Little Deuce Coupe
It says something for the lack of respect for the full length LP as an art form in 1963 that The Beach Boys (or Capitol Records) could get away with such a tacky concept – recycling four songs from previous albums and quickly recording eight new ones to create a hastily constructed car-themed album. Given the song recycling and the somewhat facile theme, Little Deuce Coupe is marginally better I was expecting – at least Roger Christian’s lyrics are an improvement on Mike Love’s.
Out of the new songs, the closest thing to a Beach Boys standard is ‘Be True To Your School’, one of their weaker singles. There is some surprisingly sophisticated and agreeable material tucked away here though; ‘No Go Showboat’ features a great chorus hook, ‘Ballad Of Ole’ Betsy’ is a nice sentimental Brian Wilson ballad, while ‘Custom Machine’ packs a lot of ideas into its one hundred seconds. The a capella ‘A Young Man Is Gone’ turns up in much more sophisticated form as ‘Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring’ on the Smiley Smile/Wild Honey reissue. Of the recycled songs, ‘Little Deuce Coupe’ and ‘Our Car Club’ are two of the strongest songs here, but the inclusion of the older and more primitive ‘409’ and ‘Shut Down’ only serve to demonstrate the growing sophistication of Brian Wilson’s arrangements and production.
Little Deuce Coupe isn’t really that inferior than the albums that surround it, but something about the crassness of the concept do make it the worst Beach Boys album covered on this page to date. On the positive side, it is an exceptional achievement for an album that reputedly took a day to record and was released a mere month after its predecessor.