Posts Tagged ‘Brian Wilson’

Beach Boys

For some bands, it’s an awesome to try and collate what their best album is. For instance Do you prefer Abbey Road, Revolver, or Sgt. Peppers? Siamese Dream or Mellon Collie?. Some bands have a best album that’s hard to debate against. Despite a vast catalogue of 29 studio albums (plus a few legendary discontinued records) and loads of hit singles, there’s a critical consensus that 1966’s Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys‘ is their greatest record, It’s a highly personal work from Brian Wilson that captures him at the peak of his composing teenage symphonies to God. I’m not going to argue with the consensus, For a window of time, they were one of the few American bands that could legitimately rival The Beatles. It’s hard to remember that now, amidst all the legal battles over rights to the band’s name and the tidal waves of sloppily-curated studio session box sets, but for awhile and, yes, even beyond the release of Pet SoundsThe Beach Boys were making albums that were strange and beautiful in equal measure. The great and storied (and eventually released) Smile was supposed to follow that, but was aborted after Mike Love’s objection to it and the label’s demand for a deadline. Brian’s mental health also got in the way.

Their power was in more than just those two albums though. There are hardly any Beach Boys albums that don’t have at least one worthy song,  The Beach Boys have many other worthwhile albums in their catalogue. Here are my favourites from these Californians Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, and Bruce Johnston:

The Beach Boys Summer Days and Summer Nights

Summer Days (And Summer Nights!) ( 1965 )

Often the mark of a good Beach Boys album is how much of it is contributed by the Wilsons, as opposed to the less talented members. There’s plenty of Brian Wilson genius on Summer Days, Of all The Beach Boys’ albums featuring exclamation marks, Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) is the strongest. Released in 1965, it was then a 23-year-old Brian Wilson’s ninth studio album and provided the platform for the complex harmonies and chord structures of overplayed/underappreciated pop standards like “California Girls” and a superior version of “Help Me, Rhonda” that he’d become famous for. It’s an album of high highs, like Brian’s nod to Phil Spector’s signature powerhouse sound on the gorgeous “Let Him Run Wild” as well as equivalent limbo-champion lows.

Summer Days is a borderline surf-rock album (Capitol Records demanded he return to these themes after The Beach Boys Today! failed to sell as well as past records) with a song dedicated to Salt Lake City. The track “I’m So Bugged At My Ol’ Man” is so laughably bad that Brian cited his vocals as “Too Embarrassed” on the album. Also the Carl Wilson showcase ‘Girl Don’t Tell Me’, but it’s offset by Mike Love’s crassness on cuts like ‘Salt Lake City’ and ‘Amusement Parks U.S.A.’.

People like to say that although Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) is the technical predecessor to Pet Sounds, Today! is the true predecessor. I actually disagree. Side B of Today! is undeniable in the development of Pet Sounds, but in different ways Summer Days came closer. (It also has the superior version of “Help Me, Rhonda.”) It came out a month before The Beatles’ Help!, and both of those albums feel similar. They’re both the last album by each band to contain any resemblance to their early material, and both followed by what’s largely considered each band’s first 10/10 classic. Summer Days‘ most obvious achievement is “California Girls,” which is sort of the significantly better sequel to “I Get Around.” Like that song, it’s still fair to call it surf pop, but other than Mike Love’s nasally vocals and the lyrics, this is much closer to the heavily-arranged pop of Pet Sounds. Brian conducting The Wrecking Crew on this one was his greatest musical achievement to date (Hal Blaine’s drumming and the song’s intro are major highlights), and the harmonies in the chorus are transcendental. The Brian-sung, Wall of Sound-inspired “Let Him Run Wild” could fit on Pet Sounds without changing it at all. “You’re So Good to Me” is close too and the a cappella closer “And Your Dreams Come True” is the most psychedelic the band’s harmonies had sounded at that point. “Amusement Parks U.S.A.” is a fascinating one because it kind of sounds like Mike Love fighting to make it “Fun, Fun, Fun” over Brian’s increasingly darker arrangements. The one cover here is of a Phil Spector song, which is a fitting tribute to his hero who he’d eclipse on his next album. And then there’s the great “Girl Don’t Tell Me,” which basically predicts The Shins’ first two albums. It doesn’t have the cohesion of Pet Sounds or side B of Today!, but it’s a collection of some the band’s finest material.

Beach Boys

Friends (1968)

If there’s a most underrated Beach Boys album, it’s gotta be Friends. It wasn’t popular like their early material, and it wasn’t a critical darling like Pet Sounds either. But it’s really just about as good. If Smile had come out and gained success and competed with Sgt. Pepper’s, maybe Friends would be talked about in the same breath as White Album. But the way things played out, you’ll hardly hear it mentioned in the same breath as The Notorious Byrd Brothers. It’s still up the stripped-down, lo-fi alley of Smiley Smile and Wild Honey, but it’s prettier and less quirky. Brian’s unique vision of pop music and the band’s unparalleled harmonies are as intact here as they are on Pet Sounds and Smile, and there’s truly no skippable track.

The harmonies on “Anna Lee, The Healer” are some of the most gorgeous of the band’s career. They’re so full-sounding that you forget they’re only backed by piano, a bass, and the tiniest bit of hand drumming. Mike Love had just gotten back from a trip to India to study Transcendental Meditation with The Beatles and Donovan, so even he was on board with the ’60s counter-culture stuff this time. The closing track is actually named “Transcendental Meditation,” it’s one of the band’s most outwardly psychedelic songs ever, and Mike Love even helped write it. This is the first one where Dennis was a key songwriter too, and his contributions (“Little Bird” and “Be Still”) are both up there with Brian’s. The one-two of opening tracks “Meant for You” into “Friends” is as good an album introduction as any, and this album’s genre experiments are successful too. “Busy Doin’ Nothin’” toys with bossa nova, while the instrumental “Diamond Head” incorporates Hawaiian music. It’s not an album with Brian in the conductor’s booth, but it’s definitely the one where they clicked most as a band.

beach-boys-love-you

The Beach Boys Love You ( 1977 )

Love You was initially intended as a solo debut for Brian Wilson, who provides most of the songs, instrumentation, and lead vocals. It’s an oddity in The Beach Boys’ catalogue – largely played by Wilson on synthesisers, it sounds off the cuff where most Beach Boys records are pristine and lovingly arranged. But it’s a fascinating insight into Wilson’s state of mind in the late 1970s, oscillating between childlike playfulness and devastating insightfulness.

Admittedly, I like Love You more in concept than in actuality, but the story behind it and the weirdness of its existence keep it interesting. After Brian had retreated from much of the band’s writing and recording, he took most of Love You on by himself It hearkened back in spirit to Pet Sounds and “Good Vibrations,” but it was recorded largely with synthesizers before that approach became commonplace. Theoretically, Love You is what Animal Collective and Panda Bear have spent the last nine years doing (though in reality, they’ve bested this album a few times). It’s a total outlier in the band’s catalog, a highly underrated album of the late ’70s, and a rare moment where Brian took control of songwriting during that era. It’s the first must-hear album on this list.

Beach Boys Holland

Holland ( 1973 )

After the underwhelming Carl and the Passions, The Beach Boys attempted to focus Brian Wilson by recording in the Netherlands. Wilson was still troubled, listening obsessively to Randy Newman’s Sail Away during the trip, but he was functional enough to contribute the opener ‘Sail On Sailor’. Carl provides the historical epic ‘The Trader’, and even Mike Love contributes the likeable ‘Big Sur’. It was the last really satisfying group effort from The Beach Boys before the success of the Endless Summer compilation turned them into an oldies act.

