In-depth reviews of classic or neglected albums, mainly from the 1960s and 70s, plus a weekly newsletter featuring all the latest news, views and music. Artists covered include Beach Boys, Beatles, Belle and Sebastian, Buffalo Springfield, Byrds, Crosby Stills and Nash, Dire Straits, Grateful Dead, Hollies, Jefferson Airplane/Starship, Kinks, Nils Lofgren, Monkees, Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Searchers, Simon and Garfunkel, Small Faces, 10cc, The Who and Neil Young.
Monday, 1 September 2014
Beach Boys: Non-Album Songs Part One: 1961-1969
You can now buy 'Add Some Music To Your Day - The Alan's Album Archives Guide To The Music Of The Beach Boys' in e-book form by clicking here
Dear all, here's another extract from the first in our planned series of Ebooks, this one about the Beach Boys. Our aim is for the book to mop up every single non-album release by every single one of our chosen 30 AAA artists and include A sides, B sides, EPs, live albums, tracks released on compilation albums, rarities collections, as CD bonus tracks or on box sets; anything, basically, that secured an official release but isn't part of a 'proper' studio album. In The Beach Boys' case, especially, that amounts to a lot what with the release of two rarities albums (one of them featuring two-discs) and two box sets. So yet again we've had to split our article into two for you, with the songs listed in strict(ish) chronological order:
A) The earliest Beach Boy recording - as far as we know - is naturally enough a snippet of Brian Wilson fiddling around with a tape recorder and trying to re-create the Four Freshman's distinctive harmonies by double-tracking himself, mightily successfully for a teenager it has to be said .'Happy Birthday Four Freshman'shows what the band might have sounded like had a) the band broke big in the 1950s rather than 1960s and b) had Brian been cloned instead of 'forced' into singing with his younger brothers. The 19 year old Brian is celebrating the fifth ‘anniversary’ of his favourite group by singing the ‘happy birthday’ song in delicate and very Four Freshman-inspired four part harmony and the result is quite lovely, showing what an angelic voice Brian had even without the other Beach Boys. It’s probably fair to say, though, that without the influences of his brothers (Dennis’ love of surfing and Carl’s love of rock and roll) Brian might have struggled to sell a whole album of this stuff as its already sounding a little dated once the 50s turn into the 60s (even without the Beatles or surf music really around yet). Still, everyone has to start somewhere and you can already hear the beginnings of that famous Beach Boy sound. This short recording isn’t part of the track listing but can be heard right at the very end of the Beach Boys ‘Hawthorne, CA’ rarities set (2001) where it appears as the very last thing on the second disc, a ghostly and poignant reminder of the band’s origins that might well be the most vital thing on the whole record.Find it on: '30 Years Of Good Vibrations' (1993)/'Hawthorne, CA' (2001)
B) The next few songs all come from the 'Hite Morgan' demo tape made in 1961, which was released in full (or near full anyway) in 1991 with 'Surfin' (backed with 'Luau') released as the Beach Boys' first single in October that year ('Surfin' was also re-issued as part of the debut album 'Surfin' Safari' - we've decided to keep to that one review of it even though strictly speaking it should be in this section). We gave 'Luau' rather a hard time in our review of that demo tape ('Lost and Found', see below), more because it sounds like the 'past' when 'Surfin' was clearly the 'future'. It speaks volumes too that the band released this track (written by the boss of their new record label) as the B-side despite having better material ready: Morgan was simply riding his luck on the hope that the A-side would be a hit. However while the repeats of 'loop de loop loop luau' (reprised on 'Flip Flop Flyin' In An aeroplane some eight years later) are intensely irritating and the lyrics don't get any further than the title (a Hawaiian word for 'outdoor picnic-come-barbecue-come-party), in the context of a bunch of teenagers trying to copy what was already being done by hardened musicians twice their age it's not that bad. Carl's around a whiz on the guitar, Brian's simple drum taps are more fitting here than the rest of the recordings and listen to ho young Dennis sounds at age 16, his voice not yet fully broken. The result is a fascinating historical artefact for how things could have been in The Beach Boys' future, but you're secretly pleased never actually happened. Find it on: 'Lost and Found' (1991) and 'Surfin' 62' (2013)
C) 'Barbie' is another Morgan family song - written by son Bruce this time - that's just as cliched but better, partly due to Brian's marvellous falsetto lead (impressively confident given how new to this everyone was at the time) and partly because it sounds more like what will come later: Brian will write several beautiful ballads to one-syllabled girls over the course of the 1960s. This song wasn't actually part of the same sessions - this and the next track were performed by Brian, Al, Carl and mum Audree Wilson and were released as a flop singer credited to 'Kenny and the Cadets' (for no apparent reason!) We don't know whose doing the drumming but it's bad, too bad even for Dennis, which suggests it might be Brian overdubbed; the drums used to be even worse on my first copy of this album: a low budget 1980s compilation that overdubbed each and every song with clashing synthesised drums: a meddling with art and history on a par with opening a McDonalds in the Giza Pyramids! Find it on: 'Lost and Found' (1991) and 'Surfin' 62' (2013)
D) 'What Is A Young Girl Made Of?' is a song so 1950s it practially comes with the opening 'let's put on a show right here!' and shots of Elvis rhumbha-ing in a sports car/club/school/car race/prison/anything handy; even by 1961 (after the likes of Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly had spiced things up a bit) it must have sounded a little 'old'. Brian takes the lead again on another frenetic Bruce Morgan song which like producer Tony Hatch's songs penned For The Searchers a couple of years later is a middle aged man's idea of what being a teenager in love is like: it's like eating sweets, basically (which makes you wonder whether they'd pitched this song 'Sweets For My Sweet' and 'Sugar and Spice' a bit young!) The highlight is an alarming vocal from Brian which gets painfully high in the middle eight ('Here in my ar-r-r-rms'!') and makes him sound like Mickey Mouse. Not the best from this recording session but still not bad for a bunch of amateur teenagers and their mother: if this was an 'X Factor' audition they'd have been through to the last round easy! Find it on: 'Lost and Found' (1991) and 'Surfin' 62' (2013)
E) At long last Brian gets to sing one of his own compositions and like 'Surfin' its not that great in its own right but does set the tone nicely for much of what was to follow. 'Judy' was a real life girlfriend of Brian's in thew days before he met Marilyn (and may or may not be the inspiration for 'Caroline, No' and all the other future songs about lost innocence). Here, though, Brian sounds like any other soppy teenager in love, with the Beach Boys adding some wonderful 'nagging' background 'bah bah bah's and 'Judy Judy Judy papa Judy's that give the song real tension and drama and will become a big part of his writing come 'Smile' time. Brian's songs aren't quite there yet but they're still easily the best things on this demo tape. Find it on: 'Lost and Found' (1991)
F) 'Beach Boys Stomp' aka 'Karate' shows that the other stalwart of the early Beach Boys albums - pointless instrumentals added to fill up time - was there from the beginning too. Credited to Carl Wilson, chances are it's simply a 'band jam' that everyone pitched into but seeing as Carl is playing the loudest they gave him the credit. Using the main riff from 'Money (That's What I Want') by Barrett Strong (a new song back then, having been released in 1960) Carl adds some surfing style licks over the top while another guitarist (who could be either Al or Brian) chugs away on rhythm. The song was a useful learning curve with flashes of several later surfing instrumentals on later albums, especially 'Punchline' and 'Stoked' which both come from the same stop-start 'shout something daft in the silence before the song carries on again!' mould. Goodness knows why the band decided to shout 'karate' here though: was martial arts another fad that gotr left behind when the surfing songs took off? I always used to assume it was surfing slang (for a wave with a big kick, perhaps?) but my surfing contacts didn't seem to know it, instead calling me a 'barney' and a 'goofy-footed gidget' for bothering them during peak surfing season. Find it on: 'Lost and Found' (1991)
