The other day I was deep in the rabbit hole known as YouTube and I came across some “lost” footage from what’s purported to be a recording session for The Beach Boys song, “Good Vibrations.” I had never seen it and it was fun to watch The Beach Boys and the session musicians from the Wrecking Crew recording the song. I posted it on facecrack and got a reply from David Lavallee saying he thought it was an edited piece because in the clip there’s someone playing acoustic bass.
That led to an online discussion including MBIP pal and contributor, Mike Foster. It also led me to thinking about that song and how it was the song where I believe The Beach Boys peaked and never came back from. Their whole career had been moving at a crazy musical growth, led by Brian Wilson working with different lyricists. When you consider the fact that they started out with what many considered a novelty song, “Surfin”, in 1961 and just five years later they released, “Good Vibrations,” it’s really crazy.
For me they really moved up the musical food chain in 1964 with “Help Me Rhonda.” Then, a year later in 1965 they outdid Rhonda with “California Girls,” which, for me, has one of the best and lush musical introduction to a rock ‘n’ roll song ever. Then on May 12, 1966, “Pet Sounds” was released. Brian Wilson has said that when had heard The Beatles album, Rubber Soul and that blew his mind and he was determined to make an album that good or better. And he did it. He created a musical masterpiece with Pet Sounds and most musicians wouldn’t have been able to top that LP.
But, just half a year later, “Good Vibrations” was released and he topped, “Pet Sounds.” That song was light years ahead of anyone at the time including the Fabulous Four. I’ve read that it took between four to six months to record and it cost between $50,000 to $75,000 to make. At the time that was the most money ever spent on recording a single 45 record. But it was money well spent. “Good Vibrations” became the Beach Boys third number one single in the states and the first number one single in Britain.
How do you top something like that? You don’t. After “Good Vibrations,” Brian Wilson went to work with Van Dyke Parks on an album he hoped would take his musical vision even further out there, but he ended up stunted by drug use and being criticized and misunderstood by the other Beach Boys, especially Mike Love. He shelved the “Smile” project and went to his bedroom and went crazy for the better part of a decade.
In the end, he never topped, “Good Vibrations,” but that’s one hell of a piece of music to hit your peak with. Here’s the clip I mentioned at the top of this post along with some other videos I’ve found of “Good Vibrations.”
Below is a promotional video the band made for "Good Vibrations."
This is a video featuring members of the famed Los Angeles Wrecking Crew talking about the making of "Good Vibrations."
Here's The Beach Boys in the early '70's lip synching to an alternative take of "Good Vibrations." Listen for the different section added at the 2:55 minute mark.
Below is a mini documentary about Pet Sounds. "Good Vibrations" is discussed at the thrity minute, fifty second mark.
And finally, here's the Beach Boys playing "Good Vibrations" live without Brian Wilson.
I’m on the Big Perm Show tonight!
Tonight starts a weekly time slot for me on The Big Perm Show. I’m not sure what I’ll be talking about, but tune in at 9:30PM tonight and I’m sure I’ll think of something! You can listen online here: The Big Perm Show. The guests tonight are the always entertaining Greg Batton and Ken Zurski. Check it out and see what happens, it’s live and uncensored! Click here to listen, the show starts at 8PM and I'm on at 9:30PM!