Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sharing Our Love For The Beach Boys


Can we ever get enough of the Beach Boys? Are we just nine years away from their 60th anniversary tour?  

Wouldn't you just kill to see "Classic Radio" play deep cuts off songs by Brian Wilson and Mike Love from the early to mid-60's?  Of course, you would. 

Anyway, let the arguments begin. 

I have decided to come up with my own "analytical" look at the Beach Boys and their work. 

The Carl Wilson Hall of Fame Division:
1: "God Only Knows"
2: "Sail on Sailor"
3: "Don't Worry Baby" (harmony so rich you can reach out and taste it)
4: "In My Room"  

The Hal Blaine "Wrecking Crew" Division:
1: "Surfer Girl"
2: "I Get Around"
3: "The Lonely Sea" (album cut)
4: "Good Vibrations" - hardly one of my faves but simply has to be included  

The Murray Wilson All-Misery Division:
1: "Kokomo." I know it was a major commercial success but, frankly, and this is saying a lot, I'd rather hear Steve Miller plow his way through "Fly Like An Eagle." Kokomo was really meant to be sung by Donny Osmond or, maybe just maybe, Sammy Davis,Jr.  

The All-Underrated Division:
1: "Forever." I know Dennis Wilson's drumming packed slightly less energy than a guy like Keith Moon, and his vocal range will never remind anybody of Frank Sinatra or Bono.  However, I regard Dennis' "Forever" as one of the most melodic and touching tunes I've ever heard. The song is a masterpiece.
2. "So Young." The Boys remarkable cover of the piece originally done by "The Students." The song with heavy orchestration is a very strong reminder that while Brian Wilson dug the Four Freshman, he was also
heavily influenced by doo wop.

Your turn, kk!
Chet Coppock

Before I take my turn sharing some of my picks, I'll address some of yours ...  

"God Only Knows" is, simply put, one of the most beautiful songs ever written ... or sung.  Period.  It's the PERFECT recording of the PERFECT song ... and in all these years, I've never grown tired of hearing it.

The fact that "I Get Around" and "Don't Worry Baby" shared both sides of the same single is mind-boggling!  Two complete, opposite extremes of The Beach Boys' sound ... yet still collectively tied into the car-theme that they helped to define in the '60's.  A true testament to the talent of the band at this still relatively early phase of their career. 

I've always lumped "Surfer Girl" and "In My Room" together ... probably because they are so similar in sound.  For me, "Surfer Girl" has always been the hands-down winner ... most days, it very well may be my favorite Beach Boys song of all time.  (Incredible, when one considers how early this record came in their career ... yet it perfectly captures the essence of the beach, surfing and The Beach Boys' phenomenal harmonies.)  The fact that it's based on the somewhat familiar Disney classic "When You Wish Upon A Star" probably helped make the connection for me ... I wasn't even ten years old yet when this one came out ... and still playing Golden Records on my little record player before I discovered The British Invasion and The Top 40.

Others feel just as passionate about "In My Room", describing it as perhaps an early call out for help from an already tormented Brian Wilson.  Both songs showcase the impeccable harmonies the group had already mastered at this early stage of their career.  

"Sail On Sailor" was actually sung by short-term Beach Boy Blondie Chaplain, not Carl Wilson ... and it just may be their all-time greatest hit that never was.  (How on earth this track failed is beyond me ... it's a TRUE classic ... but even two separate releases couldn't help propel it up the charts.  Memo to Rich Appel - please cast my vote for THIS one as one of the greatest "It Really Shoulda" Been A Top Ten Hit!!!)  

Seldom-played album tracks like "The Lonely Sea", "'Til I Die" and Dennis Wilson's "Forever" also rank amongst my all-time favorites.  Each of these is a gem that once again shows the depth of their talent as a band ... and all hold up incredibly well today.

