KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

THE BEACH BOYS Part 7 – Trying To Keep The Summer Alive

For the past 7-8 days, I’ve listened numerous times to the five albums released by The Beach Boys between 1976 and 1980. Had I written this post after the first listen, I wouldn’t have had many positive comments. Having worked my way through their classic ‘60s and underrated ‘70s albums since August, this batch of releases initially seemed to have nothing going for it. Even the “Brian’s Back” media campaign, which signaled the supposed return of their songwriting and production mastermind, Brian Wilson, appeared to be more about hype and less about substance. The production of these records seemed sterile, Brian’s voice (whenever it appeared) sounded raspy and lifeless, and the songs came across as lesser versions of previous triumphs and, in some cases, completely uninspired. But this is where my process…of listening to each album enough times to fully absorb it…really pays off, because even though none of these albums would rank amongst their best work, there are numerous noteworthy and occasionally brilliant songs sprinkled throughout this portion of their catalog. There’s still a lot of mediocre music here as well, but I’m going to focus on the standout tracks so I can give you an overview of what I loved about these albums without spending too much time on the lesser tracks.

When 15 Big Ones (1976) was released, the selling point was Brian’s return after many years in the musical wilderness. It was their first album of new recordings in three years, the longest such gap of their career up to that point, and also appeared after the success of the Endless Summer compilation, which found them enjoying a new level of popularity. I remember seeing this album in record stores during the U.S. Bicentennial year, and based on the title and cheap-looking artwork, I assumed it was a K-Tel compilation. Instead, the title referenced the number of songs and the years the group had been together. The only song I already knew was their version of Chuck Berry’s “Rock And Roll Music.” I’ve always enjoyed the tight harmonies along with the extra “rock” they add during the ending “If you wanna dance with me” section. “It’s OK” is bouncy, hand-clapping fun, with a classic lead vocal by Mike Love and a memorable refrain of “Gotta go to it, gotta go through it, gotta get with it.” I also enjoy Dennis Wilson’s vocals on “Find a ride…” “Had To Phone Ya” is probably my favorite song here, with several band members getting a lead vocal spot. It’s a throwback to the subtlety and interesting arrangements of Pet Sounds and Sunflower. I believe that’s Brian singing “Come on come on” during the outro, and his voice sounds a bit hoarse. My only complaint with this song is that I wish it were longer.

[The Beach Boys – “Had To Phone Ya”]

Chuck Barris (of The Gong Show fame) wrote “Palisades Park,” a hit for Freddie Cannon in 1962. It’s a heartfelt throwback to their early days, and features passionate rockin’ vocals from Carl Wilson. The circus melody during the organ solo is a nice touch. Their version of the Fats Domino classic “Blueberry Hill” grew on me with each listen. It starts with a 20-second horn intro, and Mike’s vocals are initially accompanied only by upright bass and light percussion. I like this slower version, which might be closer to some of the original recordings of this song from the ‘40s. “Back Home” is another new favorite. Although Brian, who co-wrote and sang lead, sounds ragged, the midtempo music and propulsive groove won me over, as did the memorable chorus (“Back home, I’ll spend my summer”). Brian’s raspier vocals are a perfect foil for Carl’s more angelic voice on their version of the Righteous Brothers’ “Just Once In My Life.” It has a dreamy quality and the production has hints of Pet Sounds, while capturing the original’s big Phil Spector arrangement. The remainder of the album includes some nice performances, but most of them are lightweight and don’t bear repeated listening. The only one worth noting is “That Same Song,” since the chorus is really catchy, but I think it would’ve been more fully formed when Brian was at the peak of his powers. Considering I was appalled the first time I listened to it, I’m pleasantly surprised that there are 7-8 songs that I really enjoy now. It’s far from a classic but definitely worth exploring for the patient and open-minded Beach Boys fan.

