Little Deuce Coupe is the fourth album by American rock band the Beach Boys, and their third album release in 1963. It reached number four in the United States during a 46-week chart stay, and was eventually certified platinum by the RIAA. It is considered to be one of the earliest examples of a rock concept album.
The album was released three weeks after Surfer Girl. Four of the tracks from Little Deuce Coupe (“Shut Down”, “409”, “Our Car Club” and “Little Deuce Coupe”) had already appeared on previous albums, and discounting an alternate recording of “Be True to Your School”, no tracks from the album were issued as an A-sided single.
In the summer of 1963, Capitol Records compiled a “hot rod” compilation album called Shut Down, including the Beach Boys’ song of the same name and “409”—without their approval or involvement. Brian Wilson promptly readied several songs he had already been working on (mainly with radio DJ Roger Christian) and the band hastily went through recording sessions to put Little Deuce Coupe on the record shop racks, remarkably, one month after Surfer Girl had come out. Eight of the tracks were new, while “Little Deuce Coupe”, “Our Car Club”, “Shut Down” and “409” had all come out on one of their previous three albums.
Although Nick Venet was listed as producer for “Shut Down” and Murry Wilson for “409”, the official producer’s credit for the entire Little Deuce Coupe album cites only Brian Wilson. Despite the rushed nature of the album’s sessions, Brian Wilson’s song arrangements were notably becoming more complex, specifically songs like “No-Go Showboat” and “Custom Machine”. After its recording, Brian Wilson re-recorded “Be True to Your School” for single release, resulting in another top 10 hit. An original Christmas-themed composition, “Little Saint Nick” was also recorded, produced and issued as a Christmas single.
This was the last Beach Boys album to officially include rhythm guitarist David Marks until 2012’s That’s Why God Made the Radio. Original member Al Jardine made his permanent return preceding this album’s sessions, and Marks departed shortly thereafter.
As with the preceding Surfer Girl album, the date assigned for recording all eight of the new tracks (September 2, 1963) is highly doubtful. However, as no AFM contracts from these sessions are known to exist, the actual dates are currently unknown.
A Deuce Coupe is a 1932 Ford Coupe (deuce being for the year). This was considered by many to be the definitive “hot rod”. The Model B had four cylinders and the Model 18 featured the Ford flathead V8 engine when the car was introduced. A pink slip (mentioned in the lyrics) was the title to the car, named for the color of the paper then used in California
The picture featured on the front cover of the album was supplied by Hot Rod magazine, and features the body (with his head cropped in the photo) of hod-rod owner Clarence ‘Chili’ Catallo and his own customized three-window 1932 Ford Coupe – known to hot rod enthusiasts as “the lil’ deuce coupe”. (by wikipedia)
Little Deuce Coupe was a concept album of sorts, in that most of the songs had something to do with cars and hot rod culture. That’s a pretty thin train of thought to sustain for most of a record. What’s worse, by the Beach Boys’ own standards of hot rod tunes, most of the tracks are pretty trite and unimaginative, rating among their worst early material. Not only that, the three best cuts — “Little Deuce Coupe,” “409,” and “Shut Down” — had already been issued on LP. The most noteworthy of the other tracks was the Top Ten hit “Be True to Your School,” whose fine tune and arrangement are marred by sappy lyrics of faith and loyalty to one’s high school. (The album version, oddly, is different from the superior single, which had the Honeys adding female cheerleader chants.) “Spirit of America” and “A Young Man Is Gone” (a James Dean tribute with Four Freshmen-style vocals) are moderately interesting numbers, but on the whole this is probably the worst early Beach Boys album, with the possible exception of Surfin’ Safari (and their 1964 Christmas LP, which doesn’t really count). (by Richie Unterberger)
Al Jardine (bass, background vocals)
Mike Love (vocals; saxophone)
David Marks (guitar, background vocals)
Brian Wilson (vocals, piano, bass)
Carl Wilson (guitar, background vocals)
Dennis Wilson (drums, background vocals)
01. I Get Around (Single 1964) (B.Wilson/Love) 2.16
02. Little Deuce Coupe (B.Wilson/Christian) 1.42
03. Shut Down (B.Wilson/Christian) 1.52
04. Ballad Of Ole’ Betsy (B.Wilson/Christian) 2.17
05. Be True To Your School (B. Wilson/Love) 2.10
06. Car Crazy Cutie (B.Wilson/Christian) 2.51
07. Cherry, Cherry Coupe (B.Wilson/Christian) 1.52
08. 409 (B. Wilson/Usher/Love) 2.00
09. Spirit Of America (B.Wilson/Christian) 2.25
10. No-Go Showboat (B.Wilson/Christian) 1.57
11. A Young Man Is Gone (Troup) group 2.18
12. Custom Machine (B. Wilson/Love) 1.42
13. Our Car Club (B. Wilson/Love) Love with B. Wilson 2.23