Beach Boys Songs Other Than California Girls, Wouldn't It Be Nice and Good Vibrations for Your Summer Soundtrack

If weekends in the summer involve having a beer and grilling some meat, I don't want to know the alternative. But what about that musical background for your BBQ heaven? You let your girlfriend get away with the awfully tired Vince Guaraldi Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack every single holiday party; how do you counter when the party moves outside six months later?

The Beach Boys ethos oozes the hazy fun of summertime, from their early sixties pop jangle to their early and mid seventies soulful harmonies. Songs about cars, girls and surfing aren't necessarily native to Southern California, but where else can you envision all three subjects existing together in an endless summer? What better soundtrack to your summer get together, regardless of where in North America you are?

Since most casual music listeners' knowledge of the Beach Boys begins and ends with a greatest hits package and maybe Pet Sounds, here are some from deeper within the catalog to add to your playlist when you point your computer speakers towards your back window:

All Summer Long All Summer Long, 1964
Give me better recorded use of the xylophone -- I dare you. Bonus points for being the end-credits song in American Graffiti.

Dance Dance Dance The Beach Boys Today!, 1965
Starts off with sleigh bells, rides maracas and ends up in Phil Specter's patented Wall of Sound.

Do You Wanna to Dance? The Beach Boys Today!, 1965
Dennis Wilson's go at Bobby Freeman's classic. The background vocals especially after the first and third verses will blow you away every time.

Then I Kissed Her Summer Days (and Summer Nights!), 1967
Al Jardine vocals just rip right through this cover of "Then I Kissed Him" by the Crystals (originally produced by Phil Specter).

Let Him Run Wild Summer Days (and Summer Nights!), 1967
A somewhat sad song about the singer knowing his crush's boyfriend cheats on her -- thank goodness it sounds so great.

Feel Flows Surf's Up, 1971
The end-credits track in Almost Famous, Feel Flows sounds nothing like the Beach Boys songs of the sixties. It literally is a flowing feeling, engulfing you its tambourine, organ and Carl Wilson's vocal reverb.

Surf's Up Surf's Up, 1971
Possibly the Beach Boys' most underlooked song, in league with Good Vibrations and Wouldn't It Be Nice, Surf's Up is yet another operatic piece by Brian Wilson and co-writer Van Dyke Parks.

Sail on Sailor Holland, 1973
Blondie Chaplin is a backup singer for the Rolling Stones when they go on tour, but during the early 1970's, he was a full-fledged member of the Beach Boys and in Sail on Sailor he delivers yet another "this is great and I can't believe this is the Beach Boys" song. It sounds like something Steely Dan would have made.

Keepin' the Summer Alive Keepin' the Summer Alive, 1980
Taken within context, this one last, painful gasp by the Beach Boys to be relevant, despite being over a decade removed from Pet Sounds. Out of context, this is a fun, poppy, Joe Walsh-assisted track.

River Song Pacific Ocean Blue, 1977
This is actually a Dennis Wilson solo track, but I think it qualifies as a Beach Boys tune. A powerful, harmony driven track that makes you want to sing along with the chorus as Dennis sings about transforming himself into a powerful, moving body of water -- something great. Pacific Ocean Blue is being re-released on June 17.

These next two slow things down a little:

Forever Sunflower, 1970
Most famously covered by John Stamos, the original stands up great with a slow beat and great backing harmony. Dennis Wilson may be one of the most underrated singer/songwriters of the 70's, if only because he had to live and work in the shadow of his brother Brian.

The Warmth of the Sun Shut Down, Vol. 2, 1964
Something you would dance to with your sweetheart while the crowd at your party starts to thin out.


Blogger jk complained...

this is an absolutely fantastic entry.
beach boys are one of the greatest american rock groups of all time.

6/26/2008 4:15 PM
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