When it was first announced that the remaining Beach Boys would reunite initially I was filled with dread. Mostly because of Mike “Dick Dastardly” Love, the major villian of the Beach Boys history. On the Smile dvd Brian says Love hated Smile, and when he’s asked if they’ll ever work together again, Brian firmly answers in the negative.
So many people have said Love told Brian not to “f**k with the formula” as early as the start of Pet Sounds in 1965. Amazing then that Love has taken time out from suing his cousin(which he has done numerous times over the past 20 years) to work with him again.
The fact is Love’s touring version of the Beach Boys represents what was for the most part, the most vapid moments of the Beach Boys. Sure, I love “Fun Fun Fun”, but when Dick Love does that stoopid shite with his hands, I immediately reach for the sick bag. Let’s be frank, the man’s a twat, and a no count on the talent front, especially compared to the Wilson brothers. Looking back with Love anyone? Even the mighty Curt Boetcher couldn’t polish that particular Richard.
In an interview prior to the “Lifetime Achievement” recognition for the Beach Boys at the Grammy Awards in 2001, Al Jardine said that he was grateful they didn’t have to play, because aside from Brian none of the band would even speak to him. With Carl Wilson gone, there was no peacemaker in the band anymore. But apparently Dennis didn’t take any bullshit from Love.
“Dennis was a real karma corrector,” Jardine recalled. “If Mike ever got out of hand Dennis would take him off of the plane and punch him on the nose. Then he’d behave for a few weeks, until Dennis would have to do it again.” Well done Dennis! Couldn’t Brian get the massed ranks of the Wondermints to give Love a slap, just for old time’s sake, once more for Dennis?
Unbelievably, Love has already booked a gig in South America, post the 50th anniversary tour, without Brian or Al. Just covering your ass ay Dick I mean Mike? (1)
I’m still getting over all the awful stuff Brian talks about in his biography, Wouldn’t it be nice, which describes Love and several other cousins beating the crap out of Brian, when it was obvious he was a very sick dude. I know that Brian has retracted some of it(under further threats of litigation)but the bad taste lingers. And there’s numerous interviews with past close associates of the Beach Boys that tell it like Love and Bruce Johnston being bad guys, and constantly arguing and being at loggerheads with the Wilson brothers.
It’s just occurred to me, the Wilson’s are like the Holy Trinity of popular music: obviously Brian is God, Dennis is Jesus, and Carl is the Holy ghost, right?
Anyway, a week after That’s why God made the Radio was released, I heard From there to back again and Pacific coast highway on Mark Radcliffe’s show on Radio 2, and I was blown away. 2 days later I’m in Tesco’s with a borrowed tenner, getting me mits on it. An odd sensation, buying a cd from Tesco’s, tho’ not the first time. How sad there’s no record shops any more, surely a vital piece of English culture?
The opening track, Think about the days, is an acapella delight, with beautiful piano from Joe Thomas. Joe’s playing is tender and wonderful, glad Brian got over suing him too……(2+3)
The single That’s why God made the radio, took a while to sink in for me, I figured it was all premature chorus. But it’s got all those fantastic Brian Wilson-isms, channelling 50’s Doo wop and the classic imagery of the American/Californian dream. And I’ll say right now the ever fabulous Jeffery Fosskett makes a very plausible Carl Wilson(and Brian Wilson, for that matter!) sound alike. I’ve very much enjoyed his work with Brian Wilson both live and in the studio. This is a man who was taught how to play guitar by Carl Wilson. What with his work with Carl, Brian and the Beach Boys, his memoir could be the ultimate Beach Boys spoiler.
I could give you a blow by blow account of tracks 3 to 9, but hey I’m sure you’ve heard Still Cruising by the Beach Boys, y’know tracks like Island Girl, but again the Jeffrey Foskett centred Shelter is rather lovely. Isn’t it time has a Sunflower vibe, with both the keyboards and vocals very compressed. And I’ll bite my lip and say Dick Love’s Daybreak over the Ocean has a Kokomo type charm. And the lyrics to Spring Vacation, well several of those couplets are corny but cool. And blimey, the private life of Bill and Sue is kinda fun, a Brian Wilson guilty pleasure like Smart Girls(from “Sweet Insanity”). There’s also a similar vibe to “Imagination” with the non suite tracks, especially “Strange World” and I suppose that’s Joe Thomas’ presence.
But the real meat of the meal are the last three tracks.
With Brian’s full on aural melancholia, the sound is very world weary but gentle and understanding, and perhaps that sums up Brian Wilson as a person?
From there to back again is the start of what many are calling a three song suite. Very Pet Sounds, tip top Beach Boys, with marvellous harmonies and interesting instrumentation, it wouldn’t be out of place on Brian’s first solo album. “Thinkin’ bout when life was still in front of you”, that song and pretty much the whole album is retrospective for the most part, older men looking back on their past with deep reflection and with equal measures of happiness and sadness. Very much like Bowie on Toy.
The Wondermints are truly wonderful, and they’re so knowledgeable and adept at playing Brian’s classic choice of instrumentation, a la Pet Sounds and Smile. Read that as Spector with the Wrecking Crew(he looms once more).
Pacific coast highway is probably the best piece Brian has released since 2004’s Smile. And it really ought to have been the final track.The lyrics sound like a man who knows his best days have gone, and perhaps it’s time to let go and move on, maybe via his passing. It sounds like Brian’s last gasp, lyrically, musically. And at the end of the track he says goodbye.
