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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Various Artists

Summer Days and Summer Nights

Review by Gary Hill

I have to say that I'm probably not the target demographic for this set. For one thing, the older pop-oriented music on here is often not really my kind of taste. Secondly, in a world full of people who love the heat and sun of summer, it's the part of the year I suffer through. Give me cold, clouds and snow. So, I have a couple reasons to not like this. The fact is, there are some real gems here. There are also no pure losers. All in all, this is a dynamic and fun collection. Since it's from Bear Family you know the product itself is classy, too. This includes an extensive booklet and is just a particularly nice release.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 3. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Tony Bennett - Put On A Happy Face
This catchy classic is a fine example of both the pop music of the era and the whole crooner thing. It's just a fun romp.
The Fleetwoods - They Tell Me It's Summer
There is a bouncy old-school vocal group vibe to this. It's sticky sweet and very vanilla. It's also oddly tasty.
Conway Twitty - Beachcomber
Built on a cool old-school acoustic rocking concept, I like this quite a bit. It's very much 1950s rockabilly.
Carole King - Queen Of The Beach
I had no idea Carole King did music like this. It's a cool old school rock and roll romp. It's a lot of fun.
Dave York & The Beachcombers - I Wanna Go Surfin'
This doo wop number is fun stuff. The seriously low register lead vocal has a lot of class.
The Fleetwoods - Surfer's Playmate
This high energy tune is reasonably fun, but not really my thing.
Ricky Dean - Bikini
This bouncy cut is fun, but very dated in sound. I dig some of the guitar fills on this.
Diane Ray - Please Don't Talk To The Lifeguard
A bouncy old school pop song, this is fun. I dig the saxophone. This is lightweight by modern standards, but it's catchy and entertaining.
Ernie Maresca - Down On The Beach
Rock and roll and vintage rock and roll merge on this bouncy little tune.   
Tito Puente & His Orchestra - Emerald Beach
Now this has a full on jazz arrangement. It's high energy and so classy. This is one of the highlights of this disc for me. This instrumental has some great jamming. I am particularly fond of the guitar solo.
Johnny O'Neill - Beach Doll
Another that seems to merge old-school pop music with rock and roll, this is entertaining. I dig the guitar fills and the hooks quite a bit.
Sammy Salvo - The Bully Of The Beach
This vintage rock and roller is so much fun. I dig the horn on it quite a bit.
Googie Rene & His Band - Swingin' Summer Love
I love the piano on this track. The horn solo section is classy, too. Beyond that this is a little too vanilla for my tastes. Still, it has some cool jazzy twists and turns.
Maxine Daniels - My Summer Heart
This is a bouncy groove with plenty of jazz in the mix. It is entertaining.
Kari Lynn - Summer Day
I love the vocals on this track. The number has an old-time ballad vibe to it.
Dinah Washington - That Sunday (That Summer)
Here we get another standout song. This has a jazz ballad arrangement and some killer vocals.
The Viscounts - Summertime
Slow moving and bluesy, this has elements of both rock and roll and jazz. It's all class, too. This instrumental is one of the standouts here.
The Brothers Four -The Green Leaves Of Summer
The music takes a back seat to the vocal on this track. I'm not a big fan of this kind of vocal group music, but this works pretty well.     
Keely Smith - On The Sunny Side Of The Street
The vocals on this are classic and strong. The tune has a classic and effective jazz arrangement. This is another highlight for me.
Hank Snow - Lazy Bones
There is a blues turned vintage pop vibe to this. The cut feels a bit contrived to me, though. The cut has a spoken section later.
Bucky & The Premiers - Summer School
I like the old time rock and roll groove of this cut. The vocals have a distant, somewhat distorted element, and the instrumental arrangement is tastefully raw and cool.
Dickie Loader & The Blue Jeans - Heatwave
Here we get another energized old-school rock and roller. While this is a strong tune, it's not on the same level as some of the rest. That said, I'd definitely consider it to be in the top half of the album.
Eydie Gorme - Soda Pop Hop
Energized and vintage pop oriented, this is fun. It's a little too vanilla for me, though.
Don Cherry - Wild Cherry
I like the bouncy groove of this. It's very much a vintage pop song, and a little precious, but it works pretty well. Maybe Steve Martin was right and it's hard to like any song with banjo.    
Paul Peek - Watermelon
A bouncy kind of jazzy groove makes this thing work well. It's got plenty of old-school rock and roll in the mix, too.
T. J. Fowler, His Piano & Orchestra - Wine Cooler
This instrumental rock and roll jam is so cool. It has some particularly elevated and jazzy guitar and piano work. This is definitely one of my favorites here.
Barney Kessel Quartet - Summertime
Another jazzy instrumental jam, this is also another standout. This song and the last one together are worth the price of admission. That says a lot about how good these two tunes are. The guitar work on this is absolutely stellar.
Bobby Williamson - Sh-Boom (Life Could Be A Dream)
Not a fan of this bouncy rock and roll meets pop tune. I'm not really a doo wop person, though. 
The Quotations - Summertime Goodbyes
More of a doo wop ballad, this works alright, but I wouldn't consider it a highlight by any means.
The Safaris with The Phantom Band - Summer Nights
More old-school rock and roll is on the menu here. This is not a standout, but it's pretty good.
Lee Diamond with The Challengers - Good Old Summertime
I dig the energy and hooks on this. The horns add a lot of fun. This is rock and roll with some tasty jazz in the mix. It makes a solid ending to the disc.
 
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