I never get the bit with BB albums. For me, their ouvre consists of 45 RPM singles. I love "California Girls", "Surfer Girl", and "409" (or whatever is the title of that song about a 409 Chevy). They are forever symbolic of my own youth. I bought "Pet Sounds" a few years ago, just to find out what all the fuss was about, but I cannot name another BB album.
I want to ad more to my collection. I have the Stereo release of Pet Sounds from 1999. I think Mark Linett did the Stereo remaster. It sounds good, but not great. I may go for the QRP Stereo when it's available. Lewm- You may want check out Endless Summer, if it's the hits your after. My Red label US pressing is average, but still an enjoyable listen. My standard Orange label of Sunflower sounds quite good. I also have TODAY mono from CAP Vaults, and that's pretty bad sounding. No question that for me, their early LP's do have some filler. Some more so than others. Their later period stuff is more interesting overall, but I do love their early hits. Warmth of the Sun, Surfer Girl, Help Me Rhonda are ones that come to mind.
Off top of my head, Holland is probably next fav followed by Endless Summer. However, after reading about your goals in adding to your collection you may want to keep your expectations at less-than-stratospheric... For quite a while the primary sound/recording target for Beach Boy stuff was pretty much the car radio - and that was back when there was a single radio speaker in a car. That's some of why so many of their albums were mono and why re-engineering/re-mastering those releases are a real challenge. You probably need to keep your expectations somewhat modest if you're hoping for stellar sonics - the songs can be quite good but there's just so much available in the source media.
The Beach Boys are a very special Group to me, as not only did I already love them ("All Summer Long" in particular), they were the first I saw live (in the Summer of '64). But Brian Wilson is even more so, being the greatest songwriter of his generation imo (Paul McCartney may agree, as he names "God Only Knows" as his favorite song of all time. I'm not a big fan of Paul's, but on that we agree). When TBB started making them in '61-'62, albums were just a hit single or two with lots of filler. Not just BB albums, ALL Rock n' Roll albums. One of the reasons Pet Sounds is considered as important as it is, is because it was the first Rock n' Roll album conceived and created AS an album---every song was an "A", no filler. I have never liked it as much as I am "supposed" to, but it was hearing Pet Sounds that inspired McCartney to also do an all "A" song album, Rubber Soul.
And it was hearing Rubber Soul that inspired Brian, being a competitive kinda guy, to create "Smile", the first Rock n' Roll "concept" album. Recording commenced in '66, but the album was never completed (for reasons too complicated to go into here). "Smiley Smile" was released in its place, and was a huge disappointment to all. Brian went into seclusion, not fully reappearing for many years.
The Beach Boys (basically without Brian) subsequently recorded and released a few more spotty albums, but it wasn't until they left Capitol Records (who were still promoting them as "The Number One Surf Band In The World!", this at the height of the psychedelic/hippie era. Surf---how cool ;-) and signed with Reprise Records (a Warner Brothers label) that they came roaring back with "Sunflower", a great album. As is "Surf's Up". Those two, I agree fjn04, are probably their best. But the "Smile" recordings were finally assembled into their somewhat originally-conceived form and released a few years back, and the double-CD "Smile" album is an essential album for Brian Wilson, at least, fans. It is quite amazing.
I like the Capitol mono LP version of "Smile" that Capitol managed to put together with help from Brian Wilson, releaed in 2011.
1967 was such a breakout year for rock--Days of Future Past by Moody Blues, Surrealistic Pillow by Jefferson Airplane, Axis: Bold as Love by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Doors self-titled, and Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. If Brian had gotten any help from Capitol and some cooperation (instead of opposition) from the rest of the Beach Boys, you could have added "Smile" to that list of landmark albums in 1967.
I am also a big fan of their post-"surf" stuff such as Surf’s Up, Sunflower, and Holland, and also Carl and the Passions - So Tough, which was, for whatever reason, packaged as a double with a re-release of Pet Sounds.
