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Monday, December 21, 2009

The Beach Boys Christmas Album

Christmas time just isn't Christmas time without five part harmony. Every year I find that I have to play the Beach Boys Christmas Album at least once. When I decided to record my own Christmas songs, there was no choice but to try to tip my hat to their harmonies. I know that I can't even compare to Brian Wilson, but I had to pay homage.

Brian Wilson came up with such great arrangements of classic Christmas songs, but most people forget that without the Beach Boys Christmas album there might not have been a Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album by the Beatles, and the entire history of Rock n' Roll would have turned out completely different.

Back when the Beatles were recording Sgt. Pepper's, they were listening to Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys, which has the immortal classic "God Only Knows," reportedly Paul McCartney's favorite song.

But there would have been no Pet Sounds without the Beach Boys Christmas album. When the Beach Boys went to record the album, it was the first of their albums that featured an orchestra. The orchestra would play a pivotal role in future Beach Boys projects from Pet Sounds to the aborted Smile album that finally saw the light of day a few years ago with Brian Wilson's current band. But the Christmas album was apparently Wilson's first chance at working with an orchestra.

A few years ago Brian Wilson re-recorded a lot of the songs from that album, and sang lead. Though I love the Beach Boys and really respect Brian Wilson, the one thing that he doesn't seem to get, is that Mike Love was the voice of the Beach Boys. The other guys sang a lot, but it was Mike's voice that is the sound most people think of first when they think of the Beach Boys. I think it's sad that Brian re-records a lot of the classics with out Mike. In the press there seems to be a lot of law suits between them, and to the casual observer it seems that Brian is upset with Mike and wants to create versions of the songs he can listen to without listening to Mike. I don't know if this is true or not, but it seems like it might be. When he finally finished Smile, I noticed that Brian re-recorded "Good Vibrations," with totally different words, and took Mike's credit as a co-writer off of the album liner notes.

So what does all of this rambling have to do with the Christmas album? Well, Christmas is the time to remember Jesus' birth, and Jesus taught us to forgive each other. I think it would do the entire world a great deal of good if Brian Wilson and Mike Love would put aside their differences, and bring Al and Bruce back into the studio for one last Beach Boy album. I know they're getting old, but I'm sure if they used Brian's back up band for filler they could come up with one last great Summer album. Or maybe even a better sequel to the Christmas album than the never finished attempt from the 70's, that was included on the remaster of the Christmas album.

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