Summer is inching to its inevitable conclusion (sorry, readers!) but for Jeffrey Foskett, the season is year-long. The longtime associate of Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys and current touring member of the band led by Mike Love and Bruce Johnston not only brings the sounds of summer to stages worldwide, but keeps them alive on his own solo recordings. Following last year’s release by Vivid Sound Japan of The Best of Jeffrey Foskett, the vocalist-musician has dipped once more into his solo catalogue for a new collection from the label, You Remind Me of the Sun.
The title of the compilation comes from the song by Foskett’s frequent collaborator Jeff Larson, whose own version appeared on his 2016 release The Best of Jeff Larson. Foskett’s version is equally blissful, marrying Foskett’s trademark Beach Boys-inspired harmonies with a slice of vibrant California rock-and-roll. Chris Price, Gary Griffin, Hank Linderman, Rich Campbell, and Ryland Steen join the two Jeffs on this buoyant new recording. Another new track, Larson’s languidly pretty “Hazy Sunshine,” was recorded by the team, and features America’s Gerry Beckley, as well as Randell Kirsch, on background vocals. Dennis Diken of The Smithereens plays drums, and Erik Andrews adds color with his trumpet. Also recorded for this project was Tatsuro Yamashita and Alan O’Day’s “Jody,” showcasing Foskett’s stratospheric falsetto. In his track-by-track liner notes, Foskett refers to “Jody” as “one of the more difficult songs that I’ve ever sung,” but both his vocal and the Larson/Foskett production make it sound effortless. (Fans also won’t want to miss the recent reissue of Larson’s own Watercolor Sky, available now on both CD and vinyl.)
A John Barry-meets-surf guitar feel makes the instrumental “Makkana Taiyou (The Red Sun)” is a short and sweet addition to this set, much like the romantic paean “Summer Love.” The latter, just over a minute long, conjures a moonlight walk on the beach with a loved one – on a summer’s night, of course. Foskett’s unadorned vocal prowess comes to the fore on two more short pieces, the a cappella intro to “Fish!” and “Go, Go Mario” about racing hero Mario Andretti. (The full “Fish!” was included on The Best of Jeffrey Foskett.) The instrumental “The Beach Boys – An American Family Theme,” evocative of Pet Sounds, was used in the controversial television miniseries of the same name.
Loving tributes to The Beach Boys abound, of course. Brian Wilson’s classic “Surfer Girl” is heard in a gentle lullaby rendition, recorded in 1991, while the yearning “She Knows Me Too Well” is aired in a 1996 recording. (Foskett notes of the complex song that he would subsequently perform in countless concerts that “I know that I am missing a key vocal in the harmony stack and several instruments but we recorded this song in one hour so for that…it’s not bad,” and he’s underplaying it. This mostly faithful version is damn good!) Foskett and co-writer Michael O’Rourke took inspiration from “Keepin’ the Summer Alive,” the Carl Wilson/Randy Bachman co-write from the band’s 1980 album, to craft their own song of the same title. The new composition is more in the spirit of The Beach Boys’ classic car tunes than the Boys’ own song! Foskett and O’Rourke co-wrote another trio of songs with clear inspirations. The breezy “On the Beach” recalls a bit of “Add Some Music to Your Day” while “Dancing Girl” crosses elements of “California Girls” and “It’s O.K.” into its own attractive melody. “Weekend” fuses the spirit of “Dance, Dance, Dance” with elements of “I Got Around,” just to name a couple of the famous songs it happily and energetically evokes.
Foskett’s musical influences aren’t strictly limited to The Beach Boys, however. He pays homage to a lesser-known light of surf-pop, Rick Henn of The Sunrays (the group managed by Murry Wilson beginning in 1964) with “Sunshine All the Time,” which channels the brisk rhythm and euphoric feel of Henn’s “I Live for the Sun.” The relaxed pop of “Everybody” taps into Foskett’s spirituality.
The enclosed 16-page booklet has Foskett’s annotations in English and Japanese, as well as full lyrics in English. Kiyoko Asai’s remastering lends the vivid music a crystalline sound. You Remind Me of the Sun is a fine overview of this longtime Beach Boy’s original music, and should remind you of the summer all year long.