After Blondie Chaplin struggled to fit in with the band’s sound on Carl and the Passions – “So Tough,” he ends up being the strongest part of Holland. Blondie takes lead vocals on opener “Sail On, Sailor,” a song Brian had written with Smile collaborator Van Dyke Parks that was given to the other band members (and a few co-writers) to finish. It’s the album’s best song, and remains their most memorable ’70s single.

Some of the Wilson/Parks song cycles also must have rubbed off on Mike Love and Al Jardine, who offer the three-part “California Saga,” one of Love’s finest moments in the band. There isn’t much contribution from Brian on this one, but all the members are on their A game and it’s really a progressive record. There are no throwaways or silly covers or needless instrumentals, and no throwbacks to their early days or misguided hard rock songs. but today it sounds like a gem of that era.

The Beach Boys Wild Honey

Wild Honey  ( 1967 )

The Beach Boys recorded the relatively straightforward Wild Honey at the height of psychedelia. It must have made them look anachronistic when The Beatles were making Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour, but it holds up well, with the group handling most of the instruments themselves and Carl recording terrific lead vocals on songs like ‘Darlin” and a cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘I Was Made To Love Her’.

This was a Beach Boys attempt at an Stax-inspired album should have been, for all intents and purposes, a bona fide disaster, as there are very few things whiter than suburban boys in matching pinstripe shirts and ’50s-style crewcuts. Instead, 1967’s Wild Honey marks a return to music created in-house by The Beach Boys themselves instead of the complex instrumentalist backings performed by the Wrecking Crew forPet Sounds and Smile. Even though it’s the last album that features Brian as primary composer, it’s cherub-voiced Carl who took the lead on many songs and in many areas of production on the album. The only actual connection to Smile though is “Mama Says,” which is a reworked part of “Vega-Tables.” Sometimes I actually prefer this weird a cappella version.

What Wild Honey lacks in musical complexity, it makes up for in personality on songs like the title track for the most part, his lead vocals help his songs to resonate through clear pop hooks and infectious lightheartedness in ways that no song on any of Brian’s hyper-controlled albums ever could. Even Brian sounds like he’s having actual fun as lead on the deceptively innocent “I’d Love Just Once to See You” and “Here Comes the Night” .

The Beach Boys All Summer Long

All Summer Long  ( 1964 )

At only 25 minutes long, and containing filler like studio banter and an unremarkable guitar solo on ‘Carl’s Big Chance’, All Summer Long is a remnant of the era before the pop LP as an art-form. But there’s a lot of great material here – ‘I Get Around’ was the deserved hit single, but there are also great album tracks like ‘Girls On The Beach’ and ‘We’ll Run Away’.

“The Warmth of the Sun” may have hinted at the balladry of Pet Sounds, but the first time we hear Brian attempting the multi-layered complex pop is “I Get Around.” It was All Summer Long‘s lead single, opening track, and The Beach Boys’ first U.S. #1 song. The song sounded enough like a fun-in-the-sun pop song to fit in with stuff like “Fun, Fun, Fun” and “Surfin’ USA,” but Brian knew it was so much more. The way he brings in the overlapping vocal harmonies in the intro was some of his most complex work to date. And though he had worked with members of The Wrecking Crew before (the group of session musicians who Phil Spector also worked with), this was the first time he teamed with them to give The Beach Boys his own spin on Spector’s Wall of Sound. If you’re making a list of milestones leading up to Pet Sounds, this song is a major one. The album’s title track, “Wendy,” and “Don’t Back Down” are three more stone cold classics of the early era; and “We’ll Run Away” and “Girls on the Beach” are two more of Brian’s excellent falsetto-led ballads. Both of them show how essential the group’s lush harmonies would be to those types of songs in their psychedelic period.

beach-boys-adult-child

Adult/Child  ( 1977 ) (unreleased)

It might be cheating including an unreleased, but widely bootlegged, album in this list, but Adult/Child is a fascinating part of the Beach Boys story. Brian Wilson launched into recording Adult/Child just five days after completing Love You, but instead of using synthesisers, he often utilised big band arrangements, reminiscent of Sinatra. The record company rejected it for being too strange, but it’s no stranger than Love You, and it feels more like a group effort, with lead vocals from all five Beach Boys.

Beach Boys

The Beach Boys

I said in the intro that there are hardly any Beach Boys albums that don’t have at least one worthy song. I’ve mentioned a few highlights on the previous albums, but starting here, every album has a handful of worthwhile tracks. Brian wrote or co-wrote three songs on this one, and horribly dated production aside, you can still hear some of his magic. All three of Brian’s contributions have melodic changes that ever so slightly hint at his better days, and even the songs that aren’t penned by him have those Beach Boys harmonies that still no other band has been able to master. It didn’t produce any real Beach Boys staples and it didn’t break any of the ground that their best releases did, but it’s too straight-up enjoyable to fully hate.

Especially given the sort of ’80s pop revival that goes on today, these songs could be very fashionable right now with a little tweaking. Dev Hynes would probably love to write a song like “Crack At Your Love.”

Beach Boys

20/20 (1969)

This one has an uneven and often disappointing side A, but side B is almost flawless. Side A kicks off with “Do It Again,” an obvious throwback to their early days in sound and song title, which felt like a major regression coming right after the band’s most creative period. Brian co-wrote it with Mike Love, and it’s always seemed like the moment Brian finally gave in to Mike’s three-year-long pleas to return to this sound. Side A also has the hard rocking “All I Want to Do,” a sound that’s never suited them well, and Bruce Johnston’s pretty but mostly-unnecessary instrumental “The Nearest Faraway Place.” At least those are balanced out by Dennis’ quality ballad “Be with Me” and a fine Carl-sung version of The Ronettes’ “I Can Hear Music” (honoring the band’s Phil Spector influence once again). Side B begins with a cover of blues legend Lead Belly, and only gets better from there. The psychedelic waltz “I Went to Sleep” is up there with Brian’s best work and “Time to Get Alone” isn’t far behind. (They were also both reportedly written before the 20/20 sessions, which is not surprising.)

Then comes Dennis’ masterful “Never Learn Not to Love,” which was based on a song given to him by his then-friend Charles Manson (despite Manson being a truly horrific person, it is difficult to deny his musical talent). And they’re less necessary in this context now that The Smile Sessions exist, but the album closes with two of the very best songs from the then-abandoned Smile, “Our Prayer” and “Cabinessence.”

Beach Boys

Carl and The Passions “So Tough” (1972)

This is the followup to their last truly excellent album, and the first to feature Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar. Blondie’s contributions would improve significantly on the next album, Holland , but here his harder rock tendencies feel out of place and often hold the band back. Brian doesn’t take lead on any songs and only contributes a bit of songwriting (including the highlight “Marcella”), but the real star on this album is Dennis. His ballads “Make It Good” and “Cuddle Up” are as good as most anything he’s written.

“Cuddle Up” was written by The Beach Boys‘ drummer, Dennis Wilson, and Daryl Dragon of The Captain and Tennille. “Cuddle Up” appeared on The Beach Boys‘ 1972 album, Carl and the Passions – “So Tough”. It was also the B-side of the single, “You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone”.

