Pebbles Vol 4: Summer Means Fun
is the fourth in the vinyl
series of Pebbles
s. As you may guess from the title, this is primarily concerned with early 60s surf music
and hot rod music
, and contains many tracks that are very hard to get hold of elsewhere.
When the Pebbles series was reissued on CD, the tracklistings were substantially rejigged - in this case much to the detriment of the compilation. There's already a node for the CD version of this - Pebbles Vol 4: Surf'n Tunes - and those tracks that are on both versions are discussed there rather than here to avoid duplication.
Summer Means Fun by Bruce And Terry is a classic summertime pop song. Bruce And Terry (Bruce Johnston and Terry Melcher ) usually wrote their own material, but this one was by P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri and is patterned after the Beach Boys' Hawaii
Anywhere The Girls Are by The Fantastic Baggies is another Sloan/Barri song (the Baggies were in fact Sloan and Barri). While Sloan would later become a 'sensitive singer songwriter' (and not a very good one) after writing Eve Of Destruction, at this time he and Barri were writing songs for Jan And Dean, The Turtles and Herman's Hermits, all of which were better than his later efforts. This is a pretty obvious rip-off of the Beach Boys' Don't Back Down, but a decent track in its own right.
R.P.M by The Four Speeds is a Gary Usher track, and not one of his best. He spread himself too thin in the early 60s and didn't really come into his own until he started working with Curt Boettcher.
The bonus track by Jan And Dean is in fact their Coca-Cola commercial, which sounds like Jan And Dean doing a Coke commercial, unsurprisingly.
Masked Grandma , Top Down Time , Custom Caravan and California Sun '65 are all covered in the w/u for the CD.
New Generation by The Trashmen is nowhere near as memorable as their Surfin' Bird, but still pretty fun.
Side two starts with three Brian Wilson classics. Pamela Jean by The Survivors is a Dion influenced pop classic - a wonderful slice of whitebread doo-wop that's worth the purchase price on its own. The track later became the Beach Boys' Car Crazy Cutie, but this is the superior version.
Sacramento by Gary Usher (with The Honeys on backing vocals) is a Wilson/Usher co-write/co-production, and is a country and western track, a genre neither really bothered with otherwise. Surprisingly it's very good of its type, but it doesn't really fit on the comp.
Thinkin' Bout You Baby by Sharon Marie is the song that later became the Beach Boys track Darlin', but this is, if anything, even better. An absolutely stunning track, and one of Wilson's best attempts at a Spector-esque girl group sound.
The rest of the tracks - Hot Rod High, School Is A Gas, Image Of A Surfer, Beach Ball, London's A Lonely Town and The Fun They Had, are all on Pebbles Vol 4: Surf'n Tunes and are discussed there.
This compilation is infinitely superior to its CD counterpart, and if you get the chance and are even slightly interested in west coast 60s music, it's an essential purchase.