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Mr Lucky
Music Reviews

Beach Party Beach Party2
annetteVarious Artists
Del-Fi Pool Party
Del-Fi DFCD 71264

Various Artists
Del-Fi Beach Party
Del-Fi DFCD 71263

Various Artists
Hard Rock Vafe Surf
Hard Rock/Rhino R2 75256

Annette Funicello
Beach Party: Ultimate Collection
Marginal Records MAR071

Donna Loren
Beach Blanket Bingo: The Best of Donna Loren
Missing Records (Marginal) MISS 010

Well, as far as we're concerned, this summer was just too damn short. Too much work and mediocre weather (thank you, El Niņo!) cut into our pleasure. To compensate, we've found ourselves renting videos like Gidget and the various Beach Blanket movies. We've been fantasizing about weenie roasts with the gang on a really happening beach. And we've been listening to a lot of really horridly wonderful Beach music from the early 1960s.

It's hard to describe exactly the kind of music we're after. It's not just surf music and it's not just pre-Beatles American pop. The music needs to work for spontaneous dancing on Muscle Beach or a pajama-clad line dance around the pool. It needs to be over the top, slightly stupid and celebrate the joys of being an American teen. The other dancers should have names like Dee Dee, Moondoggie, Go Go, Connie, Potato Bug, Boom Boom, Bunny, Animal and Candy. Clothes are of course bikinis, swim trunks or terry cloth playsuits, except in the evenings when we go to Bunny's parentīs house for a big party and we fellows twist away in tight go go girlsuits and skinny ties while the gals don stunning off-the-rack Givenchy knock-offs.

The perfect CD compilation of our fantasy has yet to be made but there are some good places to start. Maverick rock and roll label Del-Fi has two great compilations out, Del-Fi Beach Party and Del-Fi Pool Party that are almost perfect. Pool Party has lots of songs perfect for diving board go-go dancing, like Watusi Bongos, Swim Beat and a surprisingly good cover of Mack the Knife. There are a few less than bikini-worthy tracks but on the whole, you could play the CD all the way through at your next shindig. Beach Party has a slightly more surf attitude. A few surf-story tracks  bog down the dancing action, but there's more than enough great material to justify the purchase. What's really great about both discs is that the material is going to be unknown except to fanatics.

Rhino's Hard Rock Café Surf is solid as an introduction to the Surf scene but too many of the songs are available elsewhere, like Miserlou, Surfin' Safari, the theme from Hawaii Five-O, Endless Summer and Wipe Out. It's fine but it's almost too good. We're after Beach music rather than just Surf.

annetteNo one better represented the Beach movement than lovely Annette Funicello. A good place to start (and finish) is her Beach Party CD. There are lots of novelty numbers like Luau Cha Cha Cha, Jamaica Ska (with an actual ska beat!), Wah-Watusi and Bikini Beach Party, all perfect for our needs but there are quite a few love songs, making this one a good source for your own mixed tape. It must be said that Annette is really a horrible singer with no depth and that's part of the reason why we love her so.

donna lorenA lot of the great Beach movies featured specialty numbers by the very pretty Donna Loren. Compared to Annette Funicello, Loren was Ella Fitzgerald. In a lot of the movies, she sounded almost like a folk singer trying to belt. On her CD compilation, Beach Blanket Bingo: The Best of Donna Loren, we hear that she was a very young woman trying to find her voice and she sings in an almost neurotic variety of styles, only occasionally capturing the magic on the screen. There are some great tracks (It Only Hurts When I Cry, Muscle Bustle, Smokey Joe's), but on the whole, this CD should be purchased when your collection is more complete.

More Beach Online:

  • Bright Lights Film Journal has a serious in-depth article on the whole Beach Movement in film. Itīs pretty interesting but for us the bottom line is we just like to see the singing and dancing.
  • TNTīs Roughcut features a less in-depth filmography of the genre.
  • The Internet Movie Database features a complete list of Annette Funicelloīs work. Also featured are Donna Lorenīs five films and her Batman TV apperances.

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