KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

THE BEACH BOYS Part 6 – Adding Some Music To Our Day

The Beach Boys ended their association with Capitol Records after the release of the 20/20 album and “Breakaway” single in 1969, and signed a deal with Warner Brothers’ Reprise label to distribute subsequent releases via their Brother Records imprint (which had previously been used on a couple of earlier records with Capitol). I had always believed that Brian Wilson’s input was minimal or non-existent during this new era, but as I learned from revisiting the records I’ll be discussing here, Brian was still a creative force even though his overall contribution was significantly diminished. Fortunately, the other members of the group (Mike Love, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston) stepped up in a big way with their songwriting, arranging, producing and vocal skills. Their first album of the new decade, Sunflower (1970), was a commercial failure that doesn’t include many well-known songs and was bereft of any hit singles, but now has a much better reputation. I knew it was a pretty good album from listening to it a couple of times when it was reissued on CD in 2000, but I wasn’t prepared for how much (and how quickly) I would grow to love it. In its own subtle way it’s as good as Pet Sounds, if not quite as groundbreaking. Whereas that earlier classic showcased one man’s singular vision, Sunflower’s greatness comes from the creative minds of everyone in the group, and I could imagine many fans rating it as their best album (I might be one of them now).

Things get off to a great start with Dennis’ “Slip On Through,” which has an offbeat syncopated rhythm and one of his most rockin’ vocals. I really like how it shifts to a 4/4 rhythm in the chorus (“Come on won’t you let me be…”) and the “my love is growin’” section right before the outro. “This Whole World,” written by Brian and sung by Carl, delivers a number of stylistic shifts in less than 2 minutes, but they somehow fit together. It’s among Brian’s best songs and should be more popular. The a capella section at the end is super cool. “Add Some Music To Your Day” begins with a nice lilting fingerpicked guitar, and turns into a classic Beach Boys tune with Mike on lead and amazing group harmonies. Lyrically it’s a bit corny, but I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment of listening to music wherever you are. There’s a spiritual feel to this song (which really applies to a lot of their music during this time), and each member gets a spotlight.

[The Beach Boys – “Add Some Music To Your Day”]

Bruce sings the slow and bouncy “Deirdre.” There’s a sweetness in his voice that sets him apart from the rest of the Boys. At first this seems like a throwaway track, but eventually I really got into the summery feel and the music hall quality of the melody and production, which reminded me of Harry Nilsson. Bruce also wrote and sang “Tears In The Morning,” a slow waltz with a great vocal arrangement and nice accordion melody. I like the pretty orchestration in the middle (“well you know I lit a candle”), but the 45-second faraway piano at the end would’ve worked better as an intro. “It’s About Time” is one of the hardest rocking songs they’ve done, with Carl belting out the chorus (“I’m singing in my heart…”). It features Latin percussion and excellent dynamics as it descends to the “it’s about time now” section before building back to a great guitar solo.

“Forever” is a gorgeous ballad with one of Dennis’ most heartfelt vocals atop a bed of harmonies, and great group vocals when they sing the title. “Our Sweet Love” was co-written by Brian, Carl and Al, and the melody is up there with the Pet Sounds era. There’s a happy, uplifting quality and Carl’s vocals are typically astounding. It would make an excellent wedding song. The album closes with one of its best songs, “Cool, Cool Water,” which is an older composition by Brian based on a melody from SMiLE that was fleshed out here by Mike. It’s simple yet fully arranged, and repetitive in a good way. There are some weird partially chanted vocals in one section with rumbling sound effects, but in the end this arrangement is as impressive as “Heroes And Villains.” The other songs are very good but don’t stand out like the ones I’ve already mentioned. “Got To Know The Woman” is a relatively dumb straight-ahead rocker that sounds like a Grand Funk Railroad b-side. The background vocals are the best thing about it. “All I Wanna Do” has a dreamlike, hypnotic production, and there’s a sleepy quality to Mike’s vocals. It doesn’t stand well on its own but works as an album track. “At My Window” is light, airy and pleasant but relatively minor. Even with these three lesser tracks, it’s hard to argue that the other nine constitute one of their best albums.