Beach Boys Surf's Up

Surf’s Up ( 1971 )

Surf’s Up is a decidedly two paced record. You get divine music from the angels, like the beautiful title track (a Smile leftover), Brian’s ‘Til I Die’, and two of Carl’s best Beach Boys songs, ‘Feel Flows’ and ‘Long Promised Road’, but you also have to sit through atrocities like ‘Take Good Care Of Your Feet’ and Love’s hackneyed ‘Student Demonstration Time’.

The Beach Boys’ released Surf’s Up, and despite the tongue-in-cheek title it was the darkest album the band would ever record. The album cover depicts a nod to “End of the Trail,” a sculpture featuring a broken-down Native American man who, after coming to a sudden halt, is about to plummet over an unseen precipice—given Brian’s all-consuming nervous breakdown within the next two years, the imagery is all too portentous.

Straight from the discordant chords that open the album on “Don’t Go Near the Water,” the album is miles from “Surfin’ Safari” as an early pioneer of prog rock. Carl’s alien and ethereal “Feel Flows” finally connected The Beach Boys to the counterculture more than the album’s Kent State shooting protest jam “Student Demonstration Time” ever could, and the organ-laden “A Day in the Life of a Tree” and the haunting “Til I Die” may just be Brian’s last great compositions. But the real standout is the album’s title track, a leftover from Smile. “Surf’s Up” is innovative, enigmatic and sublime evidence of the woulda/coulda/shoulda run for their money The Beach Boys almost gave the Beatles in 1967.

Beach Boys Sunflower

Sunflower  (1970 )

1970’s Sunflower takes the group’s penchant for sun-soaked melody and applies it more gently on an album that exudes warmth through skilled, elegant production. The Beach Boys’ efforts on the album “in many respects, it’s their Abbey Road a lush production that signaled an end to the 1960s, the decade that gave them creative flight.” There are points when Sunflower is too decadent for its own good ”Tears in the Morning” oozes schmaltz, including a literal accordion solo when Bruce Johnston laments that his wife has left him for Europe—but the album also contains the the undeniably cool shoegazing precursor “All I Wanna Do” and the aching “Forever,” Dennis Wilson’s finest lead vocal contribution apart from his solo work on Pacific Ocean Blue.

The Beach Boys re-focused at the beginning of the 1970s, after signing to Reprise Records. The album went through a troubled genesis – there were enough leftover songs from the aborted attempts to form a bootleg named Landlocked – but the results were strong, a collaborative album with songs from Brian, Dennis, and Bruce Johnston.

After the 1960s ended, The Beach Boys had another creative boost. They weren’t doing weird lo-fi recordings anymore, and they successfully moved past the indecisive 20/20 to write another classic album. An early highlight is Brian’s “This Whole World” that sounded more spirited that he had in a while, and he and Carl sound great singing it together. “Deirdre,” “All I Wanna Do,” and “Our Sweet Love” have remnants of the psychedelic era, and they’re three of the band’s most gorgeous ’70s songs. They also managed to tack on a Smile leftover that never made it on the eventual Smile tracklist, “Cool, Cool Water.” Dennis’ songwriting contributions were becoming more and more important to the band, and it’s actually he who wrote the album’s best song: “Forever.” He must have hung around his brother enough that he picked up a trick or two, because this is the same kind of intimate beauty Brian perfected on “God Only Knows” and “Caroline, No.” Sometimes “Brian Wilson” and “The Beach Boys” begin to feel synonymous, but Dennis wrote enough great songs in their career to make up an album of their own. He’s The Beach Boys’ George Harrison in a way. (And actually, he did make an album of his own: 1977’s Pacific Ocean Blue, which may be the best Beach Boys offshoot album.)

The Beach Boys Smile Sessions

The Smile Sessions recorded 1965-1971, released  ( 2011 )

Smile was Brian Wilson’s ambitious followup to Pet Sounds, but it was beset with difficulties – Wilson became laden with addiction, superstition, and pressure from band mates, and was unable to complete the project, despite the massive success of single ‘Good Vibrations’. While many of the key songs turned up on later Beach Boys albums, and it was widely bootlegged, it wasn’t until Wilson’s 2004 re-recording of the project that there was a template for an official version, and it’s often spellbinding.

The 2011 release of The Smile Sessions finally gave us the 1967 recordings, assembled mostly according to the BWPS tracklist (with input by Brian), and it’s probably about 90-something percent done compared to the way Brian envisioned it at the time. Considering his perfectionism was hitting insane levels at that time, this is a more-than-acceptable version of the album.

Still, the possibilities did, and in some ways still do, remain endless. If Smile came out in 1967, would “Good Vibrations” have turned into an eight-minute song? Or a 15-minute one? Going by the song getting a full disc of outtakes, that doesn’t sound impossible. And would it really have ended up as the last track on the album? Either way, the album as we know it is as amazing as it was always hyped to be. It took what Brian had achieved on Pet Sounds to wildly new levels, it topped anything The Beatles had done, and it quite possibly would have been the greatest album of the 1960s if it had come out then.

Pet Sounds is a perfect album of pop songs, any of which exist as perfect pop songs on their own. But working with Van Dyke Parks, Brian crafted Smile as a song cycle where countless segments were recorded separately (enough to fill five discs on the box set version of The Smile Sessions), intended to be pieced together as one massive statement. (As you may know, Van Dyke Parks put out his own similarly-minded album that same year, simply titled Song Cycle.) Where songs exist that could be considered covers, like Dennis’ haunting medley of “You Are My Sunshine” and “The Old Master Painter” or the segment of doo wop song “Gee,” they’re working within the storyline of the album. The same is true for the instrumentals and the a cappella songs. A few absolute classic pop songs appear — “Heroes and Villains,” “Cabin Essence,” “Surf’s Up,” and of course “Good Vibrations” but even those take on a larger life within the context of the album. What is “Heroes and Villains” without “Our Prayer” and “Gee” leading into it? Or “Surf’s Up” without “Child Is Father of The Man”? And “Good Vibrations” manages to sound even more epic coming right out of “Love to Say Dada.” (“Good Vibrations” is, by the way, the greatest pop song of all time.

I’ll still take certain Smiley Smile and bootleg versions over the ones here. And Brian’s solo piano version of “Surf’s Up” bests the full-band one. That doesn’t actually take away from the album though. Those versions still exist and they’re still great to listen to, but no bootleg could sequence and transition these songs the way Brian could and eventually did. Even if it wouldn’t have been exactly like this in the ’60s. It’s still tragic that Brian’s internal demons and the album’s external enemies prevented it from being released then. But maybe it needed to be this way. Maybe Smile was truly ahead of its time, and it needed to sit in the vaults, slowly become a legend, and finally get a release over 40 years later. Or maybe I’m just buying too much into good ol’ fashioned rock ‘n’ roll myth-making. Either way, it’s expertly executed ambition from an artist who’s truly a pop genius.

