Monday, October 3, 2011

270. Today! Direct to you from over 40 years ago.

Album: Today!
Artist: The Beach Boys
Year: 1965
Genre: Pop


  1. Do You Wanna Dance?
  2. Good To My Baby
  3. Don't Hurt My Little Sister
  4. When I Grow Up
  5. Help Me, Ronda
  6. Dance, Dance, Dance
  7. Please Let Me Wonder
  8. I'm So Young
  9. Kiss Me, Baby
  10. She Knows Me Too Well
  11. In The Back Of My Mind
  12. Bull Session With The "Big Daddy"

I think I've worked out why I love the Beatles and why I don't really care for the Beach Boys. I've always wondered why I've been obsessed with one group for almost 20 years now but remain entirely unmoved by the other. My theory is it's because the lads from Liverpool seem timeless and locationless whereas the cats from California seem firmly stuck in LA in the early sixties.

The Beatles grew up in Liverpool but listened to music from Chicago, Detroit and Nashville. They honed their craft in Hamburg and recorded their music in London. The Beach Boys grew up in California listening to Californian musicians and playing in California where they would eventually record. When you listen to the music of John and Paul it feels like they recorded music for everyone everywhere. Brian Wilson sounds like he was recording exclusively for sixties kids sitting on a beach on the West Coast of the USA. Their music is firmly entrenched in one location and trapped in one time. If you yearn for sun-drenched California in the years just before Ronald Reagan became governor then they're the perfect band for you. If not, they're just harder to get your head around.

Harmonies and production date the Beach Boys and their lyrics don't help either. Using words like "dig" and "square" tend to place your music firmly in a certain point in time. The emphasis on teenage issues make it hard to appreciate as an adult. It feels so localised and specific.

The other reason I find it hard to get into the Beach Boys is actually a reason to admire them. In just over three years they released an incredible ten albums of original material. The Beatles put out albums at an impressive rate but the most they managed was two a year. The Beach Boys had three years in which they put out three albums. And whereas the Beatles had two great songwriters the Beach Boys just had one. I can't help but wonder what their career might have been like if Wilson had been limited to one album every 12 months. If he was allowed to focus on producing 14 great songs a year instead of nearly fifty I'm sure they'd have a lot more albums in this countdown than they do now.

Influenced by: California
Influenced: A generation of surf bands who have since faded into total obscurity.

Highlight: Help me Rhonda
Lowlight: Do you wanna Dance

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Classics like California Girls, When I Grow Up To Be A Man, and Help Me Rhonda will always get any party in a good mood."

-I love blanket statements like this. I can envisage several party environments that wouldn't be put in a good mood by the Beach Boys: Royal dinner parties, bikie gang revelry and end-of-year Satanic Christmas functions are three that spring to mind.

So do you want to listen to the Beach Boys today or never again? Let me know below.

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