G) 'Lavender' was never finished by The Beach Boys at this session, but thankfully a demo of the band rehearsing their harmonies survived and was added to the end of 'Lost and Found' as a bonus track. This track - written by Morgan's wife Dorinda this time- actually shows a lot more promise than most of the songs here and allows the Beach Boys to show off their lovely 'Four Freshman' style harmonies. This track is very 1950s and you can see why Morgan wanted them to go away and come back with something 'hip' that might sell - but for us in the 21st century its a fascinating glimpse for how a non-surfing Beach Boys might have fared in the 1960s. Yes the harmonies aren't as tight yet as they'll become, but considering this is a group of unknown untrained kids on a demo it's remarkable stuff, with some very Beach Boysy words about time passing and waiting for perfection to arrive in the shape of the title character. As far as I know, its the only Beach Boys song named after a perfume. Find it on: 'Lost and Found'
H)'Cindy (Oh Cindy)' is a 'Surfin' Safari' outtake that, while far from the best thing from those sessions, is too good for a band under pressure to record an album quickly to simply discard. A cover of a song by writers Robert Nemiroff and Burt D'Lugoff under the slightly more convincing pseudonyms Robert Barron and Burt Long, it was a number nine hit for singer Vince Martin in 1956 and may have been given the push simply because Brian didn't write it (there's only three songs on the debut album he didn't have a hand in). Quite how the Beach Boys ended up covering it is unclear: it's not particularly suited to their style and there's precious little space for the harmonies (already their biggest selling point), although Brian's earnest falsetto lead is quite similar to his songs of devotion to a whole host of girls names down the years (from 'Wendy' to 'My Diane'). Sharp-eared listeners can hear a typically grumpy Murry telling the band to 'knock it off' talking when the recording red light comes on.Find it on: the 'Surfin' Safari' / 'Surfin' USA' two-fer-one CD re-issue 2001
I) 'Land Ahoy' is a rare case of Brian writing both music and lyrics in this period for a song that sounds like a cross between the usual Beach Boys style and a sea shanty. Fascinatingly it's not that far removed from 'Sloop John B', with a sailor 'one hundred days' into a voyage that should be ending soon and dreaming of 'running to outstretched arms and living with my lover's charms'. It's a happy go lucky enough song is 'Land Ahoy' but the pedestrian band recording is probably the reason it wasn't released (Mike, on lead, sounds like he has a cold and Dennis struggles to nail even this simple drum pattern). Session tapes reveal The Beach Boys were really struggling that day, September 9th 1962 (the same session where 'Summertime Blues' and 'Little Girl (You're My Miss America') were taped). Someone in the band seems to like it though because it's been cropping up on all sorts of releases since 1983!Find it on: 'The Beach Boys Rarities' (1983) and 'Surfin' Safari'/ 'Surfin' USA' (two-fer-one CD re-issue 2001)
J)'Punchline'may be just another one of those runof-the-mill surfing instrumentals that seemed to plague the first few Beach Boys, but it's actually one of the better ones (beaten only by 'Moon Dawg' in my opinion). Taped in January 1963 during the early 'Surfin' USA' sessions, it seems odd that the band never came back to it: Dennis Wilson's rat-a-tat surf drum pattern is much more him than a lot of the things the band make him play and while the 'Mike Love has hysterics laughing' is terribly heavy-handed this track is no dafter thana lot of other early Beach Boys songs. Some fans have 'heard' the keyboard riff from 'Surfin' USA' pop up on this track, but the majority of it sounds more like a precursor of 'Surfer Girl' finale 'Boogie Woodier' to me. Not up to the other period outtakes maybe, but it seems strange the band didn't use it when they were clearly running very short on material.Find it on: '30 Years Of Good Vibrations' (1993)
K) The 30 second burst of'Little Surfer Girl'that surfaced on the 1993 box set is a real curio: it isn't a prototype for 'Surfer Girl' (despite the similar name) and seems to have been taped at a studio by Brian alone (the 'Bob' he talks to at the start is most likely friend, room-mate and lyricist Bob Norberg, suggesting Brian is producing a 'Bob and Sherri' record for his pal and his girlfriend). Brian's few lyrics suggest a ;call and answer' response similar to many of the duo's recordings with a surfer 'boy' calling to a surfer 'girl' from his 'board'. Alas this fragment doesn't give us much to go on (was this really all there was?) and the heavy handed drumming doesn't really fit in with the feelings of beauty and calm Brian seems to have been aiming for with this track. Still, nice to hear - as far as I know this fragment was never even bootlegged before its release.Find it on: '30 Years Of Good Vibrations' (1993)
L) 'The Baker Man' is a real curio: this oddball song was taped, on it's own, in March 1963 - in between the sessions for 'Surfin' USA' and 'Surfer Girl'. Unusually Brian wrote both the music and the words although neither are all that convincing - as the sleevenotes for its first CD release make clear, it's inspired (read: 'ripped off from') 'Hully Gully' by The Olympics, a song the Beach Boys will have fun destroying on their 'Party' album. If anything, though, this song is even rawer and features a tremendously gruff voice from Brian - sounding not unlike the 1976 over tobacco-ed and drugged model as it happens - and some mischievous (for 1963) lyrics ('Well here comes a dance that never will be banned...abracadabra look at everyone go now!') . Based around the riff from nursery rhyme 'pat-a-cake Baker's Man', it finds Brian teaching us a 'dance' and sounds decidedly 1950s in feel (you half expect him to start twisting in the middle!), even if things fall apart and seem to turn into a Morecambe and Wise routine by the end (Brian giggling his way through 'Clap your partner's hand...not to hard now...slap her in the face...what a disgrace!') A true oddity: no other Beach Boys recording comes anywhere close to it, which is probably why it was abandoned although actually it would have made a fair addition to either the band's second or third albums. Find it on: 'Surfin' Safari' / 'Surfin' USA' two-fer-one CD re-issue 2001
M) The rather sweet 'I Do' is much more like it: in fact this November 1963 recording (Taped in between albums four and five, 'Little Deuce Coupe' and 'All Summer Long') is key in the Beach Boys' progression: up until this point no Beach Boys song has ever been given such a big production and this is an early example of Brian using session musicians instead of the band. You wonder why this recording wasn't released: there certainly doesn't seem to be fault with either the song or recording which are not top notch. The only things I can think of are that a) this song was intended for female group The Castells (which would have used this same backing track) and as a result the lyrics have the narrator being asked to marry the girl - a quick re-write that didn't quite work perhaps? (Although the band could have gotten away with it had they mentioned a 'leap year' in the lyric, the time of the year when girls can traditionally ask out boys) and b) that the melody of this song skirts a little too close to our old friend 'County Fair' and Capitol thought that fans might notice. Needless to say, the song is a big improvement, mainly because the girl asking the narrator out doesn't turn round and say something like 'ooh let's get married, muscles, and then we can adopt a little ko-a-la bear!' Whatever the reason, it's a shame this song stayed in the vaults because it really shows the band growing and is an important stepping stone from the surfing and car years to 'Today' and beyond (the record I mean, not 'today' as in 'today', that would be silly...)Find it on: the CD two-fer-one re-issue of album number three ('Surfer Girl') and five ( 'Shut Down Volume Two'), even though strictly speaking it belongs with album number four ('Little Deuce Coupe' - the 4th and 5th albums were switched round on release so that the car concept album 'Coupe' wouldn't replicate songs already heard on the 'Surfer Girl' album, a sensible but still confusing decision)
