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Author Topic: Jan & Dean Appriciation  (Read 1803 times)
NateRuvin
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« on: April 07, 2017, 08:55:15 AM »

This thread is not for the J&D haters on this site.

I think Jan & Dean are extremely underrated. I've said it a million times, and I'll say it again: I think Jan Berry was ahead of Brian Wilson, in terms of producing and arranging until 1965, with the release of Today. Jan's arrangements were incredibly inventive, and he used horns in a way that BW never really did, at least in the realm of surf pop music. Songs like "When It's Over", "Ride The Wild Surf", and "Hot Stocker" all have incredible arrangements with diverse instrumentation. Jan's Pop Symphony album is also incredible, which he scored with the assistance of George Tipton.

Not only do I think Jan's production was very advanced, but I just love the feel of their music. Their "fun in the sun" rockers feel more climactic and ballsy, than Brian's. It just seems more authentic.

I know Jan & Dean get a bad rap for singing out of key, but they do have some incredible vocal work on many of their songs, especially when backed up by The Fantastic Baggys (Phil Sloan & Steve Barri). "Summer Means Fun" and "You Really Know How To Hurt A Guy" are two great examples.

Jan & Dean are remembered as BB's soundalikes, when it reality, they inspired The BBs just as much as The BBs inspired them. Sure, Brian gave them the idea for writing surf/car songs, but Jan taught Brian how to produce "clean sounding" records, and tell me "Surfin'" doesn't sound like a song from Jan & Dean's doo wop era. I think Jan should be remembered as one of the greatest record producers of all time.

Also, I don't think loving J&D takes away from your love of The Beach Boys. You can love them both. People act like thinking JB is a great producer takes away from BW's status.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2017, 08:57:47 AM by NateRuvin » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2017, 09:41:44 AM »

While I agree about Jan Berry's arrangements, I don't entirely agree about him being ahead of Brian. Jan wasn't writing the songs that Brian was. Even the very best music that Jan and Dean made (and they did some really neat things), it never could compare to Today or Summer Days, for example (to say nothing of Pet Sounds, 'Good Vibrations' or SMiLE).

That said, yes, they are underrated. Lotsa great tunes. I particularly love 'Ride the Wild Surf', 'She's My Summer Girl', Carnival of Sound and Dean's Save For a Rainy Day is also really neat.
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« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2017, 09:44:56 AM »

Jan was a studio pro, BW was a visionary of music. No harm in that...
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« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2017, 09:51:30 AM »

Exactly. You put it better than I ever could have.
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« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2017, 11:03:12 AM »

I think the key ingredient for Jan & Dean is the humor... they didn't take themselves seriously but they took the work seriously. 

Jan himself would have probably become a major producer for other artists in the 70s and 80s and beyond.  Even after the accident his skills as a producer and arranger - and his ear for contemporary sound - never diminished.
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« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2017, 11:15:05 AM »

Anyone who hasn't heard "Carnival of Sound" needs to go get it.  The work Jan did shortly after his accident is pretty amazing.
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« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2017, 11:57:00 AM »

I think Jan was “ahead” of Brian only in the sense that he was doing more involved productions prior to Brian. But by the time of say, “I Get Around”, Brian really became ahead of Jan and remained that way in my opinion.

That said, some of those Jan Berry productions are very good. I listen to mid-‘60s Jan & Dean and Mamas & Papas often, and to me, those are quintessential recordings.
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« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2017, 09:08:08 PM »

This thread is not for the J&D haters on this site.
Why can't people start threads without this divisive preface?
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« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2017, 06:50:40 AM »

This thread is not for the J&D haters on this site.
Why can't people start threads without this divisive preface?
100% agree with this.

Anyway, I don't think I'm a big fan of J&D, but I certainly am a BIG fan of the song Dead Man's Curve. That spoken part is cool and chorus is superb!

