Beach Boys, The


Band members                              Related acts

- Al Jardin -- vocals, guitar (1961-)

- Mike Love -- vocals (1961-)

- Brian Wilson -- vocals, bass, keyboards (1961-)

- Carl Wilson (RIP 1998) -- vocals, guitar (1961-)

- Dennis Wilson (RIP 1983) -- vocals, drums, percussion

  (1961-)

 

 

- Celebration (Mike Love)

- Al Jardin (solo efforts)

- Brian Wilson (solo efforts)

- Carl Wilson (solo efforts)

- Dennis Wilson (solo efforts)

 

 

 

 


 

Genre: pop

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Wild Honey

Company: Capital

Catalog: ST 2859

Year: 1967

Country/State: Hawthorne, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD 5094

Price:SOLD  $15.00

 

Critics have never been particularly generous towards 1967's "Wild Honey".  That's unfortunate since the album's far better than those critics would have you believe.  Released as front man Brian Wilson continued to wrestle with internal demons and the band tried to figure out a future musical direction, the results weren't exactly the band's creative masterpiece, but made for a surprisingly enjoyable release.  The first Beach Boys album to be group-produced, to my simplistic ears at least part of the album's charm rested with its quirky mix of conventional pop ('Aren't You Glad') blue-eyed soul moves (Carl Wilson's cover of Stevie Wonder's 'I Was Made To Love Her') and the plain strange (the "Smile" salvaged 'Mama Says').  While their trademarked vocal harmonies remained intact ('Let The Wind Blow'), the album was far loser and more laidback than earlier releases.  Heard today it certainly sounds dated, but that gave the set a soothing, nostalgic flavor that's nothing short of wonderful.  Highlights included the thermion-propelled title track, the glistening hit 'Darlin'' and the rocker 'Here Comes the Night' (not the Van Morrison/Them song).  Backed by a brief American tour the album managed to hit # 24.  It also spun off a pair of top-40 hit singles:

 

- 'Wild Honey' b/w 'Wind Chimes' (Capitol catalog number 2028)

- 'Darlin'' b/w ''Here Today' (Capitol catalog number 2068)

 

 

"Wild Honey" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Wild Honey  (Brian Wilson - Mike Love) - 2:37

2.) Aren't You Glad  (Brian Wilson - Mike Love) - 2:15

3.) I Was Made To Love Her    (Cosby - Hardaway - Sylvia Moy - Stevie Wonder) - 2:04

4.) Country Air  (Brian Wilson - Mike Love) -  2:19

5.) A Thing or Two  (Brian Wilson - Mike Love) - 2:40

 

(side 2)
1.) Darlin'   (Brian Wilson - Mike Love) - 2:11

2.) I'd Love Just Once To See You  (Brian Wilson - Mike Love) - 1:49

3.) Here Comes The Night  (Brian Wilson - Mike Love) - 2:41

4.) Let The Wind Blow  (Brian Wilson - Mike Love) - 2:19

5.) How She Boogalooed It  (Mike Love - Bruce Johnston - Alan Jardine - Brian Wilson - 1:09

6.) Mama Says  (Brian Wilson - Mike Love) - 1:04

 

 

 

 


Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Close-Up

Company: Capital

Catalog: SWBB-253

Year: 1969

Country/State: Hawthorne, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG

Comments: double LP; gatefold sleeve; small cut out hole top right corner

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5095

Price: $15.00

 

With the band in creative disarray, Capitol Records continued to churn out Beach Boys product.  Released in 1969, "Close Up" simply repackaged "Surfin; USA" and 'All Summer Long" as a two-fer.  New cover for the gatefold sleeve, but no new music.

 

"Close-Up" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Surfin' U.S.A.   (Chuck Berry) - 2:20

2.) Farmer's Daughter   (Brian Wilson) - 1:49

3.) Stoked   (Brian Wilson) - 2:02

4.) Lonely Sea   (Gary Usher - Brian Wilson) - 2:20

5.) Shut Down   (Brian Wilson - Roger Christian) - 1:50

 

(side 2)
1.) Noble Surfer   (Brian Wilson) - 1:50

2.) Honky Tonk   (Doggett - Scott - Butler - Shepard) - 2:00

3.) Lana   (Brian Wilson) - 1:40

4.) Surf Jam   (Carl Wilson) - 2:00

5.) Finders Keepers   (Brian Wilson) - 1:43

 

(side 3)