N) Back in the wintry days of 1963, when 'Little Saint Nick' was a oneoff festive single and hadn't yet snow-balled into a whole LP, it needed a B-side. With that song a joke more than anything else, the band didn't want to 'waste' any original material on it but needed something that would be suitable too. Showing the same split personality inherent on the 'Beach Boys Christmas' LP the band decided to accompany all that fun and cheer and very 60s branch of frivolity with one of their most serious and traditional recordings: 'The Lord Prayer', sung a capella throughout in true Four Freshman manner. The result is heartfelt, with Brian providing a gorgeous 'top layer' of sound, but decidedly wonky: the harmonies aren't quite as tight as on the similar 'Graduation Day' or 'Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring'. The piece must have confused the hell out of 60s teenagers who bought the record for a bit of fun and ended up with a sermon for a flipside (it's hard to explain now but this must have felt plain wrong at the time: it was an unwritten rule in the 1960s that 'A' sides were serious and 'B' sides frivolous; that's why 'Help!' got lumbered with 'I'm Down' and why the flipside of 'Pinball Wizard' was accompanied by a raucous instrumental featuring barking dogs). Find it on: oddly none of the three goes at compiling all the Beach Boys Christmas material (including an unreleased 1977 LP) into one volume bothered to include it -but the original more straightforward re-issue of 'The Beach Boys Christmas' in 1988 did; however the song's first appearance on album came on 'The Beach Boys Rarities' (1983)
O) We don't generally cover 'alternate versions' on these 'non-album' 'mini-reviews' because, well, wereally would be forever and we all have homes (or maybe beach shacks or cabin essences) to go to. However I had to include the alternate version of'Don't Back Down'in this list because it is so different it sounds like a completely 'new' song. As we discussed on our review for 'All Summer Long', the finished product's tale of competition and bravery sounded like a cry from the heart from Brian Wilson post-airplane breakdown and was spookily accidentally titled 'Don't Break Down' on early pressings of the album. This early version sounds more like your usual Beach Boys summer singalong, with completely different lyrics, a dur-dur-dur-dur counter-melody that sounds quite cheerful and an overall sense of fun, not impending doom. There must have been a big change in Brian's state of mind between these two recordings (annoyingly only a date for the backing has been given in the otherwise excellent CD sleevenotes, which is the same in both cases). Few hearing this song would have thought there was anything 'deep' about it: 'I used to laugh when a surfer went under, until I tried it and my ears sounded like thunder...' Mike's words about facing up to your fears clearly touched a nerve in Brian somewhere, though, hence the major changes by the finished product (did an already slightly paranoid Brian sense his cousin was using their songwriting sessions to laugh at him? And - given the events from 1966 onwards - was he right?!)Find it on: the two-fer-one CD re-issue of 'Little Deuce Coupe' and 'All Summer Long' (2001)
P)'All Dressed Up For School'is yet another example of just how weird the Beach Boys could be. Carl's first lead vocal for the band - a full 18 months before his first 'official' one on 'Girl Don't Tell Me' - is a lascivious song about lusting after a schoolgirl, so I guess at least the band are giving the track to their member closest in age to school children (Carl was 16 so just - just! - gets away with it!) The lyrics are a candidate for the weirdest yet: 'Dressed up for school., ooh what a turn on!' runs the chorus, like the Carry On team covering 'Hey Little Schoolgirl', while Carl first moans about and falls in love with a girl who 'runs around with shorts' and 'didn't care about her hair'. Love has gone wrong by the last verse though: she goes out every night and loses her innocence; 'she's not the little girl I've always known' sighs Carl, just a couple of words away from a 1965 Beach Boys single that builds on this growing older and maturer (or not, in some cases). Brian is clearly indulging in one of his fantasies here, one which will become full blown on 1977's horrid 'Hey Little Tomboy', suggesting that both songs are based on someone 'real' (is it the same girl who half-inspired 'Caroline, No' along with Marilyn?) I'd like to think that someone with taste told The Beach Boys not to bother (even though this September 1964 recording taped in between 'All Summer Long' and 'Today' came when the band were short of material), but it seems more worried that the band were worried about a legal suit: the melody starts out as a complete rip-off of 'Louie Louie' (already recorded by the band on 'Shut Down II' earlier in the year) and ends up quoting from the 'Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow' riff (heard on the earlier 'Beach Boys Concert' and the later 'Beach Boys Party'). A cold shower, that should do the trick!Find it on: the CD two-fer-one re-issue of 'Little Deuce Coupe' and 'All Summer Long' (2001) and the box set 'Made In California' (2012)
Q)'The Things We Did Last Summer'is the single most Four Freshman-influenced recording ithe band ever did. Amazingly the 50s foursome never did do this number, which was made famous in the 1950s by Jo Stafford, Frank Sinatra and basically anybody who crooned near a tape recorder. However, even more than genuine 'Four Freshman' covers 'Graduation Day' and 'Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring', you can hear the band shifting their vocals in just the same 'sliding' way as their idols and this song is just so of the period: it's slow, jazzy and thoughtful, happy to meander rather than rock and roll. The song was apparently recorded for a film which never happened (most likely a one-off cameo shoe-horned into the plot - see similar examples by The Hollies, The Small Faces, etc), although the band can be seen singing it on one of their first television appearances on the 'Red Skelton Hour' in September 1963. A little too slow and earnest, I'm actually rather glad this song from yesteryear never mind it to an 'official' recording!Find it on '30 Years Of Good Vibrations' (1993)
R) Compared to their peers The Beach Boys were surprisingly generous and adventurous in their choice of live material. Luckily the band's frenetic run through Ray Charles' greatest song'What'd I Say?' (covered by loads of AAA bands from The Beatles to The Searchers) was taped - without their knowledge - during a 1964 concert in Sydney, Australia. It features a still 16 year old Carl - still without a lead vocal to his credit for fans to enjoy - doing a pretty sterling job of rousing up the crowd into a frenzy and playing cat-and-mouse with the rest of the band on the choruses. Either we caught the band on a particular cracking night or they should have thought about doing more songs like this; Dennis, particularly, sounds much more at home on the drums here than on the band's poppier and soppier tunes. A real surprise and one of the highlights of the mixed compilation 'Beach Boys Rarities'.Find it on - erm, would you believe 'Beach Boys Rarities' (1983) and desperately in need of a CD re-issue!
S) 'The Little Girl I Once Knew' is the notorious song that achieved the unthinkable: it ended a run of nine unbroken top ten singles by The Beach Boys and stalled at #20, despite following two of the band's best loved singles ('Help Me, Rhonda' and 'California Girls'). The sad fact was that 'The Little Girl', while a great song, is not singles material, full of stop-start tempos and 'dead silence' before every chorus which meant some radio stations were reluctant to play it. However, while not as 'obvious' a hit as its twin predecessors, I'm still amazed that 'Little Girl' did quite as badly as she did: the overall tune is quite sweet and she's very much the elder sister of a song that everybody seems to love, 'Caroline, No', sharing the same rueful sighs about the passing of time and the loss of innocence. What's more the band turn in a classy performance typically of their strong work across 1965, with some strong vocals (especially Carl on semi-lead: typical, another great moment in the spotlight starring the youngest Wilson gets ignored) and lots of little inventive touches (Mike sings 'split, man!' just before the silence). Real Beach Boys aficionados regard this song highly and there's a lot to love: 'Little Girl' is not only pretty but pretty inventive for the times as well. However the band arguably should have kept her for an album track or B side instead of releasing her as such a high profile A-side; a simple case of too much too soon. Luckily for the band the much catchier 'Barbara Ann' is just around the corner to rescue them...As a result of 'Little Girl's performance it became the only Beach Boys A-side not to be included on an album until 'Break Away' in 1969. Find it on: 'Best Of The Beach Boys Volume Two' (1967), '30 Years Of Good Vibrations' (1993), the CD two-fer-one re-issue of 'The Beach Boys Today' and 'Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!!)' (2001), 'Made In California' (2012) and no doubt plenty of other places besides!
