Mike Love isn't the villain he's made out to be.
Sure, he's a little aggro. But Mike Love also provided lead vocals to most of the band's best songs and wrote most of its non-gibberish lyrics. He wasn't wrong about the absurdity of "Cabinessence" or about Brian Wilson going off the rails on Smile. Love's uncle Murry Wilson fucked over everyone in the band by selling their publishing rights for pennies on the dollar—it wasn't just Murry's own kids who suffered. When Brian finally won $25 million in damages from the incident 30 years later, he refused to share it with Love, forcing Love to sue him and recover his own share. Given the way he's been treated by the Wilsons, Love is probably not wrong to insist on holding tight control of the band's name so he can make a living.
Smile and Smiley Smile are both garbage.
"Good Vibrations" is obviously great and "Heroes and Villains" is a very interesting piece of songwriting. But pretending the Smile project was good just because it was ambitious is, at best, disingenuous.
Beach Boys' Party! is the second-best Beach Boys album after Pet Sounds.
Party is a faux live album performed acoustically by the Beach Boys at what sounds like an intimate house party. The band was at its peak, and the album was made to stave off Capitol Records while Brian Wilson was finishing up Pet Sounds. It's one of the most unique records ever made and bursting with the band's talent and catchy pop hooks.
Murry Wilson was at least as talented as Van Dyke Parks.
Listen to Papa Wilson's 1967 solo record, The Many Moods of Murry Wilson, and Parks' 1967 solo record, Song Cycle, and tell me you don't believe Murry was a valuable and meaningful contributor to the Beach Boys' sound. Sure, he was abusive to his sons and a terrible businessman, but he also helped make the band a success.
"Kokomo" is awesome.
The 1988 comeback single gets a bad rap because it was a Love-led project and because John Stamos is in the video playing bongos while Brian Wilson is absent. But it's both a great song and worthy Caribbean coda to the band's earlier Pacific-focused work.
Dennis Wilson should have taken responsibility for his association with Charles Manson.
Look, we all like Dennis, even if Pacific Ocean Blue is critically overrated. But Dennis also brought the Manson family into the Beach Boys' fold despite seeing plenty of signs to suggest they were dangerous grifters. Dennis funded the Manson family, gave them a place to stay and introduced them to important people, including record producer Terry Melcher, who had lived in the house where actress Sharon Tate and four others were murdered by members of the Manson family. (Manson reportedly was looking for Melcher at the time.) According to Mike Love, Dennis witnessed Manson murder a black man and hide the body, but Dennis didn't come forward. If Dennis had gone to police, the later murders could have been avoided. Instead, Dennis left control of his house to Manson. Not cool, Dennis.
SEE IT: Brian Wilson presents Pet Sounds at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, on Friday, Oct. 7. 8 pm. $49.50-$94.50. All ages.