When playing most LP’s, I have a tendency to play both sides consecutively. In the case of Holland, I always felt that they goofed when they numbered that album, and always play side 2 first!
"The Beach Boys are a very special Group to me"
Me too bdp24. "Surfin Safari" was my first album, a Christmas gift from my parents. I suppose my love of vocal harmony was as much the main reason initially but it was also the Southern California culture that I was also drawn to, girls, cars and surf pretty much in that order. The early stuff is pretty basic, much like the Beatles. I certainly remember around 1964-1965 the competitions on the radio as to which is your favorite of the two groups seemingly was always won by the Beatles to my dismay! In any case it is interesting to observe the progression of the musical and vocal harmonies with each succeeding album. Unfortunately for the BBs, the British invasion and the advent of more progressive R&R diminished their popularity during the time of Brian Wilson's most creative period which coincided with the release of "Pet Sounds", a deviation from their earlier surf, car and girl songs. You can really hear the introspection and real progression of both the music and lyrics of Tony Asher. It is without any question my very favorite BB album and Brian's masterpiece. It is the very first album I listened to where each song spoke to me.
I personally don't think there is a better BB or for that matter rock/pop album than Pet Sounds but would recommend many of the ones mentioned above including Sunflower, Surf's Up, Carl and the Passions- So Tough and Holland. Of recent release is "Smile" with different mixes of previously released material, it is a real gem. It includes tracks of the incomplete "Smile" album that was never released when Brian went into his long term funk. Of the pre "Pet Sound" albums I would recommend "Shut Down-Volume Two"; "The Beach Boys Today". There is a lot of filler on both the last two but some really great ballads that you won't find unless you buy the albums. Long live Brian Wilson!
I've been sampling both Shut Down II and Surfer Girl on You Tube. I'm leaning Surfer Girl because the filler songs are a little more interesting and the QRP SG is supposed to sound great. Then I will focus on Pet Sounds and after. As good as the mono PS is supposed to be, I think I'm waiting for the Stereo. The BB section in vinyl shops I have tried always have slim pickings. Does anyone have the Smile sessions on VINYL? The remaster from 2011, I believe the only one. Cheers -Don
Excellent post, tubegroover! We must be about the same age---I'm 65. In the 60's I lived in Cupertino, just over the mountains from Santa Cruz, the beach town mentioned in "Surfin' U.S.A." The Beach Boys were HUGE amongst my friends and I, and remained that way even after The Beatles conquered the rest of America. I wasn't completely sold on TB when they did their first U.S. tour in '64, passing on the chance to see them at The Cow Palace in S. San Francisco. I went the following year, and was rather underwhelmed (The Beatles were not imo a very good live Band).
By the time Pet Sounds came out, I had really gotten into bands like The Kinks, Animals, Yardbirds, etc---tougher, R & B influenced guys. The Beach Boys got left behind, sounding altogether too "boyish". All Summer Long was the last Beach Boys album I heard until Smiley Smile blew my little teenage mind. It was only after hearing SS that I finally heard Pet Sounds, and though I liked it, I liked SS much more. The odd chord changes, the primal chanting and spooky, otherworldly harmonies, the surrealistic lyrics of Van Dyke Parks---it should have fit right in with the psychedelic music popular in '67. But by then The Beach Boys were considered passe', no longer relevant. I could not get most of my fellow musicians to give SS a listen. Contrary to the common wisdom, hippies did NOT have open minds. Capitol Records didn't help the situation, still promoting them as a surf band. Great, just as Jimi Hendrix was declaring "you'll never have to hear surf music again" on his first album!
I like Pet Sounds now, but I love Smile. It would have changed Pop music history, and be considered one of it's crowning achievements. It's never being completed is as tragic as if any other masterpiece were destroyed. Brian's contributions to the BB albums that followed it were minimal, but there are some great songs scattered amongst them, "Surf's Up", "Til I Die", "Marcella", and "Sail On, Sailor" being a few.
