Beach Boys Party came about because Capital Records wanted a new Beach Boys album in time for Christmas. Brian Wilson was busily working on what would become Pet Sounds and had neither the time nor inclination to produce another studio album that would interfere with this vision in progress. The idea for Beach Boys Party was to gather the group and some friends in the studio, drink a few beers, and just let the tape roll while the Beach Boys sang a few songs. This haphazard affair made the Christmas deadline and ended up selling more copies than Pet Sounds. Go figure.
This unrehearsed and largely forgotten Beach Boys album did serve its purpose well. Capital records made money and Brian Wilson saved time.
Brian Wilson may have tinkered with this album a bit in the studio, such as adding an electric bass to back the all acoustic guitar playing, but given its sloppy nature and the number of off key notes, it probably was just put in its final form as quickly as possible.
The passable songs begin with “Mountain Of Love” with a fine lead vocal by Mike Love. “You’ve Got To Hide Your Away” which showcases Dennis Wilson’s underused vocals, chugs along with an odd beat that is at least interesting. “Devoted to You” contains a beautiful duet by Brian Wilson and Mike Love. They had always been fans of the Everly Brothers and this presentation is a fitting tribute. “Barbara Ann” was a hit for the Regents in 1961 and would become a number two hit for the Beach Boys in early 1966. The odd thing about this song is that the lead vocal was song by Dean Torrence of Jan & Dean. Whether this was planned or spontaneous it became a huge hit for the Beach Boys and kept them in the public eye.
On the other hand, some of the worst performances of the Beach Boys' career are contained on this album. Their medley of the Beatles hits “I Should Have Know Better/Tell Me Why” is sophomoric at best. The guitars are out of sync with the vocals and create the sensation of two separate tracks that have not been spliced together. The vocal harmonies for “Hully Gully” and “Alley Oop” are terribly out of tune and neither song fits Mike Love’s lead vocal style. Al Jardine cannot pull off Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin.” Covering Dylan is a difficult task at best but to do so within the context of this album is just about impossible.
The real disaster is a medley of their own hits, “I Get Around/Little Deuce Coup.” These casual versions show how important Brian Wilson’s production was to the integrity of these and other Beach Boys songs.
Beach Boys Today is not the group’s finest hour and deserves to be buried deep in their catalogue. There are no new original songs by Brian Wilson which speaks of his commitment to this project.
All was not lost, however, as Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys were about to produce one of the most spectacular rock/pop albums of all time.