I’ve just finished reading Mark Lewisohn’s Beatles biography, All These Years, Volume One – Tune In. As much as I enjoyed it – all 1000 pages of it – a breathtaking example of pure, meticulous research from start to finish, I’m glad that I finished it. I now have to wait until 2020 to read the second volume, and hopefully I’ll still be alive in 2028 when the third and final volume comes out.
I’d always known that Friday 5th October 1962 was a busy time in popular culture. Not only was the first Beatles 7”, Love Me Do, released in the UK, but the first James Bond film, Dr. No, was released in cinemas on the very same day.
One of the hundreds of lesser-known facts in Lewisohn’s book (he didn’t even mention the James Bond connection – perhaps he’s not a fan) is that Friday 5th October 1962 also marked the British release of the Beach Boys’ debut LP, Surfin’ Safari. I’m sure financial austerity was at its highest in 1962, and most people wouldn’t have been able to afford – or have the cultural nous – to consume all three releases, but imagine the handful of people who did? I can picture them waking up the following Saturday morning, wondering “Is it me or did life just get much better yesterday?”
This album – a compilation of the Beach Boys’ seminal ‘60s singles – is unbeatable. Do It Again and Good Vibrations are missing, but apart from that, it’s faultless. The very fact that they couldn’t fit everything on one disc is testament to their insane workload throughout the decade.
I was talking to somebody the other day about the horrible, boring way they taught music in English schools in the late ‘80s. Essentially you were plonked in front of an electric keyboard, and you had to follow the teacher, who was struggling to make sheet music interesting (all the kids just wanted to play with the sound effects anyway – either the button that turned each key into an orchestral blast, or the demo button that, with a little bit of pretending, made you look and sound like a gifted piano wunderkind).
They should do away with that approach, lock the door of the classroom and just play this album – loud! – to kids. If this doesn’t turn them onto music, they’re a lost cause.
Hit: Surfin’ USA
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