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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Beach Boys: Shut Down Volume 2


1) Fun, Fun, Fun; 2) Don't Worry Baby; 3) In The Parkin' Lot; 4) Cassius Love Vs. Sonny Wilson; 5) The Warmth Of The Sun; 6) This Car Of Mine; 7) Why Do Fools Fall In Love; 8) Pom Pom Play Girl; 9) Keep An Eye On Sum­mer; 10) Shut Down, Part II; 11) Louie Louie; 12) Denny's Drums.

WARNING: As a sincerely committed, responsible father, I feel professionally obliged to state that the song 'Fun, Fun, Fun' by the popular American band that surreptitiously calls itself "The Beach Boys" (a highly suspicious fact, considering how few witnesses ever noticed members of this band near an actual beach) is one of the most morally endangering, spiritually corruptive by-products of the pop music industry, intentionally designed to lead the young people of America and the world into the temptation of easy-going pleasures, debauchery, and degradation.

Doubt my words? Armed with concrete evidence, I will prove to you that the song 'Fun, Fun, Fun' was created by the Devil in person — promoting, in one way or another, all of the seven deadly sins AT ONCE. Just look here. First, the protagonist is openly stated as having pilfered her daddy's car — GREED, logically leading to illegal thieving activity. Second, what is her first selected destination? "Cruising through the hamburger stand" — GLUTTONY, bright and clear as the morning sun. Then, of course, "the girls can't stand her 'cause she walks, looks and drives like an ace now" — ENVY, ladies and gentlemen, promoted and stimulated by the young girl's rash, irresponsible activity, poetized by this suspicious band. And on the girl's side? Why, PRIDE, of course: "She makes the Indy 500 look like a Roman chariot race now".

Yet the worst is still ahead. With her thoughtless behaviour, she has provoked her formerly in­telligent and rational parents into the deadly sin of WRATH — "Your dad was gettin' wise to you now, you shouldn't have lied now" is but an indirect hint at the ensuing family scandal that, no doubt, included elements of heavy verbal abuse and, who knows, perhaps even corporeal punishment. Does that, however, stop the unrepenting teenager? Not at all! As she is slowly sin­king into the subtle, but firm sin of ACEDIA — "You've been thinking that your fun is all through now", sing these false prophets, implying that there is little more to life than mindless, shameful hedonism — the final blow is delivered: "You can come along with me 'cause we got a lot of things to do now", says a certain Mr. Michael Edward Love (or should we call him "Mr. Michael Edward Lust?"), clearly implying that the doomed teen is just about to be led into the deadliest sin of them all — FORNICATION.

In the light of this thoroughly irrefutable evidence, I have no choice but to recommend black­listing the song on all family-oriented radio stations and adopting radical measures to prevent mu­sic created by this so-called «pop band» from ever reaching the ears of the young generation of today, whose still developing spirit should instead benefit from the much better pronounced tra­ditional Christian values of such inspired artists as Ms. Taylor Swift, Ms. Selena Gomez, Ms. Anna Margaret, and, of course, Ms. Rebecca Black, whose own attitude on the questionable ac­tivity of «having fun» is far more restrained, healthy, and reflects reasonable, caring, God-loving upbringing on the part of her esteemed parents.

As a sidenote, I would also like to remark that, with the above-mentioned so-called «pop song» 'Fun, Fun, Fun', the alleged «Beach Boys» themselves have demonstrated recidivist criminal be­haviour: less than a year after having been caught red-handed while shamelessly stealing a melo­dy written and copyrighted by Mr. Chuck Berry, they have now gone on record doing it once again, considering that the opening guitar solo on 'Fun, Fun, Fun' is an almost note-for-note re­production of the guitar solo that opens Mr. Chuck Berry's own 'Roll Over Beethoven'. In fact, once I suffered through the misfortune of putting on this record, I first thought that I was going to be treated to a faithful cover of Mr. Chuck Berry's song (a fine piece of work, that, affirming the strong, healthy values of traditional American music over the effeminate sissy-pissy excesses of decadent European composers). One can only imagine my profound disappointment and sense of shock fifteen seconds into the song — of course, I still had to sing along and tap my foot right down to the very last note, but it's the Devil made me do it, swear to God.

As a postscriptum, here is some extra info on this album I've found, written by some Russian guy with an unpronounceable name. I'm not responsible for his opinions, mind you — it's just that I cannot bring myself to providing any further information on this band that is so clearly aiming for a kind of Herostratean fame.

«...another quick cash-in with a small bunch of classics and a large bunch of filler. Approximately half of the album is really good, with 'Fun, Fun, Fun' illustrating the band's rapid progress in wri­ting catchy fast classics (although Carl's ripping off Chuck Berry in the intro is somewhat too ob­vious), and 'Don't Worry Baby' being Brian's first successful attempt at getting a genuine Phil Spec­tor-ish sound with just a few clever vocal overdubs and some nice echo effects — basically, a terrific illusion of a wall of sound without any actual «walling».

These are the two perennial classics, plus you have two gorgeous, but self-derivative ballads in the old style ('The Warmth Of The Sun' and 'Keep An Eye On Summer', written in the same vein as 'Your Summer Dream' etc.), and there is another beautiful cover, that of Frankie Lymon's 'Why Do Fools Fall In Love?' (a song that now seems to have been written almost specially for Brian and the boys' harmonies, despite coming out six years earlier).

