Friday, 18 January 2013

God Only Knows

God Only Knows by The Beach Boys is, hands down, one of the most beautiful, sublime and perfect pop songs ever. It's one of those songs that should be on everybody's all-time favourite lists. Brian Wilson was at the height of his powers, the Beach Boys were at the top of their game, Carl Wilson's vocal is pitch perfect and the overall effect cuts me to the quick. It's one of those records that sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said about Toru and Kojima's cover version: a miserable, mediocre pastiche which has my dog covering his ears in pain. Maybe if English isn't your first language deciding to cover something as great as this is not the most sane thing to do. I know that other Japanese can carry this sort of thing off - Shonen Knife perhaps or Toquiwa - but they would have fun with it. Toru and Kojima attempt a sincere copy of a song they clearly love - ending up with something that comes off as maudlin at best. 

But just who are Toru and Kojima? Well, what sounds like a solitary Japanese Beach Boys fan doing bad karaoke in his bedroom is pretty much exactly that: it appears that Toru and Kajima - who released two Brian Wilson-inspired albums, Smiley and Pot Sounds (oh, stop! My sides are splitting!) - is one person, Toru Kohjima. A nascent Wilson himself, Toru plays guitar, bass, keyboards and percussion as well as handling the vocal and production duties on his two releases. Apart from the occasional friend who adds backing vocals or the odd keyboard or bass lick here and there its all him. His two albums were collected together on one cd in 1997, complete with Beach Boys inspired artwork.

Smiley and Pot Sounds are available, in their entirety, for download at the always brilliant WFMU - grab them if you dare and wonder at Toru's interpretation of such classics as Wonderful, Don't Worry Baby, Surfer Girl and a couple of truly horrible originals....but for now enjoy Toru and Kojima and God Only Knows

4 comments:

  1. 1/19/13
    RobGems.ca wrote:
    And to think that Mike Love once hated or misunderstood all the songs to"Pet Sounds" and "Smile" because they wern't commercially "Beach Boys'"enough for his tastes simply because he'd liked to act like a jerk for no reason,other than to think that HE was the true talent of The Beach Boys around Brian until one hears these disaster-piece covers of this Japanese "musician's"(?)renditions of these classics,you'd agree with him, maybe....Don't fuck with the formula", indeed.

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  2. Karaoke at a Holiday Inn bar in Toyko? Don't miss your flight.

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  3. it's not that bad

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  4. I kinda like it in all its ricketiness and sincerity. Brian Wilson's great music inspired a lot of overproduced soulless soundalikes, often just pompous confectionary. This guy at least sounds real, and he clearly loves the music, identified all the key parts and had an honest go at them in what were obviously pretty basic conditions. Good on him.

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