Nightman Listens To – Shut Down Vol 2 – The Beach Boys!


Greetings, Glancers! At the time of writing this, the Northern Ireland Covid Shutdown Summer 2020 Special is drawing to a thunderously dull close. It’s currently pissing down outside, and the prevailing colour all around is GREY. What better way to chase away the grey blues than with a dose of sun, sand, and summer, courtesy of The Beach Boys? I know I haven’t been a huge fan of the albums I’ve listened to so far, but I still love most of the singles that I’m aware of, and maybe this record will include a few golden oldies to bring back the warmth to my bones. I realise this will probably make no sense when I get around to publishing, but in truth, it’s always kind of grey, dull, and wet here. What do we have here?

Fun, Fun, Fun’ is exactly what I’m talking about. The Chuck Berry intro quickly morphs into a song which just reminds me of the Popeye & Sons show I used to watch. Nostalgic, melodic, light-hearted, sunny, and fun – exactly what I think of when I think of The Beach Boys.

Don’t Worry Baby’ opens like a summery Motown song. I don’t recall hearing this. But I instantly like it – it again has that quintessential Beach Boys tone and feel. Great chorus harmonies, lovely all around. The chorus sounds like it was ripped off by – was it McFly – It’s All About You song.

In The Parking Lot‘ follows the harmonic, summery style where the previous song left off. Then it takes off at a charge for a whipping verse. There’s another 50s Rock influenced guitar break in the middle, then it switches back to the slower pace to close.

Cassius Love vs Sonny Wilson‘ is a mess. I’m not sure why this is on the album. I’m sure hardcore fans love this, but it’s pretty cringy for everyone else. It’s like a compilation TV episode, except featuring snippets of all their big hits. This would be a much more fitting B-Side or novelty extra, but absolutely has no place in the middle of an album.

The Warmth Of The Sun‘ is a slower ballad, but retains the harmonic style of the opening tracks. The transitional notes between words in the vocals, sometimes they don’t land and feel whiney. Musically, there’s nothing adventurous here and feels like the band is on auto-pilot. Still, it’s very nice and inoffensive, but you’re not going to remember it, and it’s the first example on the album of things feeling samey.

This Car Of Mine‘ means they’re back to singing about cars again. Sure, there are mentions of cars in earlier songs on this album, but this is more overt. It’s a basic 4 bar rocker, mid paced, nice harmonies. Nothing special in the melodies, the lyrics are atrocious, but they sound earnest.

Why Do Fools Fall In Love‘ is a cover, obviously. I love the original – it’s one of those classic golden melodies. This offers some assorted varying percussion and a range of harmonies so that the song is different enough from other versions you’ve heard. It’s not as good as Frankie or Diana’s versions, but it’s decent.

Pom Pom Play Girl‘ has a few temp changes and pauses to try to change things up a little. There’s a loud handclap accompaniment to the guitar solo, the lyrics are silly – at this point we can expect the lyrics to be, not the most intelligent, but they’re apt for every juvenile subject they cover. It’s another fine, but forgettable song.

Keep An Eye On Summer’ starts with a slightly dreary choral section, it’s definitely reminiscent of decades earlier than the 60s. Unusually, it feels more like a Christmas song than anything Summery. The guitars take a different faster strummed approach. It’s too sleepy for my tastes and lacks a killer hook, plus the lead high pitched vocals line should have been re-recorded as it’s not the cleanest and not 100% on pitch, especially when the key changes at the end.

Shut Down Part 2‘ is the title track, and surprisingly not part of a prog album. If there was a Part 1, I’ve already forgotten what it sounded like. It has a silly countdown, a huge horn which sounds like, well, a car horn, then it becomes an actual song. Or possibly an instrumental song. See, the thing about this and a lot of Beach Boys music is that they’re just picking their riff and then playing it in four bar scale repetitions. That was of course the hallmark of 50s rock, but once again it makes this band sound dated. Think of the other bands who were musically innovating in the 60s – I previously believed The Beach Boys were part of this group but based on everything I’ve heard so far there has been precious little innovation or invention. This is a simple, quick jam, nothing more.

Louie Louie‘ is a cover, – they’ve done two instrumentals and have run out of ideas so are dragging out a cover. To its credit, I guess, it’s quite different from the original. You can make out the lyrics at least. The vocals sound like they’re taking the piss, other than that it’s just an unexciting cover.

Denny’s Drums‘ closes the album, and it’s another pointless instrumental. To make it worse, it’s a drum solo. Fine if you’re into drums, not fine for anyone who isn’t John Bonham. I mean, as far as drum instrumentals go, it’s perfectly okay. But it’s not anything anyone will ever choose to listen to more than once.

