There are niche releases and then there are niche releases. If you are a fan of Annette Funicello or the Beach Party series of movies released during the 1960’s, then this CD reissue will bring back some memories. If not, then this 25 minute soundtrack with no bonus material will probably have little appeal.
Released in 1965, How To Stuff A Wild Bikini was the sixth of seven Beach Party movies. Annette was four months pregnant and Frankie Avalon only made several cameo appearances. Dwayne Hickman of Dobie Gillis fame stood in as the male lead. The movie was a commercial failure and the soundtrack with songs by Annette, Mickey Rooney, Harvey Lembeck, and The Kingsmen was among the weakest in the series.
One of the problems is Mickey Rooney and Harvey Lembeck, who played the character Eric Von Zipper, really couldn’t sing and their four songs comprise one-third of the soundtrack.
The best track is “If It’s Gonna Happen” by Lu Ann Simms, who was best known for her time as a regular on the 1950’s Arthur Godfrey Show. She has a strong pop voice that propels the song along, plus it stands out among the tracks that surround it.
There are two Annette tracks for her fans. “The Perfect Boy” and “Better Be Ready” are the typical type of inoffensive light weight pop that she tended to produce. Both tracks are among the more difficult to find in her catalogue of material.
The album ends with two tracks by The Kingsmen of “Louie Louie” fame. Their inclusion was probably due to the fact that the original album was released on the Wand label to which they were signed at the time. They may not have been the most talented band of the era but they had a gritty type garage sound that was perfect for parties. “Give Her Lovin’” and “How So Stuff A Wild Bikini” are far different from the rest of the soundtrack as they are rock and roll tracks. It may be a sixties sound but at least it was a good 1960’s sound.
It all comes back to the niche. If you are a fan, then this long out of print album will be a treat. So, if you have too then … KOWABONGA