Monday, 13 November 2017

The Beach Boys Essay: The American Dream/Updates





Dear reader, we are in a bit of a quandary here at the AAA. You see, we have sort-of finished our whole list of 520-odd AAA albums. That should be it and you and I can both lie back exhausted at a job well done - except it isn't. Noel Gallagher's latest was due this week but has been put back to the 24th and Neil Young has a new one out on December 2nd (of course he does, its' not like he hasn't released two already this year or anything!!!) Oh and there's a CSN album I've been waiting to do till last. It would be a shame not to cover every AAA studio album complete eventually so this is the new plan: we will take a rest from reviews for now and you will be getting Noel on the 27th November, Neil on the 4th December and CSN on the 11th December. Assuming nobody else releases anything between now and then that's how things will be.

There will, I'm, sure, be reviews still to come: our AAA guys don't keep quiet for long and we aim to keep bringing you new albums as and when they come out across the next few years (or as long as we can at any rate). There are also a number of 'updates'  to bring you as we slowly work our way through each new draft of the book - compilations, live albums and solo records that have come out since our last round-ups at this website which will be added in due course (The Beach Boys ones will be added to the end of this article). However for the most part our journey of all things newsy, viewsy and musicy ends here, with a thirty part series of essays dedicated to each of our thirty AAA bands. So far our website has been very specific: what came out at a certain time period, what you can see and hear and where. However these next series of pieces aim to be more general, looking at a band in a more general way to see what made each one special and what made them tick. The numbers you see refer to the 'numbering' section in each of our books (yes we really have been through them all listening the songs in chronological order - and no I don't get out much, my headphones don't stretch very far!)

This will be joined in the new year, when our other articles finish, with a few extra pieces dedicated to 'thematic threads', key cover songs, live performances and influences. After that hopefully we should be in a position to start publishing a series of books containing all our blogging for each band - we will keep you updated how we get on! For now, though, we take you to the first of our essays staring The Beach Boys....................................................................................


It's no accident that The Beach Boys' chosen name of their original commissioned documentary was that they were 'America's Band'. The Beach Boys were as American as apple pie, McDonalds and the concept that good boys had to be conscripted in the Vietnam War because their good honest President Nixon told them to. Even though only one of the Beach Boys (Dennis) had the traditional 'look' of the teenage ideal (bushy bushy blonde hairdo, The Beach Boys all subscribe to that American image: they're young, gifted and certainly not black - sweet middle class males who were probably nice to their parents (their dad was even their manager for crying out loud!) and their girlfriends (who they only dated via chaperone) would be proud to bring them home to mama for some of that apple pie. Even before The Beatles came along to make Americans yearn for a classy rival to throw back at the Brits in a musical re-enactment of the American Uncivil War, The Beach Boys traded on their very American-ness: their narrators, many of them still at school, were innocent naives born with sunny optimism that even if things weren't working out now they surely would as soon as they had the car/girl/surfboard of their dreams and anyway there was plenty of time yet, right?
Back in 1962-1965 this was exactly what most of their American audiences wanted: safety, familiarity and hope. The fact that The Beach Boys managed to stay in touch with their 1950s roots longer than most (The Four Freshman for the mums and dads, with a bit of Chuck Berry for the teenagers) endeared them to many. The Beach Boys were fun. The Beach Boys were cute. The Beach Boys were such a 'tight' band they even worse the same striped shirts on stage every night - and looked like they enjoyed it (give or take the grumpy blonde one on the drums). What's more, everyone who 'bought in' to the Beach Boys world where it was always summer, the beach was always filled with girls and there was every reason to enjoy being alive 'bought' into the formula right away: it didn't matter if you lived a thousand miles from a beach (especially if you had a car and liked Beach Boys B-sides), this band represented you - and what you could be. In the words of a later Beach Boys song, used in an ironic sense, [161] 'Surf's Up' - and anything is possible. The American Dream is in safe hands.

Early on in The Beach Boys story, though, things start to change little bit by little bit. The power in the band shifts from the balding extrovert singer to the dark-haired introvert writer and he had a rotten time in his teenage years - beaten up by the dad who told him he had no talent (and who was so mean partly because he lost an eye in a factory accident working overtime without safety laws - mere fodder for American capitalism), teased at school for being shy and withdrawn and unwilling to do anything more than hide in his room and play music if left to his own devices. Suddenly little bits of Brian Wilson's true nature takes over as he realises his huge responsibility to America's teenage population: to warn them that he's already seen through the American dream and actually he never did like surfing anyway (I mean, surfing means getting wet and you don't always look 'cool', at least when you're learning - quite often you risk drowning in something bigger and scarier than you). Instead Brian begins to look to the future, adding little bit by little bit of the inner aching sadness he feels within him into music that's either utterly beautiful or devastatingly sad, depending on your want. Though The Beach Boys are quick not to criticise the country that made them (the only sticking point comes when Carl is nearly drafted for Vietnam and refuses), they remain critical of the American Dream. Albums like 'Pet Sounds' and 'Smile' appear, where the dream of getting a job and finding a girl and having a family isn't all it's cracked up to be - or where Americans are merely invaders who turfed American Indians away from their own soil to replace their skill and expertise with 'bicycles'. Later the American Dream becomes even more difficult to sustain: Brian dreams not of a glorious life but of death, too fragile, scared and worn out to 'play' anymore on such songs as 'Til' I Die' and refusing the 'commission' given him by American teenagers to celebrate life on 'Mount Vernon and Fairway'. Carl and Jack Rieley throw in songs like 'Long Promised Road' and 'The Trader' that point at the aching chasm between what should be and what is.

Slowly word starts to creep in that The Bach Boys are not all they seem too: that nice lead singer? He knows more swear words than your dad! That drummer with the angel eyes? He's the antithesis of the American Dream, rebelling against every institution and chasing all kinds of girls before hanging out with a future mass murderer in Charles Manson. Carl's sweet but so worn out by his warring family, job and country he returns to the comfort eating of his childhood and puts on ever more weight. Al had crooked teeth. Only Bruce Johnston looks the part anymore - and he barely appears on the records, being a 'stand in' for Brian in what he represents every bit as much as what he plays. What's more there are all these scandals connected to the band. It takes a long time to filter out but news of the Wilson's and Love's dysfunctional families begins to come down to fans: far from having the perfect upbringing, all that Beach Boy angelic goodness is despite, not because of their parents' behaviour. Brian and Dennis take more drugs between them than anyone else outside the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. Mike joins the Maharishi movement and last longer than The Beatles before yelling obscenities at rival bands after a Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame award ceremony where since he put them down everyone else there was out doing the same thing in their head. Dennis gets married six times with enough illegitimate children to create his own surfing squad, while nearing forty he also gets married to his cousin and bandmates' illegitimate teenage daughter! Carl refuses to join the army and be drafted (good job they didn't ask Dennis, he'd have burnt the place down!)  And worst of all for America Brian is the epitome of a broken spirit, fleeing the American Dream to live in bed with the covers over his head while he suffers from what doctors now think is schizophrenia, undiagnosed for decades.

