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The hottest holiday hits: Lazy, hazy, crazy sounds of summer

Sun, sea, sand and sweaty festivals wouldn't be the same without the right soundtrack.

By Robert Webb

Published 03/07/2010

<b>All Summer Long - The Beach Boys (1964)</b><br/>
All Summer Long - The Beach Boys (1964)
With "Girls on the Beach" and "I Get Around", All Summer Long was the Beach Boys ultimate fun-in-the-sun album, issued in July 1964. Written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love, the title track was released as a single in the UK and stiffed. Odd, given that summer 1964 was one of the driest on record.
Sumer is Icumen in - Circulus (2009)
Summer hits began in the 13th-century with this Middle-English round. Here it's given a 21st-century makeover by the south London psych-folk troupe. Issued on their Mythical Cake label and found on the Thought Becomes Reality album. Good for picking fruit to.
In the Summertime - Mungo Jerry (1970)
The biggest-selling single the year the Beatles split and the fallback for every television report on anything to do with summer. It was remade in 1995 by Shaggy, although Ray Dorset's original vocal makes it the iconic summer hit it is.
Staying Out for the Summer - Dodgy (1994)
During Britpop's laddish, knotted-Union-Jack-hanky-on-the-head summers this was the sound of the outdoors, whether heard at festivals or chiming from car windows in motorway jams.
Summer Breeze - The Isley Brothers (1973)
This pastoral zephyr, written and originally recorded by Seals and Crofts, defined the mid-70s Isleys sound ? extended, white pop covers designed to showcase Ernie Isley's funked-up fuzz guitar.
Sun is Shining - Bob Marley and the Wailers (1971)
Lee Perry's original production on this definitive reggae summer song has the edge over Marley's 1977 re-recording for the Kaya album. Originally issued as a B-side on the Escort label, the song wasn't a hit until a remix by Funkstar De Luxe in 1999.
Cruel Summer - Bananarama (1983)
Recorded by Bananarama in three different versions through the Eighties and also later covered by Ace of Base. According to Sara Dallin it plays on the darker side of summer songs: "It looked at the oppressive heat, the misery of wanting to be with someone as the summer ticked by."
Girls in Their Summer Clothes - Bruce Springsteen (2007)
This flop single comes from the Magic album and although it failed to chart was nominated for a Grammy. It's an elegiac number in which Springsteen sighs, watching girls go by on a summer evening before heading over to Frankie's diner on the edge of town.
Fat Old Sun - Pink Floyd (1970)
Pink Floyd seem to embody the mythic, endless summers at the cusp of the 70s, with songs like "Cirrus Minor", "Grantchester Meadows" and especially this Atom Heart Mother track, complete with church bells and woozy, bucolic lyrics.
The Hissing of Summer Lawns - Joni Mitchell (1975)
The title track to Mitchell's jazz-sensitive, mid-70s album of social mores and white-collar ennui chirrups like a bushful of cicadas. "The basic theme of the album... was just any summer day in any neighbourhood when people turn their sprinklers on all up and down the block," said Mitchell.
Summer's Cauldron - XTC (1986)
Recorded in upstate New York, the opener to the Todd Rundgren-produced Skylarking begins with twittering birds and a rhythmic click. "The click became the pulsing sound of insects," said Andy Partridge. "We took the sounds of summer and sequenced them."
Sunny Afternoon - The Kinks (1966)
Recorded by a hayfevered Ray Davies with the Kinks, this single, which took just three hours to make, perfectly encapsulates mid-Sixties English summers. Rush released in June 1966, when weather forecasters predicted a hot summer, it was still riding high when England won the World Cup.
Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer - Stevie Wonder (1971)
As sad as a punctured lilo, and perhaps best known now for Wonder's performance of it at Michael Jackson's memorial service in July 2009, this was co-written with his then wife, Syreeta Wright.
Summertime Blues - The Who (1970)
Also covered by T. Rex and Olivia Newton-John, amongst others, it's The Who's version which really kicks the summertime blues into touch. Pete Townshend riffs around Eddie Cochran's original while the vocals are handled by Roger Daltrey and bassist John Entwistle.
Farewell My Summer Love - Michael Jackson (1973)
In 1984, Motown, Jackson's former label, claimed they had "discovered" a box of unreleased Jacko recordings, including this summery number. It was rushed out as a single, followed by a patchy album of the same name.
All You Need is Love - The Beatles (1967)
The No.1 of the Summer of Love. The Fabs were commissioned to write the British contribution to Our World, a satellite-beamed global broadcast. The day before it was screened they pitched it as their next single and it topped the charts on 19 July.
