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Music Review: Various Artists – Chasing the Sun: The Greatest Songs of Summer

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So here I am thinking of finally getting around to reviewing this cool set of summer music that had come my way. Finally an angle popped into my head. But just as soon as that idea made itself known, the weather shifted and things got weird. Up here in New England, we went from super hot and humid to crisp, dry and decidedly autumn. At the same time, the rest of the country was baking in oppressive summer heat. A friend of mine who lives in the south has informed me that the technical, WeatherChannel description for that kind of weather is "ball-sweating hot." Funny, I've never heard that phrase used during one of those "On The 8's" broadcasts. Must be a professional thing.

So here's the question: Do you associate particular songs/genres with summer? Honestly, I don't think I do. When the weather is warm enough to drive with the windows down, almost anything loud will do. At least…that's what I though until I started plowing my way though this collection of surf/summer music. Sure, the connection between the summer and tunes like "Miserlou," "Walk-Don't Run," "Pipeline," "Surfin' U.S.A.," and "Wipeout" are fairly obvious. The problem was that I'd forgotten about all of these other songs that have shown up over the years. More on that in a minute.

Disc 2 of Chasing The Sun documents the Shag scene, which can be thought of as the beach music of the east coast. Centered on Carolina, Shag music is much more anchored by R&B roots. I have to admit that I'd never even heard of this genre (aside: that might be because I'm from New England, where we have our own idea of the Mason-Dixon line…I think it's just somewhere south of Hartford), but boy there are some stellar tunes: "Under The Boardwalk," "Just One Look," "Build Me Up Buttercup," "The Shoop Shoop Songs (It's In His Kiss)," and "Stay."

It's with the third disc that the folks at Time Life really hit the mark. They put together a pile of songs that carry the essence of summer, but come from a variety of pop genres and time periods. From Bobby Darin's "Beyond The Sea" to Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" to "Summertime" by DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince to "Vacation" by the Go Go's to Katrina & the Waves' "Walking On Sunshine," this disc draws together the themes of the hot season from over four decades of pop music. Load's of fun, is what it is.

To cap things off, Chasing the Summer includes a DVD documentary on the history of surfing entitled "Liquid Stage: The Lure of Surfing." I'll say it right here: those guys were nuts. Four-story waves? You've got to be kidding me! All kidding aside, there is absolute no doubting the bravery and skills involved in the sport.

All of these goodies are packaged in a cute little cardboard replica of a cooler that, though it won't easily fit in your CD rack, will make you the envy of the neighborhood. (Ok, I made that last part up). So go ahead and revel a little in the sweetness of summer, no matter what your local weather, you won't be disappointed.

P.S. This morning's weather forecast is for temperatures of 90 degrees with high humidity. Surf's up!

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About Mark Saleski

  • http://www.confessionsofafanboy.com Josh

    90 degrees? We’d put on long-sleeve shirts if we dropped into the 90s! =)

    This collection sounds like a lot of fun.

  • http://www.marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    that’s true. but it was in the high 30’s a couple of nights ago….so now 90 seems, well…ball-sweatin’ hot!!

  • http://blogcritics.org/video Lisa McKay

    …I’m from New England, where we have our own idea of the Mason-Dixon line…I think it’s just somewhere south of Hartford

    Here in southern Connecticut — just south of Hartford — we put it at just south of Long Island, but your point is well-taken.

    Summer music is a neat concept, fitting right in with staying up late at night and aimlessly driving around in cars. When I was a kid and we actually listened to radio, summertime had a vibe all its own, for sure.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Van Halen is summer music

  • http://www.marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    Van Halen is defintely great for the summer…especially that first record.

  • http://www.butterflyfiction.com/journal/ Connie Phillips

    Nice review, Mark. I definitely associate certain songs with summer (and in fact will dig them out in the dead of winter to fight cabin fever and mid-winter blues).

    And the cooler/box is great… clumsy on the CD shelf, but a very cool marketing ploy.

  • http://www.butterflyfiction.com/journal/ Connie Phillips

    Congrats! This article has been forwarded to the Advance.net websites and Boston.com.