Sunday, January 22, 2012

2011--The Year in Beach Boys Obsession

I've been a huge Beach Boys fan for years, but for some reason I completely lost my head last year, becoming head over heels obsessed. Most of my available money went to Beach Boys purchases--like the four disc box set Pet Sounds Sessions and the $120 box set Smile Sessions (which was worth every penny).

I found copies of the Beach Boys (1985) and Ten Years Harmony on vinyl. Gariet bought me the record of Surfer Girl (great) cause he knows I'm slowly getting vinyl copies of all my Beach Boys CDs.

I picked out the dregs of the Beach Boys discography, Still Cruisin' used on CD. You know, the one where they sing back up on a Fat Boys cover of "Wipeout?" (Which is kind of a good song actually.) I bought the Mike Love spin off album Celebration on vinyl. Rumor has it only 5,000 copies of the record were pressed and it's NOT on CD.

My obsession culminated with Christmas when I gave Allie a long wish list of music stuff--all by the Beach Boys or Monkees.

She got me the Mojo tribute CD to the Boys, In My Room. She got me the Best of Bruce and Terry an album by future Beach Boy Bruce Johnston and Terry Melcher. You know Terry Melcher was Doris Day's son. He produced the first few Byrds albums and met Charles Manson when he (Melcher) was still living at the soon to be infamous house on La Cienega. Terry also played a part in writing "Kokomo" and several other of the career nadir songs on Still Cruisin.' I've been obsessing over the whole LA scene in general and love learning all these connections. I just read I'm With the Band the awesome groupie memoir by Pamela Des Barres and have also been coveting Byrds and Gram Parsons albums right and left.

Allie also got me the new Brian Wilson album, In the Key of Disney. I was dubious about the album because I kind of hate all Disney movies from Little Mermaid on--they just annoy me (I'm excluding the Pixar films from my ire however). Anyhow, the album is surprisingly good. I LOVE his "When You Wish Upon the Star" and the instrumental "Heigh Ho." I finally knew I wanted to own this album when I realized it would be a perfect thing to listen to with Cleme once she's a little older. I certainly wont be able to put on my Xiu Xiu albums...(Allie also got me the Monkees season one on DVD, because we both figured it would be great to watch with Cleme. She already loves TV but we try to keep her away from it. We have started caving though if the content is especially sedate and child friendly. No commercials or high drama is allowed though).

Allie got me the Musicares Tribute to Brian Wilson DVD, available on amazon for once cent. I've watched it already and I think my favorite was Jeff Beck slaying "Surf's Up" and "Surfing USA" on lead guitar. Worst was maybe the super boring version of "Til I Die" by the Barenaked Ladies.

There were two cool surprise presents from Allie--one a Beach Boys screen-printed tote bag featuring lyrics from the Smile song "Vegetables."

The other was a 45 record by Jan and Dean. The record itself has no literal Beach Boys connection, but since Brian Wilson wrote so many of their hits, the two bands will forever be intertwined. (Incidentally Dean Torrence from Jan and Dean went on to become a successful graphic designer and did several of the Beach Boys album covers. My favorite of his is Love You while the worst might be the Celebration "scrapbook" cover posted above). The a-side of the record is the awesome reworking of "Clementine" a strong song for Jan and Dean. I loved getting this obscure artifact and awesome tie-in to our daughter, something I can always play in homage to her, and play along with her-- another theme song for her to grow up with. Certainly a better one than Pearl Jam's "Jeremy" (the Jeremy character was a total creep remember? Plus I could never take Eddie's grungy growl). We had Christmas at my parents house. I put the 45 on my dad's record player and cranked "Clementine" while we all danced and Clementine happily bounced up and down.

After such an awesome year in fandom, the pinnacle of which was the release of the 44 year overdue Smile album, can 2012 possibly keep up in terms of my Beach boys collecting, listening, learning, and loving?? YES! because the band announced a month or so ago that they will be REUNITING in honor of their 50th anniversary. They will also be recording and releasing a new album, and going on tour. I already have my dad lined up to go with me to the Beach Boys show (assuming they show up in the Northwest--my fingers are crossed). If we can make it there, it just may be the best father-son bonding experience ever!
Thanks for all the presents Allie, and thanks to Brian Wilson and the gang for the amazing music all these years. I can't believe my favorite band is 50 years old--that's half a century!!

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