Summer is just about to begin, so let’s talk about one of the greatest bands of all time, The Beach Boys. I'll take a look at every Beach Boys album in order of release and try to figure out just WHAT HAPPENED?
For those who only know the hits you probably wouldn’t assume much of this band, without context they just seem like a decent pop group that happened to drop a masterpiece then a couple of decent albums before becoming a really awful nostalgia act.
Which in some way is very much true but the band is also much more interesting than that. Their story is really long and studied and you can seemingly never run out of things to find out about the band and it’s members.
But let’s go back to the start first, I’ve seen a few different accounts that detail the start of the band but the one that to me seems closest to truth seems to be this one.
So the 3 Wilson brothers were already in a band called “Carl and the Passions” and their cousin Mike Love would sometimes sing with them, this of course ended up being The Beach Boys a bit later on.
In 1961 Dennis told Mike that while there’s a lot of surf instrumental music, nobody was really singing about surfing and I guess that sorta started the whole thing in a way, I believe Dennis eventually gave Brian the idea to write a song about surfing and thus the first Beach Boys song came to be.
Their father helped the boys get a deal and have the song recorded, man what a nice father I’m sure he could never hurt any of them or be controlling or abusive towards them!
Anyways, the guys put together the single Surfin with Luau as the B-side and then looked for a label to release and promote it but multiple labels passed on them. They were going under the name The Pendletones or something at this point and at some point a friend of theirs also joined the band, Al Jardine.
They entered a radio competition with that song and kinda cheated their way into winning by calling the station and using different voices each time and saying they vote for Surfin.
That’s actually 100% real btw. Surfin ended up winning and the song became a small hit and at this point the band also changed their name to The Beach Boys and had the iconic line-up we all know and love with Brian, Carl, Dennis, Al and Mike…
Then Al quit the band to become a dentist and was replaced by one of their neighbors called David Marks so yeah. I’m sure that’ll work great for him.
The band recorded their debut album throughout the year and released it in October of 1962, by this point the band had released a follow up single called Surfin Safari which was partly what got the band the ability to record a full album as that song became a top 20 hit.
So yeah the boys recorded their first album, how is it? Well…it kinda reminds me of early fps games, not like the original doom or wolfenstein 3d early, but even before that, it's some very primitive stuff.
There’s something very pure about it, that’s its main strength and weakness. It’s the foundation for much better music to come but that’s all it is, a foundation and one that by today's standards is sorta bland.
At points it’s fun, at others it’s very confusing (County Fair is…interesting). Like most Beach Boys albums, the songs are very short and so is the album, it clocks at just under 25 minutes and you’d be surprised to see how short it is given the fact that it’s sort-of a slog with how safe and meh it feels most of the time.
But for the time it was normal, we’re far from when the album became a thing of its own, as it stands this is just a collection of singles, wannabe singles and filler tracks.
Like with most very early Beach Boys albums the best way to enjoy it is to listen to the 3-4 most streamed songs on the album as those are the best ones or at least the most memorable ones. We got Surfin Safari and 409 which are the only actually pretty good songs and then Surfin which is only worth hearing for the fact that it IS the first song they ever made. The rest is give or take. Also speaking of 409, this song is about a car, so that doesn’t seem to be particularly interesting right?
Well The Beach Boys absolutely disagree with that and will be writing a TON more songs about cars in the future.
Idk man by today’s standards this album is very stupid I will say that. I mean you can tell by the titles of the songs how dumb this album is: Cuckoo Clock, Heads You Win Tails I Lose, Chug-A-Lug, Little Girl (You’re My Miss America) and Moon Dawg…there’s a song on here called Moon Dawg. Moon Dawg.
Fav Tracks: Surfin Safari and 409