T)'Graduation Day'was the biggest hit the Four Freshman ever had, peaking at #17 in 1956. The song was a natural choice for The Beach Boys to cover, at one with their 'nostalgia' songs like 'Be True To Your School' , reflecting on leaving school with a mix with happiness and sadness. In fact there are three versions doing the rounds: a slightly shaky but still impressive live version from 1964 and a studio take from May 1965 heard both as a finished master and as part of a roll of sessions (taped the same day as 'Amusement Parks USA' - talk about going from the sublime to the ridiculous!) Even more than the later 'Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring' the band's vocal shine - Bruce Johnston, sitting in the control room, is in raptures on the session tapes and I don't blame him: along with 'Our Prayer' this is the place to hear the Beach Boys harmonies without distractions (the only accompaniment is a guitar part from Carl). The longer version with session 'extras' is probably the best: it comes in slightly clearer sound than the simple 'master' take and Mike Love, especially, has rarely sounded better than his twin tracked vocal here. Presumably this never made the 'Summer Days (and Summer Nights!!!)' album because it wasn't a Brian Wilson song - that's a shame because even an album as strong as that one would have been much improved with this in the running order. Find it on: 'The Beach Boys Concert' (1964 - Live Version), the CD two-fer-one re-issue of 'Smiley Smile' and 'Wild Honey' (2001 - finished version) and the 2012 box set 'Made In California' (the session version with outtakes)
U) 'Sherry She Needs Me'is a song that has possibly the longest gestation period of them all: the version released on the 'Made In California' box set features a backing track and basic group harmonies that waere recorded in 1965 (and is typical of that period: it's all delicate textures, a symphonic feel and sudden little variations on the melody that take it to some unexpected places) mixed with a lead vocal from Brian in 1976 (which is also typical of the period: still innocent and yet sounding as if Brian's been gargling with sandpaper). The song was abandoned after both attempts and only saw the light of day as late as 1998 on Brian's second 'proper' solo LP 'Imagination' (re-titled 'She Says That She Needs Me'). You wonder why the Beach Boys passed on it twice because this piece is a mini-masterpiece in all three incarnations (a mix from 1965, without any vocal till near the end, exists on bootleg and is perhaps the best of the trilogy). Like many a Brian Wilson recording in 1965 this is a deep song about loss and regret, with a melody that's so meandering and confused it really does sound like the narrator is forever trying to talk himself out of splitting up. The title 'Sherry' and Brian's full power falsetto cry sound deeply 'Four Seasons', however, which might be why both ideas were dropped on both 1976 and 1998 regenerations. What all three have in common is a sense of stillness, space and melancholy; in the context of the 'Summer Days and Summer Nights' period this is another crucial stepping stone towards the depth and brilliance of (at least part of ) 1966 and comes highly recommended. Find it on: 'Made In California' (1965)
V) 'Guess I'm Dumb' is a moody song written by Brian for Glenn Campbell to sing as a 'thankyou present' for filling in for him on tour after Brian's 'airbourne breakdown' in December 1964, which became the latter's 12th solo single. Poor Glenn would probably have preferred a toaster or a 'Beach Boys Party' gold record or something as the song didn't exactly do well: it missed the charts completely, which was unusual for a Brian Wilson production in 1965 when the eldest Wilson could do no wrong. The fact that Campbell was singing about being 'dumb' might be Brian's sense of humour at play: there's no way he'd have got cousin Mike to sing those lyrics! Campbell of course went on to have a career as illustrious as The Beach Boys themselves, but not yet: his break through hit was 'By The Time I Get To Phoenix' two years later, when he'd restyled himself as a country singer with cowboy-ish leanings. Here neither Glenn nor Brian quite know 'who' he is yet and the sultry arrangement on this song could have been written for anyone with a strong voice. Glenn's version of the song has turned up on many compilations down the years, but the compilers of the Beach Boys' 'Made In California' box set took the brave step of adding it to the 'rarities' disc where it makes for a nice stepping stone from the early cutesy years into the deeper, emotional years. Some of the horn parts are pure 'Pet Sounds' in fact, particularly 'Let's Go Away For A While' and again show that Brian was far more keen on experimenting on other people's sessions than on his own. The result is a sweet, moody song and co-writer Russ Titelman (writer of 'Yes I Will' for The Hollies and The Monkees among other hit 60s singles) is a suitably sensitive lyricist which makes you wish that the pair had written a full album together instead of just two songs. Find it on: any decent Glenn Campbell compilation (finished version) or 'Made In California' (2012) (the backing track)
W) 'Ruby Baby' is a Leiber/Stoller song most famously covered by The Drifters and left off 'Beach Boys Party!' for being 'too rough' - which given the state of a lot of what made the record will give you a fair idea how chaotic it is. Like the rest of the album, though, there's a nicely intimate feeling to proceedings as Brian takes the lead and tries to coax the rest of the band to sing along. They do readily, but sound quite so keen when they're asked to provide some pig noises with the surely unique call 'let's oink a while!' (Mike is playing ball and sings 'woof woof' in protest!)...The genesis of 'Barnyard' from 'Smile' might well be in here somewhere! The recording was probably left unissued because Brian gets distracted somewhere in the middle ('pardon?') and forgets his lines at the end, busking an actually pretty fair alternative lyric of 'zap-a-zap-adoo-dah-doo!' Then again, so many of the 'Party' tracks feature false starts and missed lyrics anyway (notably 'Barbara Ann') that space still could have been found. Frustratingly, this song wasn't added to the end of the 'Party' CD, its natural home, and the 'Party' atmosphere sounds awfully out of place on the box set it calls home. Apparently the Beach Boys re-recorded it during the 1976 sessions for '15 Big Ones' but never released that one either: which is probably just as well! Find it on: '30 Years Of Good Vibrations' (1993)
X) Another Beach Boy live oddity (see our entries for both 'Beach Boys Concert' and 'What'd I say?') is an Al Jardine-led cover of Del Shannon's number one hit from 1965 'Runaway'. Like the latter, it seems to have been included to give one of the less higher profile members of the band their own turn in the spotlight. Al acquits himself well on a nicely rocking version of the song taped as part of a show in Chicago that first came to light in the 1980s, although the first official release of this track (the only one to have leaked from the show) came in the 21st century. Like 'What'd I say' its a shame the Beach Boys didn't include rockier material like this in their setlists as they're clearly having fun, especially Dennis' scattershot drums and Carl's surf-heavy solo. All in all, a nice find - but why include it at the start of the 'rarities' portion of the box set instead of midway through the first disc where it belongs? Find it on: 'Made In California' (2012)
Y) Before 'Pet Sounds' received its first CD release (in 1990) a great deal of the fuss rested not on thesound quality (which was mediocre going on average) or the packaging (which were mediocre going on absent) but on the presence of two totally unheard outtakes. The fact no one bothers to mention either of them much anymore, despite being a key part of every re-release of the album since, speaks volumes about how coolly they were received.'Trombone Dixie'- a name hurriedly scribbled on the tape box to identify it was a song separate to 'Sloop John B' - was only the second song taped for 'Pet Sounds' but sets the tone for much of the album to follow: big, bold and OTT. Seeing as we have no words though we don't even have the contrast between the humble inner emotions and the big sweeping surroundings to go on (it could be this song was only intended to be an instrumental anyway, in which case it would make sense why it was given the boot: three instrumentals was clearly too much even for Brian). As the working title suggests, this track is very brass heavy and features even more bass sounds than the rest of 'Pet Sounds'. There's not much more to say about it really: this track isn't even good enough to match fellow instrumentals like the title track and 'Let's Go Away For A While' and Brian was probably right to give this song the push.Find it on: 'Pet Sounds' (every CD re-issue) and 'The Pet Sounds Sessions' (1997)
Z) More interesting is'Hang On To Your Ego', first released on the same CD, which comes with the first set of lyrics Tony ASher wrote for what became 'I Know There's An Answer' but the band (Mike?) objected to. Sitting here in the 21st century, with psychiatry and the word 'ego' in everyday use, it seems rather odd that the band should get cross about this song (and not, say, the more daring 'I Just Wasn't Made For These Times'). However in 1966 'ego' was a word most used by either the chronically hip or the chronically spaced-out and the lyrics about 'holding on' to yourself or you'll 'lose the plot' was clearly one drug reference too far (LSD users in particular reported in the sixties that drugs helped them become aware of their 'smaller stature' compared to the whole galaxy and they lost their 'egos' as a result: 'John Lennon's 'Nowhere Man' is the Beach Boys equivalent of this song, although sung in the third person rather than Brian's first). Brian tried to argue his case but, realising that the Beach Boys were unravelling, agreed to compromise and apologetically went round to Tony Asher's house to ask for a new set of words (chances are Tony didn't know he was writing a 'drug song' either - he just picked up on the jargon Brian used). Weirdly, though, the most overtly drug lyrics in the whole song ('They trip through their day and waste all their thoughts at night') was left unchanged (Did the others not understand it? Or could they simply not think up a better line?) Whether deliberately or not, the new lyrics for 'I Know There's An Answer' can be seen as an angry put-down against people who meddle in something they clearly don't understand...Ultimately both versions of 'Answer' sound annoyingly aggressive and harsh in the context of the rest of the album and neither work matches Asher's finest; perhaps the band might have been re-writing them a third time?Find it on: every CD re-issue of 'Pet Sounds' and 'The Pet Sounds Sessions' (1997)
AA) 'You're Welcome'is a rare instance of a non-album Beach Boys b-side, the flipside of 'Heroes and Villains'. This isn't really a song so much as a 'chant': a 'round' it would have been called in an earlier century, punning on the phrase 'well you're welcome to come' . The 'Smile Sessions' tapes reveal an enthusiastic Brian teaching the band a new 'mood piece' for the album and have the band whacking things and gradually walking towards the microphones and back again (before Mike Love comes up with a 'wobbly voice' and gets the band to record it sounding in this new way, sounding not unlike scuba-diving Daleks). Like a lot of the 'Smiley Smile' era recordings, the actual B-side is like having a memory of a happy place in a sad present: it simply doesn't have the same joi de vivre which was the whole part of the song. Still, it's a sweet extra memento from the 'Smile' era and features some more lovely Beach Boys harmonies in both versions.Find it on: 'The Smile Sessions' (2011) for the first version and the two-fer-one CD re-issue of 'Smiley Smile' and 'Wild Honey' (2001) for the finished version.
