The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for the ‘Jan & Dean’ Category

California Dreamin’: Carole King, Merry Clayton, The Everly Brothers Featured on “Lou Adler: A Musical History”

with 3 comments

Lou Adler - A Musical HistorySongwriter, manager, A&R man, producer, director, impresario, diehard L.A. Lakers fan – in his eighty years, Lou Adler has worn all of those labels proudly.  It’s hard to believe that the same man behind The Rocky Horror Show – both on stage and on screen – and Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke also helmed one of the most successful records ever in Carole King’s Tapestry, or that the same man penned a bona fide standard in Sam Cooke’s “Wonderful World.”  But much of Lou Adler’s extraordinary career has defied belief, and Ace Records has recently summed it up in an exciting new compilation entitled Lou Adler: A Musical History.  Over 25 tracks released between 1958 and 1974, the anthology chronicles a singular showbiz life and also serves as a mini-history of Los Angeles pop-rock.

A Musical History traces the ascent of Chicago-born, L.A.-raised Adler from hustling songwriter to in-demand producer.  With future Tijuana Brass bandleader and A&M Records leader Herb Alpert, the young Adler co-wrote tunes for a diverse crop of artists including Cooke (“All of My Life”), Sam Butera and the Witnesses (“Bim Bam”), Jan and Dean (“Honolulu Lulu”) and Johnny “Guitar” Watson (“Deana Baby”).  Equally adept at rock-and-roll, doo-wop and R&B, the duo also found time to produce not just their own songs for these artists, but outside compositions.  The Adler/Alpert team revived The Spaniels’ “Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight” for The Untouchables and gave The Hollywood Argyles a run for their money with a cash-in cover of “Alley-Oop” by Dante and the Evergreens.  These slices of early-sixties pop kick off this set on a high note, but Adler’s first Golden Age really came when he split with Alpert in 1961.

The parting of the ways worked out for both men, with Alpert launching The Tijuana Brass, the hit “The Lonely Bull” and of course, A&M Records, just one year later with new partner Jerry Moss.  As for our man Adler, his association with Don Kirshner led to his opening the West Coast office of Aldon Music, as well as a production credit on tracks like The Everly Brothers’ Top 10 hit “Crying in the Rain.”  Most importantly, though, Adler made connections at Aldon that would come to, in large part, define his career – connections with the likes of Carole King and P.F. Sloan.  The achingly vulnerable “Crying” was co-written by Carole King and Howard Greenfield, moonlighting from their respective partners Gerry Goffin and Neil Sedaka.   In addition to King, Adler also met P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri at Aldon, pairing the two songwriters up and soon snatching them away from Kirshner’s empire to his newly-formed Dunhill Productions.

After the jump: much more on Adler’s illustrious career, including the complete track listing and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 17, 2014 at 09:02

Do You Remember Rock and Roll Radio? “The Ramones Heard Them Here First” Arrives

with 2 comments

Ace Records is cheering “Gabba gabba hey!” with the recent release of The Ramones Heard Them Here First, an overview charting the influences behind New York’s seminal punk pioneers.  Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy didn’t exactly try to hide their inspirations when they included a cover of Chris Montez’ 1962 hit “Let’s Dance” on their debut long-player Ramones in 1976 and over the years, they continued to tip the hat to rock and roll heroes from The Ronettes to The Beach Boys.  The new compilation includes the original versions of twenty-four songs covered by Ramones between 1976 and 1995’s Adios Amigos, and as such, is a rollicking stew of pop, rock, bubblegum, and psychedelic sounds absorbed by the Forest Hills foursome (plus later members Marky, C.J. and Richie).

When Ramones arrived on Sire Records, it signaled a return to, and a celebration of, primal rock and roll after the excess of progressive rock and the glitz of disco.  Primitive in its execution but colossal in its ambition, Ramones distilled the previous, pre-Woodstock era of pop-rock into fast and ferocious two-minute nuggets.  Though their productions weren’t as polished or immaculate as those they worshipped, they captured the same energy that turned teenagers onto the rebellious art form two decades earlier.  A classic example of a band whose influence far outweighed its sales, the group continued to recognize the past even as it flirted with subjects like Nazism, violence, drug use and prostitution.  (No hippy-dippy peace-and-love for these boys!)  And even though the surname “Ramone” was adopted by all members, they shared a common “less is more” sensibility that made them a true, if dysfunctional, band of brudders.