The Beach Boys, 'Smiley Smile'

Smiley Smile  (1967)

Let’s just get one thing out of the way right now: Smiley Smile isn’t Smile, the much-mythologized magnum opus Brian meant to follow up Pet Sounds with. The album—Brian’s “teenage symphony to God”—was meant to be an auditory journey across America via Van Dyke Parks’ tongue-twisting lyrics and Brian’s soundscape vignettes of American life to, the through-line of classical composition not to replace pop’s intimacy but to reinforce it, linking one personal moment to the next.” After 90 hours of tape and an estimated $50,000 spent on “Good Vibrations” alone, Smile was shelved, and The Beach Boys still owed Capitol a record. Enter Smiley SmileThe Beach Boys cranked out the diminutively-titled album in under two months to meet the record label’s deadline. It was met with critical confusion, and even Carl bemoaned it as “a bunt instead of a grandslam.” And it’s true: Not to mince words, but Smiley Smile is fucking weird, to the point where it’s almost … remarkable? It contains obvious Smile-era standouts like “Good Vibrations” and the poignant Western-themed “Heroes and Villains,” but those are nestled in among the stoner strangeness of lo-fi-produced songs like “Wind Chimes” and “Wonderful.” “Vegetables” features the percussive rhythm of one Paul McCartney chomping celery, and “She’s Going Bald” is a hilarious reminder that The Beach Boys were 100% dudes in their early 20s, Pet Sounds elegance be damned. As far as late ’60s time capsules go, Smiley Smile is a goofy exploration of the new musical freedom The Beach Boys had, even if nobody—including the band themselves—took it too seriously.

Some days Smiley Smile is my favorite Beach Boys album, if Smile would’ve come out in 1967 how the history of pop music would’ve changed because of it. Would it have topped Sgt. Pepper’s?  Would that have caused The Beatles to react the way they reacted to Pet Sounds, causing them to write an entirely different album than White Album?.  I wish Mike Love wasn’t resisting it’s release, I wish the label wasn’t rushing Brian to put something out,  Smile was aborted, it resulted in Smiley Smile, one of the strangest and absolute greatest albums of the strange and absolutely great 1960s. Most of the album was material written for Smile, which would’ve been Brian’s grandest and most ambitious statement to date, instead turned into minimal lo-fi recordings in his home studio. Where “Vega-Tables” had countless musicians on the Smile version, here it was backed by little more than a 2-note bassline.  “Little Pad,” one of the songs that wasn’t written for Smile, has the band laughing while they’re singing. “She’s Goin’ Bald,” based on a Smile track that never made it on the eventual tracklist, has the band pitching up their voices until they sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks. It’s obvious why it flopped as a followup to Pet Sounds, but it’s an endlessly fascinating album that we’re lucky exists. It’s easy to draw direct lines from this to the lo-fi indie scene of the ’90s, or like, Pinkerton. If an album was ever ahead of its time, this one is.

While Smile is absolutely the album it was always talked up to be, I prefer some of the Smiley Smile versions of these songs. This quirky version of “Vegetables” has always suited the lyrics better. And I’ll actually take the more minimal, haunting Smiley Smile version of “Wind Chimes” over the way Brian first intended it. Pet SoundsandSmile are no doubt classics of psychedelic pop, but they’ve never actually sounded as druggy as this album does. If you’re trying to convince a newcomer that the Beach Boys had an edge, sometimes you can’t even put on “Good Vibrations” or “God Only Knows” because people know those songs and never thought about them as psych-pop. But put on the Smiley Smile version of “Wonderful” or “Fall Breaks And Back To Winter” and they might say, “That’s The Beach Boys?” It’s amazing that almost 50 years into this album’s existence, it’s still that shocking.

The Beach Boys Today!

Today!  ( 1965 )

If Pet Sounds is famous for being Brian’s “complete statement” to rival the thematic continuity of The Beatles’ Rubber Soul, then the roots of thier efforts lie in The Beach Boys Today!. It came out three months after Beatles for Sale, which was The Beatles’ first album after Bob Dylan had introduced them to pot. The transition that album makes is undeniable, and likewise Today! is Brian’s first album after being introduced to pot and it’s the first one that you can’t call surf pop.

Side One is run-of-the-mill pop fodder laced with the surf guitar riffs familiar to the group’s early albums on songs like “Do You Wanna Dance?” ‘When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)’, and “Help Me, Ronda,” a standout despite the unnecessary fake fadeouts and the brutal recording sessions it look to make it (hear the Wilson brothers’ father drunkenly berate them and sweet, sweet Al for almost 45 minutes as they try to record the song’s tricky harmonies . But Side Two is where The Beach Boys Today! shines, on which Brian creates a suite of cohesive ballads that turn the band’s attention away from cars, girls and surf to focus on more introspective themes. Brian began to experiment with non-traditional pop music instrumentation,but it’s the second side that’s truly spellbinding, a mini-suite that’s like an overlooked younger sibling of Pet Sounds, with great tunes like ‘Kiss Me Baby’, ‘Please Let Me Wonder’, and the doo-wop of ‘I’m So Young’, It’s a stunning statement from a young Brian Wilson. using French horns and additional pianos, basses and saxophones on confessional tracks like “She Knows Me Too Well” and “In the Back of My Mind” for a stunning departure from the band’s previous style.

beach boys

Pet Sounds’ (1966)

Brian got blown away by the Beatles’ Rubber Soul, and Pet Sounds was his response. He paid the price for ditching their hitmaking formula when Pet Sounds flopped. Now it’s one of the planet’s most beloved albums (ranking Number Two on Rolling Stone‘s list of the 500 greatest albums). Yet it’s still startling to hear, full of alien sonic details. Especially “God Only Knows,” a song everybody wishes they could sing, although only angels or Carl Wilson could reach the high notes.

beach boys

‘Endless Summer’ (1974)

A whole album of “Fun, Fun, Fun,” stretched out to a double-vinyl portrait of the life and death of the American dream. Endless Summerhas all the early hits – from the joyride of “I Get Around” to the moody gloom of “In My Room.” It cuts off before Pet Sounds, but it still remains their essential anthology – if only because you’re guaranteed not to run into “Kokomo.”

thanks Aphoristic Album Reviews, Paste Magazine

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Orange Crate Art

Orange Crate Art is the first collaborative studio album by American musicians Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks, released in 1995 on Warner Bros. Records. The album consists mostly of songs written and arranged by Parks, with Wilson featured as lead and backing vocalist. Its title refers to the sun-drenched, idealized paintings that grace wooden fruit crates, and its theme is a nostalgic view of the history of California.

Brian Wilson and wunderkind lyricist Van Dyke Parks worked together in the mid-1960s to compose The Beach Boys’ famously shelved SMILE album; the pair re-teamed 30 years later for Orange Crate Art. “It was to extol the propagandist art that brought California a sense of realty,” notes Parks of the title song, and the entire Warner Bros. collection paints the Golden State with a nostalgic glow. That’s Wilson’s sweet spot, even if songs like “My Hobo Heart,” “Hold Back Time” and “Lullaby” recall an era that predates surf music. As on their first collaboration, the wordplay is intricate, the arrangements dense and varied, and no expense has been spared to bring in top-flight instrumentalists. This is Brian Wilson’s birthday, and while others may mark it with his ’60s hits, we’ll take a deeper dive to celebrate the late-career resurgence heard on Orange Crate Art.

The song “Sail Away” from Brian Wilson & Van Dyke Parks’ 1995 album “Orange Crate Art”.

The Beach Boys released three albums chock full of material from 1967!

1967 – Sunshine Tomorrow, 1967 – Sunshine Tomorrow 2: The Studio Sessions, and Live Sunshine – 1967 dive deep into a fascinating and frenetic chapter in The Beach Boys’ long, groundbreaking creative arc, exploring the band’s dynamic year through their recordings. The Beach Boys have personally overseen the creative process for the three collections, which are produced by Mark Linnet and Alan Boyd. Reviewer Jesse Jarnow praised 1967 – Sunshine Tomorrow as “remarkable,” saying, “These recordings make it possible to hear The Beach Boys simultaneously as the moody pop geniuses of Pet Sounds and the fresh-faced surf-rockin’ teens from Hawthorne, California.”