Definitely fjn04. Smiley Smile was put together by Carl Wilson after Brian crashed and burned, the end result of constant questioning and resistance from Mike Love (who didn't at all understand Smile, musically or lyrically---he demanded Van Dyke Parks explain the meaning of those in "Surf's Up", and wanted to "stick to the formula"---he liked the lifestyle The Beach Boys afforded him) and pressure from Capitol Records for "product". Plus, Brian was taking a lot of drugs, LSD and Cocaine mostly, and becoming increasingly unhinged, getting paranoid (he thought his house and studio had been "bugged" by Phil Spector, to steal his ideas) and seeing "numbers" in everything---he believed in Numerology, and thought he was being "spoken to". He was also losing his self-confidence, becoming paralyzed with self-doubt. Not a pretty picture, is it?
Anyway, Carl described Smiley Smile as a bunt to Smile's home run. Carl used some of the Smile recordings, some unreleased material, and some newly-recorded Brian-less stuff, and pretty much just threw together an album. We will never have Smile as it was originally to be, as Brian fell apart before it was completed. By the way, three issues of the great music magazine Crawdaddy contain Paul Williams' (not the singer/songwriter, but the music critic) account of the Smile story as it was happening in 1967. Those three installments were included in Paul's book "Outlaw Blues", a must read.
Awesome- and thanks for the tip on Outlaw Blues. I thought Love and Mercy was a very good movie. In an interview with Brian and his wife, he also gave his blessing to the movie. They found it a hard watch, which I guess is an indication it was pretty true to reality. If memory serves, that interview was done by Whoopi Goldberg of all people. She must have/had a talk show. Acoustic Sounds is out of the Smile Sessions, so I will seek it out from one of the other vendors. I know it's still available. Cheers -Don
Thanks Bdp24, yes we are about the same age except I grew up in South Jersey. The BB got me into surfing as a teenager even. Ironically none of the BB except Dennis actually surfed and was the one that came up with their name. While I loved the BB, like yourself up through Pet Sounds, I lost interest until Sunflower. I never warmed up to Smiley Smile or Wild Honey. I really got into some of the groups you mentioned along with Buffalo Springfield, The Doors and particularly Led Zepplin along with many of the Motown groups throughout the 60's. Early Poco was also a favorite, those great vocal harmonies! It wasn't until Sunflower that I became reacquainted although I enjoyed "Do it Again" from the late 60's a revisit of their earlier stuff and a great summer song. My 2nd favorite behind "Pet Sounds" is "Surf's Up". I didn't actually see the Beach Boys in concert until around 1972 when they were drawing huge crowds as a nostalgia act but without Brian, even so it was a great show and fulfilled a long held desire to see them perform.
The Holland album is very interesting. I have been listening at work, sort of as background music. The first track on the album is a GREAT song. Sail On, Sailor I believe…. My shopping list so far: Surfs Up, Pet Sounds
Stereo version, and Smile 2-LP set from 2011. My friend says he has Smile from 2004, and I'm not sure which he means at this point. I'm also tempted to get Pet Sounds in Mono. My standard press of Sunflower sounds good, so I might run with that for now. Cheers -Don
Fjn04 Blondie Chaplan did the lead vocal on Sail on Sailor. He originally appeared with Rickie Fataar on the "So Tough" album. These guys gave the BBs a more well rounded sound IMHO. They were in the lineup when I saw them live in 72'. That show had some really good musicians in the band and did they rock!
There are currently two album versions of Smile that I know of. The first is the one Brian did in collaboration with The Wondermints in 2004. It was released on WEA in 2004 or 2005.
I saw that version live when the tour came to Seattle in 2005.
The other is The Smile Sessions on EMI/Capitol released in 2011. I have and like both, though I only have the WEA version on CD and DVD. The LP is a 24/48Khz digital master.