Surf’s Up (1971), which was paired with Sunflower on the 2000 2-fer CD, is nearly as good as its predecessor, with high points as good as anything on that album but a few songs that didn’t do much for me. It starts with “Don’t Go Near The Water,” co-written and sung by Mike and Al (with Brian). The lyrics are really a call to action about protecting our environment, set to a peppy melody and steady midtempo groove. It’s not a major statement, but a very pleasant start to the album. Carl co-wrote “Long Promised Road” with their new manager, Jack Rieley (who would feature prominently on the next few albums). I like how the subdued verses build to powerful choruses (“I hit hard at the battle that’s confronting me…”). The title actually shows up in the spiritual bridge with swirling keyboards (“Long promised road flows to the source, gentle force, never ending”). Bruce comes up with another sweet and mellow ballad, “Disney Girls (1957).” There’s a nostalgic vibe that doesn’t feel cloying, and I love the way he sings “Dis-a-ney.” The final two songs on the album, which I’ll get to shortly, are usually regarded as the lynchpins of this record, but for my money the highlight has to be “Feel Flows,” written by Carl with Jack Rieley. There’s a cool reverse-echo effect on the vocals, a fantastic melody and a shredding lead guitar section that meshes with jazzy flute. I found myself entranced by this song each time it came on, and it’s one of my favorite discoveries in their entire catalog so far. “Take A Load Off Your Feet” is a slightly silly but catchy song that sounds like some of their more experimental post-SMiLE material, while “Student Demonstration Time” is possibly the nadir of their career up to this point. Based on Lieber & Stoller’s “Riot In Cell Block #9” (which I first heard via The Blues Brothers 1980 version), Mike barks his protest lyrics seemingly through a megaphone, and they grate very quickly. I do like the guitar sound, though, which recalls The Beatles’ “Revolution.”

Al co-wrote and sang the moody “Lookin’ At Tomorrow (A Welfare Song),” which is fine but more of an interlude. “A Day In The Life Of A Tree” was a new Brian song (co-written with Rieley), a sweet, innocent, childlike tune with vocals by Rieley, Al Jardine and Van Dyke Parks. It’s pleasant but merely whets the appetite for the final two songs. “’Til I Die” is an instant classic by Brian, and my jaw hits the floor each time I hear it. It has a sad quality but isn’t depressing, with confessional lyrics about feeling lost and vulnerable in the world (“I’m a cork on the ocean”; “I’m a rock in a landslide”; “I’m a leaf on a windy day”). The vocals are truly outstanding. Then there’s “Surf’s Up,” a SMiLE era song (which I discussed in my post about SMiLE Sessions) that’s given a slightly different arrangement here. On top of the original recording, Carl sings a new lead vocal in the first section, followed by Brian and then Al. Carl’s falsetto is wonderful, with a slight rasp that Brian never had. I’m not sure which version of this song I prefer, but I’d rather not choose since they’re both incredible. I wonder if those na-na-na’s in the fade-out are a nod to The Beatles’ “Hey Jude.” As I mentioned above, this is an excellent album that only pales slightly when compared to Sunflower. If you haven’t heard either of these albums, the 2-fer is a great collection with at least 15 of its 22 songs worthy of multiple listens.

