ALBUM (1974)

Rewind album: Endless Summer, by The Beach Boys

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 June, 2013, 5:03pm

Endless Summer

The Beach Boys


If you've never listened to The Beach Boys, Endless Summer is a great place to start. It's effectively a 1960s greatest-hits collection released in 1974, but someone smartly decided to give it a sexy title rather than a "best of" moniker.

Formed in California in 1961 and signed to Capitol Records a year later, The Beach Boys were America's first great rock band, bringing Californian culture to the rest of the world. Their music was all about surfing, cars and pretty girls - 100 per cent west coast teen fantasy. It was their exquisite blend of voices that made them stand out, complex vocal harmonies that were the result of serious graft in the studio.

The Beach Boys released a string of albums through the 1960s and at one point were even considered serious competition to The Beatles, but by the early 1970s they were in a serious dry spell and going nowhere.

That's when one of their founding members, Mike Love, and the band's former record label, Capitol, came up with the ingenious idea to release Endless Summer. It helped that they had a lot of songs to choose from and Love picked out some of the absolute best - Surfin' USA, Be True to Your School, California Girls and Get Around - as well as a few good ones that hadn't done so well the first time around, such as Wendy.

Endless Summer became an instant hit, soaring to No1 and hitting high on the charts for the next two summers. It got the attention of music buyers who hadn't heard the songs the first time around, spent 155 weeks on the Billboard album chart, and selling more than three million copies in the US.

The simple, sunny artwork on the cover fits with the music and the bearded Beach Boys are seen looking as they did in the 1970s, not the '60s when the tunes were first released. The album you buy on iTunes today is the same collection of songs, with the added bonus of Good Vibrations which was added to the CD version in 1987.

With the release of Endless Summer, The Beach Boys became a hugely popular touring band. Perhaps the only downside to the success of the album was that they got locked in a cycle of playing their old hits and didn't take their music any further.

In 1975, Capitol brought out another collection of Beach Boys hits, Spirit of America. This wasn't as good as Endless Summer which featured most of the best songs from their early days, but it still did well, selling more than a million copies and making them all even richer.

When The Beach Boys set out on their 50th anniversary tour last year they threw some of their lesser-known early cover songs into the mix, but it was the Endless Summer tunes that everyone had come to hear - and by which they will be remembered.

Kate Whitehead