1967 – Sunshine Tomorrow features Linett and Boyd’s new, first-ever stereo mix of The Beach Boys’ 1967 Wild Honey album and all three collections throw open the legendary band’s vault to debut sought-after rarities, 50 years after they were put to tape. Previously unreleased highlights across the titles include The Beach Boys’ shelved “live” album, Lei’d in Hawaii, studio recordings from the Wild Honey and Smiley Smile album sessions, and standout concert recordings spanning 1967 to 1970. Wild Honey’s 2017 stereo mix is also available in a 180-gram vinyl 50th Anniversary Edition.

The Beach Boys’ final studio session for the shelved SMiLE album took place on May 18th, 1967, with Smiley Smile album sessions booked at Brian Wilson’s new home studio from June 3rd through the end of July. The band’s 12th and 13thstudio albums were released exactly three months apart to cap the year’s studio efforts: Smiley Smile on September 18th followed by Wild Honey on December 18th.

For the Smiley Smile sessions, “I wanted to have a home environment trip where we could record at my house,” recalls Brian Wilson in the liner notes for 1967 – Sunshine Tomorrow. “I wanted to try something different, something new. I produced Smiley Smile, but Mike inspired me. He said ‘Brian, let’s make a really good, easygoing album’. We had an engineer convert my den into a studio. We had my piano detuned to make it ring more.”

“Just prior to that, Brian had built up this production peak and then just completely reversed field, and (for Smiley Smile) did something so light and airy, and y’ know, easy,” explains Mike Love. “That was an underground album, I figure, for us. It was completely out of the mainstream of what was going on at that time, which was all hard rock, psychedelic music, and here we come with a song called ‘Wind Chimes.’ It just didn’t have anything to do with what was going on – and that was the idea.”

“Times were changing,” adds Al Jardine. “We were happy to put our musical skills to work. We didn’t have to look at the clock; there was virtually 24-hour availability to experiment.”

In ’67, The Beach Boys Still Raised A Smile

It was, at the time, an album of what might have been, but Smiley Smile is nonetheless a fascinating chapter in the story of the Beach Boys.

The early weeks of that year saw Brian Wilson experimenting with ever more sophisticated studio techniques in his quest to follow the groundbreaking Pet Sounds opus of 1966. The first working title for the new project was Dumb Angelwhich later changed to the name that would become legendary among legions of fans as the great lost Beach Boys record, Smile.

The ambitious ideas and often eccentric methodology that Wilson explored with lyricist Van Dyke Parks, for what was envisaged as an even greater sonic tour de force than Pet Sounds, were often met with bemusement by Brian’s band members. Huge sections of what was recorded were subsequently abandoned, and became the subject of great conjecture among devotees for the next four decades.

In more recent years, Wilson let audiences into his creative process of the periodfirstly with the 2004 live performances that became the Brian Wilson Presents Smile album, and then via Capitol’s The Smile Sessions box set, which set out to reassemble much of it in 2011.

Heroes and VillainsBut at the time, what remained of the work was gathered together on Smiley SmileIt was something of a curate’s egg of a disc, onto which Capitol placed the previous year’s masterwork ‘Good Vibrations’ and a tantalising glimpse of what might have been, in the epic ‘Heroes and Villains.’ The song charted in the summer and performed well, reaching No. 8 in the UK and No. 12 in the US.

British audiences, indeed, remained loyal to the Beach Boys through the year, also giving them an unlikely hit with the incongruously belated release of ‘Surfer Girl.’ Even as the Smile sessions were unravelling in May, the group (minus Brian) were delighting British audiences on an eight-date, two-shows-a-night tour.

Smiley Smile included several whimsical and sometimes downright peculiar material, such as ‘Vegetables’ and ‘She’s Goin’ Bald,’ but it was also home to Carl Wilson’s lovely vocal interpretation of a Parks lyric and his brother’s melody on ‘Wonderful.’ American audiences never fully embraced the album, which peaked there at No. 41; in the UK, it didn’t enter the chart until November, but spent four weeks in the top ten and peaked at No. 9. It was a positive end to a difficult year.

All three of the releases document the group’s pivotal post-Pet Sounds period – including sessions for Smiley Smile and Wild Honey, the two 1967 albums they recorded after shelving the famously ambitious SMiLE LP. 1967 – Sunshine Tomorrow 2: The Studio Sessions includes 29 studio session recordings, and Live Sunshine – 1967 features 109 live recordings, most of which are previously unreleased.

Highlights from the Studio Sessions set include an a cappella version of “Heroes and Villains,” the previously unreleased “Tune L” and outtake “Good News.” The live set includes recordings from Hawaii, Detroit, Washington D.C.; White Plains, New York; Pittsburgh and Boston.

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The Beach Boys oversaw the creative process for all three collections, which Mark Linett and Alan Boyd co-produced. 1967 – Sunshine Tomorrow included Linett and Boyd’s first-ever stereo mix of Wild Honey; the previously unreleased “live” album Lei’d in Hawaii, studio recordings from the Wild Honey and Smiley Smile sessions and concert recordings spanning 1967 to 1970.

On August 25th and 26th, 1967, The Beach Boys (absent Bruce Johnston, but with Brian Wilson on organ for his first concert appearances with the band in more than two years) recorded two concerts and rehearsals in Honolulu for a prospective live album to be titled Lei’d In Hawaii, applying a new Smiley Smile-inspired aesthetic to the performances. Just over two weeks later, the band (with both Brian and Bruce participating) began re-recording the live set in-studio at Brian’s house and at Wally Heider Recording in Hollywood, after the Honolulu concert tapes were deemed unusable. Although completed and mixed, the final planned audio element of a canned concert audience was not added and the Lei’d In Hawaii project was cancelled. Those live, in-studio performances morphed into sessions for the Wild Honey album, primarily comprised of original Brian Wilson/Mike Love compositions.

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Two days after wrapping the Wild Honey sessions on November 15th, 1967, Mike Love, Carl and Dennis Wilson, Al Jardine, and Bruce Johnston returned to the road for The Beach Boys’ Thanksgiving Tour, premiering several songs from the forthcoming album at their concerts.

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There’s a nice series on YouTube called “Behind The Sounds” which documents the production of several songs from “Pet Sounds”. As its celebrating the 50th anniversary of the outstanding “Pet Sounds” album, I really suggest checking out this series. I guarantee it will make you appreciate Pet Sounds even more. [Update: unfortunately, YouTube appears to have taken down some of the “Behind The Sounds” videos, but there are still a few up there!]

The following clip sheds some light on the making of the instrumental track, “Let’s Go Away For Awhile.” I like this video because it gives a sense of both the exacting quality of Brian Wilson’s vision for this record—you hear about his already fully-formed ideas of the deep sound he wanted from the snare drum, his request for Roy Caton to “turn away” as he delivers the last trumpet note, etc.—but also shows how many supremely talented musicians were involved in bringing his vision to life. 25 musicians appear on this track alone! Here’s a nice picture of some of the musicians at work during the Pet Sounds sessions (bassist Carol Kaye sits in the foreground).