It's Summertime - Flaming Lips (2002)
Best heard on grass (or, at worst, mud), Wayne Coyne's hazy, lazy, crazy homage to summer is the perfect festival chill-out.
Sunflower - Paul Weller (1993)
Created at The Manor, where many of the early Virgin acts had recorded, Wild Wood heralded Weller's triumphant return. The opening track was a self-assured, upbeat hit for the summer of 1993.
School's Out - Alice Cooper (1972)
According to Cooper there are two defining moments in a child's year: the three minutes before you open your Christmas presents and the last three minutes before school shuts up for the summer. "If we can catch that three minutes in a song, it's going to be so big," he remembered thinking, before penning the great end-of-term anthem.
Summer Deep - T Rex (1970)
"Summer deep is in the hills again ... I ride upon my zebra/ Pterodactyl beak hat on my brow", warbles Marc Bolan in an early electrified T. Rex track, prompting a legion of Glastonbury-bound hippies to do likewise and launching a short-lived craze for pterodactyl beak hats.
Summer Romance - The Rolling Stones (1980)
An outtake from the Some Girls sessions and a rough-hewn filler on Emotional Rescue, it's a sleazy tale of a schoolgirl flirtation during the summer holidays ("I can't help it if I'm older than you").
A Summer Wasting - Belle & Sebastian (1998)
The sky is "blue beyond compare" and Stuart Murdoch and the band intend to spend a summer doing nothing much in particular, just "Seven weeks staying up all night".
The Summerhouse - The Divine Comedy (1994)
Neil Hannon's nostalgia-laden memory of summers past, from the Promenade album, is a wistful review of "Sunday lunch on the lawn", "Costumeless bathes at dawn" and "Holidays when it never rained".
The Second Summer of Love - Danny Wilson (1989)
Although Jive Bunny was the holiday No. 1 that year, the media were quick to term 1989 the "second summer of love" as rave culture mushroomed. Danny Wilson charted with this tongue-in-cheek sunshine pop which, although musically unconnected to acid house, beautifully caught the loved-up zeitgeist.
Here Comes the Summer - The Undertones (1979)
Written by John O'Neill, this celebration of "lying on the beaches all covered in sand" originally appeared on the Derry band's debut album. It was reissued, speeded up, for the charts in the summer of 1979 and at just over a minute and a half is one of the shortest of hit singles.
Summer is the Champion - Laura Veirs (2009)
"Honey wax, melted down," oozes the Portland singer. This one bursts like a ripe berry on the July Flame album, named after a favoured type of peach but released in the dead of winter.
Dancing in the Street - David Bowie and Mick Jagger (1985)
Having considered a cover of Bob Marley's "One Love" as their contribution to Live Aid, Jagger and Bowie settled instead on a cover of Martha and the Vandellas' 1964 hit. Jagger flew in to meet the thin, white rain-coated one at Abbey Road and recording was done and dusted in four hours.
It Might As Well Rain Until September - Carole King (1962)
Written with husband Gerry Goffin and intended for Bobby Vee, this was the first commercial release for King. It's a letter written at the start of summer recess by a girl who couldn't care less about the weather without her beau.
Summer in the City - The Lovin' Spoonful (1966)
This summer stalwart began life as a poem by Mark Sebastian. When his brother John read it he heard a song. With a middle eight featuring car horns and a jackhammer, Sebastian's sweat-stained delivery perfectly captures the cool heat of an urban summer.

We do love to be beside the seaside. Or at a festival. Or sitting in a queue of traffic, nudging up the aircon and wondering if anyone remembered to pack the phone charger.

And our summers are invariably soundtracked by the latest radio hit, the club anthem, or sometimes just a random song that will, when the nights start drawing in and we swap flip-flops for long socks, remind us of what we did on our holidays.

>>Click on the image to launch our guide to the Sounds of Summer

"People take pictures of the summer/ Just in case someone thought they had missed it/ And to prove that it really existed," sang Ray Davies in 1968, in the Kinks' "People Take Pictures of Each Other", one of the best songs about capturing that memory of summer before it fades into autumn gold. Summer songs are as abundant and varied as pebbles on the beach. Most tend to come and go with the surf. Others – such as the irrepressibly chirpy "Summer Holiday", the Grease hit "Summer Nights", the Med favourite "Macarena" – seem to reappear year after year, wafting along the prom with a whiff of warm shellfish. But, never mind the cockles, we've gathered 30 pearls to celebrate the ultimate summer sound. Altogether now, "Summer's here and the time is right... "

Source: Independent

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