These Are The Good Times: The Complete Capital Recordings (CD) by Donna Loren

August 4, 2014



Donna Loren is best remembered for her singing performances on four of the Annette Funicello/Frankie Avalon Beach Party movies. She sang one song in four different films but never spoke a word of dialogue.

She was also the Dr. Pepper girl in commercials of the day. If you watch the Beach Party movies closely, you will see it as the drink of choice in Big Daddy’s lounge. She was a semi-regular on Shindig and appeared in such television series as The Monkees and Batman.

She released one album and five singles for the Capital label, none of which enjoyed any commercial success. She them floated from label to label for a few more singles before leaving the music business for three decades. She has recently issued several albums as a part of a comeback.

Her entire output for Capital has now been re-released as These Are The Good Times: The Complete Capital Recordings. Included is her complete Beach Blanket Bingo album, both sides of her five singles, and eight previously unreleased tracks.

She had All-American good looks and the voice to become a star. One of her problems was the quality of her material. “Beach Blanket Bingo” is a joyous 1960’s pop song and “Muscle Bustle” has a Brian Wilson pedigree. “It’s Got To Be Me” is interesting due to the backing of the Beau Brummels. On the other hand, when you get to songs like “Do The Zonk,” the quality drops dramatically. Another problem was her label. Capital was a hit making machine, who represented the Beatles and the Beach Boys among others, and she received little publicity.

The music of Donna Loren is rooted firmly in the 1960’s and its main appeal will be to fans and members of the Beach Party era. This makes These Are The Good Times: The Complete Capital Recordings a niche release. The music does not particularly stand the test of time well but if you remember a raven haired beauty singing her heart out back in the 1960’s, then this album will bring back memories of an innocent time.


Dream Boy 45 by Annette

April 11, 2013

Dream Boy

Annette Funicello passed away a couple of days ago at the age of 70. As a Baby Boomer I worshipped Annette during her time on the Mickey Mouse Club. She was one of the early superstars of the television era. I followed along as she starred in the series of Beach Party movies and then sort of tucked my memories of her into that nostalgic place that many adults have for things of their youth.

She issued a series of successful singles, 1959-1961, with ten charting on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Hot 100. “Dream Boy” was her last chart single. Released during early 1961, it only reached number 87 during its two weeks on the chart. It was a re-working of the 1880 tune “Funiculi-Funcula.” It was typical of the non-offensive light weight material she would issue.

She was one of the people that defined an era and while her career never matched those early days, she remained an icon for the baby boom generation that aged along with her.

Muscle Beach Party: The United Artists Sessions by Frankie Avalon

April 2, 2012

The music scene during the pre-Beatles era was inhabited by what were known as teen idols. Elvis was the king and Ricky Nelson was the crown prince. Singers such as Bobby Rydell, Fabian, Pat Boone, Tab Hunter, and of course Frankie Avalon, sold tens of millions of records and produced dozens of hits.

Frankie Avalon still tours consistently down to the present day. Many people, however, associate him with the series of Beach Party movies he made with Annette Funicello during the mid-1960s. This led him to sign a recording contract with the United Artists label for which he never had a hit.

Real Gone Music has now released his United Artists Label output under the title Muscle Beach Party: The United Artists Sessions. It brings back to life the material from a period of his career that has been unavailable for decades.

The centerpiece of the compilation is his album, Muscle Beach Party And Other Movie Songs. Annette had cashed in on the Beach Party Music with a hit album titled Annette’s Beach Party. Frankie now recorded his versions of songs from the films. While the album was filled with orchestration, his went in a more stripped-down direction. His take on such beach classics as “Muscle Beach Party,” “Beach Party,” “Runnin’ Wild,” and “Surfer’s Holiday” were interpreted for the small lounge. The other movie songs fare less well as he tries to interpret such classics as “More,” “Days Of Wine And Roses,” “Moon River,” and “Again” and just can’t make them unique.

His series of stand-alone singles are also included. “Don’t Make Fun Of Me” was a nice mid-tempo ballad. “Here To Stay” was a nice slow track that was representative of the era. “New-Fangled Jingle-Jangle Swimming Suit From Paris” is antiquated by today’s standards, but it was a witty dig at Walt Disney not wanting Annette to wear a revealing bathing suit in any of the films.

The last four tracks are taken from the Bob Hope fiim, I’ll Take Sweden, in which he starred opposite Tuesday Weld. “There’ll Be Rainbows Again” is a romantic ballad while “The Bells Keep Ringing” and “Would Ya Like My Last Name” were both up-tempo pop that was similar to his early hits.

His short time with the United Artists label was Frankie Avalon’s last gasp as a teen idol. He would go on to produce more mature pop music that, while not as commercially successful, was polished and more in tune with the times. Muscle Beach Party: The United Artists Sessions is an album for fans of Avalon or the era. The music did not influence the direction of American music, but it was fun and made you smile and sometimes that is enough.

Article first published as Music Review: Frankie Avalon – Muscle Beach Party: The United Artists Sessions on Blogcritics.

Ten Good Reasons 45 by Donna Loren

February 29, 2012

Donna Loren appeared in a number of BEACH PARTY movies with Frankie and Annette, was a regular on the TV show SHINDIG, and was the Dr. Pepper Girl, yet did not have a chart single.

She issued a number of songs for various labels during the 1960s and all were catchy and melodic. She possessed a woderful pop voice and the looks to become a star but quietly disappeared from the music scene to raise a family. During the last several years she has begun touring and recording again.

“Ten Good Reasons” was representative of her sound. It was simple but catchy 1960s pop.

Bobby Sox To Stockings 45 by Frankie Avalon

January 19, 2012

The young Frankie Avalon will be a late-night TV star, probably forever, as the star of the sereis of BEACH PARTY movies with Annette Funicello.

He was one of the teen idols of the Pre-Beatles era in the United States placing 24 singles on the BILLBOARD NAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart, 1958-1962.

“Bobby Sox To Stockings” was the follow-up single to his biggest hit “Venus.” Released May 25, 1959, it reached number eight on the charts.

His music is considered light weight pop today but it was very representative of late 1950s and early 1960s pop, which dominated the charts.

Blowing Out The Candles/Just A Little Girl 45 by Donna Loren

August 19, 2011

I may not be a pepper, you may not be a pepper, but Donna Loren was definately a pepper. She was the Dr. Pepper girl, 1963-1968. She also appeared in five Beeach Party movies with Annette and Frankie. She never spoke but only sang in each of the movies.

She moved on to become a regular on the SHINDIG television program, as she appeared in 26 episodes. She also appeared in episodes of The Monkees, Batman, and Dr. Kildare among others.

She was inactive, raising a family and starting a business, for over 30 years, but recently began recording and performing again.

Musically she is best remembered for the 1960s Beach Party music but she issued a number of catchy singles. Amazingly, despite all this publicity, she never had a single make the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.

Dream World 45 by Donna Loren

June 3, 2011

Donna Loren has made a comback recently with several fine album releases. She is best remembered for her appearances in a number of the BEACH PARTY movies with Annette and Frankie.

Many people forget she served as the Dr. Pepper spokesperson, 1963-1968, and appeared as a regular performer on the SHINDIG televison series.

Before her Beach Party movies, she was signed to the Challenge Label, for whom she issued a number of fine pop singles. “Dream World” was representative of her output with Challenge. It was well- produced, catchy pop. Unfortunately it received no chart action in The United States.

Donna Loren would never become the big star her talent level suggested she would become. Her music from the time period is well worth seeking out.