Take A Mono Ride With Jan & Dean

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(conqueroo) Jan & Dean rode the surf wave to the top of the charts in the early to mid-'60s, and even introduced the sub-genre of hot-rod rock. Yet their Liberty singles have never been comprehensively compiled into one CD package until now. On August 26, Collectors' Choice Music will release Jan & Dean: The Complete Liberty Singles in original mono (instead of the after-the-fact stereo that has dominated reissues of the band's work). The collection contains 42 songs including all the hits and some rarities (plus Jan Berry's solo singles and an unreleased B-side).

Liner notes were written by Jan & Dean authorities Ed Osborne (who also produced the reissue) and David Beard, and include input from those who were on the scene, such as engineer/producer Bones Howe, Jan Berry friend and co-writer Don Altfeld, and Dean Torrence himself. The package contains vintage album cover art and photos.

The set includes "Surf City" (#1), "Little Old Lady From Pasadena" (#3), "Dead Man's Curve" (#8), "Drag City" (#10),"Ride the Wild Surf" (#16), "Popsicle" (#21), "Sidewalk Surfing" (#25), "Linda" (#28), "The Anaheim, Azusa & Cucamonga Sewing Circle, Book Review and Timing Association" (#77), "I Found a Girl" (#30), "You Really Know How To Hurt a Guy" (#27), "Tennessee" (#65),"Batman" (#66), "A Sunday Kind of Love" (#95) and from the T.A.M.I. Show episode they hosted, "(Here They Come) From All Over the World," among many others.

In preparing this set, Collectors' Choice went back to the original mono tapes, both A-sides and B-sides. So the songs sound exactly the same as they did when they climbed the charts and blared from the car radio in your Woody (or that of your parents). According to Altfeld in the liner notes, "The mono mixes were the important ones. When mixing, Jan would play it back in a small speaker in the studio. Sometimes we'd jump into his Corvette, drive out to KRLA-AM in Pasadena and hand the DJ a rough mix. Then we'd listen in the car while he played it once or twice. The mono singles were mixed for a person to hear over their car speaker."

Jan & Dean sang about the stuff that California dreams are made of: surfing, drag racing, skateboarding and the pursuit of girls on the beach. With the assistance of Beach Boy Brian Wilson, the duo unleashed the world's first #1 surfing anthem, "Surf City," and captured the essence of the West Coast sound in the early '60s.

It all began when Jan Berry and Dean Torrence met at L.A.'s University High School in 1957 (also the alma mater of Rip Chord and Beach Boy Bruce Johnston). An original duo, Jan & Arnie (with Arnie Ginsburg) gave way to Jan & Dean, and in short order connected with producers Lou Adler and Herb Alpert. Following a doo-wop album on Dore Records and a short stint on the Challenge label, they were signed to Liberty, where the doo-wop strains continued until the transitional single "Linda" (whose sheet music depicted Linda Eastman later McCartney).

Part of the reason the Jan & Dean tracks sounded so good was the enlistment of L.A.'s prime sidemen Hal Blaine, Earl Palmer, Glen Campbell, Joe Osborn, Larry Knechtel, Tommy Tedesco, Billy Strange and Leon Russell among others. As Dean explained, "Jan was the first guy to hand-pick what's referred to as The Wrecking Crew. It was Jan who decided to put them together."

Jan & Dean's sound evolved over the years from doo-wop to surf music, while lyrically integrating dark humor (the eerily prophetic "Dead Man's Curve") and likely the first-ever song about drag racing, as well as novelty hits like "Batman" or "Little Old Lady From Pasadena." Dean, in fact, refused to sing on the hit "You Really Know How To Hurt a Guy" simply because it stepped outside of the eccentric realm of Jan & Dean imagery.

In the spring of 1966, with their Liberty contract set to expire and with plans for their own TV show and self-owned label, the future looked bright. Then, on April 12, Jan slammed his Corvette into the rear of a parked truck not far from the infamous Dead Man's Curve in Beverly Hills. He was barely alive and it took him years to recover. According to Osborne's notes, Jan brought the same fierce determination to his recovery as he'd previously poured into his music. He recorded some solo albums and singles and performed with Dean to the best of his capabilities. On March 26, 2004, Jan died. Dean has become a Grammy Award-winning graphic designer. Today he spends his leisure time riding the waves and singing the great songs of summer onstage.

Jan & Dean: The Complete Liberty Singles tells the entire story in liner notes, photos, album covers and, most of importantly of all, the music.

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