February 1, 2013

There’s something about this time of year that brings me back to The Beach Boys’ music of 1968-1973. During this time of year, for whatever reason, my brother Mark and I would gravitate back to it, again and again. Why? Who knows, it was just one of those things. For The Beach Boys, it was a time in their career when they were dogsh*t as far as American pop music and pop culture were concerned – their leader Brian Wilson had drugged out and dropped out of the whole BB “thing”, relinquishing the reigns to the rest of the group, primarily, his brother Carl. But that didn’t mean they didn’t come up with brilliant music during that time – sounds that are unique and timeless, illustrating just how talented these guys were. Allow me to offer several examples of great music you just can’t find anywhere else:

From 1973: On My Way To Sunny Californ-I-A. What else can you say? It sounds great.

From 1972: Marcella. Featuring a great Carl Wilson vocal and a gritty rhythm guitar. The solo at the bridge could have been a little more dynamic, but listen for the sleighbells in the tag – awesome! That’s Alan Jardine on the doo-be-doos on the fade-out.

From 1972: Cuddle Up. A Dennis Wilson classic designed to seduce even the most cold-hearted chick. Something, I think, Dennis was expert at. Beautiful. Majestic. Soulful. The high harmony you hear on the background vocals is none other than Toni Tennille of “The Captain and” fame. That’s Daryl Dragon (The Captain) on piano.

From 1970: This Whole World. One of the great Brian Wilson compositions and arrangements, ever, featuring another great Carl Wilson lead. Who else but Brian Wilson could have come up with that “oom-bop-ditit” background?

From 1972: All This Is That. The Beach Boys’ answer to The Beatles’ Across the Universe – two songs about Transcendental Meditation. I’ll let the reader decide which song communicates the basic peaceful essence of TM better. As a former TM’er, I’m split. ATIT has that ethereal Carl Wilson vocal fade-out, but the Beatles version I’ve linked to (never formally released, Phil Spector wrecked the released version found on Let It Be, I’m sad to say) has a beautiful Indian simplicity that makes it for me. You can’t go wrong either way.

From 1970: Forever. A timeless Dennis Wilson composition featuring a heartfelt vocal as only Dennis could do. Story is that brother Brian (high falsetto) arranged the incredible background vocals.

From 1971: Surf’s Up. Word is that Carl Wilson was the one who went back to the old unreleased SMiLE tapes as a way to encourage Brian out of his self-imposed to complete this track. He added a little Moog synthesizer and an unrelated SMiLE piece (the tag) to Brian’s original 1966 performance, prompting Brian to jump out of his bed and, still in pajamas, come down to the studio and add a vocal containing missing fragments of lyrics on top of the tag that freaked everyone out. This is from the 2011 SMiLE Sessions release. No matter how you slice it, a magnificent performance.

From 1973: Sail On, Sailor. Goodboy Steve “Killer” Kowalski’s all-time favorite BB tune. I don’t blame him – everytime you hear it it sounds fresh and unique.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:32 | Comments (2)
2 Comments
  1. snow outside and Beach Boys playing inside….good way to spend a cold snowy day.

    Comment by Jana — February 2, 2013 @ 10:33 am


  2. Nice post. We can definitely use some “Warmth of the Sun” here in New England.

    Comment by "Keys" — February 12, 2013 @ 6:22 pm


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