Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Beach Boys and Science Fiction

I'm belatedly (say, the last 5 years) a massive Beach Boys fan. I'd had "Pet Sounds" for years and loved it, though perhaps not as "the best album ever" that it sometimes gets called. My pastoral days - of Cherry Red records and the Cocteau Twins - are long gone, and "Pet Sounds" sometimes fits a bit too neatly into that. Yet over the last few years I've been picking up Beach Boys CDs, which have all been exemplarily reissued (good liner notes, remastered, 2 short albums on 1 CD), and enjoyed them all. I'm as likely to like the pre-Pet Sounds songs of "All Summer Long" as the swish early 70s soft rock you find on "Holland" - and it hardly matters whether Brian Wilson was present or not (heresy, perhaps, but its true, here was a band that his spirit was always there, even when his presence wasn't). There's always been a darker side to these exemplaries of a sun-bleached California, as with their covering of a Charles Manson song (he'd struck up a friendship with Dennis Wilson), or the post-Smile breakdown of Brian. I'm fascinated to find out (thanks Wikipedia!) that there's a novel about "lost masterpieces" that centres on the unfinished "Smile", Lewis Shiner's Glimpses. I'll have to get hold of a copy. The slim rock n roll/sci-fi crossover genre expands - there's "Disaster Area", the made-up band in Douglas Adam's "Hitchhikers..." series, Paul Kantner/Jefferson Starship's Heinlein-influenced, "Blows Against the Empire" album, the Moorcock-Hawkwind thing (never quite got this, I'm afraid), Bowie's "Diamong Dogs", and possibly that's all. I'm sure there are plenty of sci-fi novels that include rock and roll stars (time travel helps, of course) but I've not really come across any.

1 comment:

k said...

Gwyneth Jones wrote an interesting scifi series called Bold As Love linked to Jimi Hendrix. It's pretty wild.