the strongest, most progressive tracks front-loading the album.  But Jan & Dean were far too comfortable in their "Court Jesters Of Rock" role to stretch too far - the bizarre "Laurel & Hardy" signals that J&D were still reveling in their stereotyped roles, and the second half of the album sinks beneath a dearth of covers - "Tijuana" (a rewrite of "The Little Old Lady From Pasadena"), "Stay", "In the Still of the Night", and "Yakety Yak", all make unheralded appearances, while bland songs like "Hawaii" (NOT the Beach Boys song) and other oddities, like "Love and Hate" which juxtaposes a stale love song with the repeated chant "Hate, hate, hate, hate hate!" drag things down.  While there are a couple of good songs, like "I Know My Mind", the album suffers from the the overly busy production touches, the see-sawing forward/backward -looking track line-up, and Jan & Dean's unshakable limitations as artists.  As is typical of Rhino releases, there is a plethora of bonus tracks, with a sparkling stereo mix, alternate tracks, and the odd demo included in the generous program.  More a curiosity than an essential listen, Jan & Dean fans will rejoice at the loving care shown to these long-lost tracks, while casual fans can rest easy in the knowledge that they're not missing much.


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