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The Beach Boys were the 60s Californian Dream and here at Smooth we're celebrating ten of their best songs.
Composed by Brian Wilson, with words by cousin Mike Love, Good Vibrations has later been named a 'masterpiece' in rock music. Alongside traditional instruments such as cello and string bass, it also featured outlandish instruments such as a jaw harp and an Electro-Theremin. Its making cost between $50,000 and $75,000, the highest of any single ever produced at the time.
Ranked by Billboard as the second greatest song of 1963, many cite Surfin' U.S.A. as a peak of California Sound. Although did you know it's not an original melody? Brian Wilson's lyrics were in fact set to the tune of Sweet Little Sixteen by Chuck Berry.
The opening track of Pet Sounds, Wouldn't It Be Nice was composed by Brian Wilson with words by Tony Asher. That is until a 1990s court case when an additional credit was awared to Mike Love for the song's coda.
Help Me Rhonda was written and composed by Brian Wilson, with additonal lyrics by Mike Love. It was the group's second single to reach number one in the States and the lyrics told the tale of a young man asking a girl named Rhonda to help him get over his old love. Very sweet!
Released as the B-side of Wouldn't It Be Nice in the US, in other countries God Only Knows was the A-side. And for good reason, thought many! Historian John Robert Greene claimed it lead to the reinvention of the love song. Another example of the Beach Boys' pioneering, to refeence 'God' in the title was unheard of for a pop song at the time!
Written as a co-collaboration between Brian Wilson and Mike Love, California Girls featured on the album Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!), and allegedly was conceived by Wilson during his first acid trip! The lyrics centre upon, oddly enough, Brian Wilson's love of girls.
The band's first top ten single in the UK, I Get Around was the opening track on the band's 1964 album All Summer Long. Although the release of the single lead to greater international success for the group, internal dynamics appeared to be fizzing as Wilson's own father Murry was sacked as the group's manager during its recording!
Destined to be the centrepiece of the group's hugely ambitious never-to-be-released album Smile, Heroes and Villains instead became the followup to Good Vibrations. Intended to be a three minute musical comedy, according to Brian's wife Marilyn some of the heroes and villains in the song alluded to his own life...
Released a little later than the group's classic California Sound period, Surf's Up was no less ambitious in its scope. The title was an ironic allusion to the group's earlier surfing connection, but in fact nothing in the song was about surfing, and in fact followed a man through his symphonic spiritual awakening.
Noted for its a capella harmonies arrangement, this song was one of the Beach Boys' only covers. It was originally recorded by the Beach Boys' great friends the Ronettes in 1966, and was written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector. It's what many would call a classic cover.