Why is The Beach Boys’ The Beach Boys Today! on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
Brian Wilson and the Boys get into more mature, interesting, and nuanced territory versus the early hits.
What does The Beach Boys’ The Beach Boys Today! mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
My relationship with and appreciation for The Beach Boys has had a few distinct phases over the course of my life.
I would say from my childhood through my early twenties or so, I was casually aware of The Beach Boys and thought they were fine, good but not great. I vaguely classified them as a pioneering American surf rock group, I suppose, the guys who pumped out early ‘60s hits like “Surfin’ Safari” and “Surfing U.S.A.”
Then, during roughly the ’80s to early ’90s, as older rock n’ roll guys I’d see them on television, wearing those weird kind of old guy sailing hats and crooning songs like “Kokomo.”
And I suppose I’d occasionally get blindsided by other kinds of Beach Boys music. “The Warmth of the Sun” from the Good Morning Vietnam soundtrack, for instance. Or I’d catch a very different, trippy kind of song like “Good Vibrations” and think, that’s the same Beach Boys doing that??
Probably at some point my Beatles obsession broadened into learning about how Brian Wilson’s real obsession with the Fab Four and Sgt. Pepper’s caused him to push himself to the point of madness and at the same time new musical heights for the band that at once time seemed more suited to accompany Beach Blanket Bingo – a Beach Boys era itself that I appreciate much more as I’ve gotten older.
Which brings us to The Beach Boys Today!, which really comes just in between those two eras — before Pet Sounds but after the early hits. What I hear in this album is Brian Wilson and the Boys getting into more mature, interesting, and nuanced territory versus the early stuff.
“When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)” is a great example. It’s instantly recognizable as a Beach Boys song, but it’s got rich textures, highly refined harmonies, and song construction that keeps you interested throughout.
“Please Let Me Wonder,” on the other hands, sounds much less like “The Beach Boys” than anything we’ve heard in the past, in a highly successful way. It’s a subtle mid-‘60s crooner with richly textured background harmonies and little eclectic flourishes, and sets the stage for the wild experimentation that Brian Wilson would get into before long.
And then songs like “Dance, Dance, Dance” are upbeat rockers that tie back to their earlier way yet remain fresh, interesting, and help the prompting of the dance, dance, dancing with the youth folk plus other folk of the era.
Some stats & info about The Beach Boys – The Beach Boys Today!
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? SoCal Bands, Rock, Rock Music, Surf Rock, Garage Rock
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – #466
- All Music’s rating – 5 out of 5 stars
- When was The Beach Boys Today! released? 1965
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #895 out of 1,000
The Beach Boys’ The Beach Boys Today! on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective take on what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.