Albums really were shorter back in the mid-'60s, which means that this Australian compilation is not just a two-fer but a three-fer -- three whole Jan & Dean albums on one 75-minute disc. There was a little overlap among the three original LPs contained here, Drag City (1963), The Little Old Lady from Pasadena (1964), and Popsicle (1966, though most of it actually recycled tracks previously issued on 1964 LPs). Sensibly, Raven has only placed each of the overlapping songs on here once, so nothing repeats itself. It's not as clear what the sense was in packaging these three albums together to begin with, particularly as they weren't even released consecutively by Jan & Dean themselves when they first came out. Anyone but the major Jan & Dean fan will prefer one of their greatest-hits collections, as these albums were quite patchy, grouping a few hit singles ("The Little Old Lady from Pasadena," "Drag City," "Popsicle") with smaller hit singles (the immortally titled "The Anaheim Azusa & Cucamonga Sewing Circle Book Review and Timing Association," "Tennessee," "Sidewalk Surfin'") and a whole lotta filler. In the case of Drag City, the filler was all hot rod-related, as was much of The Little Old Lady from Pasadena, though that LP branched out into other young southern Californian pursuits and one Chuck Berry cover ("Memphis"). There are some fairly good little-known surf vocal cuts here, like "Summer Means Fun," "Surf Route 101," "Surfin' Wild," and "It's as Easy as 1, 2, 3." But there's only so much you can do with songs titled "Horace, the Swingin' School Bus Driver," "Surfin' Hearse," and "Skateboarding, Pt. 2." There are a few obscure Brian Wilson co-writing credits here, which might make this appeal to both Beach Boys completists and Jan & Dean completists. Others will find much of this uneventful sailing, even if "Schlock Rod, Pt. 1" and "Schlock Rod, Pt. 2" do sound like vague precursors to the humor of the early Mothers of Invention. And if you are one of those completists, you need this even if you have the original albums, since it has a one-minute Coke jingle as a bonus track.
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