The “Brian’s Back” concept applies more to their next album, Love You (1977), since he wrote or co-wrote every song, and he seems more engaged with the musical and vocal arrangements. Album opener “Let Us Go On This Way” alternates between Carl in the verses and Mike in the bridge. It has an interesting organ & horn arrangement with a steady beat and synth backdrop, and nice harmonies during the one-line chorus (“God please let us go on this way”). “Johnny Carson” is weird, but in a good way, as it shows they’re trying out new sounds even though the lyrics are a bit simplistic (and make this seem like a lesser song). The cool electric piano and staggered vocals contain elements of art-rock (i.e. Roxy Music, early 10cc) and point toward the synth-pop craze that was still a few years away. “Solar System” is strangely intoxicating, even if the lyrics (“Solar system brings us wisdom”) are once again a bit too simplistic. Brian sings this waltz tune in a raspy, childlike voice, and the dry production forecasts his solo debut (which was more than a decade away). My favorite song on this album is “The Night Was So Young,” showcasing a wonderful arrangement with a bed of synths and some weeping guitar stabs. Brian’s & Carl’s voices blend beautifully, and the best part might be, “Is somebody gonna tell me, why she has to lie-ie-ie”). I would consider this among the best work they’ve ever done. I feel nearly as strongly about “I’ll Bet He’s Nice,” which has cool squiggly synths and a catchy melody, with Dennis, Brian and Carl sharing vocal duties. It’s a sparse track but unique and captivating, and I love the high harmonies.

Brian duets with his then-wife Marilyn on “Let’s Put Our Hearts Together.” His raspy vocals convey the pleading nature of the lyrics as he pursues his woman, and her strong voice is a nice counterpoint. I’m not sure about those fake steel drums, though. Like 15 Big Ones before it, the rest of the album is a bit hit-and-miss, with some songs coming across as nothing more than glorified demos. “Good Time” was apparently recorded in 1972, which explains why Brian’s voice sounds a lot stronger. I like the clip-clop percussion, the way the song goes from sparse to full to galloping, and how the choruses come to a stop after “My baby and I just want a good time.” I suppose children might like the sing-song quality of “I Wanna Pick You Up,” especially the “pat pat pat her on the butt butt butt” refrain, but to me it’s a little too silly. I would probably rank this on the same level as its predecessor, and both albums work well together on the 2-fer CD released in 2000. I now enjoy about half of the 29 songs included on that CD, which may not be as high a success rate as their earlier 2-fers but it’s still a pleasant surprise considering how little I thought of them only a week ago.

Only a year later they sounded drastically different with M.I.U. Album (1978). Although Brian is listed as Executive Producer, Al Jardine co-produced the album with Ron Altbach, and he and Mike seem to be in charge. Most of the record was recorded at the Maharishi International University (hence the album title) in Iowa, mainly because Mike was a devoted follower of transcendental meditation via the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It’s a short album (under 33 minutes) and barely includes Carl & Dennis. It leans toward soft-rock (not a criticism) and at first seemed pretty lightweight, but as with the two previous albums, there are several standout tracks. Previously I was only familiar with one song: their version of The Dell-Vikings’ 1957 hit, “Come Go With Me.” Al does a great job with the lead vocals, and I like the combination of retro feel with updated production touches (especially the drum sound). Al & Mike co-wrote “Kona Coast,” their tribute to the Hawaiian Islands that includes musical references to their earlier song, “Hawaii.” There’s nothing groundbreaking about this song, but it could be a lost Beach Boys recording from 1964 and that works to its advantage. Carl makes an appearance on the super smooth “Sweet Sunday Kinda Love.” It has hints of several earlier Beach Boys ballads as well as the recognizable Phil Spector influence. “My Diane” is a haunting ballad written by Brian about his divorce, sung with perfect sadness by Dennis (“Everything is old and nothing is new; All I ever do is think of you”). “Match Point Of Our Love,” with its silly tennis metaphors and super smooth arrangement, initially came across as a minor song, but now it’s my favorite performance from this album. Perhaps it’s because Brian finally sounds fully engaged in every aspect of the recording.

[The Beach Boys – “Match Point Of Our Love”]

“She’s Got Rhythm” is a bit of a throwaway, but the catchy and bright sound (like a Bay City Rollers song, to my ears) as well as Brian’s strong, Frankie Valli-esque falsetto, won me over. The lyrics to “Hey Little Tomboy” are a little sophomoric and slightly creepy, but it’s worth hearing just for Brian’s falsetto on “They’re doing it all over the world.” “Pitter Patter” is stomping, hand clapping fun with silly lyrics about staying inside with the one you love when it’s raining. It’s another minor song that’s undeniably catchy and well played/sung. Al & Mike sing the Barry Manilow-esque orchestral piano ballad, “Winds Of Change,” to close things out. M.I.U. Album is far from an essential Beach Boys record, and the absence of Carl & Dennis from most of the songs is unfortunate (and probably kept a lot of fans from checking it out). I doubt I’ll be playing it very often in the future, but there are definitely a handful of songs I would include on a career-spanning anthology and there’s nothing terrible here. That’s actually not a bad accomplishment for a group with more than 20 albums under its belt.