Suddenly The Beach Boys in general and Brian Wilson in particular don't represent the 'American Dream' anymore but the American reality - and that's when their sales start slipping. No sooner do the band sing [171] 'Good good good vibrations' does the public realise that actually that's what they want and they start looking elsewhere. However, it's not just The Beach Boys themselves who deflate this American dream: the dream has been decaying for decades now. After the Second World War everyone was promised money and freedom, which was only true if you were rich, middle-class and white. Though The Beach Boys sound as 'white' as anybody ever will (that's why they were part of the 'dream' in the first place), they all adore black American rock and roll and it's hard to love the likes of Chuck Berry, Arthur Alexander and Bo Diddley et al, without also thinking about their situation as 'undesirables' unable to drink at the same water fountains or sit in the same bus seats as their white peers. Though it sounds as if The Beach Boys drifted into representing the underbelly of the American Dream, to do them credit they were responsible for changing the parts of it that couldn't be sustained too. While their treatment of girls was always a little suspect (just listen to Brian's wife and sister-in-laws in The Honeys and American Spring when they have to switch the genders round on Beach Boy classics - they would never have got away with singing the likes of [59] 'Fun Fun Fun' or [79] 'Boys On The Beach' from the others' perspective or make their husband/brothers in laws dress up as cheerleaders for 'Be True To Your School', while 'Hey Little Tomboy' is pure torture to modern ears despite coming as late as 1978 - on the other hand [110] 'Girl From New York City' is as far ahead as anyone in 1965 with its portrayal of an independent strong woman who doesn't care a fig for the narrator's overtures) and the LGBT community didn't really exist yet, for the most part The Beach Boys speak out against injustice when they see it, at risk to their own careers sometimes and though they never did a song specifically about race, you can tell which side of the 'fence' they sit. By the mid-1960s it's clear that The Beach Boys are no longer singing about a privileged few but their hopes for the many. The peak point musically comes with another unreleased track, Dennis' [247] '4th Of July' - not the celebration of American hope and glory as so many fans wondered when they first heard about it, but a comment on the censorship of the times.

An awful lot of the Beach Boys mid and later period songs, especially Brian's, yearn for peace and equality - a whole 'new' American Dream for the 1960s. 'Help creates peace which manifests love' is the hippie-ish manifesto of the unreleased [246] 'HELP Is On The Way' from 1968 and it's a shame the song never came out at the time because it is so much the healing hug the world needed in troubled times. However this trend starts longer than most people recognise - as early as the second album Brian is singing to [27] 'The Lonely Sea' that carries on oblivious to how the small and vulnerable feel and [119]'I'm Bugged At My Ol' Man' suggests your elders aren't always right, while [63] 'Warmth Of The Sun' is a credible JFK tribute song, not so much because of what their president did but because of what he represented: he was young (well, forty, that was young for a president back then - there was an outcry), blonde and idealistic, just like The Beach Boys were when they first started - though by the end of his time in office he was also trying to make America a more just and equal place like the more 'modern' American dream (well, in between trying to blow Castro up with his own cigars and almost accidentally-on-purpose provoking the Soviet Union into an all-out attack anyway). Matters come to a head in 1985 when 'America's Band' are told they can't perform at America's birthday celebrations in Washington anymore because the mayor has called them 'undesirables' he doesn't want the youth of America copying. Even mass petitions and a public outcry even from some Republicans won't change their mind: The Beach Boys have gone from being what America wants to be to what it's most afraid of.

The tragedy is that The Beach Boys lost 'cult' status at just the point when they deserved it most. The more 'trouble' the band get into, the more honest and open about it they are (especially so in Brian and Dennis' case). The further they get away from the 'American ideal', the close they get to finding a new ideal of their own - one that isn't based on the corruption of bad parenting, fun in the sun and surf, the 'myth' that you have to marry a pretty young dumb blonde girl or else you've 'failed' in life and that there is potential and reward for everyone in an unfair system. Though the early Beach Boys records sounds so much more fun, I'd far rather live in the dark and difficult world of the later Beach Boys because that's closer to the 'truth', though it continues to be sung with the 'hope' that things might yet get better one day. That's what makes albums like 'Holland' and 'LA Light' to come so special: we're no longer safe in a pretty boat reserved for the privileged but sailing on with the 'sailor' through difficulties, our belief in the 'American Dream' delayed but still very much intact. That's what makes the return to car and surf songs in the 1980s so hard to stomach (and why so many true surfing blue Beach Boys fans hate international #1 hit [385] 'Kokomo' with such a passion: it's the 'old' American dream, not the new one). But at least the band's own story proves, ever so slightly, that the American Dream is not impossible and that miracles do happen: amazingly we only lost Dennis during the dark years, the band reunited and put all their personal differences aside in 2012 (even if  - *spoilers* - the album wasn't great and they split in two again almost immediately), while Brian finally finished his greatest examination of the American Dream in 'Smile' in 2004, when it sounded simultaneously closer and further away than ever. I would like to think that if The Beach Boys were invited to play any more 4th of July shows in the future, at the Washington monument or anywhere, then they'll be welcomed as heroes, not villains - for their American Dream includes everybody and is far more deserving of the name. Whether it was the flag the conservatives wanted you to wave in 1962 or the hippies of 1967, no American band ever waved that flag better than The Beach Boys and they remain America's most closely linked band (even over America, who were technically Canadian!) for a reason. Although funnily enough, their next album coming up is the only one not made in America (though the band get homesick and sing about it a lot!)