I've never been a fan of "Good Vibrations" ... personally, I  don't feel that it ever lived up to all the hype that surrounded it when it was being recorded nor have I grown any more fond of it over time.  (I always preferred "Heroes And Villains", which I considered to be the more creative and inventive piece from this era.)  That being said, there is absolutely no denying the fact that it's a classic ... another song that DEFINES The Beach Boys ... and, if you took a poll of Beach Boys fans around the country, this one probably would come in at #1.  (Just not in MY book!)  

As for "Kokomo", I have to admit that I have a soft-spot for this one.  A MAJOR comeback for The Boys, YEARS after the whole world had counted them out.  Yes, it got a bit annoying at times (but in MY opinion blows "Fly Like An Eagle" away!  At least I'll let "Kokomo" play nearly every time it comes on.)   

Consider for a moment the massive amount of talent that went into the writing of this song ... Mike Love, John Phillips (of The Mamas and the Papas), Scott McKenzie (who had the HUGE 1967 hit "San Francisco", also written by Phillips) and Terry Melcher, who produced some of the greatest music the '60's had to offer.  Incredibly, nary a Wilson Brother in sight!  A #1 Hit without ANY help from Brian Wilson!!!  Who would have ever thought it possible!  (In fact, they had to convince Brian to come back in order to appear in the video ... he's not even on the record!  Of course having John Stamos in the video probably didn't hurt things either!  lol) 

It gave them their last #1 Hit ... in the '80's no less!  And came 22 years after their last official Billboard #1 Single.  Pretty impressive by ANYBODY'S standards.  

And then 25 years later they completely amazed us again when last year's 50th Anniversary Tour proved just how popular The Beach Boys still are ... playing to sold out houses from coast to coast ... while their brand new album "That's Why God Made The Radio" debuted near the top of the charts.  There is no denying the magic these guys have shared with us.

The universal love for the early Beach Boys hits is a given ... Brian and the boys tapped into a nerve and captured the hearts of the whole world ... no matter how close the nearest ocean may have been ... the entire universe felt the experience of California and dreamed of California Girls, hot rods, surfin' and just hangin' out at the beach.  I honestly don't think I can narrow it down to less than 50 favorites released between 1962 and 1971 ... and even then I'd probably be able to list another 50 "extras" in the "runner up" position!!!  And the ranking order of those favorites would probably change based on my mood of the day.  

This early music is SO familiar to all of us that it really doesn't warrant much further exploration ... we've all lived it ... and we've all loved it ... and we all have our personal favorites.  So a few years ago we tried to capture some of the "forgotten" Beach Boys gems that some of you may have missed the first time around, after The Boys Of Summer fell out of favor with the radio for awhile.  They continued to release some outstanding tracks ... unfortunately most of these came without much musical direction and were often buried inside a bunch of crap that didn't click then ... and hasn't aged well ... making it all that much more difficult to listen to now ... especially when stacked against the incredible depth of the rest of their catalog.  

Check out this week-long series of articles we ran a few years ago on the website, pointing out some of the goodies you might not be as immediately familiar with ... you just might find a new favorite or two among them.  (kk)

And speaking of Rich Appel's I.R.S. Countdown, you're running out of time to cast your vote ... here's a final reminder ... along with links to vote for your favorites and most-deserving ... along with information on where to listen to the results.  

If you’ve already filed your form to help build Hz So Good's 7th annual I.R.S. (as in, “It Really Shoulda“ been a Top 10 hit!) Top 104, you don’t have to do anything except sit back and wait to hear which of your songs make the cut when the countdown kicks off Friday April 11 at 6 pm Eastern on Rewound (and noon ET Sunday April 13).

If you haven’t yet filed, and you’d still like to - and qualify to win a few things we’ll be giving away during the countdown, such as 4-disc sets of this year’s Top 104 - you’ve got until April 1st to list your songs using the “E-Z form” at Rewound Radio’s website (where you’ll also find all the guidelines for filing - also ‘E-Z'). 

If you can’t wait for the countdown, tune to Rewound Radio for daily “countdown to the countdown” features starting April 2, and check Facebook's “I.R.S. Top 104” group for other exclusives until kickoff time. (As always, you can check out current and back issues of Hz So Good at the 60s70s dot org site.)

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