Ranking every Beach Boys song/album: “Summer Days (and Summer Nights!!!)” (by Songwriter Jim Fusco)

Originally posted 2012-02-04 04:00:46. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Hi Mike and hello to all other participators. Here is my weigh-in for the “Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!!)” album- a true classic.

SUMMER DAYS (AND SUMMER NIGHTS!!)

California Girls – 10 (An American classic- especially for a Beach Boys fan, it just simply doesn’t get much better than this. I have to rank this a 10, even though I believe God Only Knows deserves the undisputed highest spot.)
Salt Lake City – 7
*The Little Girl I Once Knew – 10 (A long-standing choice for my favorite Beach Boys song of all-time. It’s still gotta be in my Top 3)
The Girl from New York City – 6 (It’s okay, but very much under-produced compared to the rest of the album and they seem to be a bit more sloppy. I do like Mike’s overly-low backing vocals, though!)
Help Me, Rhonda – 10 (You know, it’s kind of expected that people will give songs like this a 10, but if you just sit back and LISTEN to this version of “Help Me Rhonda”, you have to realize it’s an incredible song. It’s catchy, but still has substance. It truly is that “Beach Boys” sound. I love Mike’s low part in this tune, as well.)
Let Him Run Wild – 10 (This is one of the best songs EVER- it’s unique and has that incredible chord progression. I think the bass line and the sound of the bass in this song is the best of any song I’ve ever heard. Brian’s vocals are perfect and the emotion is heartbreaking. I can’t believe I’m putting so many 10’s on this album!)
*Let Him Run Wild (alternate) – 8 (Brian’s vocals don’t have that edge like the final version)
You’re So Good to Me – 6.5 (Still a great song, but its simplicity just doesn’t match up with the rest of the classics. Also, those “la’s” in the background get annoying to anyone but true Beach Boys fans)
And Your Dream Comes True – 5
Then I Kissed Her – 6.5 (One of their best covers- a great lead by Al!)
Girl Don’t Tell Me – 8 (Catchy and a great little jab to the Beatles style of the period. Carl gives a great vocal performance, as well.)
Amusement Parks USA – 3 (All I can say is: eh)
Summer Means New Love – 3 (I like the tune and the production, but it’s kind of elevator-music sounding)
I’m Bugged at My Ol’ Man – 5 (This is a really cute song with great vocals by Brian, bad vocals by the others, and a truer-than-it’s-supposed-to-sound lyrics)

** This album IS the Beach Boys on record, as far as the 60s are concerned. This album is what “Sunflower” is to the 70’s Beach Boys. “Summer Days” defines the Beach Boys sound, especially on cuts like “California Girls”. I would challenge anyone to give this album a bad review. It still has that innocence I love so dearly, but pushes the musical envelope as far as it can go without getting too serious. This album is really the farthest Brian could go before getting into the emotions and themes he did on “Pet Sounds” and “Smile”. For me, this album marks the end of an era and the Beach Boys just wouldn’t be the same after this. That early-60s summer fun, teenager, innocence just evaporated when “Pet Sounds” arrived. Of course, I’m not saying that the music to come wasn’t some of the greatest ever, but looking back, I wish they could’ve stayed innocent for just a couple more years… **

“Here Without You” (The Byrds acoustic and 12-string electric cover song)

Originally posted 2009-05-19 22:54:03. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Welcome, welcome to yet another Jim Fusco Tuesday here on the Laptop Sessions acoustic cover songs music video blog.  Actually, tonight, you get two for the price of one: I have Chris Moore with me to record this session!  And boy, did it come out great.  If your connection can handle it, click the “HQ” button and listen to the better audio feed of this one.  It’s in full stereo (I LOVE my microphone) and the levels are perfect!

And tonight debuts my brand new 12-string electric guitar!  And what a way to bring it in.  I knew I had to do a Byrds song.  No, it’s not a Rickenbacher.  Who can justify spending literally 8 times more for the same essential thing.  My version is from Dean and I love it.  It looks great and plays even better.  The sound is there, too- just like all my favorite 12-string songs.  Look for more in the future.  I can’t wait to bust out my new lap steel guitar, as well.  In a couple weeks, I’ll be getting an HD cam, so all my Laptop Sessions will be in high definition.  How cool is that?  At that point, I’ll be able to start my new mini-series entitled “Jim’s Guitars”- stay tuned.

Gene Clark wrote tonight’s song and it was off of the Byrds first album, “Mr. Tambourine Man.”  Now, this isn’t the greatest album, but it really could have been.  That is, if half the album weren’t Bob Dylan covers and other cover songs.  Not to knock cover songs, but the songwriting of Gene Clark (and in the future, the rest of the band) was so far ahead of its time and his songs are simply timeless.  This song takes me back to when I was at Wesleyan for 5 weeks in the summer of 2000.  I was at a program called “CCY”, the Center for Creative Youth.  Good fit, eh? :-)

Anyway, those five weeks seemed like a whole lifetime at the time- everything that happened in one day seemed like a year.  So, even not seeing someone for two days made it seem like you were living “here without you”.  Needless to say, this song was all I listened to when I got back that summer.