Brian Wilson "No Pier Pressure"
(Capitol, April 2015)
This Beautiful Day/Runaway Dancer/Whatever Happened?/On The Island/Half Moon Bay/Our Special Love/The Right Time/Guess You Had To Be There/Tell Me Why/Sail Away/One Kind Of Love/Saturday Night/The Last Song
Deluxe Edition Bonus Tracks: Don't Worry/Somewhere Quiet/I'm Feeling Sad
"Whatever happened to my favourite voices? Nothing is where it used to be!"
If you're a regular reader you might remember me getting hot under the collar when Brian Wilson promptly announced an album of duets with a load of modern-day actresses (not even singers!) and then got huffy because so many fans said it was a bad idea without having heard it. In 'A Critique On Critiquing' (which is now part of our 'top ten' column near the end of this book) I outlined the fact that sometimes you can just tell when something is a bad idea without the need for hearing it and that sometimes you can be persuaded to do a lot of rubbish if the wrong people keep on at you all the time. Well, the album came out and it has more enjoyable moments than I feared, but I also stand by my instinct that this sort of an over-modern CD was too desperate sounding by half and would inevitably put off all of Brian's old fans without encouraging many new ones. This is the most 'modern' Brian has sounded since 'Surfin' Safari' in 1962 - but of course, what sounds modern to our ears will date far quicker than the timeless songs The Beach came up with in most eras. Too much of this record just doesn't sound like Brian - there are funky beats thrown over nearly everything, whether they fit or not, and the emphasis is on upbeat songs set to rhythm with a few more normal melancholy ballads thrown in (which just sound the way Brian always has and sound so much better you can't believe they're by the same artist). As for the guest stars they sound every bit as desperate as I feared they would and would somebody please tell me who the likes of Sebu Simonian, Mark Isham, Peter Hollens and Kacey Musgraves actually are? Brian's a band on his own and doesn't need anybody else - well he only needs The Wondermints who are conspicuous by their absence for the first time from most of this poorly thought out karaoke set. Oh well, at least it's more listenable than the last time The Beach Boys tried to this sort of thing on 'Stars and Stripes' I suppose, even if that isn't exactly the most glowing review this album could have had (Mike Love's solo albums are better than 'Stars and Stripes!')
Though nobody said anything at the time, my guess is that this album was at least partly written to be the next Beach Boys album and the sequel to 'That's Why God Made The Radio' before Mike and Bruce went back to their day-job at the end of the tour (leaving Brian, Al and Dave Marks all a bit puzzled and a bit bruised). Al and Dave both appear on this set, as does another old friend in Blondie Chaplin (guitarist and singer in the 1972-1974 years), while it's my guess that many of the other passages filled by special guests were originally intended for Mike to sing.  If so then this album would have been a better album with higher decent averages than 'Radio' and one much more fitting to the band's name, but still not exactly inspired and it lacks any song strong enough to match [413] 'Summer's Gone'. Most of the best of this album features lazy trumpet-drenched instrumentals with Joe Thomas' lyrics as one-dimensional as they ever were and Brian's music sounds best when he's trying his least to impress us, not when he's aiming everything for top 40 radio. It's these quiet, humble moments that allow this album room to breathe - but in truth the guest stars and production values suck all the life out of the room and makes this the least interesting of all Brian's solo albums so far (even though all are flawed in one way or another). Brian going hip hop? That awful icky modern day production that tries to make Brian out to be seventeen even though he sounds at times more like 117? No thankyou! Backing band The Wondermints and especially old co-writer Darian Sahanaja are very badly missed: this is Brian with a bunch of people who want to shape his art for their own ends, not let him breathe and go wherever he wants as with the previous run of Brian Wilson albums. Ah well it could have been worse: the original line up for this album was set to include Frank Ocean trading rap lines with Brian on a song that, mercifully, wasn't completed in time. Looks like [315] 'Hey Little Tomboy' will have to stay as the single most misguided Brian Wilson moment in Beach Boys history after all!
'This Beautiful Day' continues directly on from where 'Summer's Gone' - the only listenable song from that album - left off, with a similar melody but very different words about finding the strength to carry on rather than the strength to let go (surely the albums were designed as a pair?) As with the best of this album Brian still has a classy touch on the strings and horns and the vocals are sumptuous, but we've heard this song in better form already and 85 seconds aren't anywhere near enough time to spend in this melancholy plain.
'Runaway Dancer' sounds oddly 1980s for a production imbued with so many modern trappings, like an outtake from 'Fame'. It's kinda catchy, but then so was smallpox and Brian sounds so old and uncomfortable it's also hard to hear. Oh and I do know who Sebu Simonian is, I was only joking - he's kind of the Armenian equivalent of Justin Timberlake and is a big name over there as we're reminded come most Eurovision Song Contests. I still wish I'd never heard of him though and this track sounds much more like his work than Brian's.
'Whatever Happened?' is borderline cringeworthy, borderline great, an 'In My Life' about all the fading places that no longer exist, which suddenly slides off its clichéd point to worry 'what ever happened to me?' Luckily some gorgeous harmonies (including Al, while Dave is on guitar) are on hand to save this song from being trite and some 'Pet Sounds' style instrumentation makes this the most Beach Boys song on the album too. Some better lyrics and this might have been a winner.
'On The Island' is a bland and smug song that tries to return to early Beach Boys but without the same musical grasp and cuteness. The song features 'She & Him', actress Zooey Deschanel and Mike Ward in other words, whistling and crooning their way through an ineffectual backing highlighted by Hawaiian guitar and Brian doing his Sinatra impressions (best not to think about the 45-year-age gap as they try to deuce each other, by the way). It's every bit as awful as that sounds, despite a nice laidback melody.
Thank goodness for 'Half Moon Bay', easily the best thing here thanks to some excellent Beach Boys style harmonies and some dreamy and typically Brian use of guitar, strings and Mark Isham's trumpet. It's a lot better than either instrumental on 'Pet Sounds', if not quite up to 'Smile' or better still Dennis Wilson's similar work in the late 1970s, tugging at the heart strings and conveying mood through telepathy without the need for words. Quite beautiful.
Hip hop a capella singer Peter Hollens has had a weird career and so has Brian, so it's actually a disappointment to hear that 'Our Special Love' is just another dumb modern pop song that sounds as if it belongs in a modern Disney movie (not a good one like 'Pete's Dragon', I mean a dumb one like 'The Emperor's New Groove' or something). Love is special all around the world apparently, according to these patronising lyrics. Yeah, thanks, didn't know that.
'The Right Time' is better than average, with some great Dave Marks guitar and a nice strong lead vocal from Al Jardine. The lyrics deal with a relationship Brian wishes had been better - but whether he's talking to Al or to his cousin (or someone else entirely) is unclear. The narrator wishes he'd walked a 'straight line' instead of meeting up and breaking up again and there's some nice ideas in this song that point towards 'That Lucky Old Sun' style autobipgraphy. Unfortunately it's just a re-write of the superior Brian Wilson song 'Lay Down Burden' from 1998.
Kacey Musgraves fares the best of the guest stars, although I'd still prefer to hear 'Guess You Had To Be There' with Brian singing alone. After all this is a song for an old man not a young girl, full of sweet sighing memories of the 1960s and a time when being a hippie was something to be proud of. A nice burst of harmonies and a return to the banjo complements another of the album's better songs, while it's nice to hear Brian after all his problems singing that he really did love being young once and 'all the best people were always hanging out at my place!'
'Tell Me Why' is another regretful song about a lost partnership - one that sounds as if it's more likely to be about Marilyn than a musical partner. Brian regrets having 'not heard from you again' after making a mistake years ago and his determination to 'get on with my life', the song suddenly exploding from monochrome into colour with a gorgeous vocal lift and a strong lead from Al. However it's not quite sincere or original enough to really pull at the heartstrings the way Brian can at his best.
'Sail Away' features a prematurely old Blondie Chaplin returning to [268] 'Sail On Sailor' with another song where life is an ocean journey. However the song is far less original and tough and soon Al Jardine's back again to turn the song into a caricature. Brian was obsessed with Randy Newman's song 'Sail Away' and this track owes more to his work than The Beach Boys. A colossal disappointment as sequels go.
'One Kind Of Love' opens with the lick from 'You Still Believe In Me', before moving on to be a similar song of faith in a partner, clearly written for second wife Melinda. 'I feel alive again!' sings Brian, as he lists all his failures but realises his loved one doesn't care about any of them. It's sweet and pretty, but rather less inspired than many similar love songs Brian wrote in the past and the non-rhyme of 'unconditional' and 'wishin'fer' is grounds enough for a divorce!
Nate Reuss used to be in indie pop band 'Fun'. Well he sure doesn't sound as if he's having any on 'Saturday Night', a clichéd and rather wordy song about wanting to have a second chance wooing his partner the way he used to years ago. This needs to be an older man's song and needs the vulnerability of Brian as he is now (or was in 2015 anyway) - this all sounds so perfect it's imperfect.
'The Last Song' aims to give us another [413] 'Summer's Gone' moment just in case this does turn out to be Brian's last will and testament. However it can't match that song for power or sentiment, despite another lovely sleepy melody that suddenly bursts into a delayed 'la la la' chorus like a drunken 'Hey Jude' and yet another lyric about second chances. 
Overall, then, 'No Pier Pressure' is an ironic title given that Brian suffers too much from trying to make people like him when all he really needs to do is be himself - quirky, innocent, fascinating and sweet. Adding people who share no chemistry with him just dilutes this album's strengths and piles on the weaknesses of another batch of material that's made more out of perspiration than inspiration. There are some nice moments in here though, especially when Al, Dave and Blondie return, and this half-likeable album is certainly an improvement on 'That's Why God Made The Radio' even if it never comes close to even the standards of 'Brian Wilson' 'Imagination' 'Gettin' In Over My Head' and 'That Lucky Old Sun'.

