Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) is the ninth studio album by American rock band The Beach Boys, released on July 5, 1965 on Capitol. The release was their second in 1965. The album features Wall of Sound production and arrangements observable on the majority of the album's backing tracks, now regarded as benchmarks for Brian Wilson's growth as a songwriter-producer-arranger.[according to whom?]
Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) includes Bruce Johnston's first appearance on a Beach Boys album. As Brian's stage replacement, he was not yet considered an "official" member, but Brian Wilson appreciated Johnston's skills enough to have him contribute vocally and instrumentally on the album. Bruce would often accompany the group on photo shoots, but he was prohibited from having those pictures published on album covers due to a preexisting contract with Columbia Records. Consequently, his face would not grace the jacket of a Beach Boys' album until he appeared on the back cover of Wild Honey in 1967. Along with Johnston, Al Jardine is also missing from the Summer Days cover photo depicting the group on a sailboat; he had to miss the shoot due to illness.
Originally debuting on Today! as "Help Me, Ronda", "Help Me, Rhonda" was reworked for Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) featuring rearranged vocal harmonies and Carl and Brian Wilson performing a guitar and piano solo respectively.
While on the surface,[according to whom?]Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) appeared to be a return to the carefree themes of 1964's All Summer Long, Brian Wilson had produced carefully woven, intricate backing tracks beneath lighthearted vocals featured on such songs as "Amusement Parks USA", "Then I Kissed Her" and "Salt Lake City". These backing tracks were even more elaborately arranged than what was featured on the previous effort Today!.[according to whom?] He also wrote and produced an instrumental featuring a lush string arrangement ("Summer Means New Love") and composed the all-familiar symphonic intro to their US #3 charting single "California Girls" (that intro being Brian's personal favorite of his entire songwriting career).[need quotation to verify] In hindsight, it's clear that Wilson was developing his skills that would be fully realized on his signature effort Pet Sounds the following year.[according to whom?]
The opening track, "The Girl from New York City" was a response to "The Boy from New York City", a hit by The Ad Libs earlier that year, and "Then I Kissed Her" was Brian's attempt to emulate the production style of Phil Spector. It reached number four hit in the UK in 1967 and was Al Jardine's first of two lead vocals on the album; the second being a re-recording of Today! track Help Me, Ronda which underwent a minor title revision to become "Help Me, Rhonda". Written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love, it would rise on the Billboard Top 40 charts to become The Beach Boys' second US number #1 charting single. "Girl Don't Tell Me", a Beatles-inspired song, featured Carl's second lead vocal on a Beach Boys album. Aside from "California Girls", the other notable major stylistic progression on Summer Days was "Let Him Run Wild", a Burt Bacharach-inspired track. Identical to the production style achieved on "California Girls", it became the flip-side song to that single.
The tongue-in-cheek track "I'm Bugged at My Ol' Man" was written as a not-too-subtle poke at the Wilsons' father Murry, who had been fired from his post as manager the previous year, though he did still occasionally show up to either support or criticize Brian in the studio.
One outtake from the album's sessions is known as "Sandy" or "Sherry She Needs Me", and was written by Brian Wilson with Russ Titelman alongside "Guess I'm Dumb". "Sherry She Needs Me" was later revisited by the Beach Boys during 1976 Love You sessions. The composition remained dormant until 1998, when it was finally finished by Wilson as "She Says That She Needs Me" for his 1998 Imagination solo album. The Beach Boys' version of "Sherry She Needs Me" was later released in 2013 for the Made in California box set.
Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) proved to be another gold-selling success for the Beach Boys in the US, where it hit number 2 behind The Rolling Stones's Out of Our Heads. Along with 1963's "Surfin USA" it remains the group's highest-charting studio album in the U.S. The following year, the album would reach number 4 in the UK. The album's lead single, "Help Me, Rhonda", topped the US Billboard Hot 100.
In a 2011 reappraisal, BBC Music observed that the track listing of Summer Days reads "like a Greatest Hits", and felt the album is unfairly disparaged for being "simply loaded with proud pop songs". Comparing to the Beach Boys' later work: "If Pet Sounds is the critics’ favorite, Summer Days is perhaps the people's day at the beach." That same year, the online journal Rocksucker praised the album, ranking it 4th in its list of "Ten Underappreciated Beach Boys LPs", but considers it "an inconsistent collection of which the high points are truly great and the low points ranging from merely good to just-about-passing-muster".
In the early 1980s, as part of Capitol Records' repackage series of their Beach Boys albums, Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) was retitled California Girls and deleted two tracks: "Amusement Parks, USA" and "I'm Bugged at My Ol' Man". The album was re-released in 1990s paired with The Beach Boys Today!; this package featured extensive liner notes and bonus tracks from that period. Until 2012, the album remained one of several early Beach Boys albums never mixed in true stereophonic sound.
Nine of the twelve songs on the album have been performed live by either The Beach Boys or Brian Wilson as a solo artist. "California Girls" and "Help Me, Rhonda" have become concert staples for both The Beach Boys and Brian Wilson, while "You're So Good to Me" has also been played at many Brian Wilson and Beach Boys tours, including during the band's 50th Anniversary Tour. Other tracks from the album that have been performed live include "The Girl from New York City", "Salt Lake City", and "Let Him Run Wild". "And Your Dream Comes True" and "Girl Don't Tell Me" have never been played live by The Beach Boys, but have been performed on several Brian Wilson tours.