Monday, 21 July 2014

The Beach Boys Unreleased Songs (Top Thirty-Seven-And-A-Third, News, Views and Music Issue 254)





Dear all, here we are again with another in our series of thirty-three-and-a-third rarities sets featuring the AAA bands. This week it's the Beach Boys. Now, surely after two boxed sets generously packed with rarities, a whole album re-issue series with bonus tracks and two rarity sets ('Endless Summer' and 'Hawthorne, CA') there can't possibly be anything else in the Beach Boys vaults? Well, there is you scrabble about a bit: many of the songs here, particularly the early ones come from the days when Brian Wilson was writing too much material for even his band's stingy record contract and a few of these songs were re-done by all sorts of friends, neighbours, temporary Beach Boys (Glenn Campbell in other words)  and even his wife Marilyn's band The Honeys. As with all our sets so far, our imaginary compilation ends with a hidden bit of bonus material in the form of spoken word - and it's a humdinger of an extract for you this week...

CD One:

Well, that's that then. Every single song the Beach Boys ever released, in roughly chronological order. Our work here is done, right and we all go back home, or to the beach, or whatever? Well, hold that sun tan lotion just a bit longer becausze we're almost done, but not quite yet. It's a sad fact that a lot of our AAA band's best work was left on the cutting room floor and The Beach Boys were no exception to this. To compensate for this one of the 'spin-offs' of our 'top ten' lists published each week as part of our 'News, Views and Music' newsletters was an eight-parter looking at the best unreleased songs by a group of AAA artists. Each of these albums was an 'imaginary' two disc compilation made up of thirty-three-and-a-third track selections (editor's note: with this article especially extended in book form to take in four selections we didn't have space for - which rather messes up our neat 'as many revolutions as a record' analogy but never mind...) We covered the Beach Boys outtakes on July 22nd 2014 as part of News, Views and Music Issue #254. Now, funnily enough just a couple of weeks after writing this - and before it was even published - the band surprised us all by half-heartedly sanctioning 'Big Beat', a collection of the band's recordings from 1963 due to go out of copyright but we didn't know that when we wrote the piece, honest!:

 Now, surely after two boxed sets generously packed with rarities, a whole album re-issue series with bonus tracks and two rarity sets ('Endless Summer' and 'Hawthorne, CA') there can't possibly be anything else in the Beach Boys vaults? Well, there is you scrabble about a bit: many of the songs here, particularly the early ones come from the days when Brian Wilson was writing too much material for even his band's stingy record contract and a few of these songs were re-done by all sorts of friends, neighbours, temporary Beach Boys (Glenn Campbell in other words)  and even his wife Marilyn's band The Honeys. As with all our sets so far, our imaginary compilation ends with a hidden bit of bonus material in the form of spoken word - and it's a humdinger of an extract for you this week...

CD One:

1)  The Beginning Of The End (Unused Song 1962?)

For us, of course, it's just the beginning, but Brian Wilson's early and very 1950s sounding demo is fine wherever we place it. Brian's just been on a date but he knows that the girl he's out with doesn't feel the same as he does and is counting down the hours until she tells him to push off - cue a wonderfully mournful, simple little song, with a funny little Carl Wilson solo at the centre of it. Recording dates are a little scarce for this one but seem to date from as early as 1962 - that's the very beginning in other words.

2) Mother May (Unused Song c.1963)

An early version of 'Do You remember?' (the guys who gave us rock and roll), this 1963 edition features the same tune but completely different lyrics. Brian's sweet falsetto promises to be a good boy and 'be careful' when it comes to meeting girls, while Mike Love makes a painfully funny cameo (or is that just painful cameo?) as Mother May herself. She's caught somewhere between his performance on 'Alley Oop' and Old Mother Riley, complete with apparent loss of teeth. This clearly isn't in the top pantheon of Beach Boy classics, but it's good fun to hear all the same.