One question from me- what do you consider as the best album as a gateway to J&D fandom? Drag City, Popciple, Carnival of Sound, or Save for a Rainy Day, or others?
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« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2017, 10:23:19 AM »

Didn't mean to be divisive, I just wasn't in the mood for J&D hating. The best gateway album is probably Jan & Dean Golden Hits Vol. 2. It's a great summary of Jan's advanced productions from the mid 60's. The album Little Old Lady From Pasadena is another good one to start with. I'm a sucker for pretty much all of Jan & Dean's music, so I also like the Doo Wop stuff.
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« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2017, 12:30:18 PM »

I liked Jan and Dean a LOT after Jan and Brian began collaborating.  Before that...not so much.  Their doo-wop stuff was pretty pedestrian.  But Surf City, Drag City, Sidewalk Surfin, The Little Old lady From Pasadena and Ride the Wild Surf were all A+ tunes and I gladly owned them all.  They also had that sense of humour which Brian spent time trying to [unsuccessfully] locate.

Jan and Dean Meet [and BEAT...or was that Meat and Beet?] Batman was fun too.

"Have a cookie!"

Only one problem...and Jan seemed able to hide it where Brian couldn't on Barbara Ann....Dean couldn't sing.  So... ... ...if they sometimes sounded "off key"...it's because there were no programs for fixing REALLY bad vocals in the first 2/3rds of the 60s.

In spite of that...they were really quite good, collectively, from '63 'til the accident.  AND they also hosted the TAMI show really well.  The perfect choice for the 'gig'.  'They're Coming-From All Over the World'.
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« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2017, 07:44:49 AM »

<<Dean couldn't sing. >>

I have to respectfully disagree with that statement.  The Jan & Dean catalog is full of excellent Dean Torrence vocals... Baby Talk... Such A Good Night for Dreaming... Linda... Ride the Wild Surf... Yesterday... Hang On Sloopy (live version)... California Lullabye... Louisiana Man... the iconic Like A Summer Rain (with that falsetto tag invoking "A Summer Place"... Yellow Balloon... Vegetables... the entire Save For A Rainy Day project.... and his solo work.

Four stand-out tracks cut in 1977 and featured on the Deadman's Curve soundtrack are as good as anything in the catalog... covers of One Summer Night, Get A Job and, especially, Teenager in Love and I Only Have Eyes for You.  Dean sang the leads and most, if not all of the bg parts.

Regarding Barbara Ann, Dean has a very different, unique falsetto, as unique and instantly identifiable as Brian's, or Frankie Valli's. He himself described it as follows:  "Brian's falsetto was airy, smooth, angelic and round sounding.  Mine was a lot less airy--what they refer to as a head falsetto, less from the diaphragm and more from the sinus, sounding a lot more top end, trebly, and edgier than Brian's.  Together we had the full range of sounds."

There are plenty of examples of flat singing by both of them... the live cover of Lightnin' Strikes on Filet of Sole comes to mind.  But in that case, the track was, specifically, supposed to sound bad.  But the comedy elements in the song were removed for the released version.


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« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2017, 09:53:11 AM »

Yeah, I think Jan & Dean both have weak moments as vocalists, but they also both have great moments. I think "Baby Talk", "Linda", "Gonna Hustle You", "Little Deuce Coupe", "Surfin Safari", "There's A Girl", "From All Over The World", "Like A Summer Rain", and "Restless Surfer" are all great Dean Torrence lead vocals.
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« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2017, 10:08:08 AM »

They always had a sense of humor about it.  Their intro to a cover of The Beatles' Michelle on the original comedy version of FILET OF SOUL:

JAN: Last show we pressed erase instead of record...

DEAN: Which is actually better on some of our stuff...
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« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2017, 12:49:58 PM »

Steve...You're probably right.  I was likely being unfair by comparing Dean [in my mind] to both Carl and to the young Brian.
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« Reply #15 on: April 10, 2017, 01:45:57 PM »

Here's a rare treat...the Australia-only issue of the Deadman's Curve TV movie soundtrack album, originally slated for release on RSO in 1978... Dean Torrence with Papa Doo Run Run.