And just when you think the album has hit it’s peak, Summer’s gone quickly follows, and it’s breath taking. Incredibly, it’s Brian co-writing with Jon Bon Jovi. And before you think “oh dear, Terence has totally lost the plot!”, let me assure you, as a life long Beach Boys fan, it doesn’t get much better than this. Channelling Surf’s up/Pet sounds/the ever shining Californian sun, it just couldn’t have been written in Hackney(but hey don’t forget the Surf Rats, from Essex!). For 70 year old men, thanks to Brian Wilson and the Wondermints, the Beach Boys have made a plausible album. And if it is their swansong, it’s not at all shabby.
Amazingly both Brian and Love have said they’re up for recording another album. Love also mentioned mixing some unreleased stuff featuring Carl and Dennis. Hmm……I may have heard that one before. There’s a wistful harmonica at the end of Summer’s gone, then the crashing of waves, which sound eerily like the train horn and rail track clatter at the very end of Pet Sounds. And wind chimes too, perhaps a nod to Smile?
What a marvellous thing, having been in the business for 50 years, to make an album that really doesn’t disappoint. Now how about the Stones make one last cracking album, they’ve also been together for 50 years this year. And maybe Macca could knock out one last good ‘un too?
The Beach Boys and Brian Wilson have shown that there’s still life in the old dog, or as my Pa would say “there’s many a good tune played on an old fiddle!”.
Let’s hope they inspire all their peers, both young and old, as they certainly always used to, to produce something exceptional……
1) Rollingstone.com June 26, 2012 8:50 AM ET
The Beach Boys are in the middle of their 50th anniversary reunion tour, stunning crowds from New Orleans to New York – on Sunday night at New York’s Jones Beach, they played a joyous 47-song set ranging from early hits to deep cuts, like Smile’s “Our Prayer” and Sunflower’s “Add Some Music to Your Day.” But while the band continues to extend its 50th anniversary tour with more dates in the U.S. and overseas, frontman Mike Love is also planning for what happens when the tour is over; he’s already booked fall dates with his touring version of the Beach Boys, without the group’s other principal founding members. The news surprised Brian Wilson. “I wasn’t aware that Mike had some shows in South America,” Wilson tells Rolling Stone. “News to me.”
Wilson remains enthusiastic about the Beach Boys’ current reunion tour. “There has been talk of doing more shows with the Boys and possibly a new record, which I would love to do,” he says. “This reunion is blowing my mind.”
Love has licensed the Beach Boys name since 1998, touring with auxiliary Beach Boy Bruce Johnston and hired musicians. Wilson has toured under his own name, and Al Jardine has performed with his Endless Summer Band. They all put their touring bands on hold for the Beach Boys’ 50th anniversary reunion tour. “You’ve got the Love band, who’ve been together for years and have developed a style. Brian’s band has been going for a long time, too – so we’ve been coming from three different places,” Jardine told RS’s Jason Fine in a recent feature story.
Love and Johnston have one show booked so far, in South America in October, as first reported by Peru’s El Comercio.
Another Beach Boys date was announced for October 6th at Winnie, Texas’s Nutty Jerry’s, but last night the venue announced the date was cancelled. “The group that was scheduled to perform at Nutty Jerry’s is not the same lineup as the current ‘Beach Boys 50th Anniversary” tour,’ the venue said in a statement. “As a result Nutty Jerry’s did not feel that we could advertise the show as the ‘original’ Beach Boys. Nutty Jerry’s regrets the misunderstanding and any inconvenience to our loyal customers.”
Adds Wilson, “As for me, the tour is going great. I’m having a blast. I love watching the Boys on stage. That’s Why God Made the Radio charted at Number Three! Can you believe a Number Three album?”.
2) Rollingstone.com August 24, 1999 12:00 AM
After canning his iron-fisted father Murry Wilson as the Beach Boys manager in 1964 and getting a separation order from his psychiatrist/manager Eugene Landy in 1991, Brian Wilson again wants out of a business/personal relationship.
Yesterday, in California Superior Court in Los Angeles, Wilson filed a suit against collaborator Joe Thomas seeking damages and a breakage of their 1997 joint venture. As part of the suit, Wilson seeks a declaration freeing him to work on his next album without Thomas, who helped produce and arrange Wilson’s 1998 album, Imagination.
Wilson and Thomas began working together in 1996, when the pair co-produced the Beach Boys tribute album Stars and Stripes. The pair got on so well that they built homes next door to each other outside of Chicago. After Imagination was released, Thomas played piano on U.S. dates with Wilson’s band earlier this year, but did not accompany Wilson on his Japanese tour.
3) Rollingstone.com 13th July 18, 2000.
Almost a year after Brian Wilson filed suit against one-time collaborator Joe Thomas seeking damages and a break-up of their 1997 joint venture — and Thomas’ counter lawsuit, filed ten days later — the two former partners have settled out of court. Neither side would disclose the particulars of the settlement.
Wilson and Thomas began working together in 1996, co-producing the Beach Boys tribute album Stars and Stripes, and Thomas helped produce and arrange Wilson’s 1998 album, Imagination. The two men grew so close that they even purchased homes right next door to each other in a Chicago suburb.
Thomas accompanied Wilson on his U.S. tour last year, playing piano, but last August, Brian’s wife Melinda Wilson sued Thomas, claiming that the producer used his association with her husband to raise his industry profile and wrongfully enrich himself through his association with the former Beach Boy. Thomas ripped a lawsuit back at Mrs. Wilson alleging that she had “schemed against and manipulated” both himself and Brian.