"Live In Sacramento"

(Capitol, Recorded August 1964, Released December 2014)

Little Honda/Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow/The Little Old Lady From Pasadena/Hushabye/Hawaii/ Let's Go Trippin'/The Wanderer/Surfer Girl/Monster Mash/Be True To Your School/Graduation Day/Surfin' USA/Don't Back Down/Don't Worry Baby/Wendy/I Get Around/Fun Fun Fun and a second disc with the same tracks in a different order plus Louie Louie
"And now, let's hear it- who've you come to see? Because you sure as hell can't hear them! Let's welcome them - they can't hear you - which is odd because we've had complaints from outer space about the noise. Anyway here they are, The Beach Boys!"
For fans who couldn't get enough of 'The Beach Boys Concert' (well statistically speaking somebody must, right?!) comes this surprise fiftieth anniversary present, another of those gee-the-copyright's-up-so-let's-not-tell-anybody-it's-out releases available only through iTunes at the time of writing. To be honest 'The Beach Boys Concert' is more than enough ramshackle-performances-with-screams for anybody and this show taped just seven months later isn't all that different (though 'Little Honda' is a cool new opening number, 'Hawaii' rocks much better than the studio take and 'Don't Back Down' begins with a killer drum solo from Dennis - only a daft 'Louie Louie' and a mauled 'Surfer Girl disappoint). The band are in rougher form throughout, without the benefit of post-show overdubs as per the official album but then that's half the joy - we're so used to hearing The Beach Boys sounding pristine that hearing them struggle to stay together against a tide of screaming  fans is undoubtedly fascinating. The Beach Boys always had charm on their side, especially in this era and despite all the problems this is a good show - albeit one that's still often a struggle to listen to. Perhaps the most interesting things are the two songs taped during rehearsals to see how the band would sound and which don't suffer from the screams - a fierce 'Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow' with Brian growling like a man possessed and Mike wildly out of control and a rough go at 'Pasadena' merging with 'Don't Back Down' reveals how much attention went into these shows before the sheer noise of the audience meant all subtlety went out the window! A fascinating but not essential purchase.

"Live In Chicago"

(Capitol, Recorded  March 1965, Released December 2015)