3) My Only Alibi (Unused Song c.1963)

Gary Usher's name crops up a lot on this site - he was Brian's first non-family writing partner, briefly his flatmate after he left home and before he moved in with Marilyn's family and ended up producer of The Byrds among other things. For a time he was a singer too, with this recording coming out under the name 'Kenny and the Cadets'. Ever the friend, Brian gave him a song he thought would suit him - a rather slow 1950s sounding ballad the likes of Elvis or Cliff would have had a hit with a decade earlier. The Beach Boys back and provide the sweet harmonies, while that's clearly Carl on guitar, enjoying the chance to do something a little different. Hank Williams recorded his own version of this song later, under the name 'Snow' for reasons best known to himself.

4) Thank Him For Our Love (Unused Song c.1963)

A lovely double-tracked Brian Wilson demo of a song he sadly never returned to again, this dreamy ballad is a cross between 'Surfer Moon' and 'Girls On The Beach' but prettier than either. The middle eight is particularly gorgeous, going just where you don't expect it to, with a harmonic tension rare for any song of 1963 vintage. The lyrics are an early example of Brian writing to 'God', dreaming of his new girlfriend in his sleep and heaping praise on her in his dreams, 'nicer than a harden of beautiful flowers'. This song really should have come out by now!

5) Visions (Unused Song c.1963)

A slow boogie-woogie for you now, livened up by Brian's typically gorgeous pure lead vocal. It's hard to tell whether this is just a demo by Brian alone or a simple arrangement by the group - in truth the sound isn't that great, but Brian's lead sings loud and clear. Lyrically this is Brian having visions of the perfect girl and dreaming of meeting her some day - it's a lot better than 'Wouldn't It Be Nice?' in fact, this song of longing!

6) When Summer Comes Along Gonna Hustle You (Unused Song c.1963)

An early version of 'Dead Man's Curve', one of the many songs Brian gave away to Jan and Dean, this is a fun but bonkers song driven by a pulsating bass lick and some 'doo-ron-de-ron-hey!' lyrics. Basically Brian's girl is a bit slow to his liking so he's going to speed her up a bit! (you can see why he didn't givbe this one away to his future wife!)

7) Girls On The Beach (Alternate Take 1963)

The first alternate version on our list, this rather ropey version lacks a lot of the majesty and impact of the finished product but is a fascinating glimpse into how it could have been. As happens so often with these recordings Mike Love is not taking things seriously and pauses in his vocals to laugh before delivering the middle eight (eventually sung by Dennis) in a cod crooner accent. Certainly Brian's beach beauty isn't looking her best here but it's an important step towards creating one of the band's early milestones and is fascinating to hear.

8) Big Beat (Early Version of 'Do You Remember?' c.1964)

This is another early version of the song that will become 'Do You Remember?', with half the lyrics intact this time. This time the recording stars are 'Bob and Sheri', the Bob being Brian's one-time co-writing friend Bob Norberg. The song is marginally less frenetic than the Beach Boys version, opening with a drizzled tack piano and with subtle differences in the lyrics (Chuck Berry's 'rocking the stage' not bringing rock and roll 'to life'). Some are improvements, some are worse - and the jury's still out on the line 'your momma's bopping the Macarena!' That's Brian doing the 'big beat' background vocals by the way.

9) Marie (Unused Song c.1964)

Little is known about this sweet and simple boogie-woogie based song - we've guessed at 1964 but in truth this song sounds like it could have been recorded at any time between 1960 and 1965! What's curious is that Brian is singing lead but with female backing singers backing him - so is this a glamorous Beach Boys demo The Honeys backed him on? Or is it Brian recording under another alias without the rest of the band? Either way 'Marie' is a sweet old thing, a bit simple in the head maybe but in keeping with all the other pretty muses of the early Brian Wilson period.

10) Monkey's Uncle (Unused Song c.1964)

This is The Beach Boys backing Annette Funicello, Disney star and later star of The Monkees' delightful oddball film 'Head'. The title song from a forgotten Disney film of the same name (recorded in 1964 but released in 1965), it's a daft movie about a scientist raising a chimpanzee as his nephew with Funicello the only person seemingly aware of it! The Beach Boys really get the zany humour of the song and stick in every monkey pun they can find (so much so I'm amazed The Monkees didn't cover this song!) The song was written by The Sherman Brothers, who wrote the songs for many Disney films including 'Mary Poppins' but they clearly understood the band well. The backing track is your typical 1964 Beach Boys groove, with the 'instrumental break' from 'Surfin' USA' tacked onto a song that yet again re-uses the groove from 'Do You remember?' (The Beach Boys clearly liked that song). Annette and Brian's vocals go together really well - perhaps a duets album should have been on the cards?!