Change was in the air for the next album, Carl And The Passions – “So Tough” (1972). Bruce Johnston was out and two new guys stepped in to inject some fresh energy into the group: guitarist Blondie Chaplin and drummer Ricky Fataar, both of South African group The Flame (whose first album was produced by Carl). They immediately made their presence known on two tracks, neither of which sounds like what we’ve come to expect from The Beach Boys. “Here She Comes” is funky & jazzy, and wouldn’t be out of place on an early Steely Dan album. It’s very catchy, especially “Am I living, crazy woman can’t you see…” It’s hard to tell if any of the other Boys are even on this track. “Hold On Dear Brother” is slower and more soulful, and has an interesting syncopated waltz beat. Blondie’s voice is extremely expressive, and the backing vocals are loose and a bit mournful. I also love the tasty slide guitar solo. Going back to the start of the album, “You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone” is a peppy, stomping rocker co-written by Brian and featuring Carl on vocals. It’s under-produced but still features lots of instrumentation. “He Come Down” begins with piano and a gospel-y organ, and eventually gives way to a catchy, finger-snapping call-and-response chorus (“I believe it…”). Unfortunately it meanders a bit in the middle. “Marcella” is the best-known song here, and the only one I remembered before revisiting the album. Co-written by Brian with two other writers and featuring Carl on lead vocals, it’s a catchy midtempo rocker with several sections, some more memorable than others (the “one arm over my shoulder” section is probably my least favorite).

Dennis collaborated on two songs with Daryl Dragon, better known as The Captain (of The Captain & Tennille), who provided orchestrations for his melodies. “Make It Good” is aptly described as a “tone poem” in the liner notes. Dennis’ vocals are cracked and vulnerable as he wears his heart on his sleeve. “Cuddle Up,” which closes the album, is a great “nightcap” song, and is cut from the same cloth as The Beatles’ “Good Night” (from The White Album). Once again his fragile vocals take center stage, never more powerfully than when he sings, “Your love, your love…for me is so warm and good to me…” The highlight of the album for me is “All This Is That,” written and sung by Carl, Mike and Al. The music is a perfect hybrid of Pet Sounds and SMiLE, and the smooth harmonies fit in with the soft rock of that era. Carl singing “To waves and I both travel by…and that makes all the difference to me” turns an excellent song into an extraordinary one. I can’t believe this song never made an impact on me before, but I would now consider it among their all-time best. The album as a whole is very good, and I like the addition of Blondie and Ricky, who make the band sound more contemporary.

[The Beach Boys – “All This Is That”]

The new guys stuck around for one more studio album, Holland (1973), although they only contributed one new song: “Leaving This Town.” Although at nearly 6 minutes it goes on a bit too long, I like it a lot. It reminds me of a slow Todd Rundgren ballad or even the early Steely Dan song “Dirty Work,” and Blondie’s vocals are extremely soulful and expressive. The minute-and-a-half synthesizer solo was a pleasant surprise, and not something I ever expected on a Beach Boys album. The best-known song here is “Sail On Sailor,” originally written by Brian with Van Dyke Parks, and now featuring contributions from a couple of other writers. Because Blondie sings lead, many people probably don’t even know this is The Beach Boys, but it’s a real gem in their catalog and should’ve been a bigger hit (it only cracked the Top 50). My favorite part is the pre-chorus (“Seldom stumble, never crumble…”). “California Saga” is a 10-minute piece linking three separate songs: “Big Sur” (a rootsy Americana waltz with Mike singing in a low register), “The Beaks Of Eagles” (Al reciting a Robinson Jeffers poem over a pretty flute melody) and “California” (my favorite of the three, sounding like a pre-Pet Sounds song with a similar shuffle feel to “California Girls”). During “The Beaks Of Eagles,” there’s a fantastic melody in the section with “In a broken shack an old man take his time about dyin’.” In “California,” I love the harmony vocals at “Water, water, get yourself in the cool clear water.”

“The Trader” is another special song, and one that took me numerous listens to really start appreciating it. It’s a midtempo 4/4 song with Carl on lead vocals featuring an excellent melody, especially the last four lines of each verse (i.e. “Nourishment fills the prairies…”). I love the shift at 2:20 to a more measured but still propulsive groove, and how Carl’s voice takes on a softer tone in the second half. “Funky Pretty” reminded me of 10cc, with its varying instruments and vocals in each section. Carl, Al, Mike, Blondie and Ricky all get a chance in the spotlight. It didn’t grab me immediately, but it keeps getting better with each listen. Dennis wrote a couple of songs, with Carl singing on both. Neither is among his best work, but the nearly 1-minute stinging lead guitar section in “Steamboat” made the song for me. Brian wanted to include a six-part spoken-word fairytale called “Mount Vernon And Fairway” on the album, but the record company decided to include it as a bonus 7” instead. Named after the intersection where Mike Love’s family’s house was located, its story about a “magic transistor radio” was narrated by Jack Rieley. While it’s interesting to hear once or twice, it’s also a little pretentious and silly. I’m sure some people enjoy its naïve charms, but I doubt I’ll play this again too often. I would rate Holland about the same as the previous album, and it will most likely continue to grow in stature over the years, but it doesn’t have a brilliant track on the level of “All This Is That.”