We started out with a banger, and gradually go worse, eventually descending into the creative void of covers and instrumentals. At this point for me the band is very much a singles band. I’m still waiting to hear anything which makes them the supposed rivals of The Beatles in terms of creativity, and they’re barely more than a boy band who happen to be able to play their instruments and once or twice an album make a pretty tune. I get there will be people who love this – mainly people who bought it at the time and are already predisposed to love it, but I’m saddened that the band isn’t turning out to be the big musical revelation I hoped it was going to be.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Fun Fun Fun. Don’t Worry Baby.

Nightman Listens To – Litte Deuce Coupe – The Beach Boys!


Greetings, Glancers! Wow wow, ease on the breaks there and pull the vehicle over to the kerb. Wasn’t Little Deuce Coupe the name of a song on the last Beach Boys album we listened to? I know they were writing and recording constantly, but are they already resorting to releasing the same material across two albums just to bulk things out? Maybe they just liked the name so much they thought they would take the song and name and build an album around it – because if there’s one thing that sounds like a great idea to make an album about its…. a car? Why not a microwave, a wheel-barrow, or a whoopie-cushion? Those are things people use. Anyway, I don’t know anything about this album, so lets get started.

‘Little Deuce Coupe’ is the same song as on the previous album. I don’t think it has been re-recorded or anything. It’s fine, fun, breezy, but you get the impression that these boys would have been excruciatingly boring to hang around with all this car talk.

‘Ballad Of Ole Betsy’ is another car song. They’re really going all in with this shtick then. I suppose it’s supposed to be clever in making you think it’s about a girl. It’s slow, dreamy, has the easy listening harmonies and melodies. It’s just nice, doesn’t stand out in any way, but is so saccharine you can’t hate it too much.

‘Be True To Your School’ is an odd title for me. That’s one major difference I see between the USA and the UK. Or at least Northern Ireland. I don’t know if it’s really true but I’ve spoken to enough people and seen enough that it certainly seems like you guys are into school pride in a way that simply does not exist over here. All these rivalries and seeming allegiance to the place where teachers teach you stuff is completely bizarre to me. We have no such patriotism over here, beyond the rugby teams, but they have too much of an air of the entitled inbred rapist about them to be considered on an equal intellectual or emotional level. Back to the song… and holy hell the lyrics are shocking. The melody seems like a direct rip off of I Get Around in places, which is both a shame and a plus because it’s still a good melody. It’s all very nice and I’m sure it’ll bring a tear to a certain type of American listener whose rose-tinted glasses have taken over their soul, but for the rest of the sane world this is hammy, alien stuff.

‘Car Crazy Cutie’ begins with a ‘run run do run run’ harmony. It’s good. It feels like a 50s cut, with a very familiar structure and melodic approach to songs from ten years earlier. Lucky then that I like those songs. It isn’t sung particularly well, which is strange, and again the subject matter is nonsense, but that’s a given at this point.

‘Cherry Cherry Coupe’ begins with some bar stool guitars. They’ve run out of words for ‘car’ so they’ve returned to ‘coupe’. Featuring lyrics like ‘Door handles are off but you know I’ll never miss ’em. They open when I want with the cellunoid system’ is as much of warbling embarrassment to me as ‘I don’t want to see a ghost, It’s a sight that I fear most, I’d rather have a piece of toast’. Music’s okay though.

‘409’ is either a road to drive your car on or a car or an engine or some bollocks. Wasn’t this one on a previous album too? It sounds familiar. It’s catchy and short and yes, this was definitely on another album which proves this album is scarping the barrel.

‘Shut Down’ is familiar too. Now I’m paranoid that I have heard all this before. Then again, they have a very distinct sound till now that they don’t deviate from so either I have heard it already or it’s a carbon copy.

‘Spirit Of America’ is one I don’t think I’ve heard. It has the low and slow ‘ba da dums’ and the high and screechy ‘ah ha haaas’ that many of their songs do. I think I like these songs in shorter bursts – if I hear this as part of a larger playlist with other artists I don’t mind, but when there’s a batch of them they begin to grate. Still, this is nice, sounds again like a ballad from another era, and you know exactly what you’re getting.

‘Our Club’ starts with a horn riff which instantly reminds me of Bottom – the British sitcom. Which is a good thing, except that in the lyrics they’re still harping on about cars. They even mention deuce coupe again. Believe me, this is all as bizarre to me as someone making an album filled with songs about wash baskets.

‘No Go Showboat’ is more of the same – high pitch vocals, horns, jangling guitars, and they take things a few rungs down the ladder with some unacceptable hand clapping.

‘A Young Man Is Gone’ at least has a promising title. It starts out with slow harmonizing. Why do all these sounds sound Christmasy? It’s about a kid who died in a car crash. I’m not sure how I feel about the absence of music or the choice of melody. It’s sort of meh, but also interesting because it’s only vocals.