Do You Wanna Dance?/Little Honda/Surfin' USA/Don't Worry Baby/Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow/Monster Mash/Louie Louie/Hawaii/Surfer Girl/Runaway/Shut Down/Wendy/Please Let Me Wonder/Fun Fun Fun/I Get Around/Johnny B Goode
A second disc includes a second show with similar tracks in a different order plus 409
"And now, let's hear it- who've you come to see? Because you sure as hell can't hear them! Let's welcome them - they can't hear you - which is odd because we've had complaints from outer space about the noise. Anyway here they are The Beach Boys!"
Another of those 'gee I guess if someone else is going to release it now it's out of copyright I guess it better be us' albums that clearly wouldn't have seen the light of day unless the Capitol's hands had been forced by the bootleggers, 'Live In Chicago' is a rare chance to hear The Beach Boys getting ever more rough and ready on stage and they become more and professional in the studio around the time of their first masterpiece 'Today' (was 'Today' really over fifty years ago? 'Today' seems like 'Yesterday'). The most interesting thing to note is that Glen Campbell is part of the band, tackling Brian's lead vocals with hope rather than accuracy but slotting into the harmonies rather better. Dennis' cover of 'Do You Wanna Dance?' has now arrived as the opening song, joined by a very flat rendition of 'Don't Worry Baby', rather lovely versions of 'Runaway' and 'In My Room' (which Mike dedicated to 'everyone really old - like 25 or so!' And no, 'In My Room' really isn't sexy despite what he says here!) and a rocking encore of Chuck Berry's 'Johnny B Goode' that beats anything on 'Beach Boys Concert'. Oddly 'Please Let Me Wonder' is the only 'modern' song they do - badly, sadly. However the sound is poor even for a bootleg and the band seem as if they're singing a million light years from their microphones - which might be a blessing actually, given how off-key they often are. Wretched, of course, but also somehow compelling - after all, we weren't meant to know about this release and it's like an extra rather than a money-spinner so 'ssssh!' it's our little secret.
Bruce Johnston, Mike Love and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra "The Symphonic Beach Boys"
(Intersound Records, July 1998)
Overture (California Girls-Sloop John B-Surfer Girl-God Only Knows-In My Room)/Kokomo/God Only Knows/Wouldn't It Be Nice?/Disney Girls/Darlin'/All Surf Medley (Catch A Wave-Surfin' Safari-Surf City-Hawaii)/The Warmth Of The Sun/The Water Planet Suite (Heroes and Villains-Help Me Rhonda-Wouldn't It Be Nice?)
"I'll fill your head with strings, a trombone and a tootsie drum roll"
Very much Bruce's baby, this orchestral reinterpretation of Beach Boys classics and non-classics is as overblown, saccharine, cloying and occasionally moving as you might expect. This could of course have been great, had it been done slightly differently and a little more courageously. Brian Wilson was famous for using orchestras of course, which makes the dull lifeless arrangements of songs like [145] 'God Only Knows' and [138] 'Wouldn't It Be Nice?' rather pointless when you can just playback 'Pet Sounds'. Hearing the original record of [385] 'Kokomo' plastered with strings also seems a daft call given that you don't even hear them for half the song and the master-tape is clearly in poor condition (what had they been doing to it the past ten years?!) Mike, Bruce and The Beach Boys Touring Band's faux Beach Boys harmonies are also terrible and about as close to the real thing as The Spice Girls are to Janis Joplin. However the harder-edged rockier tracks do sound rather good when played by a full-blown orchestra, with against all the odds the surfing medley turning out to be about the best thing on the album (or at least the most different without getting it stupidly wrong) closely followed by [253] 'Disney Girls', which Bruce has clearly been itching to re-cast for a big orchestra since discovering just how small the band's budget at Warner Brothers really was. The suites do work quite well too, combining songs that really shouldn't fit into a more than passable, memorable whole. It's all a bit short though and lacks the adventurous forgotten songs from The Beach Boys' back catalogue that would really benefit from such a treatment (the choral [340] 'Good Timin' or[346] 'Baby Blue' from 'LA Light Album' would sound gorgeous dressed up like this or any of the synthesiser ballads from 'Beach Boys Love You' for instance). Clearly a labour of love for Bruce, with Mike adding his name to give the song extra Beach Boy status, though sadly this album is too often a labour of love to sit through for us as well.
"The Big Beat"
(Capitol, Recorded 1963, Released December 17th 2013)
The Big Beat (Bob and Sherri)/1st Rock and Roll Dance (Brian Wilson)*/Gonna Hustle You (Brian Wilson)*/Ride Away (Bob and Sherri)*/Funny Boy (The Honeys)/Marie (The Honeys)/Mother May*/I Do (Demo)*/Bobby Left Me (Brian Wilson)*/If It Can't Be You (Gary Usher)/You Brought It All On Yourself (The Honeys)/Make The Night A Little Longer (The Honeys)/Rabbit's Foot (The Honeys)/Summer Moon (Bob Norberg)/Side Two (Brian Wilson)*/The Ballad Of Ole' Betsy (Demo)*/Thank Him (For Our Love) (Brian Wilson)*/Once You've Got Him (The Honeys)/For Always and Forever (The Honeys)/Little Dirt Bike (The Honeys)/Darling I'm Not Stepping Out On You (The Honeys)/When I Think About You (The Honeys)
"Released 'cause Betsy's growing old!"
Scared by 'Surfin' 62' this official set of 1963 vintage recordings from Capitol was the label's attempt to re-claim copyright on their next chronological set of recordings for another half-century; although an official release, this set came out without fanfare and was quietly buried to the point where many fans didn't know it was out, with as minimal packaging and time and effort as they could get away with (there isn't one picture of the Beach Boys on the cover). This second set consists not of Beach Boys recordings per se (not many session tapes exist from 1963 oddly, not like 1962 and 1964) but a cornucopia of unused Brian Wilson demos, Brian Wilson productions for collaborators Bob Norberg and Gary Usher and a whole host of recordings (mainly unreleased demos) by Brian's wife Marilyn and sisters-in-law Diane and Barbara. The Beach Boys recordings are clearly the highlights: who'd have guessed that [47] 'The Ballad Of Ole Betsy' was written two full years before its appearance on 'Little Deuce Coupe' (why leave it behind when the band clearly needed material - it would have been better than any of the five surfing 'jams' on 'Surfin' USA'!); similarly the demo for [57] 'I Do' is every bit as lovely as the finished product (recorded by the band but ultimately left off the 'Surfer Girl' album; like the finished version the response is 'why?' - this sweet and mature Brian Wilson song is better than most of a similar vintage; also why did such lovely pieces as 'Thank Him For Our Love' and the fun 'Gonna Hustle You' (another of Brian's early competitive songs) get passed by for such gems as, err, [11] 'Chug-A-Lug' and [30] 'Honky Tonk'?! Best of all though might be 'Mother May' - we're not quite sure how seriously this Beach Boys track was being taken but it's one of the band's funnier comedy spoofs, with Mike Love rather convincing in his portrayal as the sweet old granny (who may or may not be from Pasadena). The rest of this set is largely dispensable though and not up to the similar archive releases that came out either side of it: the Brian Wilson productions could be made by any half-decent surfing act and don't contain that Brian Wilson production 'gold' while the Honeys recordings are particularly disappointing: before their reinvention as 'American Spring' their act as a 'female Beach Boys' is already wearing a bit thin this early in the band's career and they lack the depth and power of their male counterparts. Still, a set like this is nice to have and it's certainly a lot better for these tracks to be out in the light of day rather than sitting in a dusty vault, even if Capitol have for the moment decided to cover the set up as much as they possibly can...

"Keep An Eye On Summer - Sessions 1964"

(Capitol, Recorded  1964, Released December 2014)

