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Author Topic: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?  (Read 22834 times)
Mr. Cohen
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« on: April 14, 2013, 10:07:15 PM »

Over time, I've come to prefer the early material to what the BBs did later. I started out with Smile and Pet Sounds, but over time, I've come to appreciate the honesty and vitality of the BBs hit period more. The songs were just so... American. The rollicking shuffle beat, the pop culture lyrics. In many ways, songs like "I Get Around" are still what young people are all about - it's just become unfashionable to be so honest and clear about it.  I always come back to a quote "by" Mike Love in An American Family: "Those songs are who we are." Or when Sean Hagan said Brian was an avant-garde artist and Joe Thomas roughly responded with, "Not the Brian I know."

I believe "California Girls" is the BBs top masterpiece. I prefer "Rock & Roll Music" and "It's OK" to at least half of Smile. Smile is too slow, ponderous, and abstract from an emotional standpoint in comparison. I'd take "Little Deuce Coupe" over "Hang Onto Your Ego" each and every time, too. Don't get me wrong, Pet Sounds is a masterpiece and definitely quite honest, but that's where the hip posturing starts to creep in. For me, honestly, it's where the Beach Boys end. After that point, the group just became a talented collection of individuals. The angel had fallen from the group's graces.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to listen to "Wendy" again.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2013, 10:08:13 PM by Murry » Logged
AvanTodd
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« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2013, 10:27:04 PM »

No.  Smile is the best thing they ever did.
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goodtimer
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« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2013, 10:27:41 PM »

I guess everyone is entitled to their opinions but the musical quality of the beach boys 65-73 is just some of the best music you'll ever hear, the surfin, car and california chicks songs are real catchy and some of them are just as good as Pet Sounds material, but in my opinion, starting from Today, overall the music is better, i didn't get the whole SMiLE thing at first either but i started listening it by bits and i started to like it, and now i absolutely love it and don't waste any chance to listen it from our prayer to good vibrations.
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Mike's Beard
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« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2013, 11:38:50 PM »

Differs from song to song. Something like All Summer Long beats the pants off of stuff like Barnyard or Vegetables for me but songs such as Surfs Up and Good Vibrations are obviously superior to something like Denny's Drums or Carl's Big Chance. I'd say the best of the early days can stand proud with all but the very best of the Smile era.
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« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2013, 11:44:17 PM »

The early years were and are very accessible.

Pet Sounds and Smile are much more groundbreaking but demand closer attention.

Wild Honey through Holland was a nice blend of both heavier and simply fun things.

Myself I feel nearly everything through 1973 is gold so no need to pit them against each other.
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Micha
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« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2013, 12:42:02 AM »

You can have this opinion or the other, but you can't take either as fact. SMiLE is more complex musically, but does that equal "better"? For instance "Girls On The Beach" is more complex than "Surfer Girl", but I prefer "Surfer Girl". "Here Today" is more complex than "The Lonely Sea", I prefer the former but I'm sure there's people who prefer the latter.

Then there's the problem that SMiLE wasn't finished in its day. "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" moves me more than any version of "Surf's Up", but that could be different if Brian had been able to finish the song in 1967. CIFOTM works great within the movement suite, but I don't think it does as a standalone track. "I Get Around" does, so IMHO IGA is better than CIFOTM.

We need an abbreviation index. Cheesy
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Cabinessenceking
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« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2013, 01:28:12 AM »

Over time, I've come to prefer the early material to what the BBs did later. I started out with Smile and Pet Sounds, but over time, I've come to appreciate the honesty and vitality of the BBs hit period more. The songs were just so... American. The rollicking shuffle beat, the pop culture lyrics. In many ways, songs like "I Get Around" are still what young people are all about - it's just become unfashionable to be so honest and clear about it.  I always come back to a quote "by" Mike Love in An American Family: "Those songs are who we are." Or when Sean Hagan said Brian was an avant-garde artist and Joe Thomas roughly responded with, "Not the Brian I know."

I believe "California Girls" is the BBs top masterpiece. I prefer "Rock & Roll Music" and "It's OK" to at least half of Smile. Smile is too slow, ponderous, and abstract from an emotional standpoint in comparison. I'd take "Little Deuce Coupe" over "Hang Onto Your Ego" each and every time, too. Don't get me wrong, Pet Sounds is a masterpiece and definitely quite honest, but that's where the hip posturing starts to creep in. For me, honestly, it's where the Beach Boys end. After that point, the group just became a talented collection of individuals. The angel had fallen from the group's graces.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to listen to "Wendy" again.

I agree with your sentiment, and I can also say that I've safely removed Holidays and Barnyard from my Beach Boys playlist. The early hits are either very endearing to me or mean nothing at all, quite funny really. Interesting you should mention RnR Music and It's OK, the latter being fantastic in its single version form. However the versions of both on 15BO are really horrible.

15BO would've benefitted from being sped up actually ^^

The early hits are great nonetheless!!!  Grin
« Last Edit: April 15, 2013, 01:33:41 AM by Cabinessenceking » Logged
The Heartical Don
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« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2013, 02:02:57 AM »

The early years were and are very accessible.

