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The 10 Best Beach Boys Songs You've Never Heard Of

Updated on October 17, 2009

First off, if you’re a Beach Boys fan then, yes, you will have heard all of these. However, for a lot of people, the Beach Boys are a ‘singles band’, authors of great hits such as ‘California Girls’, ‘I Get Around’ and ‘God Only Knows.’

But this assessment totally ignores that the Beach Boys made great records. Sure, there is some filler, but if you enjoy the hits the chances are you will find some gold among the lesser known tracks. The following lists some of the best of these in no particular order.

1. In the Back of My Mind: A Dennis-sung number, this mellow song is part of the second half of Today, released a year before Pet Sounds. Indeed this song showcases some of the production tricks Brian Wilson would explore in more depth on Pet Sounds.

2. Let Him Run Wild: An exuberant, bouncing track from Summer Days (and Summer Nights) featuring a big-hearted chorus.

3. All I Wanna Do: This song from 1970’s Sunflower album is an atmospheric ballad that features an interesting take on the classic Beach Boys’ sound, with heavy reverb over Mike Love’s lead vocal and a dramatic building chorus.

4. The Lonely Sea: A sparsely arranged early slow ballad that features a beautiful vocal arrangement.

5. Little Honda: An upbeat rocker from 1964’s All Summer Long, powered by Carl Wilson’s driving palm-muted guitar crunches. This song matches up well to the album’s obvious hit ‘I Get Around.’

6. Our Prayer: This abandoned SMILE piece was first released on the 20/20 album. A delicate piece of choral harmonics, it elegantly shows the vocal prowess of the group and the ambition of Brian Wilson’s post-Pet Sounds work.

7. Spirit of America: This song actually reached number 4 in the charts in 1963, but it remains a relatively unheard piece. The track shows off the groups love of doo-wop and fifties vocal music to great effect.

8. The Warmth of the Sun: Listening to this track and the LonelySea back-to-back shows how quickly and completely the Beach Boys grew musically, especially in terms of Brian Wilson’s production skills which can be clearly heard in full force on this fantastic song.

9. Only With You: This romantic song from the 1973 Holland album is a beautiful understated piece that matches Carl Wilson’s delicate vocals with a soft piano backing and delicate strings.

10. Walk On By: A little known cover that is neither the Beach Boys best work or a particularly good cover. Lead vocalist Dennis Wilson seems to have not learnt the words to the song and the rendition only lasts 55 seconds! Nonetheless this track features a fantastic vocal harmony part on the fade out that will have you frantically scrabbling to up the volume for the last few seconds, then immediately hitting repeat to hear it again!

The remaster and re-release in the 1990’s of these classic albums in two-fer versions, where two albums are included on a single disk (usually with some outtakes as well), means that there is little excuse for not taking the time to delve more deeply into the fantastic canon of music left by this landmark band.


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