The only Beach Boys non-compilation album I owned during my adolescence was L.A. (Light Album) (1979), which was produced by Bruce Johnston with long-time Chicago producer Jim Guercio. I probably bought it because it was their latest release and I liked the cover (with illustrations by different artists representing each song). Only a couple of songs ever made much of an impression on me, but one of them (“Good Timin’”) has continued to be among my all-time favorites. It’s super lush and sunny, and Carl’s voice is so smooth. Al sings “Lady Lynda,” with music that’s based on a J.S. Bach composition. I really like the sweeping orchestration coupled with a driving beat, and there are sections that recall Elton John & Kiki Dee’s “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.” “Love Surrounds Me” has a cool, slow groove with mournful lyrics about lost love. It’s not a great or important song, but it works as a solo Dennis Wilson performance, and I really like the light synth accents. “Sumahama,” with Mike singing in both English and Japanese, is a bit gimmicky but still enjoyable. I think it’s one of his most heartfelt vocal performances.

[The Beach Boys – “Good Timin'”]

The dark horse on this album is surely “Here Comes The Night,” a nearly 11-minute disco version of a song originally included on Wild Honey in 1967. I’m sure I hated it at the time, as I was in full “disco sucks” mode (I was 13 when this album came out), but now I really like it. It’s slick and hypnotic, and the robotic vocal effects give it a synth-pop vibe at times. Carl’s vocals remind me of Supertramp’s Rick Davies. The album ends with “Shortenin’ Bread,” a rockin’ version of the old traditional song which I previously knew via an Allan Sherman parody (“Mama’s little baby loves matzah, matzah. Mama’s little baby love’s matzah balls”), so I immediately loved hearing this version of the original tune. The rest of the album is very slow and ballad heavy, and none of the songs made much of an impact. Although it’s probably among their weakest efforts, it’s by no means a bad album, and any record that starts off with “Good Timin’” is worth checking out.

Produced solely by Bruce this time, Keepin’ The Summer Alive (1980) seemed very weak the first couple of times I played it, but eventually about half the songs worked their way into my brain.  They kick things off with “Keepin’ The Summer Alive,” a relatively minor but still enjoyable percussive rock song with a production sound that worked for that era. “Oh Darlin’” was co-written by Brian & Mike, and it’s somehow slow & sparse yet upbeat. I especially enjoyed Carl’s Peter Cetera-esque vocals in the chorus (“Oh, oh Darlin’, now that I’ve found you, it’s like a missing piece of puzzle has appeared”). He once again taps into Cetera territory, this time with an acoustic country feel, on “Livin’ With A Heartache,” which was co-written with Randy Bachman (of The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive). “Goin’ On” was released as a single but was not commercially successful. Mike and Carl sound particularly strong here. The interesting arrangement and ‘50s vocal group vibe make me wonder why it wasn’t a hit.

I like the high-pitched descending guitar figure in “When Girls Get Together,” which gives it a Mediterranean flair. The song itself is more “interesting” than “great,” but I still like the tight lead harmonies and the cute, thought-provoking lyrics. “Santa Ana Winds” is folky pop with a great little melody featuring strings & harmonica. The album ends with an older song, “Endless Harmony,” a rumination on the history of the group which was apparently recorded in 1972. It’s a light & pretty organ-led ballad with strong vocals from Bruce & Carl. The other songs are mostly album filler, with only “Some Of Your Love” being notable for the backing vocal reference to “Be True To Your School.” For a latter-day album it’s not bad, and probably a step up from L.A. (Light Album), but it’s far down the list of essential Beach Boys albums. I do, however, love the cover painting.

