The Beach Boys, Surfin’ Safari, Capitol DT-1808, 1962
How they managed to pull this off, I still don’t know. Sure, they were a phenomenally talented teen vocal group, but The Beach Boys took what is basically a novelty tune and turned it into a legendary 55 year career. I suppose if they lived a little farther away from Hollywood, California and its plethora of record companies it might not have happened, but all Murray Wilson had to do to get his boys’ group signed to a major label was find a Capitol producer and pester him into signing “his” group to release a single, Surfin’ Safari, that sold well enough for Capitol to take a chance on this album.
The group name, while cheesy and hard to sell once the surfing craze ended, was at least appropriate here. They were selling a surfing record, and they were boys. There’s an explanation of what surfing is, which was something The Beatles and The Rolling Stones never though to have on their records, and they really were boys. David Marks was just 14 and Carl was 15 when they played on this record.
It’s also pretty impressive that most of the songs were penned by the group too, something very rare in the fall of 1962. Sure, they’re not quite up to the level of their later work, but it was clear from this start that this group was going to be big. These records are often available in great shape for not much money, and now that I have all of them, it’s time for you to get out there and go surfin with me.
Cost: $4, $370 Remaining
Jan & Dean, The Little Old Lady From Pasadena, Liberty LRP-3377, 1964
Say what you want about Jan & Dean, but they made some great pop records. This was one of the last great ones of their career, but it came about seven years in from Jennie Lee in 1958. That’s a heck of a run for a duo whose music today sounds very much like a novelty act’s. They cranked out 3-4 albums a year for Liberty between 1961 and Jan’s near fatal accident in 1966, and they all sold fairly well. Their records will never compare favorably with, say, Simon & Garfunkel’s, and it seems like they pop up in sale bins all the time. It seems like everyone who wants a Jan & Dean album already has it.
I don’t think that was as true at the time. “The little old lady from Pasadena” was a take on something a stereotypical used car salesman would have said, meaning it was already in the popular lingo. The “lady” in this case was actually the old lady from an actual Dodge advertisement. Jan & Dean were commercial “artists” more than all of their contemporaries were put together, so tying a record in to a current commercial wasn’t much of a stretch. After all, car songs were huge in the summer of 1964, and this album was perfectly timed to take advantage of that.
Aside from the car songs, there’s a whole lot about skateboarding. With The Beach Boys sort of “owning” the actual surfing sound, Jan came up with the idea for Sidewalk Surfin’. The song is really nothing more than a re-write of The Beach Boys’ Catch A Wave. In true Jan & Dean style though, the album has a reminder to “be sure to get your Jan & Dean skateboard at your favorite shop”. Unfortunately, my favorite shop must have run out.
Cost: $2, $412 Remaining