BB)'He Gives Speeches'is the first 'Smile' era draft for what became 'She's Goin' Bald' on 'Smiley Smile'. Brian declares 'this is going to be so great!' but by Smile standards this is less than edifying stuff, rhyming 'speeches' with 'reaches' and only approaching the 'Bald' lyrics in the second verse. At barely a minute Brian is clearly still working on it and you wonder what this song might have become. Like 'Surf's Up' the lyrics seem rather eerie in retrospect, telling of a politician who gives speeches that no one wants to hear and then 'ends up in bed, where he wrote his satire', dreaming of happier days with a girl in a field. Aside from the point that no one was ever less likely to write a satirical song than Brian (whose as face-value and innocent as writers come) this seems like a spot-on premonition of what's come to in the 'bed' years. The result is perhaps the 'Smile'/'Smiley Smile' era's least appetising song, as awkward musically as it is lyrically and while it's great to be able to hear it now 40 years on it was probably a blessing it was never used 'properly' (in as much as any of Smile was released 'properly') at the time.Find it on: 'The Smile Sessions' (2011)
CC)'Tune X'is a real curio - as the title implies we don't know much about it, except that the song was credited to Carl Wilson. That must be a mistake, surely - Carl's first 'real' credit on a song won't be for another three years yet and this song, while clearly still an unfinished backing track, has his brother Brian's fingerprints all over it. The 'Hawaiian' guitar break at the end was used as the 'linking section' for 'My Little Pad' (credited to Brian alone) and the soaring, searing strident strings sound very 'Smile' like. Even unfinished it's a lovely piece of music and makes you yearn for an extended Brian Wilson instrumental piece in the same mood.Find it on: 'The Smile Sessions' (2011)
DD)'I Don't Know'is similarly confused - the composition credit is given to Dennis, which makes sense in as much as that's clearly him whacking the drums ('Dennis, Don't hit it quite as hard!') cried engineer Chuck Britz at the beginning). However could Dennis really have come up with something this elaborate, a full year before the release of his first compositions (which aren't anything like as developed as this?) The mixture of unusual sounds (banjo, fuzz bass, another bass drums and goodness knows what else) and the fact the song's main riff seems to have been taken from 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' (a fraction of 'Three Blind Mice' was also plucked by the strings at these sessions) suggests the hand of Brian in there somewhere. As the title puts it, 'I Don't Know 'but like practically everything from the 'Smile' era this track has a real aura of magic about it, dispute being clearly a work in progress.Find it on: 'The Smile Sessions' (2011)
EE) Oh good I thought, eyeing the track-listing for 2011's 'Smile Sessions'. A whole song I'd never heard of and which apparently hadn't come out on bootleg - what's more it isn't called 'Tune X' or 'Don't Know' or 'psychedelic sounds aka Brian losing his mind down a French horn' or something, it had a real title:'Teeter Totter Love'.This, surely, would be the highlight of the set - after all it has a very 'Smile' era name, reflecting on the duality of the cosmos or the fact it takes two to tango or something like that (heck, this is Brian we're talking about it, it could be a song about anything). I've never used the phrase 'omg' in polite company, dear readers, but I felt like using it then: so-called comedian Jasper Daily has 'borrowed' a Beach Boys session to record an inane little ditty that's so shallow and irritating even The Tweenies would have rejected it for being too silly. 'The teeter totter loves goes up, the teeter totter love goes down, my love went up - and I went flying up!' Cue swannee whistle sound effect and repeat ad infinitum for two whole minutes, even after the backing track has ended. Why is this here? Why is it filling up two precious minutes that could have been filled up by the 'missing' section of 'Child Is Father To The Man', the 'breakdown' of 'Wonderful' where Carl has a tickly throat, two minutes of session men objecting to wearing fireman's hats, heck two minutes of Brian scratching his head would have done. It's as if Capitol were afraid that 'Smile' was simply too good and they were going to be in so much trouble for their part in 'stopping 'the record that they decided to stick this oddball in here instead. Needles to say, this is the single worst recording in this book - but seeing as it doesn't really feature the Beach Boys I've decided simply to ignore it. I just wish my 'inner record player' would do the same: the tune is horrendously, obscenely catchy.Find it on: 'The Smile Sessions', not that you will ever want to hear it, much less go looking for it!