During the tour in support of Keepin’ The Summer Alive, they performed for thousands of British fans at the Knebworth Festival. Years later that concert was released as Good Timin: Live At Knebworth England 1980 (2002), and it’s notable for being the only live recording to feature all six longtime members: Brian, Carl, Dennis, Mike, Al & Bruce. It’s mostly a crowd-pleasing set with a few surprises thrown in. I like that they opened with “California Girls,” since such a huge hit would more predictably be saved for the end of the concert. Carl sounds great, as always, on “Darlin’” and “God Only Knows.” They also threw in a couple of more recent songs (“Keepin’ The Summer Alive” and “Lady Lynda”), which went over extremely well. Of course, they filled out most of the show with classics like “Little Deuce Coupe,” “Do It Again,” “Surfer Girl,” “Help Me Rhonda,” “I Get Around” and “Fun, Fun, Fun,” and all of these performances were strong. When I saw The Beach Boys for the first time in 1983, one of the highlights was Dennis coming to the front of the stage to sing “You Are So Beautiful,” a song he co-wrote with Billy Preston that became a big hit for Joe Cocker. The version included here is just as memorable, and makes this CD an essential part of my collection. The group sounds enthusiastic throughout the show; they never seem to be going through the motions. It may not be the most important live recording of their career, but it’s a whole lot of fun (fun fun).

Over the following three decades there would only be sporadic Beach Boys releases, although they still managed a few more hits and a surprising reunion that most people never thought would happen. Unfortunately, they lost a couple of key members along the way. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be spending time with their remaining studio albums, as well as a career-spanning box set, a soundtrack and a rarities collection, all of which I’ll discuss in my final two posts. Until then, let me know what you think of the albums discussed above. Hopefully I’m not the only one who was pleasantly surprised by them.

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30 comments on “THE BEACH BOYS Part 7 – Trying To Keep The Summer Alive

  1. Chris Kelly
    October 2, 2012

    I have been a huge fan since I heard “I get around” in 1964. I own multiple versions of every album and countless compilations. Sad but true. I like that run of albums too and the Knebworth album is excellent. The “Brian’s back”nonsense was just that, but as you say there were some very good songs scattered through the albums.

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    • Thanks for stopping by, Chris. It’s great to hear from someone who’s been a fan for such a long time. I was born in ’66, so my perspective will be slightly different, even though we both loved their music the first time we heard it. I got the feeling that most fans of the early years would’ve written off the later recordings, but anyone with an open mind (and open ears) would uncover lots of great music during this era. I’m wondering if your favorites from these albums are similar to mine.

      Cheers!
      Rich

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  2. kmnnz
    October 2, 2012

    I first discovered the Boys in 1980 when I was 9. I’m looking forward to seeing how your analyze their music as we went further into the ’80s. Very good stuff you’ve written!

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    • Thanks for reading, kmnnz. Looks like we both discovered The Beach Boys at the same age. Was your first exposure to their music via a compilation or a particular album?

      I’m not expecting much from the next batch of albums, but as always I’ll keep an open mind.

      Cheers,
      Rich

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      • kmnnz
        October 3, 2012

        Believe it or not, I discovered their music from a commercial on TV! 🙂 There was an advertisement during cartoons for one of their greatest hits albums. After hearing the opening bars and first two lines of “Surfin’ USA”, I was hooked! They’ve been my favorite band ever since.

        Looking forward to your next review! There might be a tune or two you happen to like. 🙂

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      • You may not be the only one who got into them via a TV commercial, as a lot of people were first exposed to their music via a Sunkist soda ad featuring “Good Vibrations.” At least yours was an ad for a Beach Boys compilation.

        I’ve already listened to the next batch of albums a couple of times, but I still need to play them a little more before deciding how I feel about them. I don’t think there will be many new favorite songs among them, but maybe that will change over the next couple of days.

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  3. Glenn S.
    October 2, 2012

    I have a fondness for 15 Big Ones and Love You that may or may not be deserved. By the time these came out I was a Rolling Stone-reading teenager, and I bought into the “Brian is back” hype with the best of them. Today I know these two albums are not start-to-finish classics but I still enjoy the heck out of them. They have a fun quality that harkens back to the group’s earliest days, though with a somewhat different sound. Rich, I think you’re on the right track when you say that these albums anticipated synth pop. I’d go a step further and say that with their short tracks and no-frills arrangements, they’re not a million miles away from the back-to-basics asthetic of a lot of the early new wave/punk albums that were just around the corner.

    L.A. was too ballad heavy for me when it came out, but I’m gratified to read that you also like the remake of “Here Comes The Night.” Of all the artists who made ill-advised stabs at disco tracks, I always thought this was one that actually worked. As for the rest of the album, I’m listening to it on Spotify as I type this and I can see that the younger me was too hard on it. There’s some nice stuff here.