Recorded during their tours in winter ’72 and summer ’73, In Concert (1973) is the best of the three live albums I’ve revisited so far. Originally issued as a 2-LP set, its 20 songs now fit neatly on a single CD, and it’s a fantastic listen. During this period they were still a vital rock band and not the nostalgic oldies act they would become in later years, and it’s nice to hear American audiences react to these songs with such enthusiasm (which is especially surprising considering nearly half the songs are from post-Pet Sounds albums). I’m not going to discuss every performance, since many of them are merely solid reproductions of the original studio versions, but there are some standout tracks worth mentioning. They opened with “Sail On Sailor,” and even though it’s similar to its studio counterpart, Ricky delivers a great drum groove and there’s a palpable energy here. Note that Dennis wasn’t playing drums at that time after his hand had a run-in with a glass door. He was now in the front line, singing and occasionally playing keyboards. The version of “Sloop John B” is noticeably faster than the original, and Carl handles Brian’s vocal part extremely well. The subtlety of “The Trader,” especially the second half, comes across beautifully when it could’ve become unnecessarily heavy. Al does an admirable job filling in for Brian on “You Still Believe In Me,” which was not an easy task. He doesn’t fare quite as well on “Don’t Worry Baby,” where you can really hear him struggling with the high notes, but that leads into great renditions of three oldies to end the album: “Surfin’ USA,” “Good Vibrations” and “Fun, Fun, Fun.” They turn “Heroes And Villains” into a driving rock song, but the original’s arrangement and vocal performance are still perfectly executed.

The funky groove in “Funky Pretty” is worthy of The Isley Brothers. I love the emotional vocal performance Carl brings to “Let The Wind Blow” (from Wild Honey), which gave me a new appreciation for the song. They played “Help Me, Rhonda” with a bit of a country-rock feel, which was a surprising (and enjoyable) twist. “We Got Love,” which was written by Ricky, Blondie and Mike, was originally intended for Holland but didn’t make the cut, so this is its only appearance on a Beach Boys album. Ricky sings this nice uptempo, country-tinged rock song that reminds me of Eric Clapton’s first few solo albums from the early-‘70s. It’s a very good song but its 5-minute running time should’ve been edited down. I didn’t think I would ever love a Beach Boys live album that didn’t include Brian’s voice, but In Concert is a winner, and a nice way to close out this era of their career. Blondie and Ricky would soon be out and Brian would attempt a comeback in the second half of the decade. I’ll be spending lots of time with the albums they released during that era, and will let you know my thoughts when I’ve adequately digested all of that music. In the meantime, if you’re familiar with the albums covered in this post, please let me know what you think of them. Thanks.

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11 comments on “THE BEACH BOYS Part 6 – Adding Some Music To Our Day

  1. Glenn S.
    September 21, 2012

    Sunflower has some great tracks (“Add Some Music To Your Day,” “This Whole World” and the brilliant “Cool, Cool Water”) but I’ve never had quite the love for it that a lot of Beach Boys fans do. I’d read praise for it before I ever heard it, so maybe my expectations were too high. Also, some of the rockers are just a tad bit generic to my ears, and if I heard them outside of this album I’m not sure I would know who I was listening to.