Fun Fun Fun/Why Do Fools Fall In Love?/Don't Worry Baby/In The Parkin' Lot/The Warmth Of The Sun/Pom Pom Playgirl/Denny's Drums/Keep An Eye On Summer/Endless Sleep/I Get Around/All Summer Long/Hushabye/Girls On The Beach/Wendy/Don't Back Down/Little Saint Nick/Let's Live Before We Die/Little Honda/She Knows Me Too Well/Don't Hurt My Little Sister/Christmas Eve/Jingle Bells/When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)/Fun Fun Fun (Live)/I Get Around (Live)/I'm So Young/All Dressed Up For School/Dance Dance Dance/I Get Around (BBC)/The Little Old Lady From Pasadena (BBC)/Graduation Day (BBC)/Surfin' USA (BBC)/Johnny B Goode
"When I feel put down I try to shake it off quick, with my chick by my side the radio does the trick!"
Sadly we don't seem to have had the run of 'out of copyright' releases I was hoping for in 2014. Last year, you see, was full of these as recordings from 1963 hit fifty years old and could technically have been released by bootleggers to an unsuspecting public without any fear of recriminations at all. The law has been tightened, if not exactly strangled or even made clearer over the past year. The Beatles didn't bother with any session tapes this year, while Janis Joplin's estate (who did so much in 2013) didn't have anything much to release either. The Beach Boys, however, had lots. This second set of studio work is even more interesting than last years' sets 'Big Beat' and 'Surfin' '62', containing as it does a full year's active work in the studio for the first time and many of the recordings are so good you have to scratch your head over why these songs didn't make it onto any of the zillions of 'proper' outtakes sets out there. This is the era when Murry 'Dad' Wilson was in charge of the studio and the band's sulky teenage interactions with him leads to many of the set's best moments, although they still fit in a whole heap of goofing off whether he's there or not which makes this compilation the Beach Boy equivalent of the Beatle fanclub flexidiscs (the set even starts with a painfully slow blues version of [59] 'Fun Fun Fun' that's hilarious - why didn't this make the albums instead of [62] 'Cassius Love V Sonny Wilson' or [81] 'Our Favourite Recording Sessions'?!?) Other highlights includes Denny bursting into a drum attack and Brian rushing to tape it properly as [70] 'Denny's Drums' and trying to direct his brother whose only really letting off a bit of steam and doesn't want to cooperate at all. There's also a gloriously messy alternate arrangement of [72] 'All Summer Long' complete with a jam based around a xylophone and lots of swearing as Brian keeps messing the part up and a brilliant backing track for one of the band's most overlooked rockers [103] 'Dance Dance Dance' (recorded in 1964 and released in 1965) that rocks as hard as anything their rivals were up to in 1964.
There's even a whole load of new songs never even bootlegged before and while the cream of the crop had definitely already been taken for the CD re-issues and outtakes sets down the years there's some great stuff here too: a Brian Wilson production of 'Endless Sleep' for Delores Nance and Jody Reynolds that's a fascinatingly densely textured stepping stone to the more complex work of 1965; there's a whole new jam 'Let's Live Until We Die' based around a funky surfing piano riff that's a single take away from being great before the band reluctantly give up and a Brian Wilson original named 'Christmas Eve' that's as close to pure easy listening as he ever got, with Four Freshman arranger Dick Reynolds going even more big budget than the second side of the Christmas album. There's also some intriguing Beach Boys TV performances tacked on the end that prove what a tight live band they were - tighter than the goofball studio band a lot of the time! Not to mention some exquisite vocals only mixes (with [101]'When I Grow Up To Be A Man' particularly wonderful) that shows just how much hard work went into these original recordings.
Sadly the intriguing looking BBC sessions from a brief UK tour in 1964 are rather flat performances in very fuzzy sound that could and should have been cleaned up and 'Jingle Bells' is actually mis-labelled and is The Beach Boys-less backing track for [91] 'Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town' which will give you some kind of idea of just how little thought actually went into this project, but even if Capitol doesn't care and wants us to forget this you-have-to-search-for-it-on-iTunes compilation released for legal reasons, for Beach Boys fans it's the holy grail (even if it's occasionally a holey pail with a whole lot of mistakes in there too). Some of the songs here are not a patch on what remains in the vaults (there's a whole load interesting outtakes from the 'All Summer Long' album in particular, far more exciting than what we get here). All in all, a fascinating and impressively lengthy set that even beats last years'. If I was working for Capitol I'd have told them to plug these records for all they're worth and talk them up a bit more - The Beach Boys have never sounded more human, more rocking and rarely better, for all the usual perfections of their period albums.
"The Beach Boys Party! - Complete and Uncovered"
(Capitol, Recorded 1965, Released December 2015)
CD One: Hully Gully/I Should Have Known Better/Tell Me Why/Papa Oom-Mow-Mow/Mountain Of Love/You've Got To Hide Your Love Away/Devoted To You/Alley-Oop/There's No Other (Like My Baby)/I Get Around-Little Deuce Coupe/The Times They Are A-Changin'/Barbara Ann/Let's Get This Party Rollin'!/I Should Have Known Better/Ruby Baby/I Can't Get No (Satisfaction)/Hully Gully/Blowin' In The Wind/Dialogue/Ruby Baby/Dialogue/Hully Gully/Dialogue/(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction/Ruby Baby/I Should Have Known Better/Tell Me Why/Don't Worry Baby/You've Got To Hide Your Love Away/Little Deuce Coupe/California Girls
CD Two: She Belongs To Me-The Artist/Hang On Sloopy-You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'-Twist and Shout/Riot In Cell Block no 9/The Diary/Dialogue/Tell Me Why/I Should Have Known Better/Dialogue/Mountain Of Love/Devoted To You/You've Got To Hide Your Love Away/Ticket To Ride/Alley Oop/There's No Other (Like My Baby)/Dialogue/Devoted To You/You've Got To Hide Your Love Away/I Get Around/Little Deuce Coupe/Mountain Of Love/Ticket To Ride/Riot In Cell Block No 9/The Artist/One Kiss Leads To Another/You've Go Hide Your Love Away/Dialogue/The Times They Are A-Changin'/Heart and Soul-Long Tall Sally/The Boy From New York City/Snokey Joe's Cafe/Dialogue/Barbara Ann
"Don't be a party pooper, I'm not ready to break up the party yet!"
The latest and perhaps the best of The Beach Boys' fifty-years-old-best-before-date-copyright-rule releases, this re-issue is more than enough reason for fans to celebrate. If you somehow missed our review then these recordings came from a 'fake' party featuring unplugged recordings of some favourite cover songs and old favourites first recorded fairly cohesively and then given a new set of overdubs via a playback session where friends and family come in to add laughter, ad libs and munchings on potato chips. The result is a lot better than it has any right to be - I'll confess now, I much prefer it to 'Pet Sounds' - but we've often wondered: just how much of the Beach Boys' goofing off made it to the record? And how 'live' really was it? Well the answers are not much and not very: there's actually over two hours of this stuff condensed to a half hour record, here left to run in real time complete with breakdowns, abandoned ideas and some really corny jokes. It's a brilliant listen, showing that The Beach Boys could re-act to suggestions and turn in releasable performances without thinking twice about it and the sessions really do sound as much fun to attend as the record promised. Of all the AAA recording sessions out there, these are the ones I want to attend with genuinely funny jokes, banter and hysterics in between some actually pretty serious attempts at music making.
The new double disc set, which comes with a clever sepia tinges altered version of the original technicolour print, reveals that the sessions actually took place across five days and are every bit as chaotic as they sounded. To start with on the first disc we get the original album remixed without all the later 'party atmosphere' overdubs which makes it much easier to hear the actual songs and the dialogue between songs that's never really been clear before ('I forgot where 'E' was!' busks Brian before 'Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow', while Mike wittily responds to Brian's statement 'Tell Me Why is my favourite Beatles song...wait, how does it go?' with the perfectly natural 'Tell me why 'Tell Me Why' is your favourite Beatles song). Songs like 'No Other Baby' and 'Devoted To You' meanwhile sound even more extraordinary coming into full bloom amidst the chaos, the band going from goofing off mode to note-perfect mode in seconds. We know The Beach Boys wasn't always a 'fun' group to be in - all that misery, all those rows, so many breakdowns and feuds and court cases. But here, across five days, The Beach Boys sounds like our utopian idea of just how much fun it is to be in a band where everybody knows each other so well that the music is perfect, the jokes are funny and everyone is pulling in one direction. In a sense you almost wish 'Pet Sounds' and 'Smile' hadn't come along to ruin the fun.
Throughout the two hours ideas comes and go, some of them turning into full multiple-take renditions and others breaking off into awkward silence as the track falls apart. After we were teased with [136] 'Ruby Baby' on the '30 Years Of Good Vibrations' box set fans wondered if there were any more totally abandoned songs here. There were lots, most of them up to album standards: a sensational cover of the Stones' 'Satisfaction' turned into a Brian Wilson-led bongo frenzy, a gorgeous Al Jardine cover of 'Blowin' In The Wind' that's far superior to the 'Times They Are A Changin' that made the record, a cynical and much re-written version of more obscure Dylan cover 'The Artist' that probably shouldn't have been released to be fair, the funniest of the Coasters songs 'One Kiss Led To Another' which is much tighter than anything on the final album, Leiber and Stoller's 'Smokey Joe's Cafe' which isn't far behind, a brief 'Hang On Sloopy', a folky 'Ticket To Ride' in the style of the other Beatles covers on the album (though the band only seem to know the ending!) and an early example of Mike Love's obsession with 'Riot In Cell Block #9', which will become the basis for his song 'Student Demonstration Time' in 1971. Better yet is a deconstructed unplugged [115] 'California Girls' that's tighter than the 'Little Deuce Coupe' medley that made the album, ruined only by a sneeze and the band forgetting their own lyrics towards the end (even though they'd been playing it concert for months!) Some of these takes needed work, but for songs plucked out of the air they're pretty remarkable and show just how wide The Beach Boys' palette actually was back in 1965.
Even better than the new stuff, though, is the chance to hear the old stuff in context as it evolves little it by little bit: 'Barbara Ann' is not a planned disciplined hit single from the off but a Dean Torrence suggestion at the eleventh hour that grows in skill and confidence as the band first learn and then perfect one of their most endearing songs, Brian makes the band do the Beatles cover 'Tell Me Why' all over again because it's too slow and Carl Wilson cares so much about getting other fabs cover 'You've Got To Hide Your Love Away' right that he takes himself off alone to lay down a proper backing track of just the guitar, which is great even without the vocals.  Astonishingly the band went through six 'Tell Me Why's before they got what they wanted and four 'Ruby Baby's before they didn't get what they wanted, even though more together tracks like 'Mountain Of Love' and 'Devoted To You' seem to have been nailed in more or less one take. You can hear the band rejecting ideas along the way, adding jokes and arrangement touches along the way.
There's also yet more fun and games from a band enjoying themselves like never before, lots of Mike Love puns and teasing going on back and forth (Dylan's 'She Belongs to Me' will never sound the same again, transformed from a song about a girl who 'steals everything she sees' into a girl who 'smells like a city zoo'. You had to be there really). There's a brilliant moment too when Carl pretends to go get his bass from the car - even though it's right there next to him - and the rest egg him on out the 'door' before realising they've gone too far and spoiled the joke (Mike: 'But I thought your car was impounded yesterday!') Another great gag is Brian asking for cigarettes and Bruce adding 'those are candy cigarettes of course though!' Bruce is in good form actually, adding 'We're not going to say anything about booze or pot - we're just going to be smoke it!' More seriously, the band discusses Murry's 'replacement' band The Sun-Rays - Carl and Mike wish them well, with well-meaning sympathy that speaks volumes, while Carl asks for a bucket of ice water because he's been playing too hard his hands are hurting, Al joking 'oh yeah, I should have told you about that guitar...' Carl accidentally says 'my poor tyre fingers' and gets mercilessly teased for most of the next ten minutes (he was probably relieved this bit didn't make it onto the album!) Simply glorious - one of the Beach Boys archive session sets I've been longing to hear the most (in fact thankyou Capitol for listening to my plea in the original review, although the copyright 50 year ruling probably had more to do with things than what I wrote!) and it's both longer and better than I ever hoped. This shouldn't be quietly released in the hope that most people won't even know it's out and Capitol can bury it - it ought to be a deluxe gorgeous re-issue, trumpeted the world wide as an example of how great The Beach Boys can be. The release date is, in fact, a good excuse for a party - so whose with me?!
Mike Love and Bruce Johnston "Summertime Cruisin'" aka "Catch A Wave"
(Capitol, '2001')
Catch A Wave/Do It Again/I Get Around/California Girls/Surfin' Safari/Surfin' USA/Surfer Girl/Little Deuce Coupe/Little Old Lady From Pasadena/Shut Down/Don't Worry Baby/Kokomo/Good Vibrations/Summertime Music/Camp California
"I've been thinking about all the faces we've missed so let's get back together and do it again!"
'Summertime Cruisin' could, technically, have been released under The Beach Boys banner, with Brian and Al leaving for different reasons and Carl and Dennis now dead, but to do them credit Mike and Bruce decide to make this re-recording of old Beach Boys classics a much more obscure and 'cheap' product. In fact the CD was re-issued several times under different names - the first version 'Catch A Wave' from 1996 only credits Mike, but we've included this edition because it runs four songs longer. Which is no great thing particularly but hey, you only want to sit through these songs once. Using the backing band Mike had been slowly putting together (and barely anything from Bruce, despite his co-billing) this album sounds like a Beach Boys tribute act - sadly one that don't always know how to sing or care. Had the track selection been a little more adventurous then the singer might have got away with it, but the danger in re-making songs everyone knows is that you're never going to improve on the originals anyway - and certainly not if you replace their timelessness with a very retro 1980s drum and synth sound. One or two of the obscurities work though - it's nice to hear 'Little Old Lady From Pasadena' again without the screaming of 'The Beach Boys Concert' while the band didn't often play [8] 'Surfin' Safari' or [36] 'Catch A Wave' after they made them anyway. You really don't need yet another note-for-note re-creation of [385] 'Kokomo' though. This isn't quite the travesty other fans think, but it does all feel slightly pointless somehow. The two new songs are nice though and hint at what the missing album between 1992's 'Summer In Paradise' and 2012's 'That's Why God Made The Radio' might have sounded like. 'Summertime Music' is a typical Mike Love song about having fun in the summertime recorded in 1991 and oddly rejected from the 'Paradise' album though it's no better and not a lot worse than what's on there. 'Camp California' meanwhile dates from slightly later and is an updated [59] 'Fun Fun Fun', with an upbeat energetic rhythm and lyrics about how good it is to be home. Neither are tracks you'd want to go out of your way to hear but at least Canadian producer Adrian Baker actually is a Beach Boys fan and you can tell that he's having fun getting to hear all these hits made up-close even if we don't get the same benefit.
Al Jardine "Live In Las Vegas"
(Jardine Tours, August 2002)
Dance Dance Dance/Do You Wanna Dance?/Catch A Wave/Hawaii/Do It Again/Darlin'/Wild Honey/Come Go With Me/Surfer Girl/Don't Worry Baby/Shut Down/Little Deuce Coupe/I Get Around/In My Room/Girl Don't Tell Me/Break Away/Sail On Sailor/God Only Knows/Sloop John B/Wouldn't It Be Nice?/Good Vibrations/Help Me Rhonda/Surfin' USA/Barbara Ann/Fun Fun Fun/California Energy Blues
"Well say you never, never really, never gave me a chance - but love me darlin' and come go with me!"
Hot on the heels of Brian revisiting 'Pet Sounds' in concert comes this spirited if slightly tuneless live album from Al. To be fair, there's a lot going against Jardine on this one but he doesn't make things easy on himself. The singer's trouble is that he only ever sang lead on two original Beach Boys hits - [102] 'Help Me Rhonda' and [341] 'Lady Lynda', the latter of which Al has always refused to sing since divorcing his wife and isn't here.  Also, Al's natural quiet and rather dry voice is very different to those of the extrovert Mike, falsetto Brian, sweet Carl and sensual Dennis so he can't really get away with pretending to provide the 'Beach Boys sound'. Even a guesting Wilson Phillips, a regular part of Al's touring band in this era, are under-used in favour of more general backing singers, which is rather a shame. Al was never really famous as a writer either and though I for one would have loved to hear a bunch of obscure Jardine songs like [270-272] 'The California Saga' and [351] 'Santa Ana Winds' I can also see why he record company asked him to stick to just the hits. So this is the sound of a man trying to pay his mortgage by releasing a live souvenir of what his tour sounds like in the hope that some other curious Beach Boys fans might bite. It's not bad and occasionally sounds rather good, with Al at least having the guts to tackle semi-rarities like a spirited [103] 'Dance Dance Dance' and a rocking [178] 'Wild Honey', plus songs never heard in concert before such as Carl's vocal [114] 'Girl Don't Tell Me' complete with 'hey little girl now' tag nicked from [315] 'Hey Little Tomboy' and the band's most obscure 1960s single, the gorgeous [226] 'Breakaway'. The one new song, 'California Energy Blues', is pretty awful though - The Beach Boys don't suit blues, even by spin-off bands, though the ecological protest in the lyrics sounds more at 'home' in The Beach Boys canon. Jardine isn't in great voice but he gets through it all as good as any natural harmony singer suddenly promoted to lead in later life ever can and his backing band is maybe a little better than the one Mike and Bruce tour with (if no Wondermints). However it's not the sort of thing you really need to pay money for when you can just go back and play the originals in their original setting and - rather aptly for an album made in Las Vegas - this concert LP is a bit of a gamble that doesn't quite pay off. 

