40 Years of Noe

Brian Wilson can smile #2004 #music #album

Back in the late 60s Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys was in friendly competition with the Beatles and at one point he tried to release an album entitled “Smile” but there were complications with the other bandmembers and the record companies. Also he was having a nervous breakdown and it was related to massive drug use. So the album was shelved and essentially never really saw the light of day. It was supposed to surpass the genius music of “Pet Sounds.” It was referred to it as a “teenage symphony to God.” 
Then suddenly after 35 years or so it was dug back out and Brian re-recorded the whole album as he intended with new musicians helping him out. The music is daring and is constantly changing shifts essentially every 30 seconds yet it is quite complex in composition. Smile is the most infamous recording in music history because it was never officially released when it was supposed to be. Then in 2004, it finally got released, albeit re-recorded but it’s probably the most accurate composition and as good as it’s going to get. 
The whole thing is whimsical and pays tribute to Americana themes such as heroes and villains. Eating your vegetables and brushing your teeth and with talks about the infamous Chicago fire and even throws in the pocket symphony known as “good vibrations” so it’s all over the place yet it really is a masterpiece. 


“Wouldn’t It Be Nice” If Their Songs Never Ended?

Holy Cow! I saw The Beach Boys! How awesome it was to be a part of this reunion tour, which was a tribute to their 50th anniversary together. Wow! Fifty years ago these guys were teenagers back then. The tickets were not cheap but worth every twenty-dollar bill. They were riding some cool bitching waves at the Chicago Theatre on Tuesday night in front of a sold out crowd.            The architecture in that building speaks for itself alone. The stage was well set up. There’s a projection screen in the background showing clips of cars, bikini babes, large surfboards on both ends of the musical playing field and nostalgic drive-in-theater classic images. Spotlights flashed all around the auditorium. It was gimmicky but I loved it! The crowd is still making their way to the seats. Hawaiian shirts were worn by all ages, not just the baby boomers. Beach balls are getting tossed around among the people on the floor and sometimes bouncing on the stage.

            I waited in anticipation to be transported back in time and enjoy the “good old days.” To celebrate what was about to occur, guys and girls sitting all around me were munching on fresh popcorn from paper replicas of the classic buckets. Of course, soda sipping was a real treat too! So there we were, about to become a part of history. These living legends came out from behind the curtains and just started playing immediately. It was one hit after another. I took notice of the white grand piano that the infamous Brian Wilson would soon be sitting at and playing. I was glad when he did. And so it began.

            There were fifteen musicians up there jamming away. Five of which were original members from the 60’s. That includes Al Jardine, Mike Love and, of course Brain Wilson. The rest of these solid musicians were excellent at providing percussions galore, dazzling saxophone moments, tight guitar playing and solos. A long first set was full of their tunes about surfing and hot rods. There was some stage banter but mostly a marathon of song after song after song. They certainly got the audience on their feet cheering.

            Mike Love was engaging as leader of the evening, while Brian, the quiet genius behind the scenes, carefully observed while playing the piano. He waited for his moment to shine with his “pet sounds” and “smiles.” His vocals on “Just Wasn’t Made For These Times,” while these blue lights wonderfully danced through the theatre, set a lively mood for this second half.

            I used to dismiss the Beach Boys as just surfin’ and California sunshine. But it really is more than that. Just listen to those deeply profound lyrics from the mind of Wilson. I have always said that he was so far ahead of his time that we still have not caught up to him yet. Part of his brilliance was the ability to take these simple lyrics that spoke of basic human feelings and create an emotional impact through his music and harmonies. The more you live, the better it gets.

            44 songs and their pleasure oozed from the band and we soaked it all up. We rejoiced at Wilson’s movements and gestures for a reason. Two decades since the group played together live and he hasn’t joined with them for a concert since the 70’s, due to his own illnesses and personal issues. Such sweet memories and performances in these treasured songs. They even had a tribute montage for the late Carl and Dennis Wilson during “God Only Knows” and “Forever.” Teary-eyed moments only made us appreciate how special this evening was for us.

            So with all of the clapping and dancing in the aisles we were feeling the “good vibrations.” For as long as these guys have been around the block, they’re vocal harmonies and playing were quite good! Easily they are one of the greatest bands in rock and roll history! I loved it! And yes….I bought a t shirt!


