Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Sun That Never Goes Down

In order to include at least something relevant in this blog I should tell something about The Beach Boys and me.

Although everything I listen to is based very much on The Beatles, The Fab Four have never been as big
for me as The Beach Boys. I surely love The Beatles, and I really don’t tend to compare bands like this because it’s basically impossible, but I have to make an exception when it comes to The Beach Boys. Although I’m not 100% sure (I never am when it comes to music) Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys might be the biggest and dearest thing that I’ve even encountered in my search of the most perfect pop music.

My dad has liked The Beach Boys ever since the 60s when he was just a young boy. Consequently, I heard that music several times in my childhood. It was that stuff that my dad called surf music. I remember thinking that it sounded pretty exciting. In the end of 2004 I started listening to some Beach
Boys greatest hits CD and noticed that I really liked what I heard and ended up listening to those already quite familiar songs (e.g. I Get Around) dozens of times.

Something about rock’n’roll has always intrigued me. I remember when I was 8 years old I found some old cassette of 50s rock’n’roll and songs like Rock Around the Clock. I liked that music so much that I wanted everyone else to hear it, too. The Beach Boys’ music has lots of rock’n’roll in it, so it’s no wonder that I’m attracted to that stuff.
Finally, I heard about an album called Pet Sounds (1966). It was my huge favourite Lasse Kurki (from the awesome Finnish power pop band Lemonator) who praised it in Soundi rock magazine.. I didn’t need any more encouragement, I rushed into the nearest library, picked up the album and listened to it for the first time on December 2nd, 2004.

That album soon became everything to me, and it still is. It is a warm blanket, something to cry and laugh for, and stunningly beautiful melodies, harmonies and sounds, perhaps the most beautiful melodies ever. That album made me fall in love Brian Wilson’s beautiful voice. That fresh tone and wide vocal range have really affected my sense of vocal aesthetics. Brian is surely one of my favourite singers. These days anyone who sounds like Brian Wilson gets my attention…

n fact, I’ve even seen The Beach Boys live! It was of course just Mike Love and Bruce Johnston but the music was perfect, and it was performed beautifully. The year was 2006, and I saw that concert with my dad in Helsinki. Man! Those harmonies were seriously good. I wish I could see Brian Wilson on concert someday, too. He’d probably have those Wondermints guys with him, and I have to say that I love them.
Now, here are some of my favourite Beach Boys albums. Surfer Girl (1963) was the second full BB album I ever listened to. This music really sounds very different from that extremely sophisticated pop that Brian Wilson created in the mid-60s, but I like it just as much. On the other hand, you can already hear all that tremendous beauty of Brian Wilson and the harmonies in songs like Surfer Girl.

The thing that makes The Beach Boys my favourite band is not just Pet Sounds. It’s the pure, bare, sincere joy that these songs and melodies contain, and of course Brian Wilson’s melancholy, too (check out The Surfer Moon and In My Room - let alone Don’t Worry Baby on Shut Down Vol. 2! (1964)). Surfer Girl is a solid album with great songs. Also, surf instrumentals always make me happy. I’ve actually started listening to some instrumental surf
bands/music, and I love that stuff. It’s energetic, happy and features guitars with metallic sounds (somehow this whole concept rings a bell…).
All Summer Long (1964) is another great album. I don’t think any of The Beach Boys’ 60s albums is bad, but some albums really are better that others. I Get Around, All Summer Long, Hushabye, and Wendy highlight the All Summer Long album. All the other songs are of course also good – apart from that one filler (Our Favorite Recording Sessions). It’s kinda weird how these amazing albums were basically always spiced up with that (humorous but) useless filler track… That was the policy of the record company. Well, those tracks actually make the great songs sound even better. Girls on the Beach, Do You Remember?, Little Honda.. This material is oh so very good.
The Beach Boys Today! and Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!!) (both 1965) are already showing some serious Pet Sounds vibes. Surf guitars are gone, and the music is seriously starting to sound like Phil Spector’s wall of sound. The b-side of Today! can even be seen equally as good as Pet Sounds, and it actually might be a bit more emotional and tender. Please Let Me Wonder, Kiss Me Baby, and those other songs.. Man! They will melt your heart (if they already haven’t).

Summer Days features some perfect pop pieces, too. Help Me, Rhonda appears in its chart-topping form. California Girls, Let Him Run Wild, the wonderful a cappella And Your Dreams Come True and my favourite You’re so Good to Me are just a couple of examples of the greatness of this album. Bonus track The Little Girl I Once Knew
that originally only appeared as a single is also a perfect song.

I haven’t really listened to much of Smiley Smile (1967). Instead, I’ve given some serious attention to Brian Wilson’s SMiLE (2004). That is good stuff, one could say… 1967’s Wild Honey is very good with its soulfulness. Wild Honey, Aren’t You Glad, I Was Made to Love Her, Country Air, and Darling are very good songs with nice arrangements and Carl Wilson starting to take more lead vocal responsibility in the band.
1968’s Friends is also a nice record, quite strange of The Beach Boys, actually.. (Smiley Smile is certainly even more bizarre, though). Friends, Wake the World, Be Here in the Mornin’, and When a Man Needs a Woman are charming little songs, and they’re also basically the last chance to hear Brian Wilson in his youthful vocal glory. 20/20 (1969) contains some pretty good tunes, too.

Sunflower (1970) is fab. There’s again lots of soul and it really fits The Boys. On this album the sound of the band has really changed: it’s not the 60s anymore. Dennis Wilson shows his talent on Slip on Through and Gotta Know the Woman. Deirdre, Add Some Music to Your Day, and Our Sweet Love are also awesome.
What is also great about The Beach Boys is that there still is lots of music to discover! The 70s stuff isn’t probably nearly as perfect as the stuff from 1963 to 1970, but there must be some real gems. Also, this story ends now. I will congratulate anyone who reads this whole writing. It’s too long, again..
The Beach Boys Official Website


side3 said...

Sorry...still trolling through your site looking at old posts...your musical tastes seem to be pretty in line with mine!

I also love looking through youtube for great clips. Here are the five Beach Boys live on the BBC in 1964...fantastic. I love the false start on "When I Grow Up (to Be a Man)".


Melody Freak said...

No need to apologize for being interested in my blog, really! I appreciate it. It is always good to hear that there are other people who like the same music as I do.

Nice clip this one, too, and a cool false start indeed - not to mention the absolutely sweet harmonies! If only kids would still scream at bands that sound like the Beach Boys.. If you're not very careful you can't be sure what they'll end up listening to these days...