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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

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!


Blogger Richard said...

Brian Wilson was in the throes of dementia by this point. As it is with the Ramones, start from the beginning. It only goes downhill from there.

3:08 PM

Blogger Tucker said...

On "Vegetables" Brian Wilson sampled Paul McCartney eating a carrot in the studio....

Also, you should check out 20/20 by the Beach Boys, it's one of my favorites. It's a pretty cool balance between the uber-catchy early stuff and the weird production on the later stuff. Also, if you want a truly fucked up Beach Boys album, check out "Love You". It was done in the late 70's and the only instruments are layered synth/organ/piano parts. Drugs took a toll on their voices (they sound phlegmy), and the lyrics are super kitschy...it's great.

9:13 AM


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