“What you have in your hands is a hundred odd pages of Beach Boys history, couched in terms that even the most acolyte among you will find interesting, entertaining and informative.
Many different aspects of The Beach Boys’ musical career is discussed within, from an equally diverse group of contributors, most of whom hold pedigrees in the world of Beach Boys fandom.”
SMiLE, SUN, SAND & PET SOUNDS is similar to Domenic Priore's LOOK LISTEN VIBRATE SMILE in that it is also in a scrapbook format. However, where Domenic's scrapbook is a collection of various news articles and essays about the Smile album, SSSPS is a collection from one source: various articles from the now out-of-print BEST OF BEACH BOYS AUSTRALIA magazine. Plus, unlike Priore’s book, this one comes complete with an index for quick reference. I have to admit that what originally drove me to seek out this book was its title: SMiLE, SUN, SAND & PET SOUNDS. As a big SMiLE fan, I was game for ANY book on the subject! At first I was a little disappointed to find that the topics of SMiLE and PET SOUNDS only comprised about a quarter of the book. However, as I read on the other subjects covered fascinated me.
There are a handful of essays about the SMiLE album, both pro and con, which I found refreshing. One essay refers to the SMiLE album as “music to commit suicide by” and curiously divides the SMiLE songs along the two categories of: a) those worth releasing, and b) those best left on the shelf. The other SMiLE essays pretty much cover no new ground, one using the “formula used to program LP’s in the ‘60s” to come up with a SMiLE lineup. What is the formula? I’ll list it here because I found it useful (and fun) when comparing other “classic” ‘60s albums:
1) best (hit single)Various PET SOUNDS sessions and anecdotes are given, including chart action and official/unofficial release curios. The TRACK CURIOS section was very informative in that it goes into more depth on each song than the recent book, THE BEACH BOYS PET SOUNDS: THE GREATEST ALBUM OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY (my only complaint about that book). This article is a great companion to the DAVID PROKOPY PET SOUNDS SESSIONS cassette series [bootleg cassette-only collection similar to the DAVID PROKOPY SMILE SESSIONS collection].
Other trivia includes: interviews/discussions with Steve Desper, Terry Melcher and Russ Regan; facts behind THE BEACH BOYS: AN AMERICAN BAND & the ENDLESS SUMMER TV show; lists of Beach Boys song variations sprinkled throughout the book - meaning little nuances in the released versions of various songs are explored; lists of unofficial Brian Wilson CD’s and Beach Boys bootlegs from 1971-1994 (a little outdated now). There is an exhaustive review of 174 cover versions of Beach Boys/Brian Wilson compositions. Some of these I’ve heard before and many that I will seek out (Wall of Voodoo doing the Beach Boys?!).
What about the man that some Beach Boys fans LOVE to hate (no pun intended)? Yep, I’m talking about Mike Love. "The Correct Perspective On Mike Love" gives ammunition for all those who think Mike Love is the anti-Christ. In fact there are three articles about the Mike Love/Brian Wilson legal saga. You thought David Marks and Glen Campbell were the only ex-members of the ‘60s Beach Boys? Well, there is the story of “forgotten” Beach Boy Danny Hamilton. Thought SMiLE was the only “lost” Beach Boys album? Well, if you are to believe the anonymous author “the correct perspective”, the truly “lost” album was the pre-PET SOUNDS album titled REMEMBER THE ZOO? [I was so captivated by this article that I’ve devoted a separate story to it: see our ROCK ‘N ROLL CASE STUDY in this month’s issue]
Finally, my favorite part of the book was two sections that I wasn't expecting in a book with "SMiLE" and "Pet Sounds" in the title. I'm talking about the thorough analysis of Beach Boys surf & hot-rod tunes, along with a list of all the songs that fall within these genres, a glossary of surf/hot-rod terms and their use in Beach Boys lyrics. There is an essay of true "surf" rock and how the Beach Boys fit into the genre started by Dick Dale. Now I know what some of the lyrics actually mean in the Beach Boys songs that I’ve known for some 20+ years!
While I've only talked about half of the articles here, there are many more. This book is chocked full of fun Beach Boys factoids that you will come back to time and time again. But, I would only recommend it for the all-around Beach Boys fan, not the fan that is only interested in one period of the band, i.e. SMiLE. Ultimately, SMiLE, SUN, SAND & PET SOUNDS lives up to it’s forward, being “interesting, entertaining and informative”.