With another Memorial Day behind us, the unofficial start to summer has begun. And with it comes backyard barbeques, pool parties, and days of summer fun lasting through Labor Day. Regardless of what your summer consists of, one thing for sure is each of us has a brain-full of musical memories burned into our summer archives. Each moment of our pasts likely linked to a classic song like those historic moments that are synched to where we were at that frozen moment in time.
So with summer here, how about 10 “got-to-have” albums and/or artists that must be on your iPod playlist? Though the following order isn’t based on radio-airplay, Billboard’s national ranking, or total sales, my ranking is simply based on how these albums and artists move me as sun comes out and the temperatures rise.
10. Katy Perry- Teenage Dream. Released in 2010 this album is full of contemporary pop hits including Perry’s smash hit ‘California Gurls’ which became a staple of any summer get together or County Fair.
9. Bananarama- Greatest Hits. Released in 1988 this album featured the girl-trio group’s best including ‘Venus’, ‘Hey hey Na Na’, and my favorite, ‘Cruel Summer’.
8. James Taylor- White Album (greatest hits). You know it’s summer when James Vernon Taylor plays at Tanglewood in Massachusetts, and you know it’s summer at my home when Taylor’s White Greatest Hits album is playing. Released in 1976, this album contains, ‘Your Smiling Face’, ‘Fire and Rain’, and summertime favorite ‘Mexico’.
7. Rolling Stones- Some Girls. This classic rock n’ roll band released this album in June of 1978. With hits like ‘Some Girls’, ‘Beast of Burden’, and ‘Miss You’, this album was rocking all summer long then, and continues to this day.
6. The Go Go’s- Greatest Hits. With Belinda Carlisle at the lead vocal, this California all-girl band exploded onto the national scene in the early 80’s. Their Greatest Hits album was released in the mid-1980’s and posted such summer classics as ‘We Got the Beat’, ‘Our Lips are Sealed’, and ‘Vacation’.
5. Crosby, Stills, and Nash- Daylight Again. Released in 1982, this album featured a trio of hit singles like ‘Wasted Away’, ‘Too Much Love to Hide’, and one of my all-time favorite singles, ‘Southern Cross’.
4. Kenny Chesney- No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem. Though Chesney had experienced success before this 2002 release, this album solidified him as a true music superstar. The title track, along with ‘Young’, and ‘The Good Stuff’ all find their way to summertime fun at family gatherings or the local watering hole.
3. Bob Marley- Legend. On May 8, 1984 Island Records released a compilation of hits from Bob Marley and the Wailers. The Legend album is the largest selling reggae album of all-time, with over 25 million copies sold, with such classics as ‘Stir it Up’, ‘The Redemption Song’, ‘I Shot the Sheriff’, and everyone’s favorite, ‘Jammin’.
2. Jimmy Buffett- Meet Me in Margaritaville. Released in 2003, this albums full title ends with ‘…The Ultimate Collection’. And it truly is. The double-album set is non-stop Buffett at his best. ‘Come Monday’, ‘Changes in Latitudes…’, and ‘Margaritaville’ are just three of the hits on disc one. While disc two boasts such classics as ‘Sail on Sailor’, ‘Volcano’, and ‘Son of a Son of a Sailor’. But when it comes to a summertime feel, Buffett’s single, ‘Creola’ has that special island vibe.
1. The Beach Boys- Endless Summer. Released in the summer of ’74, this album has to be listed on everyone’s all-time summer album list, and is #1 on mine. Through the 60’s and 70’s The Beach Boys pumped out hit after hit. Each was Mike Love and the Wilson brothers’ ode to their lifestyle along the coast of Southern California. The Endless Summer double-album contains hit after hit. Go ahead, name a Beach Boys hit—- yep, it’s here. Hits like ‘Surfin’ USA’, ‘Surfer Girl’, and ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’ are all found on album one, while ‘Don’t Worry Baby’, ‘California Girls’, and ‘All Summer Long’ are found on album two. They even find a way to pack in ‘Good Vibrations’ as a bonus track on the album. While on the charts for an amazing 155 weeks, Endless Summer hit the #1 album spot in 1974.
Though the rankings of your all-time Summer albums may differ from this one, or even contain other classic releases, I hope you enjoy the music that makes up the memories your summer of 2011.