Listen to these four tracks... some of the finest vocal work Dean's ever done, stacking his own backgrounds and harmonies for these Doo-Wop recreations used in the film:

21:05 - I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU
24:24 - GET A JOB
27:19 - TEENAGER IN LOVE
30:05 - ONE SUMMER NIGHT
« Last Edit: April 10, 2017, 01:48:54 PM by Steve Latshaw » Logged
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« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2017, 09:45:21 PM »

Speaking of Deadman's Curve the movie, click here:

https://youtu.be/FRrwhEF1czc?t=19m35s

Or skip ahead to 19:35 into the film to see the film showing Jan recording "Surfin'" in the studio after being inspired by a surfing outing with Dean, where Jan says "this would sound so great on tape"...cut to the studio with Jan recording the "bom, bom, dippity dippity" bass vocal track and the full song then being heard cut to various scenes.

That's a Beach Boys song. Jan & Dean had nothing to do with that song. The whole scene and montage is a complete lie and fabrication. Who approved this?

Now Mike and Bruce themselves even appeared in that film near the end...for all the historical nit-picking and fact-checking that infects this fandom, I was genuinely curious how such a blatant total rewrite of history could be allowed to stand in a biographical film, in 1977/78 especially considering Dean himself did tracking for the soundtrack, and all Beach Boys and Jan & Dean were still alive.

Money?

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« Reply #17 on: April 10, 2017, 10:41:48 PM »

I liked Jan and Dean a LOT after Jan and Brian began collaborating.  Before that...not so much.  Their doo-wop stuff was pretty pedestrian.  But Surf City, Drag City, Sidewalk Surfin, The Little Old lady From Pasadena and Ride the Wild Surf were all A+ tunes and I gladly owned them all.  They also had that sense of humour which Brian spent time trying to [unsuccessfully] locate.

Jan and Dean Meet [and BEAT...or was that Meat and Beet?] Batman was fun too.

"Have a cookie!"

Only one problem...and Jan seemed able to hide it where Brian couldn't on Barbara Ann....Dean couldn't sing.  So... ... ...if they sometimes sounded "off key"...it's because there were no programs for fixing REALLY bad vocals in the first 2/3rds of the 60s.

In spite of that...they were really quite good, collectively, from '63 'til the accident.  AND they also hosted the TAMI show really well.  The perfect choice for the 'gig'.  'They're Coming-From All Over the World'.

There's a great moment on some Beach Boys interview from the late '60s where Dennis, with some asperity, identifies Dean as singing "the parts that were out of tune" on "Barbara Ann."  It's a cool and enlightening moment because even Dennis, who was probably the least disciplined and pitchiest harmonist of the original five, was still steeped enough in the family business of harmony that he was irked that someone around him was flat and had to vent about it in an interview several years later.

I had the same thought when David Marks was here recording vocals - that even though he was a largely non-singing member of the group, he was unusually focused and exacting about his own pitch.  Growing up around Brian Wilson does that to you I would imagine.

Which is not to diss J&D.  Love 'em.  They were pretty pitchy though.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2017, 10:44:04 PM by adamghost » Logged
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« Reply #18 on: April 10, 2017, 11:55:36 PM »

Speaking of Deadman's Curve the movie, click here:

https://youtu.be/FRrwhEF1czc?t=19m35s

Or skip ahead to 19:35 into the film to see the film showing Jan recording "Surfin'" in the studio after being inspired by a surfing outing with Dean, where Jan says "this would sound so great on tape"...cut to the studio with Jan recording the "bom, bom, dippity dippity" bass vocal track and the full song then being heard cut to various scenes.

That's a Beach Boys song. Jan & Dean had nothing to do with that song. The whole scene and montage is a complete lie and fabrication. Who approved this?

Now Mike and Bruce themselves even appeared in that film near the end...for all the historical nit-picking and fact-checking that infects this fandom, I was genuinely curious how such a blatant total rewrite of history could be allowed to stand in a biographical film, in 1977/78 especially considering Dean himself did tracking for the soundtrack, and all Beach Boys and Jan & Dean were still alive.

