The long chart career of the Beach Boys has included several singles that weren’t hits at home, but became big successes with their huge and loyal audience in Great Britain. 1967’s ‘Then I Kissed Her,’ ‘Cottonfields’ (1970) and 1979’s ‘Lady Lynda’ were all substantial top ten singles in the UK that missed the US countdown altogether.
Several other Beach Boys singles were much better liked by British fans than by their American counterparts. On 27 July 1968, the group entered the US chart at No. 88 with ‘Do It Again,’ a new single from the hit album they’d released earlier that year, 20/20. It made reasonable progress throughout August, but maybe it was the slightly more progressive, throbbing beat of the Brian Wilson-Mike Love composition that hampered its progress somewhat in America.
Nevertheless, ‘Do It Again’ had the familiar soaring harmonies that had long been the group’s trademark, not to mention a lyric with a nostalgic nod to their original inspirations. “Well I’ve been thinking ’bout all the places we’ve surfed and danced and all the faces we’ve missed,” sang Love, “so let’s get back together and do it again.” Their British admirers loved it.
So it was that while ‘Do It Again’ stopped at No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September, by then it had done something only ‘Good Vibrations’ had done before it for the Beach Boys, spending a week as the UK’s No. 1 single. It was a remarkable new success, especially as Bruce Johnston told the NME’s end-of-year annual edition that the song didn’t represent the Beach Boys’ musical direction of the time at all.
“It was really just a time-trick!” he laughed. “Everyone else was going back to the basics at that time. The Stones were playing in their old style with ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ and The Beatles came up with a kind of mock-rock, ‘Lady Madonna.’ We decided to follow the general pattern with some pseudo surfing. It wasn’t really serious and [was] never intended to indicate our present musical development.”
‘Do It Again’ is on the Beach Boys’ 20/20 album, which can be bought here.
Follow the official Beach Boys Best Of playlist.