December 29, 2011
“Shut Down” was the Beach Boys song that just kept on ticking. I was a track on their SURFIN USA album. Next it appeared as the B side of the “Surfin’ USA” single. The B side may not have been the big hit but it did reach number 23 on the BILBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart in its own right. It reappeared as a track on their LITLE DEUE COUPLE album. It was just warming up however.
The Capital label decided to release an album of hot road and car songs by such artists as the Piltdown Men, The Cheers, the Super Stocks and others, in order to promote their music. Two songs by the Beach Boys were included to promote the album; “409” and “Shut Down.”
“Shut Down” was not quite finished. The song gained in popularity and so the Beach Boys released “Shut Down Volume II.” The album received a Gold Record Award for sales and included such eternal Beach Boys songs as “Fun Fun Fun,” “The Warmth Of The Sun,” and “Don’t Worry Baby.”
It may not be the best know Beach Boys car song but it sure has a lot of miles under the hood.
January 30, 2009
Capital records decided to exploit the car scene and release an album of exclusively car songs by various artists. They named the album Shut Down and used the Beach Boys title song plus “409” as a foundation. Shut Down sold well and made it to number 7 on the national pop charts. The problem was that the Beach Boys were not asked or even informed beforehand that their songs would be included. The Beach Boys went into the studio and quickly put together their own Shut Down album and called it Volume 2. Shut Down Volume 2 sold less than previous Beach Boys albums and did not crack the top 10 on the charts. It may have been that the Beach Boys had reached a saturation point for their product as it was their fifth full album release in the span of 18 months.
The album cover immediately shows one difference in the group. Al Jardine is pictured and David Marks is gone. Marks was the youngest member of the group and had always clashed with Brian Wilson’s father who served as manager. Marks finally had enough and left the group. A number of years later, when bass player Bruce Johnston left the group for a couple of years, the Beach Boys asked Marks to return as their bass player but he declined. He did return as turning member of the group from 1997-1999. Today he is the forgotten Beach Boy but his contributions cannot be denied as he was an integral member of the recording and touring group during their early period. Al Jardine’s return gave the group a fifth strong voice and he would quickly become a part of the successful Beach Boys dynamic.Shut Down Volume 2 is a spotty release in places but when the Beach Boys are good they are very good.
The Classic song “Fun Fun Fun” makes its debut. The great Carl Wilson guitar intro and Mike Love’s eternal joyful lyrics would propel this song to the number 5 on the charts. The Beach Boy harmonies are in place and include a wonderful Brian Wilson falsetto soaring above the mix. “Fun Fun Fun” would remain a concert staple for over forty years and remains indelibly linked to the Beach Boys of the mid 1960’s.
Shut Down Volume 2 also includes two classic Brain Wilson ballads. “Don’t Worry Baby” and “The Warmth Of The Sun,” featuring lead vocals by Brain, would both become best known as flip sides of future Beach Boys singles. Both songs deserved better as they are two of the best ballads that the Beach Boys would produce. “Don’t Worry Baby” would be a song of hope. Full overdubbing of the vocal harmonies make this a musical feast for the ears. The “Warmth Of The Sun” is about loss and acceptance. Brian Wilson continued to tinker with the groups vocals and here he is gets it right.
The Beach Boys would cover a number of songs by other artists during their career but Frankie Lyman’s “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” is one of the best. The infectious fun lyrics and beat are perfect for the Beach Boys. Brian Wilson builds a Phil Spector type wall of sound until it overshadows the original.
Shut Down Volume 2 does have its misses. Thousands of groups have covered “Louie Louie” and The Beach Boys version is just terrible. “Cassius Love Vs. Sonny Wilson” is a track of studio recording hi-jinks that would appear on several Beach Boys albums. Here Mike Love and Brain Wilson trade barbs. In retrospect, this would not be funny in light of their relationship as the years passed. “Denny’s Drums” does not do Dennis Wilson any favors. “This Car Of Mine” is a simple song but is partially saved by an excellent Dennis Wilson vocal. Shut Down Volume 2 is an average Beach Boys album at best. I can’t help but think that had Brian Wilson taken some time and combined the best of this album and the Little Deuce Coupe album he would have produced a true classic. The Beach Boys would make a quick recovery, however, as one of the best albums of their career was on the horizon.