    I like Surfs Up even if it does feature one of my least-favorite Beach Boys tracks, “A Day In The Life of A Tree.” I have no problem with the message, it’s Jack Riley’s vocal that I can’t tolerate. I’ll give him kudos for co-writing some of my favorite tracks on the album, though. Overall, this album nicely mixes the Beach Boys sound with some “heavier” FM radio-friendly elements like extended fadeouts and solos. “Feel Flows” has long been one of my favorites and I was delighted when it was used during the closing credits of Almost Famous. Of course, the title track is something very special too, though it works even better in the context of Smile.

    Holland was one of the first Beach Boys albums I ever owned so maybe that’s why it’s one of my favorites. It continues with the heavier sound of Surf’s Up, and is probably their most ambitious effort from this period, from the California suite to Brian’s fairy tale (which has some nice music that can be better heard on the Good Vibrations boxed set.) And who doesn’t like “Sail On Sailor?”

    I don’t own copies of So Tough or the live album, so I’ll refrain from commenting on them here. I’ve heard them both but it’s been a long time. They are the first gaps in my Beach Boys collection, but there will be more…

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    • Hi Glenn. I’m surprised by your comments on Sunflower, but totally understand how unreasonable expectation may have affected your enjoyment a bit. I hate when something is over-hyped, but sometimes you can’t avoid that. I’m glad we agree about some of the great songs on that album, though. It’s hard to dispute how good “Cool, Cool Water” is.

      Regarding Jack Rieley’s voice, at first it bothered me but eventually I accepted it, which was easy only because the song he sang on wasn’t really a great one. I kind of liked his narration on “Mt. Vernon And Fairway.” It reminded me of the spoken-word track “No Anchovies Please” by J. Geils Band, although that one was bizarre where this Beach Boys track was more playful.

      I have a few gaps in my Beach Boys collection, which consists of three albums from the late-80s and early-90s. I recently borrowed them from a friend and made digital copies, so I’ll be checking them out for the first time soon. I also don’t have the Pet Sounds box set or the extended version of SMiLE Sessions, since the idea of listening to multiple CDs of unfinished snippets, alternate takes, studio banter, etc. isn’t that interesting to me. I do, however, have the Good Vibrations box set and looks forward to hearing the fairytale music without the narration.

      Thanks again for your input and enjoy the rest of the weekend.

      Rich

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  2. Jon Lyness
    September 24, 2012

    Great stuff here as always, Rich. I’m going to post my impressions of Sunflower and Surf’s Up in some detail, as I’ve been enjoying them for the past few months.

    Sunflower. Like Rich, I was blown away by this album… it probably does help to go in not having heard the hype. Add Some Music To Your Day is the standout track for me… I love the subject matter and the lush, intricate vocal arrangements… I keep noticing interesting new things in the harmonies. One of those great “only the Beach Boys could have done this” songs. Slip on Through is a terrific opener that hooked me right away… just a great sunny piece of pop, that IMO should have been a radio hit (although I find the title something of an off-note, as it doesn’t ‘feel’ like the title for this song). This Whole World is a great showcase for Carl’s voice, and another sweet one. I actually like Got To Know The Woman… cool to hear the boys getting funky, and gives the first half of the album an earthier vibe that saves it from getting too glossy or saccharine. Of the Bruce Johnston songs, I find Tears in the Morning a bit of a clunker (it sounds like a heavy-handed attempt at an ‘adult’ song), but Deirdre is pretty irresistible. Forever is quite touching, especially knowing Dennis’ troubled history, and Cool Cool Water is a wonderful closer with lots of great vocal effects going on. As a general comment, I think this album feels like what you’d want from a mature Beach Boys work, with something of a unity of vision and sound even given the eclectic mix of material coming from different songwriters in the band. It builds nicely on the sound of their 1960s heyday, offers a more mature take on how they see their world, and pushes in some thoughtful and unexpected directions, with Dennis’s songs in particular giving them new richness. This album would rank just behind Pet Sounds for me.

