Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2011 July 06 • Wednesday

If you really can't live without the lyrics for the "Beach Blanket Bingo" song, then you might as well pick up Ace's Hey, Beach Girls! compilation.

It opens with The Honeys' "Pray for Surf", one of my all-time favorite songs. It's a Brian Wilson production, with his post-Spector wall of sound. (Wilson's wife was a member of The Honeys.) It's really awesome, the best song on this CD. (Check out the Pet Projects CD on Ace for more of this kind of stuff.)

Then comes Donna Loren with "Cycle Set", a "Jan & Dean meet Lesley Gore" kind of song. Like most of the songs on this compilation, it's more hot rod than surf. Donna sings about raising enough money to buy a motorcycle and join the cycle set.

"(Dance with the) Surfin' Band" is by Hal Blaine & The Young Cougars but features a female vocalist ("Hey, everybody! / You've been a dancin' and a kickin' sand / So get your Levi's on / And come on down / We're gonna dance with the surfin' band"). Blaine's drum sound is huge.

After that are The Surfer Girls with "Draggin' Wagon", a cross between "Johnny B. Goode" and "Catch a Wave" or "Shut Down" or some vocal surf hit like that.

The Honeys return with another rocking song, "Shoot the Curl". It's something of a female empowerment anthem: "We're gonna rocket those boys right out of style / We're gonna shoot the curl / For one clear mile". This is a lot less dense than "Pray for Surf".

Then The Beach Girls sing "He's My Surfin' Guy", which is about the opposite of "Shoot the Curl". This time the girls are stuck on the beach while the boys go surfing without them. Cool organ playing, probably a Farfisa.

After this you hear The Angels with "(You Can't Take) My Boyfriend's Woody", kind of a whiny, monotonous song. You can amuse yourself with the double entendre possibilities. (In surf terms, a woody was a wood-panelled station wagon.)

"He's My Blond-Headed, Stompie-Wompie, Real Gone Surfer Guy" by Little Pattie & The Statesmen is something different, a novelty song with a distinctive sound to the recording and unusual touches, almost as if Yma Sumac's cousin tried to record a vocal number that sounded like "Tequila".

The Surfettes are up next with a cheerful song about "Sammy the Sidewalk Surfer". Then there's Susan Lynne's "Don't Drag No More", which is somewhat similar to The Goodees' "Condition Red" (though more of a pop song).

Westwood got my toes tapping immediately with "I Miss My Surfer Boy Too", a richly orchestrated song of lament. ("He moved to New York City / He's gone and I've been pretty blue".)

Dee Dee Sharp is up next with "Riding the Waves", another song about a girl in love with a surfer boy. ("There's a boy that I adore / But the boy loves surfing more.") Excellent "Pipeline"-style guitar playing on this one.

The next song is very different musically but not in content. "Hey beach boy / Beach boy / Beach boy / Beach boy, I love you" sings Andrea Carroll in "Hey Beach Boy". The melody is really nice and there's some cool 12-string electric guitar playing.

Then The Fleetwoods sing about being a "Surfer's Playmate". Not much new here.

Les Gams will grab your attention, though, if only because they're singing in French. The song is The Beach Boys' "Shut Down" but with French lyrics that match its title, "Attention! Accident! (Sur L'Autoroute de l'Ouest)".

Then Donna Loren sings "Beach Blanket Bingo", the theme from the movie of the same name. "Take a blanket made for two now / Add a boy and a girl / That's a game for me and you now / Yeah, let's give it a whirl."

The Wailers & The Marshans are up next with a number that manages to sound like a bossa nova/calypso version of "Let's Spend the Night Together". It's called "We're Goin' Surfin'".

Little Pattie & The Statesmen return to tell us about "Drag Race Johnny", an aggressive rocker with tough, rockabilly-like vocals.

Then it's "Surfin'" with The Orlons, bringing their mix of rock, doo-wop and pop to a surf song. I like it but it doesn't sound like their hearts are in it.

Westwood comes back for "Will You Love Me (Like You Did Last Summer)?", another curiously melancholy song. There's something special about their sound. I'd like to hear more of them.

Carol Connors's "Lonely Little Beach Girl" starts out with an island/exotica sort of sound before the melody brings us back to Beach Boys territory. "Surfer Girl", as you might expect, is the song that comes to mind.

After that is the most surprising artist on the CD, even more surprising than The Orlons. Who knew that The Supremes did a surf song? But here they are with "Surfer Boy", and you won't need to hear more than a few seconds to know it's them. Wild.

The King Pins follow with "Rod Hot Rod", a guitar-heavy song that's almost an instrumental but not quite.

Speaking of guitar-heavy, The King Pins are followed by Duane Eddy backed up by female back-up singers The Rebelettes, singing "Your Bayb's Gone Surfin'". Features typical Duane Eddy baritone guitar stylings.

The collection ends with Ellie Gee & The Jets' "Red Corvette", another novelty song with a male vocalist singing weird backing lines while engine sounds zoom in and out of the speakers. "He ain't good lookin' and his clothes ain't sharp / He's always broke and he ain't too smart / But he's the biggest man in town / The girls all hang around / His red corvette."