Jan & Dean

Drag City

Composed by Brian Wilson / Jan Berry / Roger Christian

Song Review by

Though Jan & Dean had been recording since 1959, their most successful year was 1964, when they had seven songs in the singles charts. The first of these, which actually entered the charts in late 1963 and peaked in the Top Ten in January 1964, was "Drag City," the duo's tribute to drag racing. Jan Berry and Dean Torrence were very close to the Beach Boys, with whom they also competed in the harmony-filled Southern California sound of surfing and racing. Berry and the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson had collaborated on Jan and Dean's chart-topping 1963 hit "Surf City," which was very similar to Wilson and Roger Christian's car song "Shut Down," recorded by the Beach Boys. For "Drag City," Berry, Wilson, and Christian got together and turned out another variation on the same theme. Like "Shut Down" and "Surf City," "Drag City" featured an opening hook line, bouncy, boastful lyrics, and choruses dominated by a soaring falsetto voice. The melodies of the three songs (not to mention those of several other contemporary songs by the Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, and copycat acts like the Rip Chords, who even covered "Drag City" in early 1964) were very similar. This was, however, a popular sound and, at least until the Beatles appeared in 1964 to change the pop universe, one that could be recycled frequently for hits. Copies always turn out to be less memorable than originals, however, and while "Drag City" is an essential inclusion on any Jan & Dean best-of or compilation of hot rod hits, it has not had much life as a composition independent of its time and context.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Surf City 1963 Lt Series 2:14
No Image 1964 EMI Catalogue 2:22
No Image 1965 Liberty
No Image 1966 Liberty
The Very Best of Jan & Dean 1970 EMI Gold 2:18
No Image 1971 United Artists Records
Gotta Take That One Last Ride 1973 One Way Records 2:17
Fun Fun Fun 1986 Pegasus (Pinnacle)
The Jan & Dean Story [Hollywood] 1988 Hollywood/IMG / Hollywood 2:17
Classic Rock: 1964 - Shakin' All Over 1989
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:17
Surf City: The Best of Jan & Dean [EMI] 1990 EMI Music Distribution 2:17
Monster Summer Hits: Drag City 1991
Various Artists
The Rock 'N' Roll Era: The '60s - Last Dance 1991
Various Artists
Top Ten Gassers of the 50's & 60's 1992
Various Artists
EMI-Capitol Special Markets
Hot Rod Music's Greatest 1995
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:20
No Image 1995
Various Artists
Surfin' Safari [Prime Cuts] 1995
Various Artists
St. Clair / Prime Cuts 2:21
The Original 1995 Disky 2:17
Jan & Dean Golden Hits, Vols. 1-3 1996 One Way Records 2:18
Drag City/Jan & Dean's Pop Symphony No. 1 1996 One Way Records 2:22
All the Hits: From Surf City to Drag City 1996 Capitol 2:30
Anthology Album 1996 One Way Records 2:16
Hot Rod: Rev It Up 1997
Various Artists
The Right Stuff / Capitol 2:15
As Easy as 1-2-3 1998 Raven
Ultimate Driving Collection: California 1998
Various Artists
Chronicles / Polygram 2:18
Great 1998 Goldies
Hot Rod Box Set 1999
Various Artists
The Right Stuff 2:18
Legendary Hot Rod Hits, Vol. 2 1999
Various Artists
Platinum Disc Corp. / Platinum Disc 2:15
4 Legendary Groups 1999
Various Artists
Double Play Records 2:17
Favorites 1999 Intercontinental Records 2:36
One Last Ride 2000 Rockbeat Records 2:48
The Story [Bonus CD-ROM] 2000 EMI Music Distribution 2:16
Wolfman Jack's: Cruisin' Songs 2001
Various Artists
St. Clair 3:01
Wolfman Jack's: Teen Idols!/Cruisin' Songs/Surfin' Toons 2002
Various Artists
Boxsets 3:01
Take Brian Surfin' 2002 Japanese Import 2:19
Ride the Wild Surf [Goldies] 2004
Various Artists
Goldies 2:13
Crazy 'Bout an Automobile 2004
Various Artists
Ace 2:14
Ride the Surf with Jan and Dean 2004 Castle Pulse 2:17
Dead Man's Curve 2005 Toma Records 2:13
K-Tel Greatest Hits 2005 K-Tel Distribution 2:17
Hot Wheels & Highways: Great Driving Songs 2007
Various Artists
Golden Stars
The Complete Liberty Singles 2008 Collectors' Choice Music 2:20
One Summer Dream 2009 Varèse Sarabande 2:12
Surfs Up! 2012 Fuel 2000 2:19
No Image 2014 K-Tel 2:14
No Image
Various Artists
K-Tel 2:15
Essential Radio Hits of the 60s
Various Artists
Classic Music Company / MVD Audio 2:16
Essential Radio Hits of the 60s, Vol. 4
Various Artists
MVD Audio 2:16
Golden Hits, Vol. 1, 2, & 3 EMI 2:18
Golden Hits, Vol. 2 EMI Music Distribution 2:18
blue highlight denotes editor's pick