Money?



Nearly the entire film was fictionalized . . . not just that scene. It's not an accurate portrayal of Jan's life and career. But he was in no position or condition to help shape the narrative. Jan had nothing to do with the film's content. Dean was the main consultant.
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« Reply #19 on: April 11, 2017, 01:33:08 AM »

I agree that some of Jan Berry's arrangements were pretty inventive. They don't have the same timeless quality about them as Brian's stuff and some of them sound a bit harsh to my ears. Anyway, I love me some Jan & Dean and I too think they're kind of underrated. I've heard Carnival of Sound and let's say I'm 'semi-impressed'. Some of the songs are really good but there are some pretty bad tracks on there as well. Definitely not up there with the Smile sessions. It has much more in common with stuff like Intercourse by The Tokens, by which I mean that it's more like a good/interesting wannabe psychedelic record than an actual 'lost classic/masterpiece'.

Love the way Jan incorporated that female singer's voice (his gf at the time, right?) into stuff like It's as Easy as 1-2-3 or A Surfer's Dream. Those two songs are just amazing.
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« Reply #20 on: April 11, 2017, 07:27:42 AM »

Speaking of Deadman's Curve the movie, click here:

https://youtu.be/FRrwhEF1czc?t=19m35s

Or skip ahead to 19:35 into the film to see the film showing Jan recording "Surfin'" in the studio after being inspired by a surfing outing with Dean, where Jan says "this would sound so great on tape"...cut to the studio with Jan recording the "bom, bom, dippity dippity" bass vocal track and the full song then being heard cut to various scenes.

That's a Beach Boys song. Jan & Dean had nothing to do with that song. The whole scene and montage is a complete lie and fabrication. Who approved this?

Now Mike and Bruce themselves even appeared in that film near the end...for all the historical nit-picking and fact-checking that infects this fandom, I was genuinely curious how such a blatant total rewrite of history could be allowed to stand in a biographical film, in 1977/78 especially considering Dean himself did tracking for the soundtrack, and all Beach Boys and Jan & Dean were still alive.

Money?



Nearly the entire film was fictionalized . . . not just that scene. It's not an accurate portrayal of Jan's life and career. But he was in no position or condition to help shape the narrative. Jan had nothing to do with the film's content. Dean was the main consultant.

Yes it was fictionalized but that scene goes beyond punching up the script and shows whoever was watching a portrayal that Jan - not Brian and Mike - wrote the song Surfin, recorded it with Jan doing Mike's bass vocal and the other parts, and there is even a studio scene showing Jan and the studio musicians cutting the track. It's absurd, lol! I saw that film on TV when I was a kid, I remembered watching it but not the little details because I was too young, and I think I was probably like many others who had no clue at that time about how Surfin' actually happened and thought that was the deal.

I guess what makes it more bizarre is that Dean was the consultant, and was working with Mike specifically at this time and in the next few years on various things, Mike and Bruce have cameo roles in the film, and here is a scene which puts the credit for a song which we all know Brian and Mike inspired by Dennis came up with and recorded at the Morgan's studio onto Jan Berry, even the semi-inspiration for recording a surfing song coming to Jan carrying a surfboard on the beach.

Maybe it is also all of the attention on songwriting credits and the like which is still raging in some circles that raised an eyebrow, considering Mike for one was involved directly in this film, and here he was watching as a song he co-wrote with vocals he sang is played out on screen as Jan Berry's creation. I wonder how or why that was allowed to happen.