‘Custom Machine’ ends the album and it’s almost identical to any of the other car songs on the album. More descriptions of the car’s look and performance, and lots of wailing ‘waas’ and ‘oohs’. We do get a basic piano interlude. We end as we begin – nonsense which just scrapes into the fun category.

So… you know all the surf stuff got annoying after a while but at least they had the good sense and wit to make the associated feelings which come with surfing universal. At this point the band may as well be reciting a list of their favourite VIN numbers. The lyrics may as well be ‘Remember back in 1967 when For released a Mustang, it was good because my Volkswagon had gone bang bang. And look! Oldsmobile, Chevvy, Dodge, Buick, window wiper, fan belt, greasy nipples, nuts and bolts, Peugeot, Porshe, Subaru. Peugeot, Porshe, Subaru!’ I mean, write about what you love, but it is ridiculous nevertheless. The music hasn’t progressed in any meaningful way – the band at this point was comfortable in their sound and made no attempts to break away from that. It still works, but more often than not it’s repetitive and waning thin, made all the more noticeable by the lack of a killer single. Still worth listening to, but I get more out of it in shorter bursts. When do they start getting good – like Beatles good?

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Car Crazy Cutie.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Little Deuce Coupe!

Nightman Listens To – Surfer Girl – The Beach Boys!


So we’ve had Surfin Safari, Surfin USA, and now we have Surfer Girl. Presumably the next one will be Surfin In Space. Yes, we’re hitting the sand again with another Sixties smash by The Beach Boys. I don’t have much else to say about this – I hope the band continues to improve and that I get to reap those benefits.

Surfer Girl: Ahh, listen to that full and dreamy production. Beautiful. The song is a little too sleepy for my tastes. It’s very sweet. Very pure. Melodies are nothing to write home about.

Catch A Wave: This really is a massive step forward in how full the sound is. A more bouncy song, obviously another ode to surfing so the lyrics are mostly nonsense. It is twee but it’s so much fun that it doesn’t matter. More interesting melodies too.

The Surfer Moon: Ouch, this one hurts when heard through headphones. The right side gets all the sound until the vocals come in on the left. Another dreamy one, but better lyrics this time and the string section slaps another tick in the plus column. The vocals… the sing in this yawning style, but it’s still good. The strings really do give it so much more depth.

South Bay Surfer: Ouch, those beats hurt too. Is that supposed to mimic a group of rowdies beating down your door? This is very silly and cheesy – terrible lyrics, cringeworthy vocals, shouty melodies, and to top it off, my favourite pet hate, hand claps. Dreadful stuff.

The Rocking Surfer: I’m honestly not sure what they’re trying to say with all of these instrumentals. It does nothing that the others haven’t already done – which wasn’t much in the first place. Generic surf rock sounds and tones. You’ve heard it before, even if you  haven’t.

Little Deuce Coupe: So they’ve moved on to singing about cars now. A fairly famous song, I’m not really why though. It’s the same melodies you’ve heard from the band before and the lyrics are car cliche stuff.

In My Room: Now, this is better. The dreamy stuff actually has some meaning, the melodies are backed up with some sort of emotion, and the harmonies build up a wall of sound which you can take to mean the narrator’s thoughts or the deafening timbre of the outside world. Or just take it as a nice song.

Hawaii: Well, I wouldn’t mind going to Hawaii. The vocals are high, even for me. So the beaches and warmth and waves of California aren’t enough. Good harmonies but the main melodies aren’t great and the vocals grate quickly.

Surfers Rule: More silly lyrics about nothing, but it’s silly fun. The main vocals are covered more by the harmonies this time, but we do get more damn handclaps. Lots of ‘woo ooh oohs’.

Our Car Club: A drum intro hints at something different. This does feel marginally different from everything else. Lyrics are a nonsense but it feels like another song they put more thought into, like ‘lets do something different with this one’. The uppy downy rhythm is still there, along with the ‘oohs’.

Your Summer Dream: This one starts differently too, a different tone and approach. Gentle. Lyrics are better. The dreamy atmosphere works. Sweet and simple.

Boogie Woogie: Credit for another different sound. Is it another instrumental though? It still follows the same pattern as the others, though it does feel more manic. Well played. Uppy down rhythm again. It almost feels like it gets faster as it goes along, but that’s some sort of aural illusion.

Another selection of happy, fun, bouncy pop songs. I get the feeling that they had one full album of great material if we take the best of these first three albums, and the rest ranges from your standard filler to forgettable. They’re not reinventing themselves yet, but there are hints of growth and experimentation. The production is light years ahead of the previous albums and the full sound is great. There isn’t one truly great song like we had on the last album, but many are consistently good.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Surfer Girl!