1.) I Get Around   (Brian Wilson) - 2:10

2.) All Summer Long   (Brian Wilson) - 2:05

3.) Little Honda   (Brian Wilson) - 1:50

4.) We'll Run Away   (Brian Wilson - Gary Usher) - 2:00

5.) Don't Back Down   (Brian Wilson) - 1:50

 

(side 4)
1.) Wendy   (Brian Wilson) - 2:20

2.) Do You Remember   (Brian Wilson) - 1:37

3.) Girls On the Beach   (Brian Wilson) - 2:25

4.) Drive In   (Brian Wilson) - 1:50

5.) Our Favorite Recording Sessions   (Brian Wilson - Dennis Wilson - Carl Wilson - Mike Love - Al Jardine) - 3:06

 

 

 

 


Genre: pop

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  20/20

Company: Capital

Catalog: SN 16155

Year: 1969

Country/State: Hawthorne, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: reissue

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 267

Price: $15.00

 

1969 saw the release of "20/20".  Technically the band's 20th album (including best of collections and other odds and ends), the album wasn't so much a true studio project as a collection of previously released singles and miscellaneous studio tracks, including a pair of "Smile" efforts. The project's haphazard roots were certainly a reflection on Brian Wilson's increasing detachment from the band.  Long the band's creative mainstay, this time around there as only one new  Brian composition.- the song snippet 'I Went To Sleep'.  Otherwise Brian's only contributions seems to have been appearing on the cover and inner sleeve photos. The upside of that situation was to give other members of the band including Brian Johnson, Carl Wilson, and Dennis Wilson and opportunity to showcase some of their talents.  The disjointed feel was probably also attributable to the fact this was one of those dreaded "contractual obligation" releases.   With  this set out of the way The Beach Boys were free of their longstanding partnership with Capitol Records.  Anyhow, I wouldn't call it a classic album, but on a song-by-song basis the set's surprisingly enjoyable, with only one clunker - Johnson's pretty, but MOR-ish instrumental 'The Nearest Far Away Place'.  The biggest surprise this time around ?   Dennis Wilson stepping into the spotlight penning the glorious 'Be with Me' and what may be the band's hardest rockin' track 'All I Want To Do'. 

 

Shame all contractual obligation albums aren't as enjoyable as "20/20".

 

"20/20" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Do It Again  (Mike Love - Brian Wilson) - 2:24   rating: ***** stars

Welcome back to 1964. Could 'Do It Again' be the perfect Beach Boys song ?  Certainly one of the best in terms of capturing the true Beach Boys vision of Southern California life style ... Mike Love reportedly wrote it after spending a day surfing with friends (Brian Wilson added the bouncy melody).  Always loved the weird opening sound effects ...  overdubbed drums and organ ?   Beats me, though I'm sure some Beach Boys aficionado will know and clue me in.   Critics saw it as a retreat from the cutting edge artistic moves they'd been making ("Pet Sounds" this and "Smile" that).   Don't listen to that crap.  It's a great summer tune.

2.) I Can Hear Music   (Jeff Barry) - 2:38   rating: ***** stars

Possibly the best Beach Boys song the Beach Boys didn't write themselves?  I'd be inclined to give the nod to Jeff Barry's 'I Hear Music'.  At least to my ears the song itself wasn't that great, but Carl Wilson's lead vocal was simply glistening.  I'm not Beach Boys expert, but I think it was also one of the first Beach Boys tracks done without any input from Brian Wilson, as well as being the single that didn't showcase Brian on lead vocals.  YouTube has a great black and white performance of the song, though Mike Love looks somewhat demonic during the performance - nice finger snapping there guy ! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qqyx4TW4Ptw    

3.) Bluebirds Over the Mountains   (Ersel Hickey) - 2:53   rating: **** stars

Much to my surprise their rocked-up cover of Ersel Hickey's 'Bluebirds Over the Mountains' was quite energetic and thoroughly  fun.   It sounded way out of place on the song, but I've always loved Bruce Johnson's psychedelic guitar licks and the punchy horns.  YouTube has a brief black and white  performance clip of the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6fXV8tAJfQ   

4.) Be with Me   (Dennis Wilson) - 3:16   rating: **** stars

To my ears Dennis was always the band's overlooked talented and those gifts were seldom displayed as well as on the fantastic ballad 'Be with Me'.  Dennis displayed that he could sing as well as write material that was every bit as melodic, charming, and engrossing as anything Brian did.  This was really a lost Beach Boys classic.  My only complaints would be the song is a bit over-orchestrated and was way too short.  There's also a fantastic instrumental version of the song out there.  

