Golden Hits, Vol. 2

by: Jan & Dean

This 12-track LP was (and still is) about as much Jan & Dean as most listeners need, right from their prime years, 1963-1965, when they were not only the top surf music duo in music but benefited from the generosity of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys (who do you think is playing and singing behind Berry and Torrence on "Surf City"?) Apart from the relatively innocuous and old fashioned "Linda," this album moves from one song to the next, giving the listener a panoramic tour of teen paradise, 1960s California style, with perhaps even an edge on the Beach Boys. In contrast to Wilson, Jan & Dean never felt compelled to show a more reflective side, much less any romantic angst -- the closest they ever got was "Dead Man's Curve," which was more of a lament (with grim overtones derived from subsequent real-life events); and "You Really Know How to Hurt A Guy," and even it is so bouyant in its spirits that it never bogs down in angst. Theirs was a world built on the joys surfing and fast cars, of that next wave, next dance, next race, or the girl waiting at the end -- pure party music, and with the conceivable exception of the Tremeloes, no recording act of the 1960s ever devoted more energy or attention to creating this category of music. Today, this album holds up about as well as any early Beatles record or Motown hits collection, as far as the positive vibrations it puts out. And there's even one surprise for anyone who's never seen The T.A.M.I. Show, in the form of the song on this album written specifically for that feature film, "From All Over the World" -- the duo manages to take the tribute song, an outmoded form just five years earlier, and imbue it with enough spirit and joy to allow it to stand up respectably next to gems like "Surf City" and "Ride the Wild Surf." The slang-filled notes by Torrence telling how the duo discovered surf music are almost as entertaining as a bonus music track. ~ Bruce Eder

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