Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Beach Boys/Beatles party

I’ve been listening to Beach Boys’ Party! quite a bit of late. As I’ve written elsewhere, Beach Boys’ Party! is a studio record that’s meant to sound like a hootenanny, complete with audience involvement, giddy chatter and lyrical flubs. In August of 1965, Capitol Records told the Beach Boys they would need to release an album for the Christmas season. Because Brian Wilson’s next planned project – Pet Sounds – was too ambitious to fit that timeframe, the band sought a quick fix in the “live party” concept. (Side-note: From a party album to Pet Sounds? What a titanic shift.) They also sped up the process by mainly recording covers, including three songs by The Beatles. Herein lies the album’s relevance to this blog. Below is a rundown of those covers.
- "I Should Have Known Better"
A standout from the band’s early-period repertoire and a personal favorite, “I Should Have Known Better” is easily the best of the bunch. Everything works. Its tone is perfect for the album’s staged atmosphere of merriment; the lyric and the melody make for a natural sing-a-long; and the Beach Boys perform it well, even adding some signature “bow-wows.” If only they would’ve scrapped their abbreviated version in favor of the whole song.
(If the video is removed, hit the link above.)
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- "Tell Me Why"
Another success, though a few notches below the first. Despite being a self-pitying lament, the song maintains a high energy level and boasts a roaring chorus – both of which likely appealed to the Beach Boys. I just wish they would’ve had more people join in for the climactic line, “'Cause I really can’t stand it/ I’m so in love with you.” It deserves more oomph.
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- "You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away"
A brutally mournful piece, the original is just not compatible with a revelrous environment. And while the Beach Boys limit the background noise on their rendition, there’s still enough included to ruin the performance. The boisterous pre-chorus “Hey” and the accompanying giggles strike precisely the wrong note. Heavy ballads need to be played straight.
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The Beach Boys also recorded a cover of “Ticket to Ride” for the album but I couldn't find a proper version on YouTube.

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