Sunday, September 17, 2017

First Class – "Beach Baby" (1974)

Beach baby, beach baby
Give me your hand
Give me somethin’ that I can remember!

Unlike most Cape Cod visitors, I don’t spend much time on the beach.

But when I do have a hankering to collect sea shells or just feel some sand between my toes, I eschew the busy public beaches where the day trippers and other hoi polloi hang out, and walk down the stairs that lead from our belvedere to the quiet strand below. 

Our beach – from the belvedere
The last time I visited Mayflower Beach, which is only a mile or so to the west of our house, it was to rescue my clueless  son, who had driven the family Toyota Camry on to the beach one Saturday night and gotten stuck in the loose sand.

Did I mention that the tide was coming in?  

I’ll never forget how he described his situation when he called from the Mayflower Beach parking lot: “Dad, I’m in a bit of a bind.”

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I suppose I should be grateful that none of my kids ever called me from a Cape Cod jail.

Four sets of parents did receive such a call when their teenagers were arrested for “acting inappropriately in the water” at about 1:30 pm this past Fourth of July.

I’d give you three guesses as to what that inappropriate behavior was, but do really need three?  Isn’t one guess plenty? 

British newspapers do a much better job reporting on this kind of things than American journalists, so I’m going to quote from the account on the Daily Mail’s website: 

Four teenagers were arrested for allegedly having sex in the sea in full view of a large crowd of beachgoers in Cape Cod during July Fourth celebrations.

(“Large crowd” is no overstatement.  This was 1:30 pm on the Fourth of July at a popular public beach.  It was sunny and about 80 degrees at the time.  You best believe that was one crowded beach.)

Mayflower Beach (Dennis, MA)
According to the police report, a lifeguard first approached a local detective at about 1:30 pm on Independence Day.

The lifeguard informed the detective that he was told that a number of people were having sex in the water. . . .

[Detective Matthew] Turner wrote in his police report that he saw four individuals “embraced with one another” as they swam 100 feet from shore.

(I doubt that the teenagers were actually swimming.  The water is very shallow in that part of Massachusetts Bay – it was probably only waist-high or at most chest-high a hundred feet out.)

“I could not observe exactly what was going on, however both couple[s] were extremely closely embraced,” the detective wrote in his report.

“Each embraced couple were at a minimum kissing and stumbling about in the waves.”

I admire Detective Turner’s delicate prose – “extremely closely embraced” is a very tasteful way to describe the situation.

At the same time, Turner noted there were about 30 people in the water who witnessed the event up close and were cheering on the participants.

Police arresting the extremely
closely embraced teens
“This is disgusting, why is this allowed to go on here,” one angry beachgoer was heard saying.

(Every party has a pooper – that’s why we invited you!)

Turner then started to yell at the teens several times, but they did not respond.

A lifeguard then began to blow a whistle repeatedly, but to no avail, as the teens kept on “embracing and kissing.”

It was only after a second lifeguard entered the water and swam toward them that the youths began to make their approach to shore.

Turner said that as he was in the process of detaining the four teens, he detected a strong smell of alcohol and slurred speech from the entire group.

(That comes as no surprise.)

As the detective was taking the teens into custody, a crowd of about 300 people gathered to watch.

The four made efforts to shield their faces from the public after they walked out of court on Wednesday.

Here’s a photo showing them hiding their faces:

  Did they really think that was going to do any good?  The Daily Mail found about a zillion pictures of the kids on Facebook and Instagram, and posted them on its website.  You can click here to see those photos if you must, but don’t expect to them see on 2 or 3 lines – I despise such exploitative journalism!

The judge agreed to their request to postpone their arraignments while they take part in a program for youth offenders.

I assume that this “program for youth offenders” relates to underage drinking, not “extremely close embracing.”  

*     *     *     *     *

I’ve saved the best detail for last.

Here’s a video that went viral almost immediately after this incident.  In a scene somewhat reminiscent of the legendary American upset of the Russian hockey team at the 1980 Olympics, the crowd is chanting “U – S – A!  U – S – A!” as the hormone-and-alcohol-crazed teenagers extremely closely embrace:

*     *     *     *     *

“Beach Baby” has many of the same characteristics of some of the greatest Beach Boys songs.  But anyone who hears “Beach Baby” and thinks he or she is listening to a Beach Boys record knows nothing about music.

That’s not to say “Beach Baby” isn’t a great pop song, because it is.

That’s not a surprise given that it was co-written by John Carter, who also co-wrote “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat” (a #2 hit for Herman’s Hermits), “Little Bit O’ Soul” (a #2 hit for the Music Explosion), and the truly great “My World Fell Down” (which should have been a huge hit for Sagittarius, but inexplicably flopped).   

Carter was one of the founders of the Ivy League, a British trio that had a couple of top ten singles in the UK in 1965. 

Carter was also a successful studio singer – he did backup vocals for the Who’s “I Can’t Explain” and Tom Jones’s “It’s Not Unusual,” and sang lead on “Winchester Cathedral,” a nostalgic oddity that made it to #1 on the Billboard “Hot 100” in 1966.

But Carter didn’t sing lead on “Beach Baby.”  He hired Tony Burrows – who had replaced Carter in the Ivy League when Carter got tired of touring – to record that song.

In addition to handling the lead vocal on “Beach Baby” for the First Class, Burrows was also the singer for four different one-hit-wonder group whose sole hits were all released in the first four months of 1970: Edison Lighthouse (“Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes”), White Plains (“My Baby Loves Lovin’”), The Brotherhood of Man (“United We Stand”), and the one and only Pipkins (“Gimme Dat Ding”).

Here’s a video of five musicians who had nothing to do with the recording of “Beach Baby” lip-synching to that record on a TV show.  (The two First Class albums – “Beach Baby” was on the first one – were recorded by a group of studio musicians that Carter put together.  When the song became a hit, he hired five other musicians to perform live as the First Class.)

Click below to buy “Beach Baby” from Amazon:  

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