The Beach Boys and Lane Steinberg – “Tidal Wave”

16Aug09

Having become aware, as I occasionally do, that I have a blog, I’ve also remembered that there’s something I like to post on weekends now and then: music videos. This one comes from your favorite Internet humorist, Jay Pinkerton, although he doesn’t know it. It was Jay who pointed me to this Metafilter thread about a capella outtakes from the Beach Boys’ masterpiece, Pet Sounds, which I enjoyed so much that I vowed to download the entire Pet Sounds Sessions box set, only to find that I already had done so, months ago.

I was gratified to see that one poster there had linked to Hogpig’s “Fuck You, Mike Love” video; not only have I posted this before in my capacity as one of the Internet’s preeminent Mike Love haters, but it appears that I actually aided Hogpig in the research stage of the project. (I returned the favour — using my girlfriend’s Metafilter account — with a link to a YouTube playlist of the Purple Chick SMiLE, a fan-made mix that aims to show what the legendary album might have sounded like if released in the sixties, taking Brian Wilson’s finished version from 2004 as a guide.)

But I was even more gratified to find a link to the song featured here, which takes “Trombone Dixie”, an instrumental outtake from Pet Sounds, and grafts onto it a vocal by someone named Lane Steinberg, who does a pretty good Brian Wilson impersonation. Retitled “Tidal Wave”, the result is so remarkably faithful to the Brian Wilson sound of that era that it seems almost like a lost Beach Boys treasure miraculously unearthed from the vaults, producing a revelatory effect akin to when fans finally heard the essentially lyricless 1967 Smile outtake “I Love to Say Da-Da” completed in 2004 with extra vocals as “In Blue Hawaii”. Thanks for finishing “Trombone Dixie”, Mr. Steinberg. Prepare for the inevitable Mike Love lawsuit over the royalties.



6 Responses to “The Beach Boys and Lane Steinberg – “Tidal Wave””

  1. 1 Teaflax

    It may be sacrilege to say so, but I think this is better than 80% of what’s actually on Pet Sounds. The exceptions being God Only Knows, and I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times. But that’s coming from someone who thinks the album is vastly improved by removing Wouldn’t it Be Nice and Sloop John B, both terrible songs in no way redeemed by their great arrangements.

  2. Sacrilege!

    At least calling “Sloop John B.” a terrible song with a great arrangement is no insult to the Beach Boys, since, as I’m sure you know, it’s a Kingston Trio cover. Rather, it’s a credit to Brian Wilson and, to a lesser extent, Al Jardine, who originally brought the song to Brian and showed him how it could be rearranged to fit the band’s sound. It’s been rumoured for years that the song was only included to please the record company, though the evidence indicates that Brian planned all along on including it, so we can’t blame the suits for its inclusion.

    As for removing “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, I can’t even agree to disagree with you there. I’ll agree to be utterly dumbfounded instead. It’s got to be one of my top ten Beach Boys songs.

  3. 3 Teaflax

    I actually had no idea SJB was a cover song, but that kind of explains the pedestrian melody. Wouldn’t It Be Nice is like much other non-Pet Sounds BB material, so as a BB fan, of course you would like it. But to me it’s exactly the kind of gilded turd that Beach Boys are most famous for; songs so inanely catchy that there is no saving them with even the most clever arrangement. Songs like Good Vibrations or Barbara-Ann, for instance, which by their association with the band kept me away from Pet Sounds for years, even though so many bands that I love (and friends with good taste) praised it as a masterwork. Live and learn, I guess.

  4. I should of course point out that “Barbara Ann” is also a cover song, this time, of a 1961 doo-wop hit by The Regents.

    While it’s the Beach Boy’s most notable doo-wop cover, it’s by no means the only one; the brief snatch of The Crows’ “Gee” inserted between “Our Prayer” and “Heroes and Villains” on Brian Wilson’s Smile is thought to be an allusion to the Beach Boys’ surprise hit cover of “Barbara Ann”. And it was a surprise: The Party album was rushed to the marketplace primarily to fill the need for product between Summer Days (and Summer Nights!!) and Pet Sounds, but the success of “Barbara Ann” as a single came at the expense of the previous single, the innovative “The Little Girl I Once Knew”, which failed to get any further promotion and fell off the charts.

    Chalk another one up for lightweight party-hearty nonsense over pop-music experimentalism. “Serious-minded” Beach Boys fans such as I have held something of a grudge against “Barbara Ann” for years for this reason, and because it presaged the creative bankruptcy of the band’s jukebox oldies album, 15 Big Ones, which pretty much marked the beginning of the end for the band as a creative force (though they had a last gasp with the subsequent album, Love You). That said, I’ve come to enjoy it more recently for what it is: just a bit of fun. (It doesn’t hurt that Sloan released their own version of a Party album, thus endorsing the concept for the Pitchfork generation.)

    But the weird sci-fi movie sound of “Good Vibrations” couldn’t be more different from “Barbara Ann”, at least in terms of experimentalism. I’ll wager The Regents wouldn’t have recognized a theremin if Klaatu himself had landed a flying saucer in the Bronx and handed one to them.

  5. 5 anazgnos

    Ha, I posted that link. Glad somebody enjoyed it. The track is pretty remarkable. I was just googling to see if I could find more info (or a full-quality mp3) and this was the first result.

  6. 6 Peter Lynn

    Thanks for posting it! It’s the only version I’ve heard, though I’ve ripped an MP3 from the YouTube video for my own satisfaction. If you haven’t already done so yourself, I’d be happy to give it to you.


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