Album no. 52/1001
The Beach Boys make their first appearance on this list, with their eighth (!) album. This is the first album after Brian Wilson had a breakdown and started smoking weed though, so it was a bit different.
Before this album the Beach Boys had been known as a singles band, putting out tracks about surfing, cars, and trying to kiss girls. They’re still singing about kissing girls on this one, but the surfing and cars are pretty much gone. The production on this album is more lavish than on their previous records, the harmonies are still there but the ‘wall of sound’ is evident as well.
Have you listened to this album before?
NK: I have pretty limited Beach Boys experience. I know Pet Sounds, Surfin’ USA and that’s about it.
CL: I love a bit of Beach Boys! I’ve actually never listened to one of their whole albums – my mum had a greatest hits one, and that was solid though. I know a handful of tracks off this one.
NK: ‘Do You Wanna Dance’ and ‘Help Me Ronda’ are the best tracks on this. The rest were basically the same, sorry lads.
CL: From the first chorus of ‘Do You Wanna Dance’ I was hooked. SO JOYFUL. I loved it. That’s probably the standout actually. They sort of fall over a bit towards the end though – too many slow sappy numbers. Get back to the upbeat stuff please. Bizarrely, the last track ‘Bull Session With The Big Daddy’ is just an excerpt of them in the middle of an interview, eating food. It’s really weird.
“Hey there’s onion on this so I hope you guys don’t mind…You stepped on my french fries.”
NK: That is super weird. Is it meant to be funny? An accident? Scripted? It just comes across as bizarre. I thought the album had ended and autoplayed to something random.
When would be the best time to listen to this?
NK: At the beach, obvs.
CL: It’s definitely a summer album. Don’t bother on a rainy day – it just doesn’t work.
Why has this album been included on the list?
NK: This is the first Beach Boys album that is a bit more grown up, and the production is a bit more interesting. This was the album where Brian Wilson decided he was no longer a touring musician, and would focus on writing and producing for the band. It’s a bit of a jump in that sense, but this doesn’t really do it for me.
CL: I’m such a sucker for this kind of beach music, but the Beach Boys – well, Brian Wilson really – really broke new ground in terms of musicality. There’s a lot of stuff going on. Singing in the round, different harmonies, plenty of instruments – if the only thing you’d ever heard before this was The Everly Brothers or even The Beatles, you’d be feeling pretty excited.
Will you be listening again?
NK: Definitely not. I only like one or two tracks on Pet Sounds, and this album is definitely not as good as that. Sorry Beach Boys. I don’t think this is very interesting, you can have all the production and harmony you like, but none of these songs are really anything different.
CL: I get that The Beach Boys aren’t for everyone – those super high voices aren’t everyone’s cup of ice-cold summer beverage – but I really get into it! To me, it’s that sort of teenage happiness when you have zero responsibilities and can just spend day after day drinking on a beach before going off to start studying.