You need a mess of help to stand alone

A couple years back we posted a compilation of the weirdest, dumbest Beach Boys songs for a friend of ours, who often comments on the blog under the name Monkey Bunghole. He doesn’t like the Beach Boys. This promoted a series of increasingly irate messages from a fanatic out there on the internet, who reminded us at first that the Beach Boys were the greatest band in the history of rock and roll, and that people would assume we were ignorant for posting otherwise, before actually threatening us if we did not remove the offending remarks.

We could probably draw a parallel to the terrible events in Paris last month, but we at your friendly neighborhood record shop are hardly heroes of free speech for leaving our collection of bad Beach Boys songs intact. We politely asked our critic to keep his opinions to himself, and the entire episode reminded us of George Carlin’s comment on the Tennessee housewife who was so offended by the reference to masturbation in Prince’s “Darling Nikki” that she and her minister contacted their dear friend Al Gore and set into motion the PMRC hearings: “There’s two knobs on the radio, one turns it on and the other changes the station.”

Eventually we replied with a polite request to discontinue his messages and never heard from the #1 fan of “America’s Band” again. It’s probably a good thing he didn’t find this post in which we offered the heresy that Carl Wilson was our favorite Beach Boy.

We’re used to stepping in poo by expressing our views. When we wrote that Jack White had taken all the fun out of rock and roll, a half dozen people came in to comment. We’re not the only people unimpressed by his pig-in-lipstick, overpackaged publicity stunts masquerading as albums, but saying so somehow left us feeling like the little boy at the end of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Either way, bands without a bass player always suck. That’s just the way it is.

When we posted the five goofiest songs by Lambchop, Kurt Wagner himself thought it was good fun. It helps an awful lot that we’ve been telling people for years Lambchop is the most creative, consistently-awesome band still making records. The lesson, we suppose, is that some people can take a joke. Ironically, Lambchop once released a tour EP called Pet Sound Sucks.

You know you’re a fan of a band when you have all their oddball discs, which in the case of either the Beach Boys or Lambchop are difficult to find. We read once that the record collectors are most likely to have “doubled-up” in their collection is Pet Sounds. After reading that we were surprised to find three copies on our shelves at home. Of course, one could justify the redundancy because a fan will want to have the album in both its mono and stereo mix — an impulse that’s justified by the fact that Capitol Records once released a double-LP with each version on green and yellow vinyl.

Another strange double album in the Beach Boys’ catalog is the original release of Carl and the Passions — So Tough!, which Warner Bros. packaged with a reissue of Pet Sounds in 1972. While it take the form of a solo album for Carl (and takes its name from a band he led in high school), it’s actually just a continuation of the Beach Boys’ evolution with the youngest Wilson brother at the helm. Brian contributes some songs, including the first track, which Carl sings. We’ve always thought those few recordings from Surf’s Up through Holland are some of the Beach Boys’ most compelling.

carl and the passions

Any artist with more than three dozen albums is sure to have made a few stinkers, but hopefully has a gem or two in their catalog as well. Maybe somewhere in the next dozen albums Jack White will record something that isn’t generic and derivative, but we’re not holding our breath. We’ve never liked the sacred cow status given to so many subjects in a record shop — there’s nothing wrong with the fact our friend doesn’t like the Beach Boys, and nothing wrong with the fact we don’t like the White Stripes. There is, however, something very wrong with being told you have to appreciate something.


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