Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Beach Boys: Our Prayer

It is California surf and sun meeting the dark shadowy confines of a medieval monastery for Spiritual Sunday. Today’s cut is a very short piece that was originally recorded in 1966 for The Beach Boys’ project “SMiLE” that never was released. It was intended to be the band’s follow-up to the critically acclaimed “Pet Sounds” LP. Brian Wilson envisioned the project as a “teenage symphony to God.”

Although recording commenced on the “SMiLE” project, it was abandoned for a number reasons including the increasing mental problems experienced by the band’s leader. “Our Prayer” was intended to be the first song on this concept album and it finally was released on their 1969 “20/20” album which I got in 1970 or 71 as part of commitment to the Capitol Record Club. Additional vocals were added to “Our Prayer” for this release.

Perhaps in reference to this tune, Beach Boy Al Jardine has his hands positioned for prayer. Brian Wilson does not appear on the albums' front cover, but in the gatefold, he is hiding behind an eye chart. Unfortunately, the record club edition did not have the gatefold.

The author and contest winner Alicia Freeman with Beach Boys
Bruce Johnston and Mike Love; Indianapolis - 1986

The “20/20” album is a little disjointed but is an interesting album nonetheless. While “Our Prayer” wasn’t the single for obvious reasons (no hook), “I Can Hear Music” was the hit and the reason I wanted this particular LP. In 2004, Brian Wilson without the remaining Beach Boys completed the “SMiLE” project in which a re-recording of “Our Prayer” opens the album.

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