Read more in issue 303 of Uncut – available now for home delivery from our online store.
THE KINGSTON TRIO
I had already heard The Kingston Trio’s version of “The John B Sails” – the original title of “Sloop John B” – when String Along came out in 1960. It was their fifth album and the last one with original member Dave Guard. I just loved every song on it. At the time, nothing beat their folk sound and perfect harmonies. It’s still one of my all-time favourites and really takes me back to my early days when I was in my own folk trio called The Islanders. I liked their striped shirts too, ha-ha!
“RHAPSPDY IN BLUE”
VICTOR MACHINE TALKING CO, 1924
This is probably my all-time favourite song, and it’s so amazing that a song that’s almost 100 years old is still so powerful – it literally knocks me out every time I hear it. I also enjoyed Brian’s Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin album that features all of our current Brian Wilson band members: Darian Sahanaja, Probyn Gregory, Paul Von Mertens, Mike D’Amico and Gary Griffin, plus the late Nicky Wonder – RIP – and also Jeffrey Foskett. If there’s a George Gershwin Music Hall Of Fame, Brian should be in it!
FRANKIE LYMON & THE TEENAGERS
WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE
I think Frankie Lymon was only 12 when he joined [the band that would become] The Teenagers and [not much older when] they released their big hit “Why Do Fools Fall In Love”. I loved that doo-wop sound in the late-’50s, but this song in particular really hit me with its catchy melody and expressive vocals. The Beach Boys recorded it in early 1964 and then we released it as the B-side to “Fun, Fun, Fun”. We still love playing it live – it just takes me back to a really innocent time in the early days of rock’n’roll and I still have the 45 in my own personal jukebox.
COTTON FIELDS (THE COTTON SONG)
Huddie Ledbetter (aka Lead Belly) first recorded “The Cotton Song” in 1940 and I first heard it in the mid-’50s. I loved Lead Belly’s vocals and of course his 12-string guitar sound but it was really his heartfelt emotional lyrics written during the Great Depression that affected me. I was determined to record a new version for The Beach Boys at a time when we were going off in quite a few different musical directions. We released “Cotton Fields” on our 20/20 album and it ended up being our last single released in mono and on Capitol at the time.