The Capitol one is not only all analog (AFAIK) but is the mono mix Brian's deaf in one ear and always favored mono.
tubegroover---I also saw them on that 1972 tour, and you're right---they had become a very good live band by that point, much "heavier" than their 60's version. I couldn't get most of the musicians I knew to listen to Smiley Smile in '68, but they went over great with The Fillmore audience in '72. Of course, musician's are (generally) a snobby lot! Dennis' right (I think it was) arm was in a cast, and he played only some piano that night, on some songs just singing. Ricky played drums of course, and very well (he's a better drummer than Dennis). By the way, that's Ricky playing George Harrison in The Beatles parody movie The Rutles (done by Eric Idle of Monty Python and Neil Innes of The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. TBDDDB is the band playing in the basement scene in The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour movie).
As for Papa Doo Run Run---don't bother. That Mobile Fidelity album is the most lifeless, dead, boring version of The Beach Boys you can imagine. PDRR came out of Cupertino (both the original drummer Jim Shippey and The Chocolate Watchband---seen in the cult classic movie Riot on Sunset Strip---drummer Gary Andrijesavich played side-by-side in the Cupertino High School Marching Band!), and here's their story: In 1967 they were just another Cupertino Top 40 cover band (we had hundreds of them) named The Zu (later Goody Two Shoes), about average in talent. Jim got drafted, and The Zu invited me to audition for the job of Jim's replacement (I had been in a Group with Zu guitarist Mike McLemore in '65-6). I passed the audition (which took the form of a couple of live shows with them) and was invited to join, but declined. I was auditioning them too, and I was already in a far better Group, one whose set list included "Wild Honey" and "How She Boogalooed It", both from the Wild Honey album. How hip is THAT?! The Zu weren't the least bit Beach Boys fans, by the way.
Skip ahead to 1974, when I was working in a 30's-40's-50's Jump Blues/Swing Band. Our booking agent calls with a gig opening for the now-named Papa Doo Run Run at a San Jose High School. We get to the auditorium, and here comes bassist Jim Rush, staring at and walking directly to me. We reach each other, and while the other PDRR members are exchanging greetings with me, Jim says: "So Eric, we're both playing old music now. Except we make a lot of money". !?!? Somewhere along the line, they had gotten a great response to Beach Boys/Jan & Dean material at their shows, and decided to work up a whole set of it. That went over so well (think back to the new music being offered in '74---oy!), they decided to specialize at it. They have been doing Corporate parties ever since, and making, yes, a lot of money. But they are still just average at best. In fact, at Beach Boys vocal music, below average. And Jim is in Cupertino/San Jose widely considered to be an obnoxious a-hole. Jim is no longer in PDRR, nor is Mike. Rhythm guitarist/lead vocalist Steve Dromensk, a heck of a swell guy, died a couple of years back
Last Beach Boys story: In 1981 I was doing a little show at a dive bar in Venice (California, of course), and the band's guitarist, knowing I was a Brian Wilson "nut" (I had been playing Smiley Smile, or trying to, to every musician I met from '68 onward), came over to me on a break and said "Hey, there's somebody here you want to meet". It was Dennis, sitting alone at a little table, having a drink. I complimented him on Pacific Ocean Blue, and he actually got embarrassed. He couldn't have been a nicer guy.
"As for Papa Doo Run Run---don’t bother. That Mobile Fidelity album is the most lifeless, dead, boring version of The Beach Boys you can imagine."
Amen to that!! I have an audio buddy that quite recently picked up a copy Telarc I believe and played it for me. It seems it has been in heavy rotation since he got it. He IS NOT a BB fan. I also have a couple of cuts on some early Telarc samplers. He was trying to impress to me with the sound and production values, this to a BB fan. I told him yes, your system sounds great, but I’m also thinking, you know I'm a BB fan and SQ means little to me when I’m bored, didn’t actually say THAT but it sure was what I was thinking. Next time over his place with another buddy what does he do but play it again and asked me if I had picked up a copy yet!