Note: This was fresh in my mind because the film was shown on one of the cable channels about 2 weeks ago and I watched it, but I had forgotten about that Surfin scene until it came on.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2017, 07:29:00 AM by guitarfool2002 » Logged

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« Reply #21 on: April 11, 2017, 12:56:06 PM »

The film was loosely based on Paul Morantz’s 1974 Rolling Stone article about Jan and J&D. Dean and Paul became friends while Paul was writing the article, which was much more accurate than what went into the movie. Dean was heavily involved in pitching the film and what went into it. It was Dean who had dinner meetings with producer Pat Rooney and scriptwriter Dalene Young, etc. There was no other oversight on the film’s content. Mike and Bruce’s appearances were merely cameos. Bruce was still out of the band and was not acknowledged as a member of the Beach Boys. The film debuted in February 1978. Dean began making appearances with Celebration after that. And Dean’s re-recordings with Mike happened later that year.
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« Reply #22 on: April 14, 2017, 05:54:49 PM »

About the whole "Surfin" thing, I never interpreted the scene that way. Because J&D did record that song on their Jan & Dean Take Linda Surfin album. Besides, Jan sang the bass vocal on their version. In the DMC movie, I thought the musicians in the scene were supposed to be The Beach Boys.
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« Reply #23 on: April 16, 2017, 10:58:45 AM »

I love J&D. They had an irrelevance that very few other 60's acts dared to have and I think they anticipated the humor of people like the Mothers and the Ramones. They were not a harmony group, not like the Beach Boys or like harmony duos such as the Everly's and Simon and Garfunkel.  They had harmonies and a lot of vocal based songs, but that was only part of their thing. They were somewhere between a garage band and a Phil Spector production. They were a lot more rock and roll than the Beach Boys were, but obviously their music was never as beautiful as a lot of Brian's music.

People think they were like the Beach Boys but with lesser singing, but in reality they really weren't. There was crossover because Brian wrote and sang on some of their big hits and those hits do sound close to the Beach Boys but there's still a difference.

Jan & Dean also had the sex appeal up front with Jan while the Beach Boys had theirs stuck behind the drums.
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« Reply #24 on: April 17, 2017, 08:14:05 AM »

<<About the whole "Surfin" thing, I never interpreted the scene that way. Because J&D did record that song on their Jan & Dean Take Linda Surfin album. Besides, Jan sang the bass vocal on their version. In the DMC movie, I thought the musicians in the scene were supposed to be The Beach Boys.>>

It wasn't intended to suggest J&D wrote Surfin'.  At the time of the film's initial airing, Dean told me the shooting script had been a two parter and had featured scenes with the Beach Boys (actors) recording Surfin' & Surfin' Safari - and also the Barbara Ann party sessions.   Orders came from CBS to make it a two hour instead of four hour movie and a tremendous amount of material was either dropped or telescoped.  I don't think Dean had much to do with the last changes... there are logistical errors with the music vs. the script that may have been the result.  For instance, in a car sequence, they hear Surfin' Safari by The Beach Boys on the radio, and fictional character "Linda" says, "That song has bomps and diddlyups just like yours."  Except that it doesn't.  it would have made far more sense to use "Surfin'" by the Beach Boys, for the radio.  But the film is full of errors... it shows the duo performing Dead Man's Curve live in July 1966, shows Dean playing - for the first time - Like A Summer Rain - for Jan in 1970... the setting for the crash is on a country road in the middle of nowhere, when, in fact, it happened on a nice shaded street of beautiful houses (I suspect permitting was cheaper for the crew to shoot this action in the middle of nowhere),  The list goes on.

It's the old Hollywood adage when it comes to biopics... why let the truth get in the way of a good story?  My estimations, based on conversations at the time and since then, was that, at a certain point, the principals just stood back, watched the film being made and hoped for the best.

Is it a historically accurate biopic?  No. 

Is it a good film?  Yes - from a dramatic standpoint, one of the finest rock and roll films from that era.  It certainly ranks up there with The Buddy Holly Story, itself guilty of a less than accurate story line.

And finally, it served its purpose in a manner no one expected.  It - literally - made Jan & Dean big stars all over again in a comeback that rivaled Al Jolson's spectacular return in 1946, after his own surprise biopic.   They successfully toured for another 25 years after that movie aired.

So, for me, it'll do, until somebody tells the story in an even better way.
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