    Surf’s Up. This one is an odd case where I quite like most of the material, but I have trouble hearing it gel as an album. Were the BBs trying to make an experimental, pushing-the-boundaries album (Surf’s Up, Feel Flows), a ‘contemporary relevance’ album (Don’t Go Near The Water, Student Demonstration Time), or an album of music that sounds like it could have been used on Sesame Street circa 1971 (Take a Load Off Your Feet, Day in the Life of a Tree), etc? The flow of the album I find disorienting compared to Pet Sounds, Friends and Sunflower where it sounds like there was a larger vision to how material was selected for the album (and indeed, from snippets I’ve read it sounds like there was some disagreement about what made the cut for Surf’s Up).

    With that said, I really do like most of the fragments. Disney Girls is one of their prettiest and most mature songs (has Bruce Johnston written any other BB songs of similar quality?), and I can’t fathom why it wasn’t used as the album’s opening track… I love it, and it would probably make my Top 10 list of BBs songs. Don’t Go Near The Water is kind of a dreary opener, and much too straightforward a listen given the complexity of material that follows it. Long Promised Road has a bit of the earnest feel of a high-school musical number, but Carl’s voice puts it across. I actually like the groove and feel of Take A Load Off Your Feet a lot… it feels like kind of a funky childrens’ song… but I wish some of the lyrics were sharper. Student Demonstration Time… well, I guess it is an expectations game, because I’ve read for years that it was the worst thing the BBs ever recorded, and dare I admit, I don’t hate it! Once I get past the hilarity of a streetwise Mike Love “telling me how it is”, I actually think it’s a rocking song and a real interesting attempt at relevance, BUT the vocal distortion effect is indeed grating, and the song feels stranded in the context of the album around it. Feel Flows is cool, and Til I Die/Surf’s Up makes for a very powerful ending, with just beautiful vocals on both. So, a bit of a mixed bag but there’s still a lot to like here.

    I don’t have the other albums reviewed here, but they are next on my list. I do like the So Tough and Holland material that I’ve heard to date. It’s worth checking YouTube for video footage of a couple of different live performances of “You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone”, a Band-like track that (as a fan of The Band) grabbed me instantly. Fascinating that the BBs added Blondie and Ricky to their lineup, and for a time were moving the band in a completely different direction, until they seemed to cave in and embrace their status as a nostalgia/oldies act. My impression of their post-1974 work is that it’s a bit of a wasteland, so I’m looking forward to finding out if there are albums that stand out as worth having.

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    • Hi Jon. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on these records. I guess our timing was perfect as we both played them a lot lately. I’m glad that we’re mostly on the same wavelength, with only a couple of songs that we don’t agree on. Very happy to hear that you think “Deirdre” is irresistible. I could imagine a lot of people hating that song, but it always brought a smile to my face.

      Based on some of the things I read about the Surf’s Up album, I believe there was a big divide within the group at that time. Apparently their manager (and lyric contributor), Jack Rieley, wanted them to concentrate on more socially conscious themes to make them more relevant, and half the guys agreed, while the others just wanted to focus on making “Beach Boys music.” I’m pretty sure this was one of the factors that contributed to Bruce Johnston leaving the group (still not sure if he quit or was asked to leave). I know I’m really generalizing here, but I don’t want to get into too much detail when that info (from experts on this subject) is just a mouse-click away.

      Regarding “Student Demonstration Time, ” were you familiar with the song it’s based on before hearing it? I think that’s why I dislike it so much, because their take on it seemed so lightweight in comparison (even against The Blues Brothers, which is saying a lot).

      I’m surprised that you only described “Feel Flows” as “cool,” since it made such a huge impact on me.

      When I have a chance, I will look for that YouTube footage of “You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone.” Thanks for letting me know about that.

      As for the 1976-1980 era, I’ve been listening to those albums a lot this week. I probably won’t have a chance to post about them until the weekend, but I will say that it’s not quite a wasteland. The good stuff, however, is fewer and further between, and I haven’t encountered anything I would describe as brilliant. It’s all about managing expectations.

      By the way, do you think the addition of music files and YouTube clips to these posts has been helpful?