"Songs From Here and Back"
(Hallmark, May 15th 2009)
Intro/Dance Dance Dance/Wouldn't It Be Nice?/Surfer Girl/Kokomo/Car Medley Intro/Little Deuce Coupe/I Get Around/Good Vibrations/(Brian Wilson): Spirit Of Rock and Roll/ (Al Jardine): PT Cruiser/ (Mike Love): Cool Head, Warm Heart
"Happy Father's Day for when you're bugged at your ol' man and want to buy him the worst present you can find!"
'Gee thanks son! Gosh I wonder what you've me this year? A surfing holiday in Hawaii? A 'Brian Wilson is a Genius' T-shirt?! Concerts to see the Spice Girls Musical die an ugly death?!? Oh, why how - err- thoughtful of you son, a limited edition compilation of various live and solo Beach Boys recordings released exclusively in greetings card chain Hallmark's stores across a two-year period. Ah just look at that tag: 'This is how much I love you'  - and to think I didn't even know that I'd scarred you for life that badly! You know, I just look at that track listing and it all brings those many wonderful years of fatherhood back to me: [103] 'Dance Dance Dance' when I stood on one of your pointy toys, [40] 'Little Deuce Coupe' for the old jalopy I had to sell to get a bigger car when my family came along and [385] 'Kokomo' for that rather odd holiday I must have taken in Jamaica but obviously can't remember. Why, how did Hallmark think of putting all these songs that aren't the favourites of any Beach Boys fan that I know of together on a single disc?! Why are there only half an hour's worth when clearly there's a whole hour-plus show sitting in the vaults somewhere (and if these are the bits that were considered good enough to use them *shudder* what are the rest like?!) And fancy choosing to include just a few live performances too amongst the studio songs: it's as if I was really there, watching the 1989 vintage post-Brian and Dennis Wilson Beach Boys and screaming - boy did I scream that night I can tell you, I still have nightmares! (There's a couple of tracks from 1974 as well, apparently, not that you can really tell). And as for the three exclusive solo Beach Boy tracks, well what a treat it is to have three songs not deemed good enough for release on such vapid albums as 'Looking Back With Love' and Brian's unfinished 'Sweet Insanity' project, abandoned for being too flipping awful. How thoughtful of you son but, between you and me, what say we give this father's day malarkey a miss next year eh?'