FF)'Can't Wait Too Long'is the single best originally unreleased Beach Boys song. Although unfinished, it's clearly a work of beauty and power, with several hypnotic sections cobbled together into one glorious whole - so much so that when it first appeared on bootleg many fans naturally assumed it was a fragment of 'Smile'; actually it's a rare example of Brian getting somewhere close to his old self again during the sessions for 'Wild Honey' and '20/20'. We've had two mixes of the song released now (one, largely instrumental, on the 'Smile Smile'/'Wild Honey' CD and another with Brian running through the lyrics on the '30 Years Of Good Vibrations' box set. Both are beautiful though the former sounds more 'finished' without those ghostly vocals drifting in and out. Both versions start with some of the best block harmonies the Beach Boys ever recorded (and boy is that saying something!) before gradually building up steam through lots of false starts until it finally cascades into perfection at the 150 second mark: 'Can't wait too long, can't wait too long baby' repeats over and over for some 70 glorious seconds, a double-tracked Brian bringing out every nuance of the phrase while underneath him a fuzz guitar and a xylophone lick compete for space on top of a steady, still organ part, a glorious 'tug of war' going on before our ears that's wholly suited to the simple lyrics. Finally the lyrics come in, with a full Beach Boys chorus and a rowdy, gritty vocal from Brian: 'Baby you know that I can't wait forever, walking the night again we were together, windows of darkness are all I can see through, searching the shadows hoping to see you, baby you know that I-I...' It's a killer chorus, especially after some four minutes now of tension and sounds like Brian thinking about either Van Dyke or his own fans, walking out of his life forever and wanting them back. The 'box set' version adds a 'missing' verse over the instrumental passage, which Brian dictates rather than sings: 'Miss you darling, miss you so hard, come back baby, and don't break my heart...when I'm alone lying down alone looking up at the stars, reliving the times we shared when the moon and the stars and the music was ours'. The result is an almost unbearably poignant farewell from a writer already looking back to his 'golden past' and would surely have re-written the Beach Boys' reputation had this song come out sometime in 1967 or 1968. Unable to leave a good song alone, a 50 second largely a capella mix turned up on 'Hawthorne, CA' even though it got the parts the 'wrong way round' (Brian never left instructions for how this song should have been put together but it clearly goes the 'original way' with bliss turning into grit), repeated on the 'Made In California' box. Brian then finally released a 'finished' version of it on his 2008 solo album 'That Lucky Old Sun', but 'finished' in this case means another (different) 50 second vocal extract which sounded rather out of place on that record. Any version is nice, but the 'Smiley Smile' CD version is harmonised perfection and that's the one you want.Find it on: the CD two-fer-one re-issue of 'Smiley Smile' and 'Wild Honey' (2001), '30 Years Of Good Vibrations' (1993), 'Hawthorne, CA' (2001), Brian's solo album 'That Lucky Old Sun' (2008) and 'Made In California' (2012)
GG) Remember our talk earlier about The Beach Boys doing the weirdest things in their concert setlists that they ever did on record? Here's the last example, a soulful cover of Box Tops classic'The Letter'. However it looks as if the band never did play it on stage - perhaps because a surprisingly sprightly Brian takes the lead and never did play with the band in concert that year. This recording comes from a much-bootlegged rehearsal in Hawaii from August 1967 when the Beach Boys were trying to re-group post 'Smile' and 'Smiley Smile', which is also where the next track on this list and where the first ever live performance of 'Good Vibrations' (included in the 'Made In California' set) comes from. It's a shame the band didn't include this song as part of 'Wild Honey' that year because it shares the same soul/r and b flavour and is held together by the same simple notes on an organ. The rest of the rehearsals find The Beach Boys in something of a shambles but the band are really on it for this track, which deserves a re-issue on a 'proper' album and some more recognition.Find it on: 'The Beach Boys Rarities' (1983)
HH) Even at the peak of their troubles The Beach Boys could still make the most beautiful music. Their lovely harmony-led rehearsal of The Four Freshman's'Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring'may sound deeply out of place for the peak of the 'summer of love' but those harmonies would sound beautiful anywhere. This is actually the second the band covered this song, which covers a pair of lovers who meet in the Spring and are still very much in love several hard winters later although the band's harmonies have developed greatly from the 1961 demo tape heard on a couple of rarities sets. Everyone sings their heart out on this track, with Brian's part sounding particularly sweet; sadly there never were any recordings made of the actual Beach Boys concerts from the period but these two songs suggest they must have been an amazing intimate event for the few dedicated fans who turned up to them.Find it on: the two-fer-one CD re-issue of 'Smiley Smile' and 'Wild Honey' (2000) and 'Hawthorne, CA' (2001) with the earlier 1961 version appearing on the box sets '30 Years Of Good Vibrations' (1993) and 'Made In California' (2012)
I) A 50 second snippet is all that exists of'Lonely Days', a song so obscure that when it was included on the 'Hawthorne, CA' rarities set nobody knew much about it or even who wrote it (although it sounds like an early Dennis song to me, possibly with Bruce writing the chorus: the latter alternates lead on the song with Carl; almost certainly it's an early song by one of the rest of the group rather than one by Brian, although it sounds like him playing piano on it) A sweet little song taped during 'Wild Honey' but sounding more like the laidback 'Friends' era and features the same echo-drenched piano as most of that album. This song's mood of downbeat despair is dispelled by a cheery chorus ('me oh my!') that doesn't quite come off, although there's a nugget of...something in this song which could have been turned into a nice little album track.Find it on: 'Hawthorne, CA' (2001)
II) The Beach Boys' fourth (!) Beatles cover -'With A Little Help From My Friends'- (shockingly the fab four never did a Beach Boys song!) was dashed off quickly one day during sessions for 'Wild Honey' and is more of an experiment than a serious attempt at a take. Bruce takes the lead vocal backed by some typically gorgeous harmonies (that actually outdo John and Paul's parts on the original), but if the song sounds rather weird to you that's because The Beach Boys wanted to play around with recording techniques that day and sang the song fast deliberately. The intention was to slow the tape down and hear what they sounded like at a 'normal' speed: however the engineer at Capitol who prepared this recording for its only release to date didn't know that and simply mixed it as it was. As a result it sounds deeply unlistenable despite the lovely harmonies, but thankfully some clever whizzkids on Youtube have speed corrected it and it sounds much better now.Find it on: 'The Beach Boys Rarities' (1983)
JJ)'We're Together Again'is a charming song of unity and brotherhood featuring all three Wilsons criss-crossing vocals that was recorded in the sessions for 'Friends' in June 1968 and first released as a bonus track when that album came out on CD. Many fans with poor eyesight assume this is a song by the band, having seen the 'Wilson' credit in the sleevenotes down the years (not helped by the fact that the 'first' re-issue of the al um credited it to Brian and Carl!) , and certainly it sounds like a typical Brian track of the period: childlike and charming, with some complex production and harmony touches. Actually it was written by Ron Wilson, a friend of Brian's with whom he'd produced a single in May ('I'll Keep On Loving You') and which became a favourite of at least Brian's (its perhaps his oddest pick for the compilation CD 'Beach Boys Classics Chosen By Brian Wilson'). There's an awful lot of promise in this song: Dennis and Carl are on top form, the song builds up via a series of 'rounds' that are the most complex thing Brian had tackled since 'Can't Wait Too Long' and a sighing middle eight from Brian at his highest adds a touch of poignancy to proceedings ('I didn't mean to ever made you cry...') Alas, though, the recording is too obviously an early take rather than a finished one and at less than two minutes this song slightly sells itself short. Still, another nice retrieval from the dustbin of musical history.Find it on: the two-fer-one CD re-issue of 'Friends' and '20/20' (released in 2001), 'Beach Boys Classics Selected By Brian Wilson' (2002) and 'Made In California' (2012)
KK) Bacharach/David's standard'Walk On By'seems like a curious choice to cover: The Beach Boys only tend to cover 'famous' songs when they're by The Beach Boys or on their 'Party' album (recorded in a hurry using songs the whole band would be able to rehearse at thaw drop of a hat). Perhaps The Beach Boys realised this, because they don't seem to have got very far with their version of the song, taped during the sessions for 'Friends' which runs for 55 seconds, fades after the first verse and finds Brian and Dennis 'ah' in to the words they can't remember long before that. It ought to be easy to dismiss this fragment as an idea that Brian had and then quickly dropped again except the new arrangement the elder Wilson has given it here is lovely. There's a circling round of 'aaaaaaaahs' that's really effective, Brian has learnt to use his middle brother's already comparatively gravelly voice as c counterpart to his marvellously pure own voice and the slightly slower, reflective style is actually a lot more in keeping with the song's sentiments than either Dianne Warwick or Gabrielle's better known versions. If nothing else it shows what a knack Brian had for re-arranging other people's songs (and it's a shame, then, that his solo cover albums later on in this book don't show anywhere near the same level of imagination). I so wish The Beach Boys had finished it - given the minute piece we have here this could have been a lovely version of a lovely song.Find it on: the two-fer-one CD re-issue of 'Friends' and '20/20' (2001)