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Surfer Moon. Catch A Wave. In My Room. Your Summer Dream.

Nightman Listens To: The Beach Boys – Surfin’ USA!


Greetings, Glancers! It’s time to grab a board and hit some gnarly waves, bruh! Cowabunga! Other words! Surfin’ USA was released in 1963, the first of a ridiculous three albums released by the band that year. That’s one thing you notice about the early 60s – these bands had a ridiculous schedule of writing, recording, touring, and most of the biggest bands released each year, sometimes multiple times. Compare that to now, where the biggest to the smaller acts tend to release one album every three years. The good thing about Surfin’ USA is that I recognise the title track – it’s a classic – and I’m looking forwards to more sunny pop. The bad news is that no fewer than five of the twelve tracks are instrumental. In my limited knowledge of the band, it’s their vocal harmonies and melodies which set them apart – none of the instrumentals on the debut sparked me. Maybe they’re good. Time to find out.

Surfin’ USA: Is there any more iconic opening selection of notes in 60s pop than that? Before you even hear the vocals there’s something summery about that guitar tone. Then the vocals, with those harmonies and melodies join in and it’s game over. The lyrics are silly yet perfectly evocative of those idyllic ideas of beaches, sun, freedom, and fun. There’s a great organ solo, a decent guitar solo, and some handy drum moments too. As perfect a slice of pop rock as you’ll ever hear.

Farmer’s Daughter: I don’t believe I know this one. It’s immediately one I’ll want to hear again. I don’t know if the vocals on this one will annoy me over time, but at the moment its newness is a blessing to my ears. It gets straight to the point and doesn’t even reach the two minute mark – back when pop didn’t outstay it’s welcome. There are a few gulps and missed marks in the vocals. Melodies and harmonies good again, not as strong as the first track, but much better than today’s chart muck.

Miserlou: This is of course ‘The Pulp Fiction’ instrumental. This is a less ominous version than the one you know, but retains its Eastern roots more clearly. Honestly I’ve never been a fan of this piece of music – mostly the yells which come in the second half, and now I can’t hear any version of it without hearing that utterly horrific Black Eyed Peas massacre.

Stoked: A Beach Boys original instrumental piece now, as if to say ‘look, we can do it just as good as those guys’ coming right after an existing popular instrumental. It even has it’s own annoying yells. The problem with these types of instrumentals is that I’m always waiting for vocals to come and so they feel like they’re missing something. It’s okay, a decent main riff but basically a twist on one you’ve heard countless times.

Lonely Sea: Wait, is this Radiohead? Well, those long held notes are wonderful. I keep expecting the note to change, but he holds it in a hypnotic way. The doleful harmonies give a sweet and sullen undercurrent. Just when a pseudo-speaking part threatens to ruin things, we return to falsetto and fade out. That was nice.

Shut Down: This sounds like another car song. It’s also sounds like Johnny B Goode. Seems like a middle of the road album track rather than a highlight, but it’s still catchy. Again, at under two minutes it’s not going to annoy anyone.

Noble Surfer: This opens the second half of the album and isn’t much of a departure from the previous track. Funny deeper harmonies here. Interesting keyboard sound in the middle. The chorus is a bit silly – still, under two minutes.

Honky Tonk: It is what is says. I feel like I could be listening to The Stones with this. The guitar tone is changed just enough to bridge the gap between Blues and Beach Boys. Absolutely identical to any Blues song you could write yourself.

Lana: Begins with honky tonk piano, again the band showing how they can do their own versions of things, without actually covering. Very high falsetto now, bordering on off-putting or ridicule. Not much else goes on here.

Surf Jam: Now it’s their own instrumental. This one feels like a definite surfer rock instrumental – if you told someone to write a surfer rock instrumental, this is what would come out the other end 9 times out of 10. Some great guitar on show, not sure about the shouting. As far as short instrumentals go, it’s very good.

Lets Go Trippin‘: I assume this isn’t about drugs. No, it’s another instrumental and not all that different from the previous track – feels more pop oriented while the previous song was more furious.

Finders Keepers: Finally, more vocals. It’s not quite as Summery as I was hoping for, the lyrics are funny enough. The most interesting thing is the timing shift – we get a fast paced verse and chorus section, then it slows down for a brief bridge, before charging up again to the chorus. The song sways smoothly between these different sections giving something different than the norm.

After a fantastic start, the song quickly falls away. The reliance on instrumentals hurts it for me, as I’ve stated again and again, instrumentals almost never excite me unless they’re exceptional. A couple of songs I didn’t know about before which I’ll definitely listen to again, and the rest are middling. No bad songs, but too many fall into the meh category for me, a shame after starting so well.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Surfin’ USA!

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Surfin’ USA. Farmer’s Daughter. Lonely Sea.