Sunday, June 30, 2024

The Beach Boys: Turn That Frown Upside Down, 1967-71

 Aloha, one and all!

    This month's post is just a bit of fun. I'd been listening to the Beach Boys lately and the story of their years as a band is at turns fascinating, infuriating and tragic. After hitting their peak in late 1966, at which point they were relatively successful in competing with the Beatles album to album, things came crashing down over the next few years. The following essay gives some insight into that period and the years that followed; by 1971, the Beach Boys were generally ignored in the press and struggling to keep things together. The years from 1967 to '71 were not kind to the group and they made a number of serious missteps--aborted albums, missed festivals, associations with convicted murderers--but despite this, they were still making some fantastic music well worth a listen. 

 After the article, I've put together a Spotify playlist featuring music from the years 1967 through '71, or you can jump to it HERE.

    For those not really familiar with the Beach Boys, the following links will give you a quick review of their pre-Good Vibrations hits. 'The Beach Boys Medley' (released in '81) features many of their hits from 1961 to 1966; a longer version with more songs can be heard here. As their primary songwriter (with various lyrical partners), Brian Wilson was the driving force and a lot of his musical and harmonic development can be heard in the 'Beach Boys Ballad Medley' released the same year. Notable in both of these medleys is that in the early days the Beach Boys played the instruments themselves for the most part, but as Brian's abilities and ambitions grew, he started bringing in session musicians particularly from the Wrecking Crew (such as Hal Blaine), who had worked principally as Phil Spector's house band, along with orchestral musicians. By the time of 'Pet Sounds', as the other Beach Boys were on tour, Brian worked in the studio writing, arranging and producing the band's new music--with the exception of brothers Carl, Dennis and Brian himself on a few tracks, session musicians played everything else. As ambitious as 'Pet Sounds' and the following single 'Good Vibrations', 'SMiLE' was intended as Brian's "teenage symphony to God," but things fell apart and neither the band nor Wilson ever truly recovered.

More than enough preamble! 

Enjoy, DH


1. "Brian is back!"     2. a TV program    3. this one    4. the most recent    

I will publish another page with the complete playlist and some brief notes on the albums and songs featured in the near future, but for now I hope you enjoy this musical exploration into this oft forgotten period of a significant band's history.

Until next time!