Ranking every Beach Boys album/song: “Shut Down Vol. 2” (by Songwriter Jim Fusco)

Originally posted 2008-02-20 11:44:18. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Each song gets a ranking out of a possible 10.

ALBUM – SHUT DOWN, VOL. 2

Fun, Fun, Fun – 8
The Warmth of the Sun – 10 (doesn’t get much better than this)
Don’t Worry, Baby – 10 (see last song)
Pom Pom Play Girl – 4 (too Jan and Dean for me)
Why Do Fools Fall in Love – 6 (again, not a big fan of covers, but this one is very well done, especially that vocal break in the middle)
*I Do – 6 (even though the verse is a clear re-tooling, the chorus is pretty amazing)
In the Parkin’ Lot – 8 (I really like this song- it’s got great harmonies and I love the tag at the beginning and end)
This Car of Mine – 6 (I love Denny’s vocals on this one!)
Keep an Eye on Summer – 9 (just wow)
Louie, Louie – 1 (ugh- why guys, why??)
Shut Down, Part II – 3 (okay, but only because Carl wrote it!)
“Cassius” Love vs. “Sonny” Wilson – 2 (Can this even count? They can’t even get the jokes right! But, it is cute.)
Denny’s Drums – 4 (I hate that Dennis doesn’t get a lot of credit for his drumming, but he clearly has the chops here)

** You have five or six songs that are not only great, but classic on this album and it makes this album a great listen. In my opinion, the Boys really honed the harmonies on this album- not a bum note to be found. Plus, showing off the talents of Dennis (singing and playing) and Carl (writing and playing) is just great. Brian was truly in his prime starting with this album. I find it hard to talk down to any album with the likes of Don’t Worry Baby and The Warmth of the Sun on it. Their greatness truly cancels out any mediocrity the few clunkers on the album express. **

“Girl Don’t Tell Me” (A Beach Boys Cover)

Originally posted 2007-10-22 01:10:39. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Well, another day and another installment of the “Laptop Sessions.” This is one that I learned a long time ago and forgot about playing until tonight. Anyone that knows me will know that I admire Brian Wilson’s songwriting the most. His song, “Girl Don’t Tell Me” is truly one of his finest works. Plus, his brother Carl sings an amazing lead vocal that I can only hope to emulate in my version.  This is one of Carl’s earliest lead vocals and I’m glad Brian gave Carl the opportunity to sing it.  Carl knocked it out of the park and had a voice much more suited to this style of music.

I think my Laptop Session acoustic version of this song actually sounds a lot like the original because it was done with acoustic guitars. “But,” you say, “many songs are done with just acoustics!” Well, Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys really used piano as their driving instrument, plus Al Jardine and Carl Wilson took the rhythm and lead guitars (respectively) on electrics almost all the time. Of course, I’m talking about the early records when the Boys recorded the instruments themselves. After a while, Brian and the others decided to have studio musicians come in, which allowed Brian to experiment more while the others were on tour.  I think one of the last vestiges of the Beach Boys playing on their own music (in the earlier years, at least) was their Christmas album.  One the first side (the original songs), you can hear the Beach Boys playing all of the instruments.  Those songs represent some of my favorite recordings of all time.  They’re simply perfect (to me).

But, enough of the Beach Boys history for the time being. But, I will say that you’ll notice how this song sounds more like a Beatles song than a Beach Boys song. Well, with the production done the way it was on the original (like I mentioned before, with acoustic guitars rather than a piano), one can only assume that this Beatle-esque sound was done purposely!  Of course, this acoustic video flies in the face of the logic I was trying to explain regarding the Laptop Sessions cover songs series.  You see, my idea is to strip-away the various instruments in a song to get to the simplest form.  That way, you can hear the song for what it is.  So, songs that you might not necessarily have liked can be given new life here on the music blog.  With “Girl Don’t Tell Me”, however, that’s not really the case.  I just did a straight-up cover of an acoustic song.  My defense?  It’s a great song- shut up and listen! :-)  But seriously, another function of the Laptop Sessions acoustic cover songs music video blog is to introduce you (or even re-introduce you) to songs you’ve never heard before (or forgot you knew).  And that’s just as important.

This song is really a favorite of mine and I know a certain group of people are going to go, “Oh, wow!” when they see I did a version of this forgotten song! I hope you enjoy and stay tuned for more from The Laptop Sessions!