      Like

  3. Jon Lyness
    September 26, 2012

    You know, I think Feel Flows is another song that suffers from its placement… to my ears, it gets a bit lost on the Surf’s Up CD (since on the CD, it’s ‘track 6’ and not the opener to side 2), coming in between ‘Student Demonstration Time’ and some of the weaker tracks. When I play the clip above, it really jumps out a lot. This would have been another great contender for an opening track to the album… a bold announcement that “these aren’t the Beach Boys you remember”… but oh well, not to be.

    I actually like the idea of the early-70s Beach Boys singing about social issues, so for what it’s worth I don’t think that concept was inherently off-base. I guess from today’s perspective, it’s too bad that the issues material on the album (Don’t Go Near The Water, Life of a Tree, arguably Student Demonstration Time) doesn’t have the complexity or emotional heft of some of their more (Brian-centric) personal work, such as When I Die or the title track. It doesn’t feel like quite the natural fit for the BBs that it might have.

    Nope, I don’t know Riot in Cell Block #9. Will check it out.

    The music files and YouTube clips here are great… thanks a lot for integrating those. I actually spent an enjoyable hour a month or so back listening to the Van Morrison clips you added (and meant to comment there, but never did). It adds a lot of depth to have the clips handy when you’re describing material I’m unfamiliar with, especially when it goes against the grain of what I expect from the musicians in question. So, thumbs up!

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    • Jon, you’re probably right about the placement of “Feel Flows,” but in some ways that works to its advantage in that it’s like an oasis in the middle of a desert of lesser songs.

      I never had a problem with the concept of The Beach Boys singing about social issues. I just don’t think they executed it very well. They had so many other musical strengths, but that wasn’t one of them (especially on an abrasive performance like “Student Demonstration Time,” which has nothing to tie it musically to anything else they had done, or would do in the future).

      I’m really glad you’ve been enjoying the music clips. It’s good to know that they’ve been helpful. I didn’t want to overwhelm each post with too many clips, so I’ve been trying to choose a handful of representative songs for each post, usually focusing on slightly lesser-known songs (since I’m assuming most people reading my posts would already know the hits).

      Here’s the Blues Brothers version of “Riot In Cell Block #9,” which was my first exposure to the song:

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  4. Jon Lyness
    October 1, 2012

    Cool, cheers and thanks for the video clip, Rich.

    One final thought on this group of albums is to expand a touch on your comment about “Sunflower’s greatness comes from the creative minds of everyone in the group”, which I think is right on. There is something special about that, particularly in how Dennis Wilson unexpectedly comes to the forefront as a creative force. The balance of creativity on Sunflower can be thought of as something akin to that on The Band’s Music From Big Pink, with Dennis in an early-Richard-Manuel-type songwriting role, matching Brian’s contributions and adding new depth to the group’s repertoire. Some of the post-’66 BB albums seem to have a vibe of “here’s 3 or 4 great Brian songs, plus whatever the other guys managed to scrape together in time”, but there is indeed something of a feeling of creative unity on this album (despite the diversity of material) that I find really appealing.

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    • Jon, the comparison between this era of The Beach Boys and The Band circa “Big Pink” is spot-on, and I’m glad we’re in agreement about what makes Sunflower such a unique and beautiful album. I also like the way you described those post-Pet Sounds, pre-Sunflower albums. Perfect & succinct. Thanks.

      Rich

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  6. Alan K.
    September 14, 2013

    Rich – I wanted you to know that I have been listening to “The Trader” over and over again.. I can’t get it out of my head. I am convinced that it is one of the BB’s best songs, period (not just from Holland or from the 70s. It’s quite epic – almost like a long multi-part song. And I love how it starts with Carl’s young son saying “hi!”.
    Thought you’d appreciate this…

    Like

    • Alan, I couldn’t agree more about the greatness of “The Trader.” It’s certainly up there among Carl’s best performances and rightly deserves to be praised as much as any Beach Boys classic. I had no idea that Carl’s son began the song, so thanks for that interesting tidbit. I’m glad your weekend has been soundtracked by such excellent music. I hope it continues.

      Rich

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