Jan & Dean

Jan & Dean Take Linda Surfin'

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Jan & Dean's first Liberty album is overall slightly more successful than its successor and holds up very nicely -- as rock & roll, it's not in a league with, say, Elvis Presley's best music of the period, or a match for the Beach Boys' albums for musical depth, but it established the duo as the latter band's more lighthearted, fun-oriented rivals/colleagues. Beyond the title tune (which was a modest hit), Jan & Dean turn in solid, rocking versions of the latter group's "Surfin'" and "Surfin' Safari," have delightfully mindless fun on numbers like "Let's Turkey Trot," and show their appreciation of their East Coast rivals the Four Seasons with an exuberant version of "Walk Like a Man," while their rendition of "Rhythm of the Rain" has a low-key charm that wasn't usually associated with this duo (and comes off very well). The usual backup musicians, including Hal Blaine on drums and Glen Campbell, Tommy Tedesco, and Billy Strange on guitar, keep everything tight and seamless in the backup department, giving Jan & Dean ample opportunity for vocal acrobatics and comic antics on numbers like "Mr. Bass Man." The duo also turns in a respectable version of the Rooftop Singers/Gus Cannon hit "Walk Right In," with an anonymous female singer added to the vocals, which doesn't add anything special to their catalog (though it does anticipate the Folk 'n Roll album by three years), but balancing that is a delightful cover of Lou Christie's "The Gypsy Cried" and a good try at turning the Victor Young pop standard "My Foolish Heart" into a "Blue Moon"-type doo wop hit. In other words, there's a lot of charm, laughter, and smiles to be found in listening to this record, which makes it one of the more enduring lightweight rock & roll albums of its era.

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