Nice story about Dennis bdp. He was the BB I idolized at the beginning, he just seemed really cool and actually looked the part of a beach boy. I was always suspicious of Carl, he looked a bit too pudgy :)
Oh yeah, It's on Telarc, not Mobile Fidelity! I get those two mixed up. Though I am somewhat of an audiophile (tube electronics, Eminent Technology, Magneplanar, and Quad loudspeakers), even sonically I don't think it sounds very good. Though it's very clean (antiseptic might be a more fitting adjective), everything sounds "canned"---no ambiance, no "room sound", everything dead, muted, and isolated. Perhaps a result of being recorded digitally, but I don't know. It sounds like every part was added on separately, absolutely emotionless. I didn't think that was even possible with Beach Boys songs!
Dennis was always Brian's biggest fan. When I met him, he, I later found out, was living on his boat in the Venice Harbor. I don't think him being in that bar was unusual, as he had that puffy-faced look alcoholics get. But it did surprise, and kind of sadden, me to see him drinking alone.
Antiseptic is the perfect description, it does indeed sound so canned and as you say isolated, as in dissected, I just can’t stand it but it might be just perfect for a non fan. I’ll take the original mono recordings thank you very much.
Yeah the Dennis story is a sad one. It was years later I learned about the dynamics of the group. My sense of Dennis as the real BB was just that, he was in the total sense the image they portrayed through their early songs. Little did I know the mastermind behind their success was Brian. The rest of the guys, in retrospect were along for the ride most likely but being associated with such musical brilliance has to have it's effect on everyone. Dennis of course idolized Brian his older brother, his hero. Well I’ll give Mike Love some credit for keeping things together and for some of those lyrics, but Dennis was the heart of what the group personified in those early years. His deterioration over the years was a real tragedy. I sometimes wonder how his association with Manson effected him later. I expect that regardless of that association things would probably have ended up pretty much the way they did but still, it had to have a big effect on him.
Great stuff here. I have nothing! Ok, I'll cheat (-: I ran in to Robby Krieger at a Vegas Casino maybe about 20 years ago. He was right there talking to a lady, so I don't think I even had to approach him. I just subtly said " Hi Robby, I really enjoy your music." He seemed like such an ordinary guy, very humble in thanking me. Luckily, I was able to see him twice in concert since then. Once with Manzarek, and then more recently with his son singing. The Ray and Robby show was great. Johnnyb53-thanks for that. Now I'm clear on it. So if the 2011 LP currently still available is all analog master chain, I'm all the more in. I'm getting it this year. Oops, better call.
Thanks not only for the suggestions on the Beach Boys LP's, but also for the other interesting stuff. I ended up ordering the Mono and Stereo Pet Sounds, and Pre-ordered Surfs Up for March. The Stereo version of PS isn't available for a few days, but that should come soon enough. I also ordered Grateful Dead Reckoning, if we happen to have any GD fans aboard. I will chime back soon with a report on the Pet Sounds LP's.
Let us know how you feel about mono versus stereo Pet Sounds, ay? I have a half-dozen copies of the album (LP and CD), but all mono, out of deference to Brian (he's almost deaf in one ear, and always mixed to mono). By the way, all the early BB albums (up to and including Wild Honey) were mixed to mono only, the "stereo" version offered by Capitol Records actually being "Duosonic" (Capitol's reprocessed mono to pseudo-stereo) EXCEPT for Surfer Girl, which is true stereo, for some reason.
I sure will. I'm looking forward to these. I've scoured quite a few Beach Boys sections in many different stores, and came up empty. Thankfully Chad and company did these. I was listening to Brian's solo album, I just wasn't made for these times. It's a pretty good record. Who would have thought Eugene Landy co-wrote a song with Brian. Love and Mercy (the song) I believe.... I really want to have the song Good Vibrations too. I think the only choices on LP are Smiley Smile, and Smile Sessions from 2011. I'm leaning toward the latter.
