Summer songs fall into two categories…on one hand, they’re compositions that specifically refer to
the summer season and on the other, songs which rule the charts during the physical summer period
between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The latter grouping naturally embraces all genres of music ranging
from The Doors’ LIGHT MY FIRE which was a dominant favorite during the summer of ’67
and WHEN DOVES CRY by Prince which blew us away in July & August ’84
thru to more recent chartwinners such as BLURRED LINES
by Robin Thicke featuring T.I. & Pharrell Williams in 2013
and OLD TOWN ROAD by Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus
which can certainly claim to be one of the Songs Of Summer of this current year.
In this blog, I’m concentrating on the former category – songs which refer to idyllic vacation days
of years gone by when school was out, the weather was hot, the beach was the ultimate destination
and romance was high on the agenda.
Here is my personal Top 20 list of outstanding Pop & Rock summer songs of years gone by…
THE BOYS OF SUMMER
(Don Henley/Mike Campbell)
by Don Henley
Pro: Don Henley, Danny Kortchmar, Greg Ladanyi & Mike Campbell
(Geffen: 1984) US #5 Pop & UK #12 both in ’85.
(Brian Wilson/Mike Love)
by The Beach Boys
Pro: Brian Wilson
(Capitol: 1965) US #3 Pop, UK #26. The west coast beach and surf culture of the 60’s
created a slew of summer classics including the Beach Boys’ SURFIN’ U.S.A and I GET AROUND,
Jan & Dean’s SURF CITY and Bruce (Johnston) & Terry(Melcher)’s SUMMER MEANS FUN.
(Tony Swain/Steve Jolley/Sarah Dallin/Siobhan Fahey/Karen Woodward)
Pro & Arr: Tony Swain & Steve Jolley
US #9 Pop in ’84, UK #8 in ’83.
Song was a major hit again in ’98 by Swedish group Ace Of Base.
DANCING IN THE STREET
(William Stevenson/Marvin Gaye)
by Martha & The Vandellas
Pro: William Stevenson
(Gordy: 1964) US #8 R&B, #2 Pop, UK #4
With its ‘Summer’s here and the time is right’ theme, it was later revived
successfully as a duet in ’85 by David Bowie & Mick Jagger.
Another Martha favorite for the sunny times: (Love Is Like A) HEAT WAVE.
(Felix Cavaliere/Eddie Brigati)
by The Young Rascals
Pro: The Young Rascals
(Atlantic: 1967) US #1 Pop, #3 R&B, UK #8.
‘We’ll keep on spending sunny days this way’.
HOT FUN IN THE SUMMERTIME (Sylvester Stewart)
by Sly & The Family Stone
Pro: Sly Stone
(Epic: 1969) US #3 R&B, #2 Pop.
‘That’s when I had most of my fun’
IN THE SUMMERTIME
by Mungo Jerry
Pro: Barry Murray (Janus: 1970) US #3 Pop, UK #1.
Originally released in the UK on Pye’s Dawn label. English guitarist Ray Dorset was Mungo Jerry’s lead singer
and their follow-up BABY JUMP also topped the UK chart.
IN THE SUMMERTIME was revived by Shaggy featuring Rayvon
25 years later after Mungo Jerry’s first release.
SCHOOL IS OUT
(Gary Anderson/Gene Barge)
by Gary (U.S.) Bonds
Pro: Frank Guida (Legrand: 1961) US #5 Pop, #12 R&B. Written by Gary Bonds
under his real name Gary Anderson along with R&B saxman Gene Barge whose melody
A NIGHT WITH DADDY G was the basis of Gary’s debut hit QUARTER TO THREE.
(Alice Cooper/Michael Bruce/Glen Buxton/Dennis Dunaway/Neal Smith)
by Alice Cooper
Pro: Bob Ezrin
(Warner Bros: 1972) US #7 Pop, UK #1
SCHOOL’S OUT returned to the UK charts in 2000 via a revival by Daphne & Celeste.
(Thomas ‘Papa Dee’ Allen/Harold Brown/Morris ‘B.B.’ Dickerson/Lonnie Jordan/Lee Oskar/Charles Miller/Howard Scott/Jerry Goldstein)
Pro: Jerry Goldstein in assoc. w/Lonnie Jordan & Howard Scott
(United Artists: 1976) US #4 R&B, #7 Pop. An addictive slow jam.