LL) This final outtake from 'Friends' finds was taped the same day as 'Walk On By' - were the band intending to extend a let's face it, not terribly long or substantial (if very very lovely) album with a few last minute cover songs? The medley of Stephen Foster's'Old Folks At Home'and Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's 'Ol' Man River'is if anything even more obvious a choice and yet as before Brian's arranging genius shines through. The former probably wasn't meant as an 'intro' to the song as such: it's merely a fragment of Brian picking out the chords of a song on a piano. 'River', however, is a full production job complete with block harmonies, a mouthorgan and an eerie string part very similar to that of another cover of a standard, 'You Are My Sunshine' from 'Smile'. You wonder why the band dropped it after clearly spending so much time on it and even though Al Jardine sings the nominal lead Brian's enthusiastic falsetto part is all over the track (in stark contrast to the most famous recording by Paul Robeson, whose gravelly tones are even lower than Dennis'): exactly the sort of thing Capitol were asking The Beach Boys to release in fact. A very 'Wild Honey' echoey piano part crops up in the middle section - the last time The Beach Boys will use what was the key cornerstone of their immediately post-'Smile' sound. All in all not bad, even if the song does rather drift in the second half after those lovely harmonies have passed through.Find it on: the two-fer-one CD re-issue of 'Friends' and '20/20' (2001)
MM)'Mona Kana'sounds so like Brian's work that everybody listening to the rarities disc of 'Made In California' probably assumed it was his unless they'd paid very close attention to the writing credits. Actually this heavily orchestrated song is one of Dennis', his first to use a whole orchestra as far as I can tell but in a far more conventional way than his later moodier recordings like 'Make It Good' and 'Cuddle Up'. The booklet lists this song as 'an instrumental track', which could mean anything: my guess is that it's a backing track rather than a fully finished instrumental though. Quite what words Dennis would have given the track is unknown (if there were any): the melody sounds quite upbeat and positive by his standards so something along the lines of 'Little Bird' I'd expect. The title sounds like a place name but I can't find it so it might simply be generous (theories that Dennis discovered a time machine and decided to write about Brighton and Hove Albion footballer Jeffrey Monakana - born ten years after he died - are sadly probably unfounded.Find it on: 'Made In California' (2012)
NN) Finally for now,'A Time To Live In Dreams'is a moody third song from Dennis and co-writer Steve Kalinich. Like many Dennis recordings its a simple piano ballad with an eerie feel, with lyrics that harp on about forgiveness and hope but a melody that sounds as if it's being sucked down a black hole of despair and regret. Amazingly this song had been lying dormant on a tape until being dug up for the 'Hawthorne, CA' rarities set where it's one of the highlights; even brother Brian claims to have never heard it even though the song might - just might - be about him and his ailing state in 1968 ('In this new day change your heart and forgive your brother'). Then again Dennis was equally concerned with world peace and like many a 1968 piece this track might be about just that rather than family ties. No one knows why Dennis never returned to it: the song sounds at one with the 'orchestral' Dennis numbers of the first half of the 1970s and it's actually more distinguished and original than either of the two 1968 Dennis recordings that came out on 'Friends'. A real highlight.Hear it on 'Hawthorne, CA' (2001)
OO) Never has there been a more fitting way for a band to say 'goodbye' to a record company than with The Beach Boys' last single:'Break Away'twinned with 'Celebrate The News'. Things had been becoming strained between the two ever since the 'poor response' to 'Pet Sounds in 1966 and a lawsuit or three didn't help matters much. Chances are that was the last thing on Brian's mind when he co-wrote this fabulous soaring song, though, which manages to unite the introversion of 'In My Room' with the happiness of his more carefree summery songs. A cry from the heart with a classic beat and catchy riff, the song sounds like the perfect halfway point between the sort of songs Brian was writing by 1969 and what his father Murray looked for in a song; this track became the only collaboration between father and son (although copyright issues meant that Murray was credited under the name 'Reggie Dunbar', a name that sounds more like his son's choice than his own). What a shame that the pair didn't work together sooner because 'Break Away' is a cracking song, one that admits the truth that the world can be a nasty place sometimes and yet still has the capacity to make you feel happier about life by the end. Somewhere along the way the songs changes subtly, from shoe-gazing weariness ('why change the part of me that has to be free!') to the idea that there is love in the world (even if its 'passing me by') and worryingly 'voices' in the author's 'head' - something we know now to be very real for Brian (who was belatedly diagnosed with 'schizoaffective disorder' sometime in the 1970s, a mix of depression and schizophrenia that leaves the sufferer with voices in their head, hallucinations and disorganised, disruptive thought processes) Luckily for now these voices are 'friendly' (heard when Brian lies back 'in my bed') and telling him that this current uncomfortable period in his life is 'only a dream', with imagination his escape route where 'no shackles can ever hold me down'. Carl and Al do a great job at tackling the sadder verses and more upbeat choruses, respectively and there's another glorious cascade of Beach Boy florescent harmonies, but this is Brian's song and his typical mix of childlike innocence and world weary frustration on the 'demo' version (heard on 'Endless Summer') makes the original version song heartfelt in a way the much more polished single version could never capture. For all that, though, 'Break Away' might just be the single best Beach Boys single, it's that good: alas the public were just too turned off the band, with this fine record only peaking at #61 in America (although it made #6 in the UK). That may have been the reason why this song became the only non-album Beach Boys single until 1974 - or it might be that Capitol were still hoping that the band would deliver them the final studio album allowed for in their contract, before cutting their losses and releasing 'Live In London' instead. Find it on: any self-respecting compilation, with the 'early take/demo' version on 'Endless Harmony'
PP)The B-side'Celebrate The News'is ever so nearly as good. An early Dennis Wilson song that sounds like a cross between the 'happier' songs on 'Friends' and the more 'gloomy' songs from '20/20', this song starts with a double-tracked Dennis down in the dumps in the minor keys before making an unexpected modulation to the major (on the very word 'there's been achaaaaaange') and suddenly getting a new perspective on life. Things aren't just ending, they're starting too and leaves a thrilled Dennis yelling at the top of his voice 'I got news for you there ain't more blues!' However there's a twist with another uncomfortable further key change during the very end which sounds like its caught between the two extremes ('sail away, the choice is yours to choose') that leaves song see-sawing at tipping point, a trick which might as well have the caption 'what will happen? Tune in next week to find out!' attached to it. Dennis must surely have had the band's new signing with Warner Brothers in the back of his mind when he wrote this (he was already in negotiations for a solo record deal with them that sadly got diluted into a single flop single instead) and it's a clever song, full of question marks and shrugs of the shoulders. In short, it plays the same trick as the 'A' side, hedging its bets between happiness and sadness and while not quite as instantly catchy it's nevertheless another classic song that deserved to be more widely known.Find it on: the two-fer-one CD re-issue of 'Friends' and '20/20' (2001)
QQ)'Soulful Old Man Sunshine'opens with a glorious burst of sun shine that piles out of the speakers so loudly and triumphantly that even my by now Beach Boys-acclimatised family and friends still stop to comment whenever it comes on. Written by Brian and his friend Rick Hutton (of 'Three Dog Night', a Beach Boys sponsored band that never quite made the big time despite some nice ideas), this song is unusually jazzy for The Beach Boys despite using one of their favourite metaphors: it only takes the sun shine to have a 'good time'. The first of a whole great pile of songs in this section and next submitted for and dropped from versions one and two of next album 'Sunflower' you have to question the judgement of whoever rejected it: Carl gives a big, bright vocal that's perfect for the song and the backing behind him, both vocally and instrumentally, radiates with as much mega-wattage as the soulful old man sunshine itself. Certainly the song song deserved release long before 1998, where the 'finished' product was accompanied by a fun 45 second 'writing demo', featuring a very excited Brian getting carried away with the fact he's just mastered the song's tricky piano chords. Thrilling, even if the song doesn't quite match the sensation of joy you get from that sunshiney opening.Find it on: 'Endless Harmony' (1998) and 'Made In California' (2012)
