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Monday, May 12, 2014
To close out Side A, the Beach Boys give us a seemingly straightforward dance song about hedonistic escapism, and, of course, dancing!

To close the a-side of The Beach Boys Today!, the group includes another straight-forward dance song. And just to be sure you got the message, they titled it three times: “Dance, Dance, Dance”. In many ways, it feels like the band trying to create another hit in the same vein as “I Get Around”, and while it never reached number one, it was a sizable top 10 hit for the group at the end of 1964. But like so many of their fun, up-tempo songs, “Dance, Dance, Dance” is surprisingly sophisticated.


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Monday, May 5, 2014
Before there was "Rhonda", there was "Ronda". Not quite the beloved single released later in 1965, the original version of "Help Me, Ronda" that appears on The Beach Boys Today! still has its strengths.

When “Help Me, Rhonda” was released as a single in mid-1965, it became the Beach Boys’ second number one hit, following “I Get Around” from the previous year. But it’s not “Help Me, Rhonda” that’s on The Beach Boys Today!, it’s “Help Me, Ronda”. After recording the original version of the song in January of 1965, the Rip Chords—a band featuring Bruce Johnston, who would later join the Beach Boys officially in 1966—expressed interest in recording a version to release as a single. Instead, Brian Wilson reworked the song, added an “h”, and the Beach Boys released it for themselves. But the first recording still ended up on side one of Today! After the success of “Rhonda” as a single, the group placed it on its next album, Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!), and the Rip Chords did record the song, but never ended up releasing it.


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Monday, Apr 28, 2014
As a highly complex song that deals with anxieties about becoming an adult, "When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)" was an unlikely hit single. But more than that, it stands as one of the most impressive songs in the Beach Boys' catalog.

In many ways, “When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)” not only stands as the most impressive track on The Beach Boys Today!, but the best track in the group’s entire catalog. Musically, the song is unusually structurally and harmonically complex: it changes keys, builds its main hook on an ambiguous, dissonant chord, it stretches the tempo, and climaxes on a long pause. In regards to its lyrics, Craig Slowinski notes that, as “one of the very first rock ‘n’ roll songs to explore the subject of impending adulthood, ‘When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)’ was a strangely melancholic choice for a single in a climate dominated by upbeat Beatles (and Bealtes-soundalike) songs.” But despite its oddities, “When I Grow Up” managed to become a Top 10 single in the U.S. when it was released in late 1964.


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Monday, Apr 21, 2014
Originally offered to Phil Spector to record with the Ronettes, the third track on The Beach Boys Today! presents a conflicted and guilt-ridden autobiographical narrative.

Undoubtedly, Brian Wilson’s biggest influence during this period of his life—and for most of his career, in fact—was Phil Spector. The songs that Spector wrote and produced for groups like the Crystals and the Ronettes would be a constant source of fascination for the Beach Boy. In the early part of his career, Wilson would go to Gold Star Studios to sit in on Spector’s recording sessions to see how he created his “wall of sound” production style in order to mimic it on the Beach Boys’ records. The production style utilizes layers of guitars, keyboards, and percussion instruments, often along with strings, brass, and woodwinds, all tracked together live in the same room to create a thick and chaotic yet wonderful sound. And this “bigger is better” philosophy to arranging and producing is what pushed Wilson towards much of the innovation we find on albums like The Beach Boys Today!, Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!), and Pet Sounds. But despite arguably surpassing Spector’s achievements in his own technique (which we’ll discuss later in this Between The Grooves Series), Wilson remained humble, saying in 1998, “I never considered [the Beach Boys] to be anything but just a messenger for his music.”


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Monday, Apr 14, 2014
With the second track of The Beach Boys Today!, we get a solidly written song reminiscent of the group's earlier singles: sophisticated but digestible and fun.

If opening The Beach Boys Today! with a cover of “Do You Wanna Dance” was intended to show off Brian Wilson’s skills as a producer and arranger, then following it up with “Good to My Baby” was meant to remind us where his band came from. It’s not that “Good to My Baby” isn’t musically exciting or complex, but of all the tracks on Today!, it’s the most similar to the beach Boys’ early music. So, just like covering a popular song provides a reference point to see their creative arrangements, the familiar songwriting on “Good to My Baby” acts as a reference point to compare the more innovative songs on the album against


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