Filet Of Soul By Jan & Dean

January 18, 2018

Jan & Dean are best remembered for their string of surf and car hits during the 1960’s. Jan Berry may not have had the extended musical vision of Brian Wilson, but in the studio he was able to combine the voices of the duo into a melodic choir. In concert they were unable to re-produce their soaring sounds of the studio, so they mixed comedy into their act.

In 1965 they owed the Liberty label one last album. Filet Of Soul was a mixture of live performances, comedy, and studio sound effects. The label promptly rejected it for release. A year later Jan Berry was involved in a car accident that virtually ended the duo’s career for over a decade. The label released Filet Of Soul three weeks after the accident to cash in on the Jan & Dean legacy. They removed the sound effects and most of the comedy. I was a big fan, but even I knew the album was terrible.

Now 52 years later, Filet Of Soul Redux: The Rejected Master Recordings has returned in all its fake crowd noises, studio sounds, and some of the lamest comedy ever to grace an album. And yes, it is still terrible but at least for the hard core fan, it is a slice of the 1960’s that mercifully, in this case, will not be revisited.

The best past of the release are the liner notes by Dean Torrence. He gives a full history as to the why of the music. One other strong feature was the backing band on the true live performances. They are all introduced, so I assume they were actually present. The brass section is excellent but how Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame drummer Hal Blaine got involved in all of this is beyond me.

The listener quickly learns that the duo should not sing The Everly Brothers (“Cathy’s Clown”) or the Beatles (“Michelle” and “Norwegian Wood”) and can’t sing many of the hits of the day (“Lightning Strikes” and “Hang On Sloopy”).

The truncated original release was in many ways not their fault but this one was intentional. It is a release only for the hard care fan. If you want their best and most enjoyable, seek out their greatest hits compilation.

The Beat That Can’t Be Beat/I Love Linda 45 by Jan & Arnie

February 26, 2012

Jan Berry, Arnie Ginsberg, and Dean Torrence were members of the Barrons while in high school. When Dean was called to six months service in the Army reserve, Jan & Arnie signed with the Arwin label. They had one top 10 hit, “Jennie Lee” during 1958, and one other track, “Gas Money” that made the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.

One of the more difficult singles to track down was “The Beat That Can’t Be Beat/I Love Linda.” It was very different from the layered sound that Jan Berry would produce during the 1960s. The single received no chart action.

Dean would return and Arnie would enter the navy. Jab & Arnie would be no more and Jan & Dean would go on to create some of the best car and surf music of the 1960s.

(Here They Come) From All Over The World

January 29, 2012

Jan & Dean were selected as hosts for the T.A.M.I. Show. The concert, held October 28 and 29, 1964, featured some of the biggest music acts in the world including James Brown, The Supremes, The Beach Boys, and The Rolling Stones. It was released as a film shortly afterwards.

“From All Over The World” was the concert’s theme song and played over the film’s opening credits. Released as a single March 13, 1965, it reached number 56 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.

It was a song that worked better in the movie as it introduced the acts. It remains one of their least known singles.

Sidewalk Surfin’ 45 by Jan & Dean

May 16, 2011

Jan & Dean released “Sidewalk Surfin'” during the fall of 1964. It became a moderate hit reaching number 25 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.

Jan & Dean used The Beach Boys melody of “Catch A Wave” to create lyrics about surfing on land. Thow in some layered harmonies and you have a hit song.

The song would make a brief comback during 1976, when it was reissued as part of The United Artists Silver Spotlight reissue series. It would reach the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Bubbling Under Chart at number 107.

They were just a few decades too early. Skateboarding today is one of the premier X Games sports. Millions of skateboards are sold each year although the sport is no longer called “Sidewalk Surfin'”

Linda 45 by Jan & Dean

May 10, 2011

In many ways “Linda” was the first modern day Jan & Dean single. The layered harmonies were not quite as layered and full as they would quickly become, but they were close.

Jan Berry ws beginning his run as one of music’s technological wizards. I’m amazed at how long the opening name Linda goes one. It would reach number 28 on the American Singles Charts and set the stage for their series of classic surf and car singles.

“Linda” remains an essential listen for any fan of Jan & Dean.

Ride The Wild Surf 45 by Jan & Dean

May 8, 2011

RIDE THE WILD SURF was the first album I ever bought as a teenager. The title song was released as a single in the fall of 1964 and reached number 16 on the American Singles Charts.

It was a nice up-tempo pop song with typical Jan & Dean harmonies. The movie was light weight but inoffensive. The film starred Tab hunter and Fabian, which should sum up the quality of the cast.