Many Ramones albums, including their first five, featured amped-up AM radio-style “cover” songs, many of which appear here.  Compilation producer Mick Patrick has arranged the tracks chronologically in the order that the songs appeared on a Ramones set.  So “Let’s Dance” is followed by The Rivieras’ “California Sun,” covered on 1977’s sophomore effort Leave Home, then by The Trashmen’s “Surfin’ Bird” and The Beach Boys’ “Do You Wanna Dance,” both aired on Rocket to Russia.  (“Do You Wanna Dance,” of course, was originally written and recorded by Bobby Freeman, but it’s likely that the immaculate, Brian Wilson-produced, Dennis Wilson-sung version was The Ramones’ go-to choice.)  1978’s Road to Ruin featured a take on Jack Nitzsche and Sonny Bono’s “Needles and Pins,” which is also reprised here in its hit version by The Searchers.  But the band’s biggest success on 45 in the U.K. came from 1980’s controversial End of the Century, in which Phil Spector took the production reins.  That hit single was a recording of Spector’s own “Baby, I Love You,” which he originally produced for The Ronettes, and the album itself also became the band’s highest-charting stateside.  The immortal, Ronnie Spector-led track (arranged by the aforementioned Nitzsche) represents the band’s brief association with Phil Spector.  Following End of the Century, a number of albums were recorded of entirely original Ramones compositions, among them Pleasant Dreams (1981), Too Tough to Die (1984), and Animal Boy (1986).

There’s lots more Ramones-mania after the jump, including an order link and complete track listing with discographical annotation! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 26, 2012 at 10:10

Surf’s Up: Jan and Dean Celebrate “Silver Summer” On New Reissue

with 4 comments

On Tuesday, June 5, The Beach Boys release their long-awaited new studio album, That’s Why God Made the Radio.  Here at Second Disc HQ, we’re counting down to its release.  We’re kicking off our mini-celebration of the California legends with a look at a duo intertwined with The Beach Boys’ history, Jan and Dean!

With The Beach Boys currently touring their acclaimed 50th Anniversary reunion concerts, the time has never been better to revisit the entire surf-and-sun legacy of these California pioneers.  And few artists play a bigger role in The Beach Boys’ story than Jan Berry and Dean Torrence.  Los Angeles natives, Jan and Dean began scoring hits in 1959, with Berry taking the role of producer, arranger and songwriter.  The multi-hyphenate Jan was an inspiration to Brian Wilson, just two years younger, but Brian, in turn, inspired Jan when Berry “caught the wave” of surf music.  Berry and Wilson collaborated on roughly a dozen songs including the No. 1 “Surf City” (1963) as well as “Drag City” (No. 10, 1964) and “Dead Man’s Curve” (No. 8, 1964).  Jan and Dean recreated The Beach Boys’ magic formula on “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena” (No. 3, 1964) without Brian’s participation.  These enduring hits were at the center of Jan and Dean’s 1985 album Silver Summer: 25th Anniversary Album, just reissued by Fuel 2000 Records as Surf’s Up.

Between 1958 and 1966, Jan and Dean charted 26 hit records.  As the surf craze receded, Jan and Dean had continued to diversify their sound with increasingly sophisticated productions and even comedy/music hybrid records such as Jan and Dean Meet Batman.  On April 12, 1966, everything changed when Jan Berry sustained severe head injuries in a car accident not far from Dead Man’s Curve, the almost 90-degree turn in Beverly Hills about which the duo had eerily implored, “You won’t come back from Dead Man’s Curve!”  Despite brain damage and partial paralysis, Berry remarkably persevered.  He returned to the studio just one year later, and in 1976, he and Torrence had their first proper live appearance as guests of surf revival group Papa Doo Run Run.  The duo returned to touring despite Torrence’s success as a graphic artist; he even designed the famous Beach Boys logo that the group still uses today.    A 1978 CBS-TV film, Deadman’s Curve, was produced with the duo’s participation and helped to cement the Jan and Dean legend.

Firmly entrenched on the live “oldies circuit,” the duo even made sporadic returns to the recording studio in the ensuing years.  Dean also recorded a number of projects with his old friend, Mike Love of the Beach Boys, and Berry finally recorded a solo album, 1997’s Second Wave.  Jan Berry passed away in 2004 at the age of 62; Torrence still performs from time to time with the Surf City All-Stars and oversees reissues of the team’s extensive back catalogue.  (In 1996, Sundazed issued the previously unreleased Save for a Rainy Day, the entirely Torrence-produced album recorded under the Jan and Dean name in the wake of Berry’s accident; in 2010, Rhino Handmade finally released Carnival of Sound, Jan Berry’s own post-accident psychedelic opus.)