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Soundstage: Brian Wilson and Friends

Brian Wilson and Friends

Salvo brings the 2015 Soundstage television program starring Brian Wilson, taped in Las Vegas, to a CD/DVD package.  The concert united Wilson with Al Jardine, Blondie Chaplin, Billy Hinsche and various special guests to celebrate his legendary songbook and his new album No Pier Pressure.  The CD features 19 tracks, and the DVD has 25 plus two bonus tracks and additional interview footage.

‘Brian Wilson and Friends’ was recorded live in Las Vegas for Chicago television’s prestigious ‘Soundstage’ programme. The programme features Brian Wilson’s phenomenal touring band (including long-time Beach Boys sidemen Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar) along with special guests Mark Isham, Kacey Musgraves, Nate Ruess (front man of Fun) and She & Him.

The tremendous set list on the DVD and CD includes the Beach Boys classics’ ‘Good Vibrations’, ‘Don’t Worry Baby’, ‘Wild Honey’, ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ and many more.

Brian Wilson tours the UK to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his album ‘Pet Sounds’ in May.

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The Reverberation Appreciation Society commissioned Al Lover to curate and produce a tribute to Brian Wilson’s career keystone.

The album will be released exclusively as a 180g 2xLP with gatefold packaging, limited to an edition of 2000. The album will be available at the Levitation festival starting April 29th, 2016, and available in stores with an official street date of May 27, 2016.

The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds: 50th Anniversary Collectors Edition Exclusive Signed Brian Wilson Lithograph Beach Bundle

petPet Sounds 50th Anniversary Reissue

When Capitol Records initially released “Pet Sounds” in the UK the label ran adverts in the music press like the one you can see here. At the time there were some fans who were confused by The Beach Boys’ 11th studio album where were the stripped shirts and the surf -boards? In the intervening 50 years Pet Sounds has been acknowledged as a masterpiece, a record that has topped countless polls of the greatest albums ever made and is revered by musicians and fans as the pinnacle of Brian Wilson’s song writing, production and all round creative genius. Fifty years on it is to be reissued in all its glory with bonus material that will have many drooling with pleasure.

The influence that Pet Sounds has had, began even before it’s release outside the USA. On Monday, 16th May, 1966, Bruce Johnston, who was then the newest Beach Boy, arrived at London’s Heathrow Airport carrying a copy Pet Sounds that had come out in the USA that very day – well in advance of its UK release.

The following day, in his suite at the Waldorf Hotel, Bruce played Pet Sounds, in its entirety,for John Lennon and Paul McCartney – not once but twice. After the two Beatles left the Waldorf they went straight back to Paul’s house and there, inspired by Brian’s incredible music, they worked on the introduction to their song ‘Here, There and Everywhere’ that appeared on Revolver.

“Pet Sounds blew me out of the water. First of all, it was Brian’s writing. I love the album so much. I’ve just bought my kids each a copy of it for their education in life—I figure no one is educated musically ’til they’ve heard this album.” – Paul McCartney

Beach Boys Pet Sounds 1966

Ironically, given the love and respect that exists around the world for this album, the 1966 US release failed to achieve the kind of success that had been anticipated or the level of sales achieved by the band’s earlier albums. Pet Sounds made No.10 in the US. In the UK it fared far better, making No.2 on the album charts, the most successful of the band’s albums to that point.

The 50th anniversary release includes both Brian Wilson’s original mono mix and the later stereo remaster that captures the depth and perfection of Brian’s arrangements. The two ‘session’ CDs give us amazing insight into Brian’s control of the many musicians who play much of the music that underpins the sublime vocal harmonies of The Beach Boys.

Pet Sounds features some of the greatest LA musicians of the period. There are guitarists as varied as, Glen Campbell, Barney Kessel, Tommy Tedesco and Al Casey. On keyboards there’s Larry Knetchel, drummers, Hal Blaine and Jim Gordon along with French Horns, violins, an electric Theremin, and all manner of percussion instruments, including Coca-Cola cans. Listening to Brian encouraging, demanding and cajoling the musicians on the session tapes is like a master class in record production.

And then there are the vocals that include Brian Wilson’s most poignant ever performance on the sublime, ‘Caroline No’, Mike Love on ‘Here Today’, as well as Carl Wilson’s heart-stopping tour de force – ‘God Only Knows’. The fourth CD features a capella versions of the songs on the album and this is where The Beach Boys collectively shine. The soaring harmonies of ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’, the beautiful harmonic counterpoint of ‘I Know There’s An Answer’, and ‘I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times’ are all surf-soul music

Following the release of the album, ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’, ‘Sloop John B’ and ‘God Only Knows’ all became staples of The Beach Boys live shows and in more recent times, both, Brian and The Beach Boys touring band have featured songs from the album in concert and versions of Pet Sounds’s tracks performed live feature on disc 4  all of these are previously unreleased.

On ‘God Only Knows’ it is just Carl, Brian and Bruce that are singing and on the a capella version, when they finish their vocal, a voice asks, “How was that? Was that cool?” It’s Bruce Johnston asking the question and it is the perfect coda for not just the song, but also the album, because Pet Sounds is arguably the coolest record of all time. This is the kind of record that makes life worth living, reaffirming the notion that pop music is the most admired art form in the world. And make no mistake, Pet Sounds is art.

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All editions of the 50th anniversary Pet Sounds will be released on 10th June and we have an exclusive offer in our store for the 4CD Super Deluxe Edition that includes a Beach Ball and Beach Bag, as well as an exclusive slip mat with the stereo and mono vinyl editions of the album.

Pet Sounds (50th Anniversary Edition) will be available in several configurations, including a 4CD/Blu-ray Audio collectors edition presented in a hardbound book, featuring the remastered original album in stereo and mono, plus hi res stereo, mono, instrumental, and 5.1 surround mixes, session outtakes, alternate mixes, and previously unreleased live recordings; a 2CD and digital deluxe edition pairing the remastered album in stereo and mono with highlights from the collectors edition’s additional tracks; and remastered, 180-gram LP editions of the album in mono and stereo with faithfully replicated original artwork.

Track listings for the Pet Sounds 50th anniversary reissues

CD 1
Pet Sounds (Mono)

1. Wouldn’t It Be Nice
2. You Still Believe In Me
3. That’s Not Me
4. Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)
5. I’m Waiting For The Day
6. Let’s Go Away For Awhile
7. Sloop John B
8. God Only Knows
9. I Know There’s An Answer
10. Here Today
11. I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times
12. Pet Sounds
13. Caroline No
Pet Sounds (Stereo)
14. Wouldn’t It Be Nice
15. You Still Believe In Me
16. That’s Not Me
17. Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)
18. I’m Waiting For The Day
19. Let’s Go Away For Awhile
20. Sloop John B
21. God Only Knows
22. I Know There’s An Answer
23. Here Today
24. I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times
25. Pet Sounds
26. Caroline No
Additional Material
27. Caroline No (Promotional Spot #2)
28. Don’t Talk. . . (Unused Background Vocals)
29. Hang On To Your Ego (Alternate Mix)
30. Caroline No (Promotional Spot #1)