SUMMER BREEZE Pt. 1
(Jim Seals/Dan Croft)
by The Isley Brothers
Pro: Ronald Isley, O’Kelly Isley & Rudolph Isley
(T-Neck: 1973) US #10 R&B, #60 Pop & UK #16, all in ’74
Seals & Croft’s original had been a Top 10 Pop hit two years earlier.
SUMMER IN THE CITY
(John Sebastian/Mark Sebastian/Steve Boone)
by The Lovin’ Spoonful
Pro: Erik Jacobsen
(Kama Sutra: 1966) US #1 Pop, UK #8.
(George Gershwin/DuBose Heyward)
by Billy Stewart
Arr: Phil Wright
Pro: Billy Davis (Chess: 1966) US #7 R&B, #10 Pop, UK #39.
Billy Stewart turned the Gershwin classic on its head with a pulsating brass-driven arrangement.
(Robert Bell/Ronald Bell/George Brown/Robert Mickens/Claydes Smith
Alton Taylor/Dennis Thomas/Rich West/Lamar Mahone/Craig Simpkins/Will Smith)
by D.J. Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
Pro: Hula & K. Fingers
(Jive: 1991) US #1 R&B, #4 Pop, UK #8.
Will Smith rapped his way up the charts with DJ Jeff Townes.
The song sampled Kool & The Gang’s SUMMER MADNESS.
(Eddie Cochran/Jerry Capehart) by Eddie Cochran
Pro: Jerry Capehart
(Liberty: 1958) US #8 Pop, UK #18.
Superb teen angst classic. Eddie’s finest 45.
by The Kinks
A Shel Talmy Production
(Reprise: 1966) US #14 Pop, UK #1.
The bard of London’s Muswell Hill, Ray Davies teases the idle rich in this,
the third of his three Kinks UK chart toppers.
(Jan Berry/Brian Wilson)
by Jan & Dean
Pro & Arr: Jan Berry
(Liberty: 1963) US #1 Pop, UK #26.
The ultimate dream:
‘Two girls for every boy’
UNDER THE BOARDWALK
(Artie Resnick/Kenny Young)
by The Drifters
A Bert Berns Prod.
US #1 R&B, #4 Pop, UK #45.
Johnny Moore sang lead.
(Kathy Valentine/Charlotte Caffey/Jane Wiedlin)
by The Go-Go’s
Pro: Richard Gottehrer
(I.R.S.: 1982) US #8.
Not to be confused with the similarly titled 1962 Connie Francis seller.
(Bob Berryhill/Pat Connolly/Ron Wilson/Jim Fuller)
by The Surfaris
US #2 Pop.
A demented scream kicks off this superlative surf instrumental bolstered by a deliriously crazed drumbeat!
OK, so it’s not a song per se but a 1987 revival by the combination of The Fat Boys and The Beach Boys
did contain a lyric.
And finally, here’s a group of lesser known yet distinctive 45’s…
by The Supremes
Arr: Paul Riser
Pro: Smokey Robinson/Exec.Pro: Berry Gordy
(Motown: 1972) US #21 R&B, #37 Pop, UK #10.
On this track, The Supremes were Mary Wilson, Jean Terrell & Cindy Birdsong.
DOWN THRU' SUMMER
(Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice)
by Ross Hannaman
Arr & Cond: Mike Leander
Pro: Bob Barratt & Tim Rice
(UK Columbia: 1967)
London-born singer Ross Hannaman
with an early Tim Rice/Andrew Lloyd Webber collaboration; the ballad featured a portion of melody
that later reoccurred in the song BUENOS AIRES in their 1976 landmark rock musical “Evita”.
IT’S GOING TO BE A LOVELY SUMMER
by Albert Jones
A Choker Campbell Production (Kapp: 1970)
Leased to Kapp, this was Detroit singer Albert Jones’s second single recorded
for saxman Choker Campbell’s Saginaw-based label Tri-City.
Choker’s Big Band recorded for Motown.
LONG HOT SUMMER NIGHT
by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Pro & Dir: Jimi Hendrix
On this track from Hendrix’s “Electric Ladyland” album,
the piano was overdubbed by Al Kooper.
THE OTHER SIDE OF SUMMER (Elvis Costello)
by Elvis Costello
Pro: Elvis Costello, Kevin Killen & Mitchell Froom
(Warner Bros: 1991)
From Elvis’s album “Mighty Like A Rose”.
(Sherman Feller/Thomas Jameson)
by The Jamies
Novelty doo-wop song from an east coast group of whom the lead singer was
Serena Jameson, sister of the song’s co-author & vocalist Tom Jameson.
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