D) Dennis had clearly been having a fun time chatting up all the European girls he met on the band's late 1960s tours there and'San Miguel'sounds like one of these meetings turned into song, with a Spanish temptress at the bay of the same name (English translation: 'Saint Michael'). Perhaps fearing what his wife would say, Dennis gave the song to Carl to sing when the band recorded it for 'Sunflower' but the song is still clearly one of his: the heavy rhythms (emphasised by the heavy use of castanets), the sudden swelling of emotion during an instrumental break and the overall toughness, which even on a relatively happy 'pop' song is still heavier than anything Brian or Carl (or Mike, Al or Bruce for that matter) would write. The theme of 'imagination' is an unusual one for Dennis, though (remembering a fun time rather than experiencing it firsthand, which is more something his big brother would do) but sadly this song soon turns away from this theme into a travelogue, the easiest cop out ever for prospective song composers ('straight ahead to San Miguel, over the top, we'll cross the border now'). While not the greatest song taped at these sessions, it's a lot of fun and Carl especially puts in a great performance; certainly 'San Miguel' deserved a better fate than being 'lost' and having to lie in a vault for some 12 years, waiting for some kind compilation compiler to find her and rescue her.Find it on: 'Ten Years Of Harmony' (1981) and '30 Years Of Good Vibrations' (1993)
RR)'Games Two Can Play'is a playful childlike song from Brian that was submitted as part of the first line-up of 'Add Some Music To Your Day' aka 'Sunflower'. The track starts out as a 'Friends' like portrayal of 'being busy doin' nothin' but in an even happier mood, with the sun shining bright outside and the jukebox 'blowing my mind'. The 'games' that the two are 'playing' are only vaguely mentioned but must, surely, be sex (The Hollies did something similar on 'The Games We Play' in 1967). This charming song is notable for a few lyrics in particular though: one line has Brian sadly looking in the mirror and reflecting 'I'm fat as a cow - how'd I ever get this way?', linking this song to his penchant in 1969 for writing 'health' and 'exercise' songs (1969 was when Brian helped run a health food shop known as the 'Radical Radish' and often worked behind the counter himself when he felt like it). Secondly, there's a verse that has Brian lying back in his bed listening to the radio - nothing much in that you might think but given what we think is going on in Brian's 1972 EP 'Mount Vernon and Fairway' where a radio signified his muse getting cross with him while he's lying in bed this takes on a whole new rather scarier meaning. Thirdly what is Brian listening to? A song by singer-songwriter Joe South, whose biggest just happens to be called 'The Games People Play' (before you go getting ideas the song's actually about people not being straight with one another; it would be nice to think of the permanently open Brian simply miss-interpreting this song's lyrics about lies and deceit because he would never be capable of such a thing himself). Lastly listen out for the lyrics of people going to work in the morning 'so happy' while Brian becomes 'mister businessman' - stuck in his house, unwilling to go outside and finding music more of a chore than a help. That said, though, what comes across most in 'Games Two Can Play' is how happy and contented Brian sounds - the last time, you could say, for around two decades. Remember that this is the man whose about to write the painful 'Til I Die' barely months after this track, and weep. Strangely the band never submitted this song in either version two or three of 'Sunflower', even though the second one at least was rejected because there wasn't enough Brian Wilson on it: there's plenty here to go around, no other writer could have possibly thought of a song like this! There's evidence that The Beach Boys were considering re-using this track on their 1977 album 'Adult Child', a mixture the piece would have fitted well only that record got rejected too. Find it on: '30 Years Of Good Vibrations' (1993)
SS) The same goes for twin song'I Just Got My Pay'- childlike lyrics and melody from Brian (tick!), submitted for the first version of 'Sunflower' (tick!), wonder why it was never used because you can't get more Brian Wilson than this (triple tick!) What's more, Brian's gone even further down the roads of 'being a businessman', with a backing track that sounds like the sort of chant workers/prisoners sing while doing heavy labour and lyrics about the pros and cons of spending money and enjoying it now versus the pain later. 'My take home comes to 95 and my boss is giving me some praise' is not the sort of lines you expect Brian to write (or for Mike Love to sing for that matter). What's more this attempt to see how the others halves live in their 'normal' lives ends with another risqué (for 1969) passage: 'Let's get undressed and climb in bed dear...') Not quite as likeable as 'Games Two Can Play' but still nice and fun, part of the melody was recycled for better use on 'Marcella', the highlight of 1972 LP 'Carl and The Passions - So Tough'.Find it on: '30 Years Of Good Vibrations' (1993)
TT) 'Loop De Loop ('Flip Flop Flyin' In An Aeroplane)'is a song that will be flying loops around this book for several pages to come. It's a song demoed in 1969, recorded a few months later, re-recorded in 1977 and finally 'finished' in time for a rarities set in 1998. Along the way the track was known as both 'Santa's Got An Airplane' and'Sail Plane Song'. It's the latter we'll be looking at first: a sweet two minute Brian-sung demo that features Brian thumping out block chords on the piano, Bruce on the organ, Carl on bass and Al on guitar, with Dennis thumping away on drums. The effect is a little like travelling on a budget airline but with a family firm you know really well and it's a serene, beautiful ride with Brian on particularly great form and even feeling free enough to do some 'aeroplane sound effects' on the end of the song. The band should have left it as a lovely no frills demo instead of re-recording it over and over...Find it on: 'Endless Harmony' (1998) and 'Made In California' (2012)
UU) Talking of which,'Loop De Loop (Flip Flop Flyin' In An Aeroplane')is the expensive first-class trip full of lots of buttons for gadgets you don't really need and lots of people pulling at your sleeve every few seconds to ask if you're having a nice time - which you were, until you realised they were going to bug you like that for the rest of the journey. Somehow something seems to have been lost for this 'big budget' version, which features Al on lead (on a vocal actually taped in 1998 because he didn't like the one he'd done in 1969), Mike on bass counter-vocal, sound effects galore (including chickens!), a repeat of the 'carnival barker' routine from 'County Fair' ('Hurry hurry hurry, step right up - just one thin dime, take a ride with the laughing lady!'; why oh why are the band referring back to that song again?!?) and a fade out, then fade in, then fade out again, as if the pilot's lost sight of the runway. The result is one of those 'you really had to be there, wish you were here' moments that however much fun it all sounds we can never quite join in with; not bad exactly, but you're not having half as much fun listening to this song as the people who were making it. Amazingly this song will be back for a third go on our review of 'Merry Christmas From The Beach Boys' where it will sound even worse!Find it on: 'Endless Harmony' (1998)
VV) What with all the problems hitting Brian it must have seemed like a million years since his childhood and understandably his thoughts turned to it during his time in bed. When'Back Home'appears on the '15 Big Ones' its a terrific mixture of 'In My Room' and 'Back In The USSR', Brian returning home for 'the summer' like a boarding school kid home for the holidays. However the first recording of this song, taped as part of 'Sunflower' but never submitted to Warner Brothers, is much more general and could be about anybody away from home and working in the city. The lyrics aren't that great yet: 'the mailman came with a birthday card with grretings from my father and mum, I coughed and blew my nose and throught about the fresh air back home!' The fact that Al sings lead here - and Brian in 1976 - suggests that Brian didn't care too much for this song just yet and neither should we. That said there's some nice intimate 'Beach Boys Party' style unplugged playing (including a false start) and the usual feeling of 'togetherness' that makes 1969-70 Beach Boys recordings so special, especially on the ca capella ending. An interesting comparison.Find it on: 'Made It California' (2012)
WW) Finally for now, not much is known about the childlike'Where Is She?', which was a complete surprise when it appeared on the rarities disc on the 'Made In California' box set. The track had never been bootlegged and wasn't in the running for any of the multiple versions of 'Sunflower' submitted to Warners so it doesn't seem to have been regarded that highly by the band. Brian Wilson sounds much more himself than he has of late, though, enthusiastically double-tracking his vocals on a sweet song with a cute melody that seems to have been stolen wholesale from 'Chim-Chim-Cheree' from 'Mary Poppins' (see Brian's 'In The Key Of Disney' from 2011 to see why animated films aren't as unlikely a source of inspiration as that sounds although Brian does sadly pass on recording that song!) Like many of Brian's late 1960s songs this is simpler and more basic than anything written at his 'peak' but still has a special magical quality common to all of his songs from this period that make it sounds far more affecting than it should be for such a simple demo.Find it on: 'Made In California' (2012)
That's all for now, part two featuring the years 1970 through to 2012 will be with you next week!
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