11) Little Cycle (Andy Williams TV Show 1964)

For a time in 1965 'Little Honda' was planned to be a Beach Boys single - before Brian and Mike came up with 'I Get Around'. That didn't stop them plugging it on TV though, including this unique performance on the Andy Williams Show. Mike Love asks the crooner about his singing background before persuading him to join in with the band while the Beach Boys chime in 'Andy Andy go faster faster!' and the pair even do the 'gear-stick shift' motion together! The song is a strange one for the band to do because they can't mention 'Honda' on TV 9that would be advertising) so they re-name the song 'Little Cycle', with Mike pausing for thought before he sings it each time and the 'Honda' shop is now the 'cycle shop', although I'm pleased to say that even this new version is 'more fun than a barrel of monkeys at a two-wheel fight' (still don't know what that means though!) A fun clip.

12) Please Let Me Wonder (Alternate Take 1964)

 A whole host of Beach Boys alternate takes exist from their first half dozen albums or so and to be honest they're hard work to slog through (especially 'Beach Boys Christmas' - I can guarantee you won't be feeling festive after the second hour of hearing 'Santa's Beard'). The 'Today' outtakes are the most interesting because the songs seemed to develop and change with every take - sometimes the instruments change, sometimes the tempo, sometimes the whole feel. Our imaginary compilation would have a whole series of these takes stuck together (a la Beatles Anthology) so you can hear the song progress, complete with breakdowns, Brian Wilson laughter and a final gorgeous alternate finished version that's a touch slower and slightly more 'Merseybeat' than the glowing orchestral ballad of the finished product. There's even some 'phasing' techniques that are way ahead of their time for 1965. Mike sings lead instead of Brian too, with the lead singer at his most romantic and he acquits himself well.

13) In The Back Of My Mind (Alternate Mix 1964)

I don't know about you but I've always considered the Dennis-sung closer of 'Today' as potentially the loveliest Beach Boys song of all - but the way it was mixed I can't flipping hear it! Dennis had a great voice but he couldn't double-track for love or money and the result on the album is a garbled mash of consonants and vowels that might as well be in a foreign language. Thankfully an enterprising bootlegger with access to the master tapes has remixed it for me and Dennis now sings solo. I was right by the way - this is certainly one of the loveliest Beach Boys moments, even if Dennis sounds a tad drunk (after all, he probably was).

14) Sandy (Unused Song 1965)

A full unused backing track from the 'Summer Days' period, 'Sandy' sounds exotic even for that period - a typically glossy Beach Boys beauty. This song had a long and complicated history: it will turn into 'Sherri She Needs Me' the following year- a song left unreleased until the 'Made In California' box set of 2013 - before Brian finally cuts a solo version of it as the lovely 'She Says That She Needs Me' for his 1998 album 'Imagination'. This version is my favourite though: without the lyrics this sultry song has more space to breath, before a tag line finally adds some lyrics ('Sandy, baby, it's time we said goodbye') and some lovely Beach Boy ba-ba-bas (very similar to the still-to-come arrangement of 'Barbara Ann'). The song is clearly a stepping stone on the way to 'Smile', built up over several sections and 'feels' but the fact that Brian was leaving such a glorious song unfinished even at his peak in 1965 is ominous...

15) The One You Can't Have (Backing Track c.1965)

Sounding like the backing track for 'Help Me Rhonda' as re-done for a Christmas album, this unused backing track is another one that's hard to date. Some sources place this song as early as 1963 but this far too 'big' a production for Brian in that era - I could be wrong but this sounds like another 'Summer Days' orphan to me; it just has that 'sound' to it - that mix of blaring horns and tricky xylophone part and the drum part is clearly too tricky for Dennis just yet. This would have been a fun song with lyrics to it - with the xylophone part taking the song down a completely different path in the middle eight.