5.) All I Want To Do   (Dennis Wilson) - 2:20   rating: **** stars

Another Dennis song, 'All I Want To Do' has long been a personal favorite since it showcased the band doing something quite rare - rocking out with a vengeance.  Backed by fuzz guitar I don't think Mike Love ever sang a song with as much power and energy; you can literally hear him holding on for dear life.   Shame they didn't dive into rock more often.   And yes, its true, if you listen closely you can hear Dennis and some woman having sex.   

6.) The Nearest Far Away Place (instrumental)   (Bruce Johnson) - 2:36   rating: ** stars

Penned by Brian Johnson, 'The Nearest Far Away Place' was a pretty enough keyboard-propelled instrumental, but came off as a tad on the MOR side.

 

(side 2)
1.) Cotton Fields   (Huddie Ledbetter) - 2:18
rating: **** stars

Hum, you wouldn't think The Beach Boys would be able to handle a Leadbetter track, but darn if Al Jardin and company didn't somehow managed to pull it off.   Strange, strange, strange, but somehow  very likeable and commercial.  Interestingly, two years later the band recorded the track with a more country oriented arrangement, subsequently releasing it as a single: 'Cottonfields' b/w 'The Nearest Far Away Place' (Capitol catalog number ).  YouTube has a black and white performance clip of the song:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhAKyYctNFI 

2.) I Went To Sleep   (Brian Wilson) - 1:32      rating: *** stars

Originally intended for the "Friends" album, 'I Went To Sleep' sounded a bit like a stoned waltz.   I wonder how many bands Brian compositions like this one inspired ...  certainly The High Lamas who've made a career out of copying this kind of stuff. 

3.) Time To Get Alone   (Brian Wilson) - 2:40 rating: **** stars

The best Brian composition on the album with a wonderful Carl Wilson lead (Brian's featured on the chorus), 'Time To Get Alone' had a shimmering, twisting melody that served to showcase just how special their vocal harmonies could be.  Brian reported gave the song to an early version of Three Dog Night which infuriated the rest of the band.     

4.) Never Learn Not To Love   (Dennis Wilson) - 2:34 rating: **** stars

Perhaps The Beach Boys most troubling song, 'Never Learn Not To Love' evolved out of a Charles Manson song ('Cease To Exist').  Perhaps as a thank you for helping arranged an audition with producer Terry Melcher, Mason reportedly gave Dennis the song with direction that the music could be change, but the lyrics were to be left alone.  Dennis and company recorded the song, but not before undertaking a radical re-structuring of the song (much to Manson's displeasure). Learning the original lyrics had been dumped, an unstable Manson threaten to kill Dennis.  Dennis responded to the threat by beating the crap out of Manson and giving himself songwriting credits for the tune.   Musically it wasn't bad, with a slightly ominous, lysergic fog enveloping Dennis' vocals.  Not your typical Beach Boys song, but still interesting.  YouTube as a clip of the band performing the song on the Mike Douglas Show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8I0v2bVX8j4    

5.) Our Prayer   (Brian Wilson) - 1:05 rating: **** stars

A discarded "Smile" track, the a cappella 'Our Prayer' started out sounding like a Gregorian chant, before morphing into a pretty doo-wop number. Very cool.    

5.) Cabinessence   (Brian Wilson - Van Dyke Parks) - 3:33 rating: **** stars

Co-written with Van Dyke Parks (the obscure lyrics led to a major blow-up with Mike Love who thought the were pompous crap (my words), 'Cabinessence' was another "Smile" effort (supposedly one of the songs written in Brian's infamous sandbox).  One of the songs that Brian fans swoon over, it's a highly complex musical suite, perhaps inspired by westward expansion, or Manifest Destiny, or seashells in the sandbox  ...  or who knows what.  Not the most melodic thing the pair ever wrote (though the 'boing" sound effects are hysterical), but fascinating with Carl turning in another wonderful vocal.

 

The album included three previously released singles:

  

 1968's 'Do It Again' b/w 'Wake the World' (Capitol catalog number 2239) # 20 pop

- 1968's 'Bluesbirds Over the Mountains' b/w 'Never Learn Not To Love' (Capitol catalog number 2360)  # 61 pop

- 1968's 'I Can Hear Music' b/w 'All I Want To Do' (Capitol catalog number 2432) # 24 pop

 

Helped by the singles, the album proved a decent US seller, hitting # 68 in the States.  It did even better n the UK where it peaked at # 3.

 

 

 

 

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