Other than that, Shut Down Vol. 2 seems to be the album in the Beach Boys catalog that is just proverbially riddled with stupidities. Stupid is the name itself, sending unsuspecting fans (par­ti­cularly unfortunate for later-day fans) in search of Vol. 1 (which did indeed come out in 1963, but was an all-star hot rod compilation, with only 'Shut Down' and '409' from the Boys themselves).

Stupid are filler tracks like 'In The Parkin' Lot' and 'This Car Of Mine', retrograde Mike Love-fests that would have been alright on Surfin' USA but, by now, were already obsolete in the light of Bri­an's progress (granted, Mike didn't have anything to do with the writing of 'In The Parkin' Lot', but he did sing it, and in singing it, he owned it). Stupid is the decision to cover 'Louie Lo­uie' — the Beach Boys are no Kingsmen, and their inability to carry over the caveman menace of the original leaves them with just the simple dumbness of it all.

Most stupid is the decision to include a separately recorded drum solo from Dennis ('Denny's Drums'), considering the young Wilson's lack of technicality; and stupidest of 'em all is 'Cassius Love Vs. Sonny Wilson', a specially staged piece of «verbal sparring» between Mike and Brian — although, funny enough, in retrospect it does not seem nearly as stupid, sounding now as a slightly ominous preview of the real «pop success vs. artistic integrity» conflict between the two of them that would start taking place in two years' time. At the time, though, it sounded really brainless. (A learner of English could at least hope to teach oneself a thing or two about archaic Californian slang, but "at least I don't sound like my nose is on the critical list" doesn't sound quite like real-life Californian slang, or does it?).

Altogether, a shut down, uh, thumbs down, with salvation guaranteed only for five of the songs and classic status guaranteed only for two. Fortunately, Shut Down also shuts down the «purely singles-oriented» period of the Beach Boys' career — with the British Invasion and its anti-vinyl waste policy around the corner, the Wilsons would be among the first American performers to adopt that policy, and even set an example for others.»

Check "Shut Down, Vol. 2" (CD) on Amazon
Check "Shut Down, Vol. 2" (MP3) on Amazon


  1. My English is so bad, I wanted to ask - you name deadly sins all differently and put lust as the deadliest one for comic effect, right?

  2. ...I'm confused. Was that you, George, or was that Mark Prindle who wrote that..?

  3. The songs here are pretty good, but '"Cassius" Love vs. "Sonny" Wilson' is horrible. I do laugh when I listen to it, but not at what they're saying, but at Mike and Brian themselves.

    P.S. I have a question for you, George. If I were to start a review site, would I be allowed to use your old rating system (which will be obviously still credited to you)?

  4. This album is probably the messiest of the earliest Beach Boys albums. Incredible tunes such as "Fun Fun Fun" (light weight as helium but catchy and oh so fun) and "so good it's better than Phil" Spector-ish ballad "Don't Worry Baby." Who cares if it's about a car? Phil's material wasn't at ALL lyrically better. And never arranged this effectively. Somehow those two simple ringing chords in the introduction and...bridge carry an incredible emotional weight.

    But really, no love for "In the Parking Lot"? I'll admit, the lyrics are rather ridiculous but that vocal introduction and conclusion are honestly worth the song. It sounds like an orchestra of voices. It's feather weight but at least an enjoyable piece of fast paced nonsense. The song may be a bit filler-ish but not that introduction.

    "Cassius Love Vs. Sonny Wilson" or whatever is an obviously desperate attempt to fill out time. I don't think anybody has ever said anything good about it: it was one of Mike's first "creative" ideas and it shows that he should be left out of that process. Just sing, Mike. Don't try to make us laugh with your "mickey mouse with a sore throat" crap. In fact, the only joke that makes me laugh is when Brian says "if he cuts it with the mouse jokes." Not sure why.

    "Warmth of the Sun" and "Keep on Eye on Summer" aren't exactly thrill a minutes but they're oddly complex in their chordings, harmonies and key changes. A bit derivative but the whole Ramones career was derivative and they're incredible. Great ballads with good melodies, hampered by brain dead lyrics. But I agreed long enough to ignore all Beach Boys lyrics. It helps out SO much.

    Of course, the last three songs are nothing but filler. "Shut Down Volume II" hauls out that rusty old saxophone for another hilarious two note honk but the ever ridiculous Mike Love but fails to ignore. "Louie Louie" is ridiculous. And "Denny's Drums" shows that Denny wasn't much better than holding down a rhythm with occasional cool fills.

    "This Car of Mine" has a few nice key changes but is rather deadly dull. "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" has finally grown on me: those breath taking vocal breaks are worth the song alone. "Pom Pom Play Girl" is probably the most retarded song on the album but actually features rather daring key changes and insane experiments in vocal harmonies.

    Basically, the album does have half great material, mixed with dumb crap and incredible musical and vocal experiments on trite material. The great material makes this worth listening, the dumb crap is entertaining in a Plan 9 sort of way and the experiments point the way towards the future. I can dig it.

  5. Surely an album with "Fun Fun Fun", "Don't Worry Baby", "Why Do Fools Fall In Love?", "Keep An Eye on Summer", and "The Warmth of the Sun" is not thumbs-down worthy?!

    I also think "Shut Down Vol. 2" the song is pretty alright for their early instrumental standards. It's at least a reasonably catchy instrumental.