By Jim Fusco:
THE BEACH BOYS TODAY!
Dance, Dance, Dance – 8
Kiss Me, Baby – 9.5
Please Let Me Wonder – 9 (I actually like the arrangement on the “Live at the Roxy” CD better- which really doesn’t fit with my stance on live versions…)
She Knows Me Too Well – 8 (What an ending! Probably one of the best endings ever)
When I Grow Up – 7 (This song is great, don’t get me wrong, but when I first learned it, I always found it to be a bit boring. But, the subject matter is amazing.)
Help Me, Ronda – 6 (I love this song, but sadly, not this version.)
Do You Wanna Dance? – 7 (Great Denny vocal here and I consider this the “standard” version of the song)
Good to My Baby – 7.5 (I love the style of this song, the great guitar riff, and the a capella vocals in the beginning)
*Dance, Dance, Dance (alternate) – 6 (Why do the unreleased alternate takes always sound so tinny?)
Don’t Hurt My Little Sister – 5 (Funny story about this song- my friends and I talk in the tune of this song! I know it sounds weird, and that’s because it is. We’ll say any line with seven syllables to the tune of this song, for instance, “Did you go buy the hot dogs?” Sing it- it fits!)
I’m So Young – 6 (This has some interesting sounds to it. Even though I like Dennis’ part at the end, it’s a bit out of his range)
*Graduation Day – 5 (Great harmonies, just not exactly “engaging”)
In the Back of My Mind – 6.5 (This is a great song with a personal message from Brian Wilson shroud in the vocals of Dennis Wilson. He really nails this and the tune is so unique that I have to give it a good rating)
*I’m So Young (alternate) – 5
Bull Session with the “Big Daddy” – 1
** This is clearly one of the Boys’ best albums of all-time. The production quality, although mixed in mono (which I’m not a fan of, growing up in the surround-sound age), is great. I do miss the Boys playing their own instruments, as they did on the Christmas album’s first side, but the song quality is so good here, that I can look far past it.
I think, without using composite song scores, but ranking albums as “albums”, that this would probably end up in the Top 5 for me. With it would be “Holland”, “Sunflower”, “Pet Sounds”, and the fifth spot is up for grabs. Of course, everyone knows by now my affinity for the ’85 album, but I do value my life, here! 🙂
As a bit of genealogy to my Beach Boys past, we actually started with Pet Sounds (after the Greatest Hits, of course), which we got in 1992. I was 8. Talk about starting with some heavy stuff! But, we hear it over and over and over and over again. My father couldn’t get enough. We listened to “God Only Knows” about three times a day for a year- I’m not exaggerating. It was like Brian Wilson listening to “Be My Baby”. We then moved on (because many of the Beach Boys albums weren’t so easy to find) to the Box Set that just came out in 1992. Now, you have an 8 year old kid listening to Smile!! But, I do think that listening to, and really getting into, such deep and complex music at the age of 8 helped me to grow into a musician and songwriter at an early age. And, thus, is the reason why Brian Wilson will always be my musical idol.
Well, enough about me- this album’s great, and it’s only gonna get better for me, as I’m such a fan of the other band members’ compositions that I can’t wait for the “Sunflower” days! **
Good review of Today! – I’d add Summer Day (and Summer Nights!) as that 5th album. It is kind of lost between Today! and Pet Sounds but it has two monster hits (Cal Girls and HMR (the hit version)), several fun tunes, Girl From NY City (aka Leslie Gore), Let Him Run Wild (what the Beatles would sound like if Brian produced them).
Also, Bull Session deserves more than a 1 ranking – Content is superfluous – It hints at Brian’s creative, out-of-the-box approach; a precursor to his original intent for SMiLE as a album of humor.
Thank you for the comment! I do enjoy “Summer Days”, but for me, it’s just not as good as “Today”. Although, “Let Him Run Wild” is one of my absolute favorite songs. The production and Brian’s vocals are just perfect.
Thanks again and welcome to the site!