16) Pamela Jean (as 'The Survivors' 1965)

One of the rarest records in my collection is this Beach Boys spin-off single from 1965 performed by the band but credited to 'The Survivors' so I've always been rather fond of it. Brian reportedly wanted to see if he could sell as many records without the 'Beach Boys' name on the sleeve - but couldn't, this song sinking without trace on release. It's an early version of 'Car Crazy Cutie' - itself one of the better early Beach Boy album tracks - but with rather different lyrics about yet another girl whose near-perfect. What's interesting is how much of the backing is in place already - the vocal section ('a-wah-a-wah-I-do') is in place already and the complex horn riff is ever so nearly there.

17) Guess I'm Dumb (Backing Track 1965)

Most of you will know by now that Glenn Campbell became Brian Wilson's on-tour replacement after Brian's nervous breakdown in 1964. By 1966 Glenn was eager to move on and have a solo career of his own - something he achieved to amazing effect. To say thankyou Brian gave him this leaving gift - a gorgeous 'Pet Sounds'-like backing track full of regret and longing. Glenn's version was a flop, sadly, despite the Brian Wilson name at a time when that virtually guaranteed sales, but the song is well worth seeking out. The backing track for it exists too which sounds even more Beach Boysy and would have made a fine extra to any of the billion-and-four CD re-issues of 'Pet Sounds' down the years, only a fraction away from that album's instrumental 'Let's Go Away For A While'.

18) Child Is Father To The Man ('Smile' 1966)

I've long adored 'Smile', ever since hearing a bootleg that tried to put the whole thing together as a 30 track suite (they got pretty close, too, judging by the version Brian put together in 2004). Thank goodness virtually all of that set and more is available officially now, as the pricey and Good Vibrations-heavy but still sterling box set 'The Smile Sessions' (2011). However there are one or two gems still missing. Here's the first which differs from the 'finished' (in as much as any of these were finished) version in two key ways. Firsty there's a lovely a capella vocal section in the middle, with Brian's high falsetto surrounded by another Brian and Carl as they go off on a minute jaunt of 'the child the child - father of the man's that in true Smile style manages to sound both breathtakingly simple and hauntingly complex. The song then ends differently too, with a 'tag' of the main song riff being played by bass and piano while the 'Fire' style drums (sounding as if they're played by Dennis) keep pounding and stabbing away while two saxophones trade frills over the top. Again like most of 'Smile' the effect is hypnotic, the musicians getting into a real groove that I could happily listen to for hours. sadly that's not to be though, someone hitting a wrong note and the track suddenly falling apart.

19) Wonderful ('Smile' 1966)

Brian's earnest vocal version quite properly made the 'Smile Sessions' box set, but my bootleg copy includes a fascinating glimpse of a cul-de-sac the band went through trying to get there. Carl is singing the song while Dennis is putting on a comedy voice behind him (something along the lines 'oh little Henry won't you bop with me baby' - no I don't know why he'd be singing that either but, hey, this is 'Smile', all normal rules of composition are out! Carl; has a dry throat and gives up half way through, asking for a glass of water - presumably the reason why Capitol didn't use this extract. However this was presumably meant to be a 'proper' part of the song at one stage (Carl might have been due to return to it before Smile got cancelled) and it's well worth hearing - the mix of tack piano, fuzz guitar and plucked strings is really most effective.

CD Two:

20) Three Blind Mice ('Smile' 1966)

There are lots of fragments of 'Smile' that might have been tacked onto the end of something - I can see this section (nicknamed 'Three Blind Mice' by a bootlegger' after the plucked string phrase) appearing on the end of either 'Heroes and Villains' or 'Wonderful' - both songs have passages with similar tempos and 'feels'. This instrumental piece is only a minute long but it shares with the rest of 'Smile' a real feeling of depth and emotion: that horn part is so mournful, the drums so urgent and the string part so relentless that it all adds up to quite a heady mix of sounds wherever Brian might have placed it.

21) Darlin' (Alternate Take 1967)

We're into the wildness years now, with arguably the best loved track of the Brian Wilson-in-bed-years heard in an early take. Carl's vocal sounds bigger than ever here with less going on behind him, with the Beach Boys instrumental parts simplified (though there are still horns) and their backing vocals absent entirely. The song is taken a tad slower too, which really draws out the cosy romanticism of the song. To be honest 'Darlin' could be played backwards and would still sound pretty but this version is still pretty special.

