…beach baby, beach baby, there on the sand


When last we observed singer Tony Burrows (Wednesday 6 June) it was noted that he is the only person ever to front three different groups on the same episode of BBC TV’s Top of the Pops; most memorably singing “Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes” with Edison Lighthouse.  If you read that post perhaps you’ll recall that Burrows (who has sung more hit singles with different groups than any other recording artist in history) had one of his earliest hits with “Let’s Go to San Francisco” while with the Flowerpot Men, which was co-written and backed by one John Carter.

Born in the West Midland city of Birmingham in 1942, John Nicholas Shakespeare (stage name Carter) had his hand in as many musical pies as Burrows throughout the ‘60s and early ‘70s – either as a song writer, with credits that include “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat” for Herman’s Hermits, “Knock, Knock Who’s There” which was a Eurovision Song finalist for Mary Hopkin, and “Is it True?” for Brenda Lee – or as a vocalist backing The Who on “I Can’t Explain”, Tom Jones on “It’s Not Unusual”, Jeff Beck on “Hi Ho Silver Lining”, Sandie Shaw on “Always Something There to Remind Me” and singing lead for (remember this one?) The New Vaudeville Band’s “Winchester Cathedral”.

By 1974 the boon years were cooling for Carter, but inspired by the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson (and by the horn arrangements in Jean Sibelius’ Fifth Symphony), he and his wife, Gillian wrote today’s selection far from any beach (unless you count the banks of the Pen Pond in Richmond Park), while at home in East Sheen, London SW14. Envisioning a complex production with layered vocals, Carter then enlisted his old associate, Tony Burrows among others, to help in recording the song under the name of The First Class.

Reaching the Number 13 spot on the UK Charts, “Beach Baby” especially resonated in the U.S. where it peaked at Number 4 on the Billboard Charts, although it would prove to be the last big hit both for Burrows, who still continues with his successful session career and Carter, who has moved on the the lucrative advertising jingle market while managing his extensive back catalog.

 LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Tuesday 10 July

Beach Baby

 Do you remember back in old L.A. (Oh, oh, oh)

When everybody drove a Chevrolet (Oh, oh, oh)

Whatever happened to the boy next door

The sun-tanned, crew cut, All-American male?

 Remember dancing at the high school hop?

The dress I ruined with the soda pop?

I didn’t recognize the girl next door

With beat up sneakers and a pony tail

 Beach baby, beach baby, give me your hand

Give me something that I can remember

Just like before we can walk by the shore in the moonlight

Beach baby, beach baby, there on the sand

From July to the end of September

Surfin’ was fun we’d be out in the sun every day

 Ooooh, I never thought that it could end

Ooooh, and I was everybody’s friend

Long hot days

Blue sea haze

Jukebox plays

But now it’s fading away

We couldn’t wait for graduation day (Oh, oh, oh)

We took the car and drove to San Jose (Oh, oh, oh)

That’s where you told me that you’d wear my ring

I guess you don’t remember anything

Beach baby, beach baby, give me your hand

Give me something that I can remember

Just like before we can walk by the shore in the moonlight

Beach baby, beach baby, there on the sand

From July til the end of September

Surfin’ was fun we’d be out in the sun every day

 Ahhh, ahhh, ahhh,
Ahhh, ahhh, ahhh

Beach baby, beach baby, give me your hand

Give me something that I can remember

Just like before we can walk by the shore in the moonlight

Beach baby, beach baby, there on the sand

From July til the end of September

Surfin’ was fun we’d be out in the sun every day

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