CD 2
The Pet Sounds Sessions

1. Sloop John B (Highlights from Tracking Date)
2. Sloop John B (Stereo Backing Track)
3. Trombone Dixie (Highlights from Tracking Date)
4. Trombone Dixie (Stereo Backing Track)
5. Pet Sounds (Highlights from Tracking Date)
6. Pet Sounds (Stereo Track Without Guitar Overdub)
7. Let’s Go Away For Awhile (Highlights from Tracking Date)
8. Let’s Go Away For Awhile (Stereo Track Without String Overdub)
9. Wouldn’t It Be Nice (Highlights from Tracking Date)
10. Wouldn’t It Be Nice (Stereo Backing Track)
11. Wouldn’t It Be Nice (Stereo Track with Background Vocals)
12. You Still Believe In Me (Intro – Session)
13. You Still Believe In Me (Intro – Master Take)
14. You Still Believe In Me (Highlights from Tracking Date)
15. You Still Believe In Me (Stereo Backing Track)
16. Caroline No (Highlights from Tracking Date)
17. Caroline No (Stereo Backing Track)
18. Hang On To Your Ego (Highlights from Tracking Date)
19. Hang On To Your Ego (Stereo Backing Track)
20. I Know There’s An Answer (Vocal Session) [previously unreleased]
21. Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder) (Brian’s Instrumental Demo)
22. Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder) (Stereo Backing Track)
23. Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder) (String Overdub)
24. I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times (Highlights from Tracking Date)
25. I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times (Stereo Backing Track)
26. That’s Not Me (Highlights from Tracking Date)
27. That’s Not Me (Stereo Backing Track)

CD 3
The Pet Sounds Sessions (continued)

1. Good Vibrations (Highlights from First Tracking Date)
2. Good Vibrations (Stereo Backing Track)
3. I’m Waiting For The Day (Highlights from Tracking Date)
4. I’m Waiting For The Day (Stereo Backing Track)
5. God Only Knows (Highlights from Tracking Date)
6. God Only Knows (Stereo Backing Track)
7. Here Today (Highlights from Tracking Date)
8. Here Today (Stereo Backing Track)
Alternate Versions
9. Wouldn’t It Be Nice (Mono Alternate Mix 1)
10. You Still Believe In Me (Mono Alternate Mix)
11. I’m Waiting For The Day (Mono Alternate Mix, Mike sings lead)
12. Sloop John B (Mono Alternate Mix, Carl sings first verse)
13. God Only Knows (Mono Alternate Mix, with sax solo)
14. I Know There’s An Answer (Alternate Mix) [previously unreleased]
15. Here Today (Mono Alternate Mix, Brian sings lead)
16. I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times (Mono Alternate Mix)
17. Banana & Louie
18. Caroline No (Original Speed, Stereo Mix)
19. Dog Barking Session
20. God Only Knows (With A Cappella Tag)
21. Wouldn’t It Be Nice (Mono Alternate Mix 2)
22. Sloop John B (Mono Alternate Mix, Brian sings lead throughout)
23. God Only Knows (Mono Alternate Mix, Brian sings lead)
24. Caroline No (Original Speed, Mono Mix)

CD 4
Live Recordings [all previously unreleased]

1. Wouldn’t It Be Nice
2. Sloop John B
3. God Only Knows
Michigan State University, October 22, 1966
4. Good Vibrations
5. God Only Knows
6. Wouldn’t It Be Nice
Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall, Washington DC, November 19, 1967
7. God Only Knows
Carnegie Hall, New York, November 23, 1972 (2nd Show)
8. God Only Knows
Jamaican World Music Festival, Montego Bay, Jamaica, November, 26, 1982
9. Sloop John B
Universal Studios, Universal City, California, May, 23, 1989
10. Caroline No
11. You Still Believe In Me
Paramount Theater, New York City, November 26, 1993
Stack-O-Vocals
12. Wouldn’t It Be Nice
13. You Still Believe In Me
14. That’s Not Me
15. Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)
16. I’m Waiting For The Day
17. Sloop John B
18. God Only Knows
19. I Know There’s An Answer
20. Here Today
21. I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times
22. Caroline No
Bonus Track
23. Good Vibrations (Master Track with Partial Vocal) (previously unreleased)

Blu-ray Pure Audio Disc
Pet Sounds:
5.1 Surround Sound: 96kHz/24-bit
Mono; Stereo; Stereo Instrumental (new to hi res): 192kHz/24-bit

1. Wouldn’t It Be Nice
2. You Still Believe In Me
3. That’s Not Me
4. Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)
5. I’m Waiting For The Day
6. Let’s Go Away For Awhile
7. Sloop John B
8. God Only Knows
9. I Know There’s An Answer
10. Here Today
11. I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times
12. Pet Sounds
13. Caroline No
Additional Material in 5.1 Surround and Stereo
14. Unreleased Backgrounds (Unused Intro for “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)”)
15. Wouldn’t It Be Nice (Session Highlights)
16. Wouldn’t It Be Nice (Alternative Mix without Lead Vocal)
17. God Only Knows (Session Highlights)
18. God Only Knows (Master Track Mix with A Cappella Tag)
19. Summer Means New Love
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Pet Sounds (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)
2CD

CD 1
Pet Sounds (Mono)
1. Wouldn’t It Be Nice
2. You Still Believe In Me
3. That’s Not Me
4. Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)
5. I’m Waiting For The Day
6. Let’s Go Away For Awhile
7. Sloop John B
8. God Only Knows
9. I Know There’s An Answer
10. Here Today
11. I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times
12. Pet Sounds
13. Caroline No
Pet Sounds (Stereo)
14. Wouldn’t It Be Nice
15. You Still Believe In Me
16. That’s Not Me
17. Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)
18. I’m Waiting For The Day
19. Let’s Go Away For Awhile
20. Sloop John B
21. God Only Knows
22. I Know There’s An Answer
23. Here Today
24. I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times
25. Pet Sounds
26. Caroline No

CD 2
Live Recordings [all previously unreleased]

1. Wouldn’t It Be Nice
2. Sloop John B
3. God Only Knows
Michigan State University, October 22, 1966
4. Good Vibrations
5. God Only Knows
6. Wouldn’t It Be Nice
Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall, Washington DC, November 19, 1967
7. God Only Knows
Carnegie Hall, New York, November 23, 1972 (2nd Show)
8. God Only Knows
Jamaican World Music Festival, Montego Bay, Jamaica, November, 26, 1982
9. Sloop John B
Universal Studios, Universal City, California, May, 23, 1989
10. Caroline No
11. You Still Believe In Me
Paramount Theater, New York City, November 26, 1993
Instrumentals
12. Wouldn’t It Be Nice
13. You Still Believe In Me
14. That’s Not Me
15. Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)
16. I’m Waiting For The Day
17. Let’s Go Away For A While
18. Sloop John B
19. God Only Knows
20. I Know There’s An Answer
21. Here Today
22. I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times
23. Pet Sounds
24. Caroline, No
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Mono Vinyl Reissue
1LP + download card

180-gram heavyweight black vinyl LP reissue of ‘Pet Sounds’ remastered in Mono. Includes download card for digital redemption of the audio.

Side A
1. Wouldn’t It Be Nice – Mono (2:22)
2. You Still Believe In Me – Mono (2:29)
3. That’s Not Me – Mono (2:27)
4. Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder) – Mono (2:50)
5. I’m Waiting For The Day – Mono (3:03)
6. Let’s Go Away For Awhile – Mono (2:18)
7. Sloop John B – Mono (2:55)
Side B
1. God Only Knows – Mono (2:49)
2. I Know There’s An Answer – Mono (3:07)
3. Here Today – Mono (2:52)
4. I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times – Mono (3:10)
5. Pet Sounds – Mono (2:20)
6. Caroline, No – Mono (2:53)
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Stereo Vinyl Reissue
1LP + download card

180-gram heavyweight black vinyl LP reissue of ‘Pet Sounds’ remastered in Stereo. Includes download card for digital redemption of the audio.

