Thursday, August 15, 2019

"California Dreamin'" by The Beach Boys

Song#:  2861
Date:  09/20/1986
Debut:  93
Peak:  57
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Back on Capitol Records, the Beach Boys' first album for the label would be a compilation titled Made in U.S.A. The double-LP featured their hits along with a couple of newly recorded tunes that would be issued out as singles. The first one, "Rock 'N' Roll to the Rescue," would be a minor Pop chart entry getting to #67. This second single would do slightly better at Pop (#57) and found favor at AC getting to #8. Former Byrds frontman Roger McGuinn plays guitar on the track. He also appears in the video for the song along with songwriters and former Mamas & the Papas members John Phillips and Michelle Phillips.

ReduxReview:  I'm not really sure about the song choice here. The Beach Boys are known for their sunny, sometimes quirky, hits and I would have thought that this darker classic wouldn't be a good fit for them. I don't think I'm necessarily wrong about that, but I will say that this remake isn't too bad. The arrangement is far, far better than the awful "Rock 'N' Roll to the Rescue," but the near staccato delivery doesn't fit the song very well. The vocals just sound stiff and nothing like the hazy, laid-back approach of the Mamas & the Papas. While it is an improvement over their previous single, it's still a forgettable entry in their catalog.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song that was a hit by The Mamas & the Papas. Their take was the group's first charting single and it reached #4 in 1966. It was also their first gold record. Despite it's #4 peak, the song would be listed as Billboard's #1 charting song of 1966. The song, written by members (and husband/wife at the time) John and Michelle Phillips, became a classic of the era and was ranked #89 on Rolling Stones' 2004 list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. However, The Mamas & the Papas were not the first to record the song. The Phillips' wrote the tune in 1963 and it was originally recorded by Barry McGuire for his fourth album, 1965's This Precious Time. Around the time of the recording, The Mamas & the Papas got signed to Dunhill Records and recorded their own version. The song has been covered by many artists, but only two others beside The Beach Boys have reached the Pop chart with their version. Soul singer Bobby Womack's take on the tune reaching #43 Pop/#20 R&B in 1969. Later in 1979, the soft rock band (reduced to a duo by this point) America got to #52 Pop with their version. They recorded it specifically for a film titled California Dreaming. The film starring Glynnis O'Connor and Dennis Christopher was a box office bomb upon release.


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