If you just want to listen to their radio hits, then there are two 'best-of' Lps to get; volume 1 and volume 2.
I came of age during the 60's and the background music during that era was often coming from The Beach Boys. Pick any pop top-40 station and they were all over it.
These days, I still play them. They always brighten my day....even when it's raining.
Beach Boys, me and my wife’s fave go to road music. There’s a lot of knowledge in this thread, thanks a lot. I was a kid in the 70’s and didn’t get into the Beach Boys until the early eighties through my buddy’s Endless Summer LP. They had some music I liked from the 70’s, like Good Timing, Do it Again, and Breakaway, but I was more into the classic Beach Boy stuff. In about ’85 they released an album called The Beach Boys which had Getcha Back, another fave. And of course, Kokomo was among their later best stuff.
Somewhere along the way I got into their later 60’s stuff, like Sloop John B, God Only Knows, and Wouldn’t It Be Nice. Way ahead of their time with this later stuff.
I watched the movie Love And Mercy, and it was sobering to realize what an awful relationship Brian had with his father. The movie reveals he lost 95% of the hearing in his right ear(?) from his father repeatedly slapping him there. I’m speculating, but that’s probably why he couldn’t get into the stereo sound as it became more popular. He simply couldn’t hear the effect properly. I read where Brian says he started hearing voices in his head when he started taking LSD, I believe that was on wikipedia. And I think his mother died early on too. It’s a tragic story.
Now and then I’ll listen to Beach Baby by First Class. It’s about the end of the surf era, a really great song.
Love and mercy, all.
I compared my Pet Sounds Stereo reissue from 99 against the New Kevin Grey QRP Stereo. The former is not the Cap Vaults, but the reissue prior to that. Again, 1999 I believe. In listening to my 99 LP, it was hard to fault overall. It did nothing wrong, but it was certainly nothing special. Well, the QRP clearly rendered the 99 obsolete. The QRP simply allowed me to be truly connected. It's more detailed, but not in an overblown, Hi-Fi sort of way. It's more of that unhindered, open the flood gates, wide open, organic sort of way. ANALOG!
After only Chuck Berry, Brian Wilson is my second choice for "Most Influential Artist (Rock n Roll Division)". At the end of the day, "Smile" seems (to me) to offer the greatest insight into Brian Wilson's creative process. On that basis, it's my favorite Beach Boys/Brian Wilson record, including Pet Sounds. The music on Smile may be a bit uneven, but that's part of the charm, IMO. It's also the BB/BW record that I revisit most frequently.
The QRP Surfs Up sounds very good, love the music. Sound wise it's not quite as good as the QRP Pet Sounds Stereo, but that's a very high bar. I hear the Stereo Surfer Girl is mind blowing. I truly enjoy their later period. I finally picked up the Smile Sessions LP from 2011. That awaits a nice cleaning, and then I'll give it a spin.
I somehow missed your 01-30-2016 post Marty, with which I concur 100%. There are others I listen to for different reasons: All Summer Long for it’s "before sex and drugs" innocence, Sunflower for The Beach Boys finally putting out a good album on a sympathetic label (Reprise/Warner Bros.), Wild Honey for it’s soul (yeah, The BB had it---at least Carl and Dennis did), Surf's Up, Holland and Carl & The Passions for a few great songs ("Marcella" and "Til I Die" are fantastic), Love You for it’s goofiness (Honkin’ down that gosh darn hiway :-). After that it got real bleak real fast, and Brian’s solo albums are a pretty sad spectacle. Dennis’ solo album is pretty dramatic, and his decline from drinking (I sat with him at a table in a bar in Venice in ’82; he was drinking alone, his face very puffy) and then death a real loss.