Albums That Changed My Life (Revised and Final)


Here’s My Top 30

Tool…….Undertow (a freshman at Marmion named Matt Duve introduced me to the band)
Pink Floyd…….The Division Bell (last studio album….yet a profound moment)
Captain Beefheart…..Troutmask Replica (crazy, insane, genius!)
The Beatles…..Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (peak performance)
Neko Case……Blacklisted (this opened my mind to new sounds)
Smashing Pumpkins…..Siamese Dream (rocked out to this in high school and college)
Pearl Jam…….Ten (same as above)
Guided By Voices……Propeller (Robert Pollard at his finest)
Radiohead…….The Bends (Should have won a Grammy for this one)
John Coltrane……A Love Supreme (greatest jazz album to ever be recorded)
Nine Inch Nails…..The Downward Spiral (Trent Reznor was never better to this day!)
Tom Waits…..The Black Rider (I feel like I am going crazy when I hear this)
Led Zeppelin…….IV (First rock album my dad played for me)
Creedance Clearwater Revival…..Chronicles (all you need to listen to in the car)
Minutemen…..Double Nickels On The Dime (Mike Watt inspired so many artists with his amazing bass)
The Replacements……Let It Be (Minneapolis music rocks)
The Who…..The Who Sell Out (this record was their most original piece of work)
The Rolling Stones…..Let It Bleed (If I had to pick just one, this would be it)
The Flaming Lips…..Clouds Taste Metallic (Wayne and the gang never sounded better and weird….its all about zoo animals)
Jefferson Airplane…..Surrealistic Pillow (Perhaps the quintessential album of the 1960’s)
Metallica…..Kill Em All (I did math homework to this album almost every day in high school)
Beck……Odelay (This should be in everyone’s collection)
Five Year Jacket….Hell For An Empty Heart (I saw Kevin and the gang so many times…to this day I think “Undone” is one of the greatest songs ever written)
Beach Boys….Pet Sounds (Proof that Brian Wilson was probably the greatest composer of our times, he was ahead of the game on this one…and those harmonies….wow!)
Pink Floyd…..Dark Side Of The Moon (listen to it while watching the wizard of oz)
Butthole Surfers…..Locust Abortion Technician (No one has ever recorded an album quite as psychotic as this one)
Syd Barrett…….The Madcap Laughs (Totally weird and awkward but it was pure genius)
Monster Magnet…..Superjudge (The first album I was turned on to in college)
Type O Negative…..October Rust (The greatest album to be associated with the autumn season…and its’s about werewolves too)
And finally…….Mazzy Star…..She Hangs Brightly (Very hypnotic, dark, haunting and soothing)

So many albums… difficult to explain the why’s and the whats. I will say that Pink Floyd had a monumental influence in my life! I will also say that they were pioneers of music. Sight and Sound coming together so brilliantly. I chose those 2 albums because they represent communication breakdown, the need to keep it alive, life, money, social differences, and the wonder & awe of life’s miracles. The rest of the albums I chose all have their unique memories. If you want to know the stories, just ask!

Top Ten of Ten

Top Ten of Ten: #5 The Beach Boys-Pet Sounds (1966)

195298289Ok so let’s get this out of the way. I am a true Beatles fan! I didn’t grow up with them because they broke up before I was even born. I did listen to them a lot as a child growing up in the late 70’s and 80’s. My dad played them many times. I began collecting their music in the early 90’s and I appreciate so much that they have done. But it’s so hard to narrow it down to one album. Sure I could say Sgt Pepper’s however, a thing changed for me in 1997. So for that last 14 years I can honestly say something profound that I am sure has been talked about forever. I noticed that the Beach Boys’ 1966 album Pet Sounds was continually mentioned. So in 1997 I officially became aware of this masterpiece. I always dismissed the Beach Boys as surfin’ and California sunshine. So, why the fuss surrounding Pet Sounds? “No one is educated musically until they’ve heard Pet Sounds…It is a total classic record that is unbeatable in many ways”, Paul McCartney once proclaimed. Wow was he right! Without Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper probably wouldn’t have happened… Pepper was actually an attempt to equal Pet Sounds. What the hell made countless other music stars bow to 1966’s Pet Sounds? I was about to find out. Listening to it numerous times I constantly kept saying that Brian Wilson  was so far ahead of his time that we still have not caught up to it yet. Brain Wilson intended for the album as a whole to have been one big hit, rather than just a song or two. It was the whole rather than the individual songs that was important. Part of his brilliance was the ability to take simple lyrics that spoke of basic human feelings and create an emotional impact through his music and harmonies. I remember reading somewhere that the more you live, the better it gets. Pet Sounds’ legacy is that it changed the way albums were recorded and created. What I found out was that this album not only is the best album from the 1960’s but actually paved the way for…..well more than one can possibly imagine.