Several of the inimitably esteemed recording artistes I had the pleasure of becoming Lost In The Grooves with have recently made grand new releases available to discriminating listeners and/or readers out there in what remains of the real world. Yes of course there’s head Kink Ray’s LONG-awaited so-low album (which sounds not too bad at all to what’s left of these ears), but what truly is exciting me this week is Sundazed’s full-color re-release of that last “real” Jan and Dean long-player, Popsicle.
In truth a hasty grab-bag of hits, misses, and miscellania circa ’62 thru ’66 cobbled together to, um, commemorate Captain Jan Berry’s recent near-fatal car crash, the Popsicle album actually provides just as wild and crazy a ride as yer typical J&D LP ever would (e.g.: Side Four of The Jan & Dean Anthology Album, anyone?!!) as it veers madly from the ridiculous (“One-Piece Topless Bathing Suit,” perhaps the funniest Sloan/Barri composition this side of “Eve Of Destruction”) to the sublime (Jan’s tongue-possibly-deep-within-cheek “Norwegian Wood”) and THEN some (a fully half-an-album’s worth of selections with either “Summer” or “Surf” in the song-titles themselves: “She’s My Summer Girl” has long been a quite guilty pleasure-o-mine, you know, while J&D’s “Summer Means Fun” more than hangs ten against the Fantastic Baggys’ near-identical version, I’ll have YOU know).
So as Jan lay hovering next to death in nearby UCLA Medical Center, and his until-then hapless cohort Dean “The Boy Blunder” scoured the vaults to fulfill the duo’s contractual commitment to Liberty Records, “Popsicle” the song — originally appearing as “Popsicle Truck” on the November ’63 Drag City album — crept to the mid-twenties on the sales charts (I can distinctly remember it jumping from my childhood six-transistors as that fateful Summer of 66 was about to arrive), providing a sticky-sweet if tragically premature capper to the initial career of our most fave pop duo this side of Don & Phil. But Popsicle the ALBUM is in retrospect as fine a place as any to immediately reacquaint oneself with the majesty and true mondo-magic which was, and forever shall be, Jan Berry and Dean O. Torrence …until Sundazed gets very round to re-issuing their beyond-classic Jan & Dean Meet Batman, that is !!