Hit the jump for details on Silver Summer, including track listing and order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 1, 2012 at 12:44

Comic-Con Special Reissue Theory: “Jan and Dean Meet Batman”

leave a comment »

Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we take a look back at notable albums and the reissues they could someday see.  2011 marks 41 years of Comic-Con International, and record labels like La-La Land and Shout! Factory are joining the traditional publishing houses and film studios this weekend on the show floor.  But the comic biz and the music world have long been intertwined, on screen, on stage and on record.  Today’s Reissue Theory spotlights one of the most bizarre albums ever based on a comic book!

In deference to my fellow funnybook fans, I’ll resist the urge to begin this column with the hoary “POW!  BAM!  ZONK!” cliché.  But let’s face facts.  Those three words – and others like them – instantly conjure up the visages of Adam West and Burt Ward, sliding down the Bat-pole, encountering guest stars ranging from Ethel Merman to Eli Wallach, and fighting a campy Joker, squawking Penguin and sultry Catwoman.    The 1966-1968 ABC network television Batman, for better or worse, defined the character for a new audience and exposed Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s famous creations to a wider base than ever before.  The pop art-influenced show’s influence on pop culture was felt not just in the comics, where Batman wouldn’t return to his dark detective roots until after Batman went off the air.   Prior to Batman, Neal Hefti was best known as a top-flight jazz arranger, providing charts for Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Harry James, Count Basie and even Frank Sinatra.  Little did Hefti know when he composed “Batman Theme” that he was creating what would become one of the most recorded songs of 1966, and one of the most recognizable TV themes of all time.

Enter Jan Berry and Dean Torrence.  The surf-pop duo had their first taste of success in 1958, when Batman was fighting monsters and solving crimes with the aid of fantastic gadgets designed by legendary artists like Sheldon Moldoff and Dick Sprang.  Though “Jennie Lee” was a hit, the following year’s “Baby Talk” really took off, and in the next few years, Jan and Dean carved out a niche in the burgeoning surf music world.  They went No. 1 in 1963 with “Surf City,” a collaboration with wunderkind Beach Boy Brian Wilson, who in turn counted Jan and Dean among his early harmony heroes.  Like Wilson, Jan Berry was constantly pushing the envelope in the studio as a producer, and also like his friend Brian, had an interest in bringing comedy to music.  (See many of Wilson’s concepts for the still-unreleased-but-hopefully-soon SMiLE!)  In early 1966, nothing was hotter than Batman.  And the Batman show was nothing if not irreverent.  So why not produce an all-out comedy-meets-music extravaganza about, well, Batman?  Jan and Dean Meet Batman was born!

What is The Fireman’s Flaming Flourish?  Who is The Boy Blunder?  And just how wild is the Joker, anyway?  Stay tuned after the jump – same Bat-time, same Bat-channel! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 23, 2011 at 09:54

Posted in Features, Jan & Dean, Reissues

Tagged with

The Year in Reissues, Part III: The Gold Bonus Disc Awards

with 4 comments

Well, another New Year is in sight, the CD still isn’t dead (told you so!) and celebration is in the air at The Second Disc. Back on December 23, Mike shared The Year in Reissues both here and over with our pals at Popdose. Do not pass go, do not collect 200 bucks until you read these indispensable columns!

Are you back with me? Good. Now, I’d like to take this opportunity to take a fun look back at a few of my favorite things via Joe’s Gold Bonus Disc Awards! I’m awarding these to the reissues that have raised the bar over the past 12 months. You’ll notice a number of titles that have already been praised by Mike, as well as new entries, but overall, I’ve simply tried to recognize as many diverse, worthy releases as possible. It’s my sincere hope, though, that you’ll take a chance on a title previously unknown to you; all of the artists, producers, and labels mentioned here have kept great music alive in 2010.

Friends, as always, please share your thoughts and comments below. Without further ado, let’s celebrate 2010’s best of the best. Welcome to the Gold Bonus Disc Awards!

Which releases take home the gold?  Hit the jump to find out! Read the rest of this entry »

Carnival of Sound is Coming!

leave a comment »

Here’s an exceptional treat for rock fans from Rhino Handmade: the first official release of Carnival of Sound, the legendary lost album from Jan & Dean.

Intended for release in 1968, the psychedelic Carnival of Sound was the first material that Jan Berry worked on after his debilitating car accident in 1966. It was never released, but after much bootlegging and three years of research the record is ready for release. The new set features 15 finished tracks from the sessions (no official track list was ever set, so the sequencing is brand new), all presented in both the original mono mixes. Additionally, there are 14 new stereo mixes, demos and outtakes included as well.

And here’s the home run for collectors: the label is offering a special collector’s edition with a vinyl version of the mono album in a hardbound package. Preorders are starting now – get it while it’s hot!

Written by Mike Duquette

February 9, 2010 at 16:37

Posted in Jan & Dean, News, Reissues