I have to keep tonight’s post short because of my marathon video editing job last night.  I need to catch up and this is my only opportunity.  So, without further ado, I hope you enjoy the great effort put out by Chris and myself tonight on the Byrds’ classic song, “Here Without You”.  You won’t be here without us for too long, as Jeff will be back on Thursday for another great cover song music video.  Until next week!!



Bob Dylan’s “Christmas in the Heart” (2009) – The Weekend Review

Originally posted 2009-11-29 02:28:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Throughout Christmas in the Heart, Bob Dylan and his band are clearly enjoying themselves, embracing the timelessness of the Christmas music genre.  More specifically, Dylan and company are transporting themselves and their listeners back to a simpler time of deceptively simple songs and sentiments.

Still, not every nostalgia-inducing feature is practiced or purposeful.  For instance, that’s not static you hear on your compact disc or mp3 copy — that’s just Dylan’s voice.

Over the fifteen songs that comprise this new album, Dylan moves fluidly between the religious and the imaginative, from solemn, sacred hymns describing the birth of Jesus Christ to classic tunes about jolly old Saint Nicholas himself, Santa Claus.

Interestingly, this is the first time Dylan has included more than thirteen tracks on a studio release since 1970’s Self Portrait, the runner up being 1992’s Good As I Been To You, clocking in at thirteen tracks.  Granted, these are not the most positive comparisons in his considerable catalog, but fortunately, the comparisons end at the track count.

Christmas in the Heart is a unified collection of songs that are unlike anything Dylan has recorded before, and yet they somehow fit perfectly with the material he has released in the past decade or so.  Ever since the two albums of covers he released in 1992 and 1993, Dylan has seemingly been drawn to the sounds and styles of the past.  2001’s Love and Theft saw a wide variety of styles, and the songs on both Modern Times (2006) and this year’s Together Through Life have progressively relied on mid-20th century styles and arrangements.

In many ways, this is the most logical time for Dylan to contribute to the very American tradition of popular Christmas music.

Bob Dylan's "Christmas in the Heart" (2009)

Bob Dylan's "Christmas in the Heart" (2009)

I will admit that, upon a first listen, I was unimpressed.  Bob Dylan fanatic that I am, the deterioration of his voice initially alienated me and I felt distanced from these classic compositions, most of which I had heard before in at least one or more arrangements.

“The Christmas Blues” is perhaps the most Dylan-esque of the tracks, especially when considering the predominance of recent Dylan tunes with blues structures, the harmonica solo, and the more serious, even downtrodden tone.  In this song, his vocals are stretched and utilized to heartfelt effect.

As I listened a second and third time, the subtlety of these tracks began to set in.  The lead guitar in “Do You Hear What I Hear?” that more than adequately takes the place of the typical “answer” vocal components, the choral background singers with spot-on, traditional harmonies, and the variations in Dylan’s vocals — the rough edges in “Little Drummer Boy” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” the softened edges in “Christmas Island” — all contribute to what is largely a relaxing and entertaining record.

Is there a better description for a Christmas album?

What strikes me about Christmas in the Heart is the proof which it provides for the argument that this time of year is a special season, one which captivates the hearts and souls of men and women and inspires us to be better people.  Certainly, if Bob Dylan put this much effort into not only a holiday album, but also a specifically Christmas-themed release, then there must be something to be said about the power of music influenced by the Christmas spirit.

Dylan, known for turning around and surprising even his most loyal fanbase, has done it again.  It may not be as revolutionary as going electric, or as polarizing as songwriting from an explicitly born-again Christian perspective, but it is at least as dramatic a development in his career.  Rarely has Dylan prepared such well-known cover songs for a studio release, much less songs with such a concrete set of lyrics and straightforward message.

If nothing else, this album will provide some interesting fodder for the ongoing “Is he Christian?/Is he Jewish?” debate that continues to rage on…

For me, Christmas in the Heart is a clear reminder of the universal qualities of the Christmas spirit.  It is an album that further diversifies Dylan’s hand in American popular music, and likewise carries the torch for another generation to hear and appreciate a style that originated almost six decades ago.

All in all, Christmas in the Heart would make for a strong addition to any pop/rock music fan’s Christmas album collection.

Foo Fighters’ “Foo Fighters” (1995) – Yes, No, or Maybe So

Originally posted 2010-04-21 16:19:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Foo Fighters’ Foo Fighters (1995) – MAYBE

The Foo Fighters' self-titled debut (1995)

The Foo Fighters' self-titled debut (1995)

(July 4, 1995)

Review: 

A bit raw and predictable around the edges, but an upbeat debut album with clear rock sensibilities and strong potential for the future (The Colour & the Shape, anyone?) from almost-Heartbreaker Dave Grohl…

Top Two Tracks:  

“This is a Call” & “I’ll Stick Around”