Shut Down Volume 2
As the real followup to Surfer Girl, Shut Down Volume 2 is a wildly uneven effort; a handful of songs are stronger and more intricately arranged than anything The Beach Boys had produced up to this point, but there’s little of note beyond those three or four classics. Presumably forced to come up with ideas quickly by an impatient record label, the group resorted to the following material: (a) a skit, with musical interludes, (b) a Dennis Wilson drum solo, (c) a hackneyed cover of ‘Louie Louie’, (d) a particularly rote car song, and (e) a quickie instrumental. This means that about half the album is obvious and unmitigated filler, with the last quarter of the album almost completely dispensable.
On the other hand, there are three of the Beach Boys’ best ever tracks here: ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’ is easily one of Mike Love’s best lyrics and most likable vocal performances, where his balding California hunk persona actually adds to the song. ‘Don’t Worry Baby’ is an emotional Wilson sung ballad with a huge Phil Spector feel, while ‘Warmth Of The Sun’ is the overlooked song here, a devastating break-up song where the sombre mood was supposedly inspired by the Kennedy assassination. Apart from the effective cover of ‘Why Do Fools Fall In Love?’ and the predictable but pleasant, ‘Keep An Eye On Summer’, the other actual songs aren’t substantial.
If you took the best songs from Surfer Girl and Shut Down Volume Two and put them into a single record, there’s potentially a very impressive album from this early era of The Beach Boys.