22) Never Learn Not Love (Mike Douglas TV Show 1969)

Mike Douglas clearly hasn't done much rehearsal with The Beach Boys. He's run out of time for anything more than  brief chat about the weather in California and introduces this track as 'the a capella one' (presumably the band are doing 'Graduation Day' or 'Their Hearts Are Full Of Spring' at the same show but sadly that track was either left off due to running behind time or the bootlegger listening to the show didn't bother to tape it). Dennis' eerie ballad (co-written by an un-credited Charlie Manson) sounds nicely raw in this version, with the band keeping things simple in terms of music although their soaring vocals are as complex as ever. Dennis is revelling in the chance to be in the spotlight with a song he's clearly proud of and turns in a fabulous vocal, while the band alter the ending - instead of the sudden fade the band tag on another 'aaaaaaaaah' ending and bring the song to a full stop.

23) Tears In The Morning (Alternate Take 1970)

Another alternate version of a classic Beach Boys album track, this is a slightly slower, less 'fussy' take of Bruce Johnston's 'Sunflower' classic. He sounds like the only Beach Boy on this track - the backing vocals don't come in until the halfway point while Bruce sings double-tracked. The usual parts are there but subtly different - with the strings playing a particularly nice part that should have been kept - and there's less 'period' instrumentation - the accordions and glockenspiels - of the final version. I'm not sure if I prefer it to the finished version but it's probably as good as.

24) Out In The Country (Unused Song c.1970)

This pretty little song features Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston criss-crossing lines  about the good ol' country life to the accompaniment of a church organ before some typically lovely Beach Boys block vocals float in as if on a cloud. The result is not dissimilar to the organ-drenched 'A Day In The Life Of A Tree' coupled with the innocence of 'From My Window' although actually I prefer the song to either - its clearly unfinished and needs another verse to make it come good, but the magic is already in this song, waiting to be unleashed by a really cooking take or a slightly different arrangement.

25) My Solution (Unused Song 1970)

The Beach Boys always seemed to like to think of themselves as a comedy song, especially when it came to 'horror' for some reason. The natural sequel to 'Monster Mash', this Brian Wilson  compositon from somewhere around the early 'Sunflower' sessions features Brian as a mad scientist iontoning his plan for world domination while the rest of the band incant behind him. The band taped this song on Halloween's Day 1970, which might account for the rather odd lyrics. The effect is, erm, unusual and sadly stillnot officially unreleased, although Brian did resurrect the melody for the 'creepier' half of his song 'Happy Days' from 1998's 'Imagination' record. 'What have I done with my solution, my instant date to evolution?'

26)  Walkin' (Unused Song c.1970)

Yet another song from the first sessions for 'Sunflower' (and submitted as part of the first running order for 'Add Some Music To Your Day' as it was then called), this bouncy Brian Wilson sounds like the bastard lovechild of 'Merry Christmas Baby' anda first draft for 'Back Home' - finally finished in 1976. Al Jardine sings lead on a track he nver sounds entirely comfortable with. Ironically enough, the album 'Subflower' probably got it's name from a lyric for this song ('The back yard's where they keep sunflowers growing').

27) Add Some Music To Your Day (Alternate Lyrics 1970)

This early version of the song our book is named for is fascinatingly close and yet fascinatingly distant to the version we all know and love. The lovely flowing melody and block harmonies are there as are the second verse, and middle eight but the opening is completely different and the whole ambience is out somehow. 'We heard about the great explosion of soul, the new sound the old soyund the timless sound of rock and roll, I've heard it since I was one, it's been a part of all my fun, add some music to your day...On your way to work it's with you in your car, in elevators you'll hear violins, at coffee breaks you hear guitars'. Hey where does this narrator work - I wannna go work there!

28) Carry Me Home (Unused Song c 1972)

This mournful country-rock Dennis Wilson ballad sounds not unlike something Gram Parsons would sing, with the drummer showing a glimpse at the darkness inside his soul that will only really find a true home on his solo records. Blondie's second lead gives the song a firepower, but then the song suddenly drops away for some of Dennis' most mountful words: 'Life is meant to live, and I'm afraid to die, please God don't take my life, please help me, carry me home...' Apparently this song came very close to being released on the 'Made In california' box set in 2012 but those mournful words around a decade before Dennis did just that spooked the surviving members of the band so much they couldn't bring themselves to sanction it.

