Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)
Recorded: 26 February - May 1965
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Bruce Beatlefan (April 28, 2008)
Summer Days (and Summer Nights!!) was a 1965 Beach Boys album which served as the immediate successor to Today! (and the key word is IMMEDIATE, as it was relased a mere three months later). The common perception of this album is that it was a creative step backwards for songwriter Brian Wilson, a hastily assembled album with recycled summer fun songs. Now those facts are largely true, but I heartily disagree with the notion that this means Summer Days is a lesser album...I prefer to see it as a step aside, and along with All Summer Long and Party!, represents the Beach Boys at their most fun (without sacrificing any of their harmonic and production brilliance). This is a magnificent album!
Stepping into the breach when Brian Wilson is overcommitted is Mike Love, whose presence in this album is more pronounced than in Today!, and he brings with him his effervescence and optimism that was so essential to the Beach Boys' sound. As a result, songs which may not be considered in the same stratosphere of sonic creativity ("Amusement Parks USA", "Salt Lake City", "You're So Good to Me") more than justify their presence by their energy and 'good vibrations'. Songs like these certainly form a strong second-string when placed with such inarguable Beach Boys classics as "California Girls", "Girl Don't Tell Me" (Carl Wilson's best vocal to date), and the reworked #1 single "Help Me Rhonda".
As one would expect in such a quickly-released album, there are a few filler tracks, but even the hilarious-but-uncomfortable "I'm Bugged at My Old Man" and the a-cappella benediction "And Your Dreams Come True" make for very special Beach Boys moments.
Summer Days (and Summer Nights!!) is most commonly available as a two-fer CD along with Today!. As these albums were released only three months apart, it is easy to imagine this pair of albums as a double-album set. If they had been released so, I would regard it as perhaps the strongest double album in pop music history, certainly comparable with the likes of the White Album or Physical Graffiti or Tommy.
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