Review: Brian Wilson – Smile
I could always take or leave the Beach Boys, mostly leave. The falsetto singing reminds me of Frankie Valli and I can’t figure out the appeal of castratto. Being from New York I also have no interest in surfer guys and chicks.
I recently bought some homemade surf comp tapes and while there’s no Beach Boys I do get a kick out of some of the tunes and a few are really, really bad (in a good way). The Surfaris do a song called “Surfer Joe” that sounds like “The Monster Mash”, spoken lyrics and all. Then there’s Jan and Dean, who sound like a parody of a comedy sketch.
This weekend I put on The Queer’s Don’t Back Down, the best of their albums influenced by the Beach Boys. I said to myself “self, maybe you should explore The Beach Boys”. Smile is where I start.
Smile is a legendary album started in 1967 and both finished and recorded in 2004. There were 85 original recording sessions that led to no finished album. That’s a lot of work. Fans and critics are collectively crapping themselves over how great this is, and I’ll grant them that even though I find Smile to be well recorded, pleasant, interesting and not the answer to any great existential question.
There's a definite nod to the Beatles and I never realized how much XTC were cribbing from these guys since at least Mummer in 1983. Here’s some lyrics from “Vega-Tables”. Some may find this silly. I think they answer the great existential question:
I'm gonna be round my vegetables/ I'm gonna chow down my vegetables/ I love you most of all/ My favorite vege-table/ If you brought a big brown bag of them home/ I'd jump up and down and hope you'd toss me a carrot/ I'm gonna keep well my vegetables/ Cart off and sell my vegetables/ I love you most of all/ My favorite vege-table/ Oh oh taba vega vegel/ I tried to kick the ball but my tenny flew right off/ I'm red as a beet 'cause I'm so embarassed/ Oh oh dum do dum de dooby do/ Oh oh dum do dum de dooby do/ Oh oh dum do dum de dooby dooh yeah/ Oh badumday oh dum do dum de dooby do/ Oh badumday oh dum do dum de dooby do/ Chomp chomp chomp chomp do-do-do do-do-do/ Bop bop bop bop do-do-do do-do-do
It’s upwards and onwards to Pet Sounds!