‘Girl Don’t Tell Me” is one of the Beach Boys’ more obscure classics.
Taken from the “Summer Days (and Summer Nights!!)” album, the song was released as a single in December 1965 but never charted – its main distinction, aside from sounding like it came from a Beatles session, being the first to feature Carl Wilson on lead vocals.
More than 30 years later, Boston-based guitar-pop band Fuzzy has revived the track for its new TAG/Atlantic album, “Electric Juices.” The twist here is that Fuzzy is fronted by female guitarists-vocalists Hilken Mancini and Chris Toppin, who resisted altering the Brian Wilson lyrics to suit their gender.
“I heard it for the first time about a year and a half ago,” Toppin said recently in a stop on the quartet’s tour with Velocity Girl. “We were on tour, I can’t remember where we were. (Bassist) Winston (Braman) makes a lot of good tapes for the van, and that song came on. I didn’t even know it was the Beach Boys, I just thought it was a great song, and why mess with it?
“Every once in a while, we do these acoustic shows and we like to do a cover, some surprise song, and I learned that song just for fun for an acoustic show. Then we were in the studio and we were fooling around with it and we decided to do some B-sides. We did that and it sounded so good.”
So good that TAG has issued it as the first single off “Electric Juices,” to the early chagrin of Mancini.
“I never had a problem with it,” Toppin said, “but Hilken thought it was insulting that they picked the cover to be the first single. My theory is, it’s a great song, that’s why we picked it. We had to expect for it to stand out a little bit … I mean, Brian Wilson’s the songwriter. He’s been writing for years and years, and I’ve only written about 10 songs in my life.”
Mancini has since warmed up to the idea, and now Fuzzy is hoping “Girl Don’t Tell Me” will gain them new fans … and, more personally, help them quit their day jobs.
“The people we work with are probably all fed up with us,” Toppin said, laughing, “but they are very understanding. I clean houses … I lose jobs every time I go away, but I still have three people who put up with me.”
When not touring or recording, Braman is a welder in a furniture business; Mancini works for a video shipping company, and drummer Dave Ryan, who has played with the Lemonheads, writes for a children’s publishing company in New York.
“I don’t think anyone expects us to become megastars or anything with this record,” Toppin said, “but the people at the label want to see a direct correlation in touring with record sales and airplay.
“Maybe we’ll get to make another record, and if that happens, we’ll definitely get to quit our day jobs … for a little while. That’s our goal: To quit our day jobs.”