The Greatest Summer Records of All Time
Beach Boys “Pet Sounds” (1966)
Right up there with The Mamas and The Papas, the Beach Boys are quintessential California grooves, whose 1966 “Pet Sounds” leads off with “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” which sets the summer tone immediately. Along with “Sounds of Summer” and “Wild Honey,” The Beach Boys couldn’t be more summer-oriented if they tried.
Believe it or not, this was the 11th studio album for The Beach Boys (in their fifth year together), who released their “best of” record that same year. “Pet Sounds” is listed in the Grammy Hall of Fame, and rightfully so.
Dr. Dre “2001” (1999)
Why it wasn’t titled 1999 is a mystery we didn’t bother to look up, but it was the long-awaited release to the doctor’s 1992 debut “The Chronic.” Classic hip-hop songs include “What’s the Difference,” “Forgot About Dre” and “Xplosive,” along with the help of Eminem, Snoop Dogg and Xzibit, just to name a few in a long line of talented mofos. The record hit the top slot on the U.S. Billboard’s Top Hip-Hop Albums.
What exactly is he a doctor of, smoking the reefer or hip-hop? Is this album predicting 9/11? Has he only released three albums? Did anyone ever listen to 2015’s “Compton?” We have so many questions for Mr. Dre.
Tom Petty “Wildflowers” (1994)
Most critics will say “Full Moon Fever” is Tom Petty’s 1989 summer sonnet, which it may very well be, but the second solo, “Wildflowers,” is the one that gets people’s lower halves shaking in the summer months, if you ask us. Songs like “You Wreck Me” and “You Don’t Know How It Feels” are about as hit Tom Petty as it gets, along with cool summer vibes from slow rollers like “Time to Move On” and “It’s Good to Be King.” Produced by Rick Rubin, the album won the Grammy for Best Rock Album.
Incubus “Morning View” (2001)
With hints of genius and a breakthrough year in 1999 with their second major studio record, “Make Yourself,” and its hit “Pardon Me,” the California quintet returned with a superbly summer-sounding album about the sun, the stars, sea foam green, UFOs, waves and floating endlessly down a river that set the new standard. The album, unsurprisingly so, was recorded in a Malibu beach house long before AirBnB was around, and its environment shaped one of the most beloved summer singles, the “Morning View” leadoff, “Wish You Were Here.”
Red Hot Chili Peppers “Californication” (1999)
The title alone sets them high in the bracket, but the band with hot new summer ’16 music is also the band that “can’t stop” with the summer singles, including Grammy winners for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance from 1999’s “Californication.”
The Allman Brothers Band “Eat a Peach” (1972)
Just after the death of Allman brother Duane Allman, the band released one of its most adored albums, “Eat a Peach,” which featured the last bits of the fallen member. A half mountain jam, half classic songs record, hits like “Melissa” and “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More” bring out the platinum worthiness of the album while the jams in between highlight the perfectly melodic sounds of a well-groomed band, at least musically.
Blink-182 “Enema of the State” (1999)
In the peak of their commercially critical acclaim, the three punker boys of Blink followed a blossoming record with a hit single, “Dammit,” with a series of hit singles, including “All the Small Things,” “What’s My Age Again” and “Adam’s Song.” The album allowed the “blinky boys” an opportunity to showcase their perverted weirdness with wildly ambitious music videos and some provocatively chosen song titles like “Dysentary Gary.”
Weezer “Green Album” (2001)
Although the fall from grace has been a steep one with no road back up, Weezer did have its moment (or island) in the sun with its 2001 follow-up to the “blue album.” The big hits, “Hash Pipe” and “Island in the Sun” gave a clear message that band wasn’t just some fluke with a couple great albums, including the quiet “Pinkerton.” Yet shortly after, the band came out with a commercially unappealing “Maladroit,” which sparked the band’s need for change, never allowing them back into the loving arms of music listeners such as before. Despite breaking up in the past, the band can’t seem to quit putting out albums we don’t seem to want.
Prince and the Revolution “Purple Rain” (1984)
The late great had many a triumphant moment, but none stand quite as tall as the giant “Purple Rain,” whose singles “Purple Rain,” “Let’s Go Crazy” and “When Doves Cry” commanded the radio for extensive weeks. It is the soundtrack to the film of the same name, released the same year, and the album lives in the Grammy Hall of Fame, just as its maker does.
Beastie Boys “Licensed to Ill” (1986)
Another tragically lost group, Beastie Boys, who were known to let the beat drop, were the three-man band nobody could get enough of in the ’80s. Their debut album, “License to Ill,” was a Def Jam recording hitting hard in 1986 with “Brass Monkey,” “Fight for Your Right” and “No Sleep Till Brooklyn.” The album received the World Music Award for World’s Best Album. Shortly after their 2011 release, “Hot Sauce Committee Part Two,” MCA (Adam Yauch) died of cancer, which led to the discontinuation of the group.