Release date, Oct. 2, and breathlessly awaited by some (i.e., me). Table of contents is here, and is fetching (“Harmony and Discord,” “Innocence and the Second-Best Pop Album Ever,” “Summer’s Gone, the Endless Summer”).
The Beach Boys matter to me enormously–more than the Beatles, more than the Velvets, more than Prince, Chuck Berry, Elvis Costello, and many others (well, at least if “mattering” is best measured in listening/thinking-about time). (Not more than the Stones and Roxy Music, though, but with Bowie carrying approximate equal meaningness.)
Smucker has already written about the Beach Boys better than anyone; the way he keeps returning to them in his Stranded essay on Thomas Dorsey’s Precious Lord was a big influence, particularly the line—paraphrasing, as I don’t have the book nearby right now—about how, while digging through scads of Beach Boys records (unwanted, discarded, ignored), all of it sounded good to him, a thought that gets at the strange appeal of the Beach Boys (certainly for me) better than any other I’ve come across. When I go on a BB bender, I tend to get lost inside their sound and their world, and I just want them in any shape or form (though of course I have my favourites too)—at least up to and including 1977’s Love You. (I’ll be curious to find out from Smucker’s excavation efforts if anything after that LP is worth a damn; I have such an aversion to “Kokomo” I’ve been too scared to find out for myself.)
Anyway, a quick, impermanent Beach Boys Top 10 (sadly lacking in post- or late-60s gems like “‘Til I Die”):
1. “Help Me, Rhonda” – The 45 single version, which has much more kick than any of the other versions (I think I’m citing the correct recording—the one with the barrelhouse piano solo followed by the skronky guitar splash).
2. “Don’t Worry Baby”
3. “Catch a Wave”
4. “Fun, Fun, Fun”
5. Pet Sounds – My daughter is addicted to the Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore movie, 50 First Dates, which means I’ve not only watched the movie but heard it from the other room about half a dozen times. Anyway, it’s standard fare Sandler (who I don’t mind at all), but the use of “Wouldn’t it Be Nice” is transcendent.
6. “Country Air”
7. “When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)”
8. “Girl Don’t Tell Me”
9. “Ding Dang”
10. “Surf’s Up” (Critics can be so fucking stupid; “Columnated ruins domino” is a terrific line, just don’t ask me to explain right now—or ever.)
cf. Steven Ward’s 2000 interview with Smucker (with further BB thoughts)
cf. cf. Sometimes-contributor Frank Kogan‘s Why Music Sucks line (I don’t have the issue in front of me, and don’t remember the essay or context, but I’ve never forgotten the toss-off itself): “As the proud owner of zero Beach Boys records…” Hmmm.