29) Big Sur (Alternate Take 1973)

This more polished reading of the opening section of the 'California' trilogy is more what you'd have expected from the Beach Boys. The 'triple time' piano part is missing, there's a 'doo doo doo' vocal part drifting in and out of the song and a 'Big Sur Sky!' lick that's particularly lovely. Again I think I still prefer the finished version just for its sheer oddity and danger and I don't think the Beach Boys had the segue into 'Beaks Of Eagles' planned just yet (the song has a full end instead), but this is still such a strong arrangement you wonder why the band bothered to change it.

30) We Got Love (Unused Song 1973)

This song was demoted from 'Holland' at the last minute in favour of 'Sail On Sailor' but a live version did turn up on 'The Beach Boys In Concert'. I prefer this abandoned studio take though, which features Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar turning in a strong song based on a catchy piano hook and a hint of the gospel flavour that suffuses all their four songs for the band across 1972 and 1973. I still prefer 'Leaving This Town' on points, but this song - complete with a lovely 'oooh' Beach Boys part and another gritty lead from Blondie - more than deserved to make the 'Holland' album.

31) That Same Old Song (Alternate Take 1976)

The version of this song as featured on '15 Big Ones' is appalling - a bunch of grown ups treating a childish song as if its Shakespeare, with Brian Wilson on particularly ropey form. This early version is much better - apart from a piano (played by the choir director, leaving the band to look awkward and unsure what to do with their hands) there's no instruments, their part being filed by a choir that really bring out the gospel flavour of the song. Brian, assisted by all the others - even Dennis against the odds - sounds much happier than he has in a long time too.

32) Michael Row The Boat Ashore (Unused Song c.1976)

The Beach Boys recorded lots of daft songs in their 'comeback' years. This rocky adaptation of the traditional hymn would no doubt have been the 'Shortnin' Bread' of either '15 Big Ones' or 'Beach Boys Love You'. Mike Love takes the lead on an orchestra-heavy version that's been dressed up to sound like the band's other nautical favourite 'Sloop John B' but like many recordings of this era something isn't quite working - this performance rings hollow somehow. Still its better than 14 of the 15 recordings that did make it onto '15 Big Ones!'

33) I'm Begging You Please ('Adult Child' Unreleased Album 1977)

The Beach Boys 'lost' a whole album in 1977 when they rejected 'Adult Child' for being too 'personal' to Brian. Given that they replaced it with 'Beach Boys Love You' - the sound of a broken man having fun with synthesisers - that's made fans wonder what the 'missing' album could possibly be like. 'Weird' is the answer, as Brian returns to his 'Smile' way of making music with simple short fragments but on a whole smaller level. To be honest most of the album - or as far as the band got anyway - would have been pretty awful, but this sweet piano ballad is about the best song. Brian knows he's becoming difficult to live with but pleads for forgiveness, accelerating up a key with every verse until even his (admittedly cigarette-hit) falsetto can't cope with the pressure. Lovely tune, though, with some typical flowing piano chords

34) Wish You Were Here In Hawaii (Unused Song 1978)

The Beach Boys have always had a 'special' bond with Hawaii - perhaps the ultimate place in America for surfing. The Hyatt Agency could have used the Beach Boys song 'Hawaii' for their ads about holidays on the island but instead contacted the band to see if they'd be interested in writing a new song for them. They were, turning in a minute long advert that uses typical Beach Boys trademarks to great effect, with Carl's falsetto filling in for his brother's while Mike does a great job on lead vocal. The result is a song that would happily have graced the 'MIU Album' - actually, the heck with it, this minute long ad is the best thing the band recorded in 1978!

