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BEACH BOYS
LIFE'S A BEACH (HAR HAR)

    This page is actually pretty self-indulgent, but then, this web site is a total load of self-indulgent extravagance -- the Yngwie Malmsteen of websites. I'm not pretending it's Shakespeare on the web or anything. It's just me going "I'm going to write about the music I like" for anyone stupid enough to listen.
     Just how much does the music you listen to as a kid affect you? Most people don't still listen to the music their parents played them as kids when they grow older. You want to have something of your own. Still, I suddenly developed a theory with a friend that the music you hear as a child influences your musical development profoundly. As a test, we asked everyone we could what music they liked now and what they had liked as small children. In every case we found a definite connection.
     I was subjected to the Beach Boys from an early age but it was only recently that I realised how little my taste had changed -- when I thought it had changed so much. The Beach Boys of course have had a huge impact on the course of music history. I don't know how many bands on this website cite them as a direct influence but I'd bet it's a lot of them. David Lee Roth covered "California Girls" and it was one of the best things he's ever done (although naturally it didn't compare to the original). Their innovation with the wall-of-sound and huge vocal harmonies is obviously something that affected me, because most of my favourite bands use huge walls of sound and layered backing vocals -- Def Leppard really took that to the next level with Mutt Lange. The combination of rock with classic catchy pop melodies, multi-part harmonies, and a happy, feel-good, summertime vibe -- am I describing the Beach Boys or Bon Jovi? Well either way you can see that really the music I listen to hasn't changed anything like as much as you'd expectů I think you'd be surprised how little yours has too, unless you made a conscious effort to rebel against everything you heard as a child.
     That was then; this is now, so how do the classic Beach Boys songs measure up today? Well, they are true classics. I buried around in my parents' old tapes and dug out a rather chewed up copy of
Twenty Golden Greats. What was it like? Still fantastic, even with chronic tape hiss, wow and flutter, and the volume diving around as though someone were messing with the volume control. There's a reason why they were one of the most influential rock n' roll bands in history. Most bands are doing well if they create something that lasts five years. The Beach Boys have lasted considerably longer. The Beach Boys are also great because they fit in with my resolutely happy life philosophy, which goes something like this: I am happy, I like being happy, I don't like being miserable, so I listen to happy music. The "Mad at your Dad" rock brigade (a term coined by Butch Walker) can all go forth and multiply as far as I'm concerned. Well, hopefully not much multiplying. But they can certainly go forth.
     Did anyone see Brian Wilson at Party at the Palace for the Queen's 50th Jubilee though? That was sadů he's really not what he was. Genius is an over-used term but it's often flung in Wilson's direction and I don't object when I hear it.
     Exciting Beach Boys news in early 2004 was Brian Wilson's string of solo gigs playing the complete
Smile album... A live album of one of those shows could finally bring the mythical masterpiece to the public in a finished form.

Best album: Well with my collection amounting to a worn-out compilation I'm hardly in a position to offer expert advice am I? Conventional wisdom goes with Pet Sounds and tracks like "God Only Knows" and "Wouldn't It Be Nice" are monumental. The early stuff is the more fun surfin' stuff and I lean towards that. Smile was on course to be Wilson's masterpiece but he sort of went off the rails during the making. Track down the 2CD sessions from Smile if you can, or get a decent compilation.

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