Pet Sounds and Smile are much more groundbreaking but demand closer attention.

Wild Honey through Holland was a nice blend of both heavier and simply fun things.

Myself I feel nearly everything through 1973 is gold so no need to pit them against each other.

Couldn't have put it better myself.

At any rate, IMHO we're talking about music styles that can't really be compared. The difference is so huge... I love Herman Melville, and I love Charles Dickens, but I would never ask myself: who's the better writer?
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OneEar/OneEye
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« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2013, 07:58:53 AM »

It's almost like comparing two different groups, which in a sense it is, even though the same people were involved.   Neither period is "better", they're just completely different.   Sometimes it's just easier to listen to the earlier stuff because it's less challenging, it doesn't require as much of the listener in terms of emotional investment.   
One thing I feel too, Smile is much better when pared down.   To me, Smile as released, is way too long, it seems to go on forever.  After Surf's Up finishes, there's such an emotional release that to then be followed by the third movement it's like, "There's more?!"    To me it feels longer than it actually is.  Smiley Smile has the same time stretching quality (I think because there's so much going on in such a compact span) - it's a short album, but seems (to me) much longer than it is, and because of it's actual brevity it works better than the Smile album.  Pare Smile down and you have a more manageable listening experience
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bonnevillemariner
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« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2013, 09:16:13 AM »

This is an extremely general observation, but I see Pet Sounds as the culmination of everything the Boys were doing to that point.  GV (although not on Pet Sounds) is the perfect example of that.  To me, Smile is more like a movie soundtrack.  No artists specifically come to mind, but you'll have an artist that releases straight albums and then provides a soundtrack to a film.  Same artist but totally different kinds of music.  I can't say which is "better" because the intent with each, it seems, is quite different.

To me-- and again this is very general and perhaps personal to me-- there are three eras or categories:

1. Surfin' Safari to Party!
2. Pet Sounds/Smile
3. Smiley Smile to SIP

I prefer eras 1 and 2 to 3 by a wide margin.
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bonnevillemariner
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« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2013, 09:19:37 AM »

Sometimes it's just easier to listen to the earlier stuff because it's less challenging, it doesn't require as much of the listener in terms of emotional investment.

Should music be challenging?  Not sure I want to be challenged.  Should I have to put forth some effort to invest emotion?  Or would truly good music suck me in, and I've invested emotion before I realize it?  I have a hard time with music (BB or other) that I need to understand the writer or producer's frame of mind to see what genius it is. 
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pixletwin
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« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2013, 09:21:24 AM »

In the morning I prefer eggs and oatmeal for breakfast. At dinner I prefer something more meat and cheese oriented... doesn't mean I like one more than the other. It's the same with BB music in various eras. In some moods I Get Around or Surfin' USA don't satisfy. But when the mood is right, watch out!
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SMiLE Brian
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« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2013, 09:51:19 AM »

I played the whole endless summer album at the end of a long night of partying and it was amazing.
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« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2013, 09:54:49 AM »

The word better does not work for me either in this case. I love Smile and I love the early stuff as much if not slightly more, even though I admit Smile is Brian's best work.

This is a good opportunity to point out something a lot of folks here (Mike bashers in particular) seem to forget. The Beach Boys spent years recording and TRYING to sell records after the demise of Smile. The public did not care anymore (reasons aside) and the Boys no longer had much success making hits and selling records like the early days. Over these years there were almost NO songs or references to cars, surfing or beaches. Then, in 1974 Endless Summer sells millions of copies and brings thousands of new fans to a group who's glory days were seemingly well behind them. That did not just happen because there was a nostalgia craze going on,..........it happened because the early stuff is utterly amazing. It did not matter that the lyrics were about simpler times gone by, it sold millions of copies because it SOUNDED incredible.....and it always will.
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Nicko1234
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« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2013, 10:22:01 AM »

Yeah, I think much of the Smile stuff is excellent but there are countless great songs on the first several albums. Some of said songs are certainly better than some of the Smile stuff such as Vegetables. I think if Vegetables had been recorded at any other time in the group's career it would have been largely forgotten by now.
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« Reply #15 on: April 15, 2013, 02:04:09 PM »

Yes. But, obviously hard to measure such different music against one another.
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Pinder's Gone To Kokomo And Back Again
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« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2013, 02:52:39 PM »

The word better does not work for me either in this case. I love Smile and I love the early stuff as much if not slightly more, even though I admit Smile is Brian's best work.

This is a good opportunity to point out something a lot of folks here (Mike bashers in particular) seem to forget. The Beach Boys spent years recording and TRYING to sell records after the demise of Smile. The public did not care anymore (reasons aside) and the Boys no longer had much success making hits and selling records like the early days. Over these years there were almost NO songs or references to cars, surfing or beaches. Then, in 1974 Endless Summer sells millions of copies and brings thousands of new fans to a group who's glory days were seemingly well behind them. That did not just happen because there was a nostalgia craze going on,..........it happened because the early stuff is utterly amazing. It did not matter that the lyrics were about simpler times gone by, it sold millions of copies because it SOUNDED incredible.....and it always will.