35) Santa Ana Winds (Alternate Take 1979)

My candidate for the last great Beach Boys song went through a lot of changes. Amazingly this first version - which might not be up to the finished version but isn't far off - was rejected for 'MIU' in favour of all sorts of godawaful rubbish about saying 'hello' in Hawaiian and playing relationships out with tennis matches. Al Jardine's lovely nelody is there, even if the counter-melody isn't quite there yet (the 'Santa Ana winds blowing cross my mind' bit) and the lyrics feature half of what will make the 'L A Light' album with a few lyrics from the future B-side Lady Liberty thrown in for good measure ('Sitting on the porch, thinking about her torch'). The other Beach Boys turn in a terrific performance, however, at least equal to their sterling work on the finished product and 'Santa Ana Winds' sounds in good health, even if she's blowing at less force here than the later one does.

36) Stevie (Unused Song 1980)

One of Dennis Wilson's many, many girlfriends over the years was Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks. Unusually, it's Brian who wrote this love song to her though - returning in his late 30s to his early songwriting days, imagining a mysterious perfect stranger who can turn his life around. The lyrics might not be his best but the song sports a delightfully gritty horn part that shows that while Brian's ambitions might have lessen3ede he still had a great ear for unusual sounds. The result is a song that again is better than three-quarters of anything that made that year's LP 'Keepin' The Summer Alive'.

37) Little GTO ('Salute Nascar' 1998)

Few people know it but the last Beach Boys album before the big reunion last year (2013) was 'Mike Love, Bruce Johnston and Dave Marks Salute Nascar!', a cassette-only 15-minute car-themed job in 1998 that was available only at garages. To be honest, like a lot of things in the post-Brian-and-Carl world of the Beach Boys its not that good, full of re-recordings of Beach Boys classics that all kind of miss the point. That said, the remaining Beach Boys don't just take the easy way out - they got Dean Torrence (once of Jan and Dean) to sing Brian's parts and gave Dave a lot of freedom of choice in whether to replicate Carl's old parts or do something new. The better tracks are the ones where you don't have a direct comparison with Beach Boys classics - such as this album highlight, the debut single by Beach Boys clones Ronnie and the Daytonas in 1964 (they even sang a song called 'Beach Boy' as the follow-up!) The result is a song that somehow sounds more like The Beach Boys than the Beach Boys songs do and one that's tailor made for Dean's Brian-like falsetto and Mike's gritty lead.

'Hidden' Bonus Track(s):

Two humdingers for you this week! The first is a compilation of the Wilson's dad and manager Murry trying (and failing) to direct the group during 'Help Me, Rhonda'. This famous session was the one that saw Brian finally flip and sack his own dad, much to the shock of the others and has been so long discussed by Beach Boys aficionados as the 'turning point' for the band that its more than a little eerie to actually hear it. Poor Murry clearly thinks he's helping, but he's not telling the overworked and underpaid band anything they don't know already - they're cheesed off because their work keeps getting interrupted not because they're 'going soft'. A kind bootlegger has edited the track for me to use just Murry's bits and Al and Brian's interjections (the feistier Mike and Dennis are notably quiet) so you can really hear things escalate in the space of five minutes, from a family letting off steam to a full blown family incident (Murry never got over it, hired a 'clone' act 'The Sun-Rays and sold his own son and nephew's songs behind their back in revenge). 'I've only got one ear left and your big loud voice is killing it!'
Our second choice is another bit of family sabotage. Mike Love is famous for disliking 'Smile'. When The Beach Boys rehearsed 'Heroes and VIlliains' for their stage set in 1967 he took the opportunity to add his own 'running commentary' for the song. With tongue-in-cheek he urges the group to 'wail your buns off!' on a 'nuclear disaster' that 'went all the way to top 40 and the next week zoomed off to about 230, this week its lurking about 10,000 on this year's top 10,000!' The next section is the 'quiet' bit where 'you can hear Brian Wilson breathing softly (cue the sound of someone being strangled) and Al Jardine picking his teeth right there and Dennis, always having another cigarette. He then goes on to say ' no wonder that radio stations were inundated with calls that week - to take this record off the air!' The song concludes 'We want to thankyou for still coming to the show - and throwing all those nice objects at us!' The story of the Beach Boys in 1967 is right there - and it's funny and equally sad in equal measure. 

Right, that's all from us for another week. It's the last of our 'unreleased' specials next week with Paul McCartney rarities under the spotlight, See you then!

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