Like with The Beatles, once you've explored their more adventurous material, you start to realize they were showing hints of brilliance from the beginning. This is clear from the first two seconds you throw on this record. And also like The Beatles, these early albums aren't just curios for superfans.
The simpler songs are fun and enjoyable in their own right. The Who's version is probably the best, but this one has its merits too. There are some major throwaways, like there's no real reason to revisit their take on the nursery rhyme "Ten Little Indians. Nevertheless, Surfin' Safari had them coming out of the gate strong. 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 B begins with a cover of blues legend Lead Belly, and only gets better from there.
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.
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. 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. It may have been unable to compete with The Dark Side of the Moon or Quadrophenia or Houses of the Holy when it came out, but today it sounds like a gem of that era.
Like most of the early albums, this one is still a mix of filler, covers, instrumentals and undeniable hits, but the hits on this one really hit. It's pure pop magic. As far as stepping stones to Pet Sounds are concerned, the most important moment of this album is "The Warmth of the Sun. 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 withthis 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 Soundsthis 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. As important as "I Get Around" is to the development of Pet Sounds and Smilethe best album of the band's early period is their third album, Surfer Girl.
Most importantly, it's the first album where Brian was the album's sole producer, which would be one of his most crucial roles a few years later. The opening title track was the most gorgeous song he had written yet. And if you've never checked out the version from the bootleg Lei'd in Hawaiiyou should. They strip it down and make it hazy enough to fit in on Smiley Smile. But the album's best song and the best song of the early era in general, is "In My Room. Do It Again - Beach Boys* - Greatest Hits (Vinyl in the production flourishes of Pet Soundsand it'd fit right in on that album.
It's a perfect song. It's an early album so there are still a few skippable tracks, but the highs are very high. This is the first Beach Boys album that I no longer consider the "early era," though it's not yet the psychedelic era or the peak of their creativity either, Do It Again - Beach Boys* - Greatest Hits (Vinyl. It came out three months after Beatles for Salewhich was The Beatles' first album after Bob Dylan had introduced them to pot. The transition that album makes is undeniable, and likewise Today!
Side A still has a foot in the earlier material and contains two of that era's best songs: their cover of the Bobby Freeman-penned "Do You Wanna Dance? All of the songs not counting the final jokey spoken word track are ballads, fleshed out more than ever by The Wrecking Crew who at this point are as important to the band's sound as Brian himself. Brian sings lead on four of them Dennis takes the fifthand he's really diving into the introspective lyrical approach that would define Pet Sounds.
Brian wasn't quite ready to write his masterpiece yet, but you can hear on side B of Today! Wild Honey was released just two months after Smiley Smilethe scrapped-together home recordings of songs from the aborted Smile album, and this one was done in a similar way.
The band were no longer using studio musicians, Brian stepped down from his role as producer, and they abandoned the extreme advances in production they had made on Pet Sounds for rougher recordings in Brian's home studio. It certainly wasn't a commercial success, and hardly any songs from it became staples in live sets or on greatest hits albums, but it remains a thrilling part of their late '60s psychedelic era.
It makes sense that the reissue was packaged that way. After the s ended, The Beach Boys had another creative boost. 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.
They also managed to tack on a Smile leftover that never made it on the eventual Smile tracklist, "Cool, Cool Water. And actually, he did make an album of his own: 's Pacific Ocean Bluewhich may be the best Beach Boys offshoot album. Before The Smile Sessions came out, the most essential part of this album was its title track, a leftover from Smile that would've been the album's best song behind "Good Vibrations. It's not as fleshed out as the Wrecking Crew days, but the production's warm and bright, and the songwriting is exclusively back to forward-thinking pop.
Pet Sounds was a product of its era -- the influence of The Beatles was felt. But inThe Beach Boys had evolved their pop in a way their contemporaries were doing nothing like. It's lush, melancholic, personal, full of overlapping harmonies; all the things that made him great.
I actually disagree. Side B of Today! It also has the superior version of "Help Me, Rhonda. Summer Days ' most obvious achievement is "California Girls," which is sort of the significantly better sequel to "I Get Around. 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 highlightsand the harmonies in the chorus are transcendental.
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. It doesn't have the cohesion of Pet Sounds or side B of Today! 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'smaybe 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 Honeybut 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 Smileand 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. 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.
On most days I'll actually tell you that Smiley Smile is my personal favorite Beach Boys album, but for the purpose of this list there's no way I can deny that the two that follow absolutely belong there. Like many Beach Boys obsessives, I've wished that Smile would've come out in and wondered how the history of pop music would've changed because of it. Would it have topped Sgt. My opinion: Yes. Would that have caused The Beatles to react the way they reacted to Pet Soundscausing them to write an entirely different album than White Album?
Would The Beatles have been the ones to give up after hearing how good Smile was? Would Abbey Road have never come out???? I think about those things and I often wish I didn't have to think about those things, because Smile deserved to come out in I wish Mike Love wasn't resisting it, I wish the label wasn't rushing Brian to put something out, and I wish he didn't have the mental health issues that prevented him from finishing his own work.
But sometimes Do It Again - Beach Boys* - Greatest Hits (Vinyl also happy that Smile was aborted, because it resulted in Smiley Smileone LP) the strangest and absolute greatest albums of the strange LP) absolutely great s.
Most of the album was material written for Smilewhich 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.
And, famously, the percussion was Paul McCartney chewing celery. What band as famous as them in the '60s was doing this? What band even would do this?
It's obvious why it flopped as a followup to Pet Soundsbut 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. Now that Smile is here, another good thing about this album's existence is that we get both options.
And 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 Sounds and Smile 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.
There's really not much left to say about Pet Sounds that hasn't been said. You can listen to the album hundreds of times and you'll still be bewildered trying to figure out how Brian put this thing together. He's literally got over 50 musicians playing on the album, and he envisioned such a specific sound in his head that, as the story goes, he would stop the recording for something as subtle as a drum hit not coming out the way he pictured it.
Then he topped it off with The Beach Boys' intricate vocal harmonies and his most personal songwriting to date with lyrical assistance from Tony Asher. It's a songwriting and recording process that still sounds nearly impossible to pull off today, and I'm not sure another pop album ever came together quite like this one.
Complexity isn't enough to create great pop music though; the real impressive part is that, with a process like this, everything sounds so good. You can pick apart the subtleties all day, or you can just sit back and take the album in. Both are endlessly enjoyable. Unlike any prior album, the one cover here Brian's arrangement of the traditional "Sloop John B" isn't filler or left in there as an ode to his influences. He makes it a necessary part of the album. Both instrumentals "Let's Go Away for Awhile" and the title track also only add to the flow of the record, rather than taking anything from it.
Brian sings lead or co-lead on almost every song this time, and it's clearer than ever that it's also the sound of his voice -- not just his songwriting and production -- that made The Beach Boys so special. On the one song that always seemed too personal to give to someone else, "God Only Knows," his brother Carl still handles it as beautifully as Brian would have.
Of course it's great, but it doesn't best the Carl version. And if there was ever a song to talk about Brian's way with atypical chord changes, it's "God Only Knows. It's no surprise Paul McCartney calls it his favorite song of all time. Buy now Add to cart. Track selected: 0 Total size, Mb: 0. Help How to create an account? How to pay? How to download? First time here? Burn CD Burn your music and enjoy it everywhere. There is nothing to do.
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