Dean Torrence

REVIEW: Dean Torrence & Friends “The Teammates”


Dean Torrence & Friends – The Teammates – Twenty Years of Making Music 1965-1985

This 23-cut historical document by one of the most innovative duos in rock & roll features songs primarily worked on by Dean Torrence. It focuses on the varied collaborations over 20 years with & without his partner the late Jan Berry.

Each track has varied producers including Dean, Terry Melcher, Bruce Johnston, Daryl Dragon (Captain & Tennille), Flo & Eddie (The Turtles), Adrian Baker & others. It’s a diversified soup of serious pop tunes, commercial jingles, novelty songs & vibrant oldie covers.

Dean Torrence

While some dismiss Jan & Dean as discount Beach Boys the truth is these two sounded as strong as The Beach Boys as just a duo. I grew up with Jan & Dean & always believed they were rockier than the early Beach Boys. “Surf City,” “Drag City,” – edgy stuff.

1965’s “Summertime, Summertime,” sounds like a possible Beach Boy song. Dean Torrence/Gary Zekely composed “Theme From Leon’s Garage,” (1965) is close to being a demo for a more progressive-era Beach Boy song.

Obviously not all songs work (“Lightning Strikes” “Her Boyfriend’s Back”) but the 57-minute CD The Teammates – Twenty Years of Making Music 1965-1985 (Drops Oct 14–Omnivore) includes fiddler Doug Kershaw’s great “Louisiana Man,” (a hit for Bobbie Gentry). Her voice is better suited for such a Delta-deep tune while Jan & Dean’s unissued 1966 cover is surprisingly sweet, driving & creative. I’m surprised The Band didn’t pick up on hearing Jan & Dean’s 1966 take. Nothing California here.

There are cuts that sound like The Beatles may have clipped. Paul McCartney has admitted they borrowed from Bobby Rydell & Jan & Dean were at that creative level for crazy things. The Laughing Gravy (1968) finds Dean doodling on “Snowflakes On Laughing Gravy’s Whiskers,” with Beatle-type experiments. Of course, “Vegetables,” (a Beach Boys song) features The Laughing Gravy’s saloon piano arrangement. Quite good.

Other collaborations that are not Jan & Dean collaborations include 5 with Dean solo in his doo-wop phase (1978). 2 songs with The Beach Boy’s Mike Love & 2 with Terry Melcher & Bruce Johnston of the BB. Flo & Eddie join Dean on “Ride the Wild Surf.” Most surprising is The Legendary Masked Surfers – 2 short tunes written with Dean & late Harry Nilsson (1985).

Jan & Dean

The CD compilation produced by Dean, Brad Rosenberger & David Beard has many tunes previously unissued & includes a stitched annotated insert. Not a downer on the CD. It’s summer music – all year round.

Highlights – “Just Keep It Up,” “Summertime, Summertime,” “Louisiana Man,” “Snowflakes On Laughing Gravy’s Whiskers,” “Love Lace,” (excellent) & 1978’s unissued “Dead Man’s Curve.”

Jan Berry RIP (1941-2004) – As of 2022 – Jan & Dean are not in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. Dean Torrence image courtesy: Doug Schultz. Duo color image from their official website. CD @


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