Many times, “Ride The Wild Surf” is a forgotten song in the Jan & Dean catalogue. One of the more underrated surf songs of the era.

Batman 45 by Jan & Dean

May 7, 2011

Jan & Dean produced some of the best and well produced surf and car singles of the 1960’s. Every once in awhile, however, they would get a little to cute.

“Batman” was their last single issued before Jan’s auto accident. It was inspired by the BATMAN televison series theme and was a part of their JAN & DEAN MEET BATMAN album, which was really a comedy album.

When comparing this single to many of their past hits, it comes up short. It only reached number 66 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart and even that may have been to high.

Tennessee 45 by Jan & Dean

April 15, 2011

Jan & Dean are best remembered for the series of surf and car songs recorded for the Liberty label, 1963-1966.

They had had a number of chart hits for various small labels, 1958-1962. They included “Jennie Lee,” “Baby Talk,” and “Heart and Soul.” Their second release for the Liberty label, “Linda,” made them starts.

Their first release for the Liberty Label was “Tennessee,” which was issued May 26, 1962. It would become a modest hit reaching number 69 on the Billboard Magazine Pop Singles Chart.

It would be the beginning of their classic sound, and while they would not have it down pat, it would point to the future.

Take Linda Surfin’ by Jan & Dean

February 17, 2011

t was 60 degrees at my home in North Carolina today and where am I you ask! I am in Maine where the wind is blowing, the thermometer never got above 35, and the snow banks are about six feet high. What better time than to put some Jan & Dean on the old stereo system.

Jan Berry and Dean Torrence, and early during their career Arnie Ginsburg, performed together as high school students. They would release a series of hit singles, 1958-1961, for a number of labels. Songs such as “Jennie Lee” (#8), “Baby Talk (#10), and “Heart and Soul” (#25) may not have been essential to the development of 1950’s rock ‘n’ roll, but were enjoyable lightweight pop.

During 1962, they switched to the Liberty label, and for the next five years produced a series of surf and car singles that were only topped by The Beach Boys for quality and commercial success. Jan Berry developed into one of the more capable producers of mid-1960’s pop. He was able to layer and multi-track his and Dean’s voices into a virtual choir of sound.

Their first two singles for Liberty did not make the top fifty but by the time “Linda” was released, February 23, 1963, Jan Berry had the formula for a hit single down pat. “Linda” would become a top thirty hit single and set them on the path to fame and fortune.

They would quickly assemble an album to support their hit. Jan & Dean Take Linda Surfin’ was quickly released and became their first album to reach the Billboard Magazine Pop Album Chart climbing to number 71.

As with most of Jan & Dean’s studio albums, it is a spotty affair. They took their hit and surrounded it with a number of popular songs of the day. If you want to hear them at their best, stick to their Greatest Hits compilations. Still, the album is fun and a nice reminder of a by-gone era.

The title song is by far the best as the layered harmonies remain excellent nearly 50 years later. Two Beach Boys songs, “Surfin’” and “Surfin’ Safari” are included and they mark the beginning of a long and productive relationship with Brian Wilson. He would provide backing vocals on the two tracks.

The worst track is a cover of The Cascades hit, “Rhythm Of The Rain,” although I’m not sure if Jan Berry was serious or not. “Walk Like A Man” was an early use of a falsetto which would become an important part of their sound. Their performance did not equal The Four Seasons hit version. “The Gypsy Cried” suffers from the same problem.

The best of the cover songs are “My Foolish Heart” and “When I Learn To Cry,” on which they do a credible Everly Brothers interpretation.

Jan & Dean Take Linda Surfin’ is a product of its time, as many artists in the pre-Beatles era would quickly paste together albums to cash in on hit singles. It remains an album only as a reminder of summer on a winter night.

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Yellow Balloon 45 by Jan & Dean

January 24, 2011

Jan Berry had been in a near fatal auto accident, the results of which would affect him for the rest of his life.

Dean Torrence went into the studio and recorded “Yellow Ballon” which he released by Jan & Dean. BILLBOARD MAGAZINE at the time had a Bubbling Under Chart for singles which was for releases that were not on the top 100. “Yellow Balloon” reached number 111.

It must have had some radio play in sounthern New England at the time, as I bought the single when it was originally released in early 1967.

One of Dean’s problems was a group called The Yellow Ballon also released the song at the same time and had a top thrity hit with it. Jan & Dean would never have another song make the American singles charts.