Our updated  list of Beach Boys related articles from this website:


'Surfin' USA' (1963) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-beach-boys-surfin-usa-1963.html

'Surfer Girl' (1963) http://www.alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/the-beach-boys-surfer-girl-1963.html

'Little Deuce Coupe' (1963) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.nl/2016/09/the-beach-boys-little-deuce-coupe-1963.html

'Shut Down Volume Two' (1964) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/the-beach-boys-shut-down-volume-two-1964.html

‘All Summer Long’ (1964) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/the-beach-boys-all-summer-long-1964.html

'Beach Boys Christmas' (1964) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/xmas-bumper-issue-revised-beach-boys.html

'Today' (1965) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/the-beach-boys-today-1965.html

'Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!!!!!!!) (1965)
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/news-views-and-music-issue-65-beach.html

'Party!' (1965) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/the-beach-boys-party-1965.html

'Pet Sounds' (1966) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2016/12/the-beach-boys-pet-sounds-1966.html


'Surf's Up' (1971) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/the-beach-boys-surfs-up-1971-album.html


’15 Big Ones’ (1976) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/the-beach-boys-15-big-ones-1976.html

'Love You' (1977) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2016/07/the-beach-boys-love-you-1977.html

'Pacific Ocean Blue' (Dennis Wilson solo) (1977)
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/news-views-and-music-issue-97-dennis.html

'Merry Xmas From The Beach Boys!' (Unreleased) (1977)
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/news-views-and-music-issue-126-merry.html

'M.I.U Album' (1978) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/the-beach-boys-miu-album-1978.html

'L.A.Light Album' (1979)
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2008/07/review-75-beach-boys-la-light-album.html

'Keeping The Summer Alive' (1980) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/the-beach-boys-keeping-summer-alive-1980.html

'The Beach Boys' (1985) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/the-beach-boys-1985.html

'Still Cruisin' (1989) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2016/10/the-beach-boys-still-cruisin-1989.html

'Summer In Paradise' (1992) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/the-beach-boys-summer-in-paradise-1992.html

'Smile' (Brian Wilson solo) (2004) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2008_06_29_archive.html

'That Lucky Old Sun' (Brian Wilson solo) (2008)
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2010/03/news-views-and-music-issue-55-brian.html

'Smile Sessions' (band outtakes)(2011)  
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/news-views-and-music-issue-142-beach.html

'That's Why God Made The Radio' (2012) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/the-beach-boys-thats-why-god-made-radio.html

The Best Unreleased Beach Boys Recordings  http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/the-beach-boys-unreleased-songs-top.html

A Complete (ish) Guide To The Beach Boys' Surviving TV Clips http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/the-beach-boys-complete-ish-guide-to.html

Solo/Live/Compilation/Rarities Albums Part One 1962-86 http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/beach-boys-sololivecompilationunrelease.html

Solo/Live/Compilation/Rarities Albums Part Two 1988-2014 http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/beach-boys-sololivecompilationunrelease_25.html

Non-Album Songs Part One 1962-1969 http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/beach-boys-non-album-songs-part-one.html

Non-Album Songs Part Two 1970-2012 http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/beach-boys-non-album-songs-part-two.html