I have listened to a lot of Beach Boys music during the last forty years and have their entire catalogue in my music collection. By far, All Summer Long, is the Beach Boys album I have played the most times. Are there better Beach Boys albums? Maybe. Are there more critically acclaimed albums by the Beach Boys? Definitely. Are there more listenable albums by the Beach Boys? No. All Summer Long remains the Beach Boys perfect ode to summer.
All Summer Long, even forty plus years after its first release, remains a place where summer stretches on forever and the sun is always shining.
The classic Beach Boys song “I Get Around” is the first track. It is an assault on the senses and would finally give the Beach Boys a number one hit song. This was all the more impressive as it came at the beginning of the British musical invasion and the pop charts were being dominated by The Beatles and other English artists. The Beach Boys proved that there was at least one American group that could challenge them both musically and commercially.
“I Get Around,” combining the fused vocal leads of Brian Wilson and Mike Love, builds upon itself until it settles into the melody. The soaring vocal harmonies set to an up-tempo rocking beat were a counterpoint to what was being issued in England. It is a very sophisticated song and shows Brian Wilson improving technological prowess in the studio.
If there was ever a hit single that was not issued it is the album’s title song “All Summer Long.” Mike Love’s overdubbed vocals recorded over basic harmonies with a falsetto mixed in make summer eternal. George Lucas, of Star Wars fame, had the good sense to use “All Summer Long" as the closing song on his Oscar nominated movie American Graffiti.
“Hushabye” is a cover of the Mystics do-wop hit song. An excellent choice for the Beach Boys as the group shows how well the five voices fit together.
“Little Honda” contains very simplistic lyrics for a Beach Boys song. This well known song was never issued as a single but rather was issued as a long playing EP. Former Brian Wilson collaborator Gary Usher took this song, layered in some extra vocals and created a hit single for his studio band the Hondells.
There is a three song trilogy in the middle of the album that is often ignored. “Wendy” combines odd chord changes that are carried by an organ sound with traditional Beach Boy harmonies straining against the mix. “Do You Remember” is a Beach Boy tribute to some of the artists who influenced their career. Set to an upbeat tempo, the song leaves the listener feeling satisfied that these artists have been given respect. “Girls On The Beach” is a classic Beach Boys surf ballad where the vocals are shared by all members of the group.
“Our Favorite Recording Sessions” is the typical throwaway track of the Beach Boys in the studio. Here Brian Wilson clears his throat and sings scales at the end of the track. His final note is the first note of the album’s final song “Don’t Back Down.” Brilliance is sometimes so simple.
All Summer Long bridges the gap between the first Beach Boy era and the more sophistical middle period which would eventually lead to Pet Sounds.
All Summer Long's legacy is that of a quintessential Beach Boy album. It remains as a wonderful stop in the Beach Boys musical journey.