+++++++1
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Summer_Days
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« Reply #17 on: April 15, 2013, 02:52:58 PM »

Depends. 'The Warmth of the Sun', 'Let Him Run Wild', 'Kiss Me Baby', 'In The Back of My Mind', 'The Little Girl I Once Knew', 'Please Let Me Wonder', and others I find particularly more enjoyable to listen to though not necessarily "better"; more like I love them more. I dunno. It's all brilliant Brian Wilson music, so in a way, it's all of a piece, no matter how different 'I Get Around' might seem from 'Surf's Up' (even if the latter might be the better tune, I could easily see why someone would prefer the former over it).


The word better does not work for me either in this case. I love Smile and I love the early stuff as much if not slightly more, even though I admit Smile is Brian's best work.

This is a good opportunity to point out something a lot of folks here (Mike bashers in particular) seem to forget. The Beach Boys spent years recording and TRYING to sell records after the demise of Smile. The public did not care anymore (reasons aside) and the Boys no longer had much success making hits and selling records like the early days. Over these years there were almost NO songs or references to cars, surfing or beaches. Then, in 1974 Endless Summer sells millions of copies and brings thousands of new fans to a group who's glory days were seemingly well behind them. That did not just happen because there was a nostalgia craze going on,..........it happened because the early stuff is utterly amazing. It did not matter that the lyrics were about simpler times gone by, it sold millions of copies because it SOUNDED incredible.....and it always will.

++++ infinity
« Last Edit: April 15, 2013, 02:56:33 PM by Summer_Days » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: April 15, 2013, 02:56:29 PM »

Smile is a gorgeous anomaly but it is all beautiful surface and doesn't have the heart of the earlier stuff.
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« Reply #19 on: April 15, 2013, 03:20:19 PM »

Smile is a gorgeous anomaly but it is all beautiful surface and doesn't have the heart of the earlier stuff.

Wow.  You say that as though it's fact.  Although I normally appreciate your posts, I don't think you could be more wrong about that.

The earlier stuff is fine in context, but I really dislike the romanticizing some on this board do about the surf and hot rod songs.  Those subjects weren't in their hearts.  They weren't surfers (except one of them), and they weren't drag racers.  They picked those topics because they thought they would sell records, and they did.

This isn't to criticize the early material, but c'mon, some of you are starting to sound like Bruce ("the only four-letter words we use are 'cars', 'surf' and 'girl'.").  It's not true when he says it, and it isn't true when you say it.
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the captain
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« Reply #20 on: April 15, 2013, 03:32:17 PM »

Smile is a gorgeous anomaly but it is all beautiful surface and doesn't have the heart of the earlier stuff.

Wow.  You say that as though it's fact.  Although I normally appreciate your posts, I don't think you could be more wrong about that.

The earlier stuff is fine in context, but I really dislike the romanticizing some on this board do about the surf and hot rod songs.  Those subjects weren't in their hearts.  They weren't surfers (except one of them), and they weren't drag racers.  They picked those topics because they thought they would sell records, and they did.

This isn't to criticize the early material, but c'mon, some of you are starting to sound like Bruce ("the only four-letter words we use are 'cars', 'surf' and 'girl'.").  It's not true when he says it, and it isn't true when you say it.

You can't confuse historical accuracy of or personal experience with subject matter with having heart.
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« Reply #21 on: April 15, 2013, 03:34:27 PM »

The thread asks what I think and that is what I think. Your mileage may vary.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2013, 03:37:50 PM by Cam Mott » Logged

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« Reply #22 on: April 15, 2013, 03:53:31 PM »


The earlier stuff is fine in context, but I really dislike the romanticizing some on this board do about the surf and hot rod songs.  Those subjects weren't in their hearts.  They weren't surfers (except one of them), and they weren't drag racers.  They picked those topics because they thought they would sell records, and they did.

This isn't to criticize the early material, but c'mon, some of you are starting to sound like Bruce ("the only four-letter words we use are 'cars', 'surf' and 'girl'.").  It's not true when he says it, and it isn't true when you say it.

What the boys sang and the music that Brian created in the early days is full of heart. In fact, they put more heart into the singing of 'The Warmth of the Sun' than 'Our Prayer', and you can feel that. Plus, summing up The Beach Boys' early sixties, pre-Today song being full of topics that wasn't in their hearts, well what about love songs? I mean, isn't that what Pet Sounds is? 'The Warmth of the Sun' is equally as beautiful as 'God Only Knows' even if it is less complex.
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« Reply #23 on: April 15, 2013, 03:56:09 PM »

In fact, they put more heart into the singing of 'The Warmth of the Sun' than 'Our Prayer', and you can feel that.

Um.  No, I can't.
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Nicko1234
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« Reply #24 on: April 15, 2013, 04:05:05 PM »

I would agree that it sounds like there is more heart in many of the songs before Smile.
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