Side A
1. Wouldn’t It Be Nice – Stereo (2:34)
2. You Still Believe In Me – Stereo (2:34)
3. That’s Not Me – Stereo (2:29)
4. Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder) – Stereo (2:57)
5. I’m Waiting For The Day – Stereo (3:05)
6. Let’s Go Away For Awhile – Stereo (2:25)
7. Sloop John B – Stereo (3:00)
Side B
1. God Only Knows – Stereo (2:56)
2. I Know There’s An Answer – Stereo (3:16)
3. Here Today – Stereo (3:06)
4. I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times – Stereo (3:22)
5. Pet Sounds – Stereo (2:38)
6. Caroline, No – Stereo (2:52)

Pet Sounds 50th

 

 

On this day march 10th to April 11th in 1966 at CBS Columbia Square and United Western Recorders in Hollywood: The Beach Boys started recording the track “God Only Knows”; composed & produced by Brian Wilson with lyrics by Tony Asher and with lead vocal by Carl Wilson, it became a UK No2 single later that year & the B-side of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” in the US (plus, of course, the 8th track on the group’s legendary 11th studio album, ‘Pet Sounds’); it broke new ground as one of the first commercial songs to use the word ‘God’ in its title…Sung by his younger brother Carl Wilson, the Beach Boys recording was produced and arranged by Brian using an unorthodox selection of instruments, including french horns, accordians, sleigh bell and harpiscord plus a quartet of viola’s and cello heard throughout the piece.  The musical structure has been variously cited for its harmonic complexity,

The late George Martin, seen here sitting behind the wheel of a vintage Cadillac convertible, cruising through the streets Los Angeles and talking about the city’s history as a studio town. In the clip, taken from the 1997 BBC documentary “The Rhythm of Life,” Martin’s got a destination in mind as he rolls down Sunset Boulevard and up into the Hollywood Hills towards Brian Wilson’s house.

As he drives, Martin, whose work producing the Beatles changed the course of popular music, discusses the city.

“Los Angeles then, as well as now, was the center of the entertainment business,” he says. “Not just the film business, but music too. And everybody gravitated here. If you wanted to make records, generally speaking, Los Angeles was the place to come to.”

Then he gets to his point: “To mind my mind, no one ever made better records here than the local Southern California group the Beach Boys.”

For students of pop songwriting, the next four minutes are a lesson on artistic inspiration and technical agility. Martin quizzes Wilson on those essential Beach Boys melodies while the songwriter dots out the notes on a piano. Soon Wilson is pouring forth the chords to “God Only Knows.”

The scene cuts to the two in their natural habitat, a recording studio. They sit in front of a mixing board, the “God Only Knows” unmixed master playing in the background, and discuss the ways in which Wilson worked his magic.

Martin offers narrated insight: “What Brian Wilson had done was to write a beautiful song full of unusual changes, and then devise a tapestry of sounds to enhance it. To me it was fascinating, being a musical detective looking at the song structure back in the sort of studio in which I’d spent most of my working life.”

As the song plays, Wilson looks up at the ceiling, lost inside his brilliant creation while Martin plays with the mix, exploring the arrangements, techniques and tricks of Wilson’s trade. Martin adds a compliment — “It’s a lovely song and a beautiful record” — while making his own mix of “God Only Knows.” He slides vocal tracks up and down, mixes in percussion, explores the odd rhythmic accents.

As Wilson looks on, listening to what Martin has just done to his song, the Beach Boy comes to a startled conclusion: “You know what? That’s a better mix than I had on the master. You’re making a better mix of this than I did on the master!” “Never,” says Martin with typical humility.

Brian Wilson, his face filled with joyful wonder, concludes the scene by heaping praise George Martin’s casual accomplishment. “George, I can’t believe this is happening.”

Beach Boys Give Us Excitations

On the 18th February 1966, Beach Boy Brian Wilson recorded the future classic song ‘Good Vibrations’, which went on to become the band’s third US number-one hit. As a child, his mother told him that dogs could pick up “vibrations” from people, so that the dog would bark at “bad vibrations” Wilson turned this into the general idea for the song.

He wasn’t made for these times…or those times…but for all times. Arguably the greatest American composer of popular music in the rock era, he inspired the Beatles to greater heights, and wrote one of the most beautiful songs ever in “God Only Knows”. The Beach Boys Pet Sounds album continues to top ‘Best album ever’ polls and surveys, 50 years after release.

Singer, songwriter Brian Wilson, is one of the few undisputed geniuses in popular music, and the main creative force behind some of the most cherished recordings in rock history. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to call Brian Wilson one of the most influential composers of the last century.

Wilson’s remarkable journey began on 20th June 1942 in a modest Hawthorne, California home that was filled with music. Both his parents played piano, and as a young “boy soprano,” Brian’s vocal gift was immediately evident. He had also started singing harmonies with his two younger brothers (Dennis and Carl).

Formed in 1961, brothers Brian Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Carl Wilson along with their cousin Mike Love and schoolmate Alan Jardine blended rootsy Chuck Berry R&B, The Four Freshman’s intricate vocal harmonies, and the topical splendor of California’s mythos of an Endless Summer into a unique, new form. Crafting a series of hit singles the equal of anything of their contemporaries, the band, under the creative muse of their leader, songwriter and producer Brian Wilson, began to evolve their sound, moving quickly away from their surf, car and sand topicality towards more deeply passionate, introspective songs.

Brian Wilson was barely out of his teens when he began to create some of the most beloved records ever; “I Get Around,” “Surfer Girl,” “In My Room,” “Don’t Worry Baby,” “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “Help Me Rhonda” and “California Girls”, all of which have become timeless classics.

Maybe it was all too much, too soon, maybe he couldn’t take the pressure, and during a 1964 US tour Brian had a nervous breakdown during a flight from Los Angeles to Houston. Wilson left the Beach to concentrate on what he did best, writing and producing. Wilson spent the majority of the following three years in his bedroom sleeping, taking drugs, and overeating. During this time, his voice deteriorated as a result of chain smoking and drug abuse.

And this is from where the stories and myths emerged detailing the strange behaviors of this troubled genius.

He allegedly spent $30,000 on an Arabian-style tent complete with oil lamp to eat sandwiches, smoke weed and take LSD. In his lounge he installed a massive sandpit with a piano in it so he could feel the sand at his feet whilst song writing. Unfortunately his two dogs, Louie and Banana also took a liking to the sandpit and regularly left their own special contributions.

 

During a 1967 trip to America, Paul McCartney met with Brian who was working on the song “Vegetables”, intended for the Smile album but eventually released on Smiley Smile. The two worked into the night, resulting in McCartney being recorded chewing a stick of celery.

In 1969, Wilson opened up a vitamin and health food store called The Radiant Radish. It opened when he felt like opening it, sometimes in the middle of the night and usually whilst dressed in his stripy pajamas. Needless to say it closed after about a year. However, this little venture did make him think about the idea of opening a 24-hour ping pong table store, so it wasn’t all for nothing!

Anyway, none of this matters. What Brian and The Beach Boys have achieved is outstanding. If you’ve never heard them, check out Surf’s Up and Holland, both albums contain magical Beach Boys moments.

Brian led the band to experiment with several genres ranging from pop ballads to psychedelic and baroque, while devising novel approaches to music production and arranging. While initially managed by the Wilsons’ father Murry, Brian’s creative ambitions and sophisticated songwriting abilities dominated the group’s musical direction.