“The Warmth of the Sun” (Beach Boys Cover)

Originally posted 2007-11-17 14:07:25. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Here’s one plenty of people should know: the classic and beautiful “Warmth of the Sun” by the Beach Boys, written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love.  The story goes that both Brian and Mike were together the night that President John F. Kennedy passed away.  It must’ve been quite a night in America- I can only imagine it.  But, in songwriters’ darkest hours come some great material.  Most of the great songs you hear are a result of heartache- it’s usually due to losing a loved one.  But, Brian Wilson and Mike Love of the Beach Boys were creative in their songwriting and made their feellings for the passing of their President known in song.  Sure, they tailored it into a love-lost song (“The love of my life, she left me one day…”), but you can tell the sentiment in the song, especially considering the night they wrote it.

“The Warmth of the Sun” is a beautiful song in all ways- the chord changes are just great.  Brian Wilson always had a knack at creating chord progressions that were familiar, but had a great twist.  The bass line always moves in the opposite direction of where you expect it to go.  In addition to great music (and the instrumental track, which I’m pretty sure was played by the Beach Boys band members themselves), this song has AMAZING harmonies.  Brian Wilson’s voice simply soars in this song.  With the addition of the dead-on background vocals, you’ve got a pretty perfect song.  I’m just glad I found a way to put a solo acoustic performance together and record it with just an acoustic guitar for a cover song music video.

This video is fulfilling a request I received in my first week of doing the Laptop Sessions. I waited until now because I knew I had to get this one right. I had to practice the chords (not too easy, and this is my own interpretation- I didn’t even use a book), plus get the intricate tune correct. There’s so many subtleties to this tune and NO ONE was writing pop music like this in 1963. Talk about ahead of their time.

Please visit my website at http://jimfusco.com for more great music–original songs! One of the main ideas behind doing all of these cover songs for the Laptop Sessions is that if you like the style of music that I do live performances of, you’ll also love my original music, too!  I really think that’s true- my original songs aren’t just throwbacks or anything like that.  They’re unique songs that put a modern twist on my favorite influences, including The Beach Boys, the Byrds, the Beatles, and the Moody Blues.  I hope you enjoy tonight’s Beach Boys cover song and I hope you’ll stay tuned for more.  Make sure to follow me on Twitter @jimfuscomusic so you always know the latest on my songwriting endeavors, too!


“Busy Doin’ Nothing” (Beach Boys Cover)

Originally posted 2008-01-22 12:31:45. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Back into my favorite domain: the obscure Beach Boys cover songs! Today’s song is by request, and I’ll tell you, it wasn’t easy.

I always loved the acoustic guitar part in “Busy Doin’ Nothing”, especially because there’s not too many acoustic-guitar driven Brian Wilson songs.

But, this song uses some crazy chords, including some that 99.9% of rock songs never use- kind of like old jazz chords.

Needless to say, I learned all these new chords and practiced it over and over again for this cover song music video. That same night, I made this recording. It was actually pretty easy because I knew the words completely by heart (any Beach Boys songs I can sing in my sleep). That’s always the hardest part of the Laptop Sessions- learning the chords to a cover song is easy, but if you forget the order of the verses (see Jeff’s post yesterday), you’re stuck.

About this song: From the Friends album, this tune (I always thought) kind of shows the state of mind Brian Wilson was in during the late 60s. I think after the craziness of SMiLE, he wanted to be at home. This song describes a “day in the life”. Although, I still don’t know why Brian Wilson had a “pocket book”! Reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where Jerry had the pocket-book: “It’s European!”  But seriously, “Busy Doin’ Nothing” doesn’t really sound like any other Beach Boys song.  It has it’s own sound, from the acoustic guitars (that I mentioned earlier) to the flutes.  It has the same bossa nova beat The Beach Boys were into during the Friends sessions, though.  I think The Beach Boys were looking for a way to forge their own niche.  After the SMiLE project broke down, the Beach Boys tried doing psychedelic music on “Smiley Smile”, but to me, it just didn’t work.  I can imagine that they didn’t want to always follow in the (large) footsteps of the Beatles.  At that time, they were working on the White Album and were going back to basics with their sound.  The Beach Boys kind of did that in a way, but they also changed their style.  It became more relaxed.  Beach Boy music was always peppy and fast-paced under the tutelage of Murray Wilson, the Wilson brothers’ father.  Under their own management, the Boys decided to take a more mellow approach.  It didn’t gain them much commercial success for quite a while, but I do look back on this period of albums fondly.

This is a big shout-out to all the Blueboarders (fans of Brian Wilson’s message board on his official website) that always give me encouragement and always want more videos! I have so many great cover song music videos up my sleeve, I can’t wait to release them to the world!  Enjoy tonight’s cover song video in the Beach Boys’ “Busy Doin’ Nothing” here on the Laptop Sessions acoustic cover songs music video blog!