In 1966, early rock and roll duo Jan & Dean were in a time of transition. Their sound was suddenly passe, due to changing times and musical tastes. Furthermore, Jan Berry was involved in a serious car accident, putting him in a coma for two months. The prognosis seemed grim, and considering the severity of his injuries, there was no certainty that if he survived, that he would be able to perform.
In light of this, Dean Torrence took it upon himself to keep the legacy alive. His intention was to proceed in Berry’s absence, so that when he was able to return, the duo would still be a viable group making music and releasing records. With demos recorded before the accident and a handful of newer songs, Torrence collaborated with studio musicians and came up with Pet Sounds-influenced concept album, Songs For A Rainy Day. The finished result was a beautiful, poignant, and lovely baroque-pop album that marked not only a new direction for the band, but could have helped break them from their surf-boy pop image.
Unfortunately, factors conspired against Torrence. Columbia Records balked at it–in part to the failure of Pet Sounds, a record it closely emulated–and refused to release it. Worse still, Jan Berry hated it and did not want it released, either. Thus, the project was shelved, until Torrence self-released it on his J&D Record Co. label. Even then, very few people heard it. Torrence had high expectations, but nobody bought it–when yours truly saw him perform in the 1980s, he was still trying to sell off the remaining stock. (Considering that pressing is extremely rare, and thanks to Sundazed Records reissuing it in the 1990s, yours truly now wishes he’d bought it!)
It’s sad that nobody shared his vision, or saw the album for what it was–a beautiful, slightly melancholy work of a well-established artist’s burgeoning vision. Thankfully, the album has since come to be revered for the classic it was, and not the then-prevailing opinion that it was self-indulgent tripe nobody wanted to hear.