Song: "Heroes and Villains"
Writers: Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks
Original Release: July 24, 1967
Band: The Beach Boys
In truth, I've never been much of a Beach Boys fan. I own Pet Sounds - practically obligatory - and willingly acknowledge that "Good Vibrations" is a masterpiece. But as for their old school surf music, it just doesn't do it for me. I know, practically un-American!
So, perhaps it's not surprising that my favorite among their songs is out of character. "Heroes and Villains" was intended as a follow-up on the success of "Good Vibrations." While it enjoyed moderate commercial success - #12 on the charts - it was widely panned by critics. Jimi Hendrix famously referred to it as a "psychedelic barbershop quartet." While that sounds awesome to me, Jimi didn't mean it as a compliment.
I will admit that from a production standpoint, the song's kind of a mess. But I think it represents a nice mix of the group's older vocal harmony charm and their late-sixties trippy frolics.