    To this day I’ve never heard Trying To Keep The Summer Alive. The title track didn’t impress me and I think that awful album cover sealed the deal, but in the spirit of this blog I’ll give it a listen.

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  4. Glenn S.
    October 2, 2012

    Just re-read your post above and I see you liked the cover of Keepin’ The Summer Alive (the title of which I mangled above). I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one, but I love reading your comments and I can’t wait for the next chapter.

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    • Glenn, it totally makes sense that you would love 15 Big Ones and Love You based on your age when they came out. I was curious about them whenever I saw the albums in a record store, but I was only 10-11 at the time and wasn’t buying records at the same pace that I did a couple of years later. Which explains why L.A. (Light Album) was the first one I bought, the year I turned 13. I’m glad I’m not the only one who enjoys the disco version of “Here Comes The Night,” and completely agree that they were one of the few rock/pop artists who successfully dabbled in disco. I’m not sure I would’ve enjoyed a whole album of that style, but one extended track was a perfect choice.

      I wasn’t sure if anyone else would notice the synth-pop link, but I thought it was pretty obvious on those albums, and you’re spot on with your comparison to “the back-to-basics asthetic of a lot of the early new wave/punk albums that were just around the corner.” Well said.

      You’ll have to let me know what you think of Keepin’ The Summer Alive. It’s by no means an essential listen, but I have a fondness for some softer music (when it’s done well). Also, Peter Cetera’s mellower stuff (with Chicago and as a solo artist) is one of my guilty pleasures, and some of the songs on this album capture that same vibe. Considering that some of The Beach Boys sang on Chicago’s “Wishing You Were Here” and they briefly shared a producer (James William Guercio), the cross-pollination in their music is not surprising. As for the album cover, I don’t know why I like it, but I do. I find it kitschy, I guess.

      Thanks again, for regularly stopping by and for sharing your thoughts on this music.

      Best….
      Rich

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  5. David Evans
    October 3, 2012

    I have been a fan since 1963 sure along the way some of the tracks on the albums are not to my liking but the same applies to 99% of all groups,However Brian Wilson WILL be remembered as one of the best songwriters / producers of my generation and probably other generations. The new CD is in my opinion great and does rank higher than some of the other stuff they did but it’s without Carl & Dennis so its hard to compare.
    Singing about SURF / CARS / Girls etc could not last and I think the Beach Boys have done well to keep up and Brian’s solo stuff is excellent.

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    • Thanks for your comment, David. I couldn’t agree more with your assessment of how Brian will be remembered as one of the best songwriters of all time. I think that would’ve been true even if he had stopped writing after Pet Sounds, but he’s done so much more since then (even if his hit-to-miss ratio has increased a bit since then). How good is a song like “Love And Mercy” from his first solo album? I like the new album, but I’ll reserve my comments on that until I revisit it next week. It’s definitely not the same without Carl & Dennis, but I’d rather hear the surviving members writing & performing together than not hearing them at all.

      I appreciate you coming by my blog and sharing your thoughts on this great music.

      Best wishes,
      Rich

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  6. Amanda Miller/Johnston
    October 3, 2012

    Still Love The Songs So Much I Want Differnet Songs I Like.

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  7. Alan K.
    October 6, 2012

    Rich – I do not know these albums at all, so I read with great interest. Based on what you’ve written I think I need to at least get Sunflower and Holland. I do have the box set from the 90’s which seems to agree with your specific song picks in general b/c most of the ones that you spotlight on these albums are the ones they chose to put on there.

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    • Hi Alan. I don’t think any of the albums I discussed in this post are must-haves, although they’re certainly better than I initially thought. I’ll be revisiting the box set you mentioned this coming week, and I’m curious to see how many songs that are new favorites showed up on that collection. I’m surprised you don’t have Sunflower. I think you would love it, and the 2-fer with Surf’s Up is a great listen. If/when you hear them, I’d love to know what you think of them.

      Thanks for commenting.
      Rich

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  8. Frank Black
    December 31, 2012

    I’m a huge fan of the Boys but I find the post MIU stuff hard to take – excepting for LA, though I realise there were some interesting tracks around at the time that might have improved it (Lookin’ Down the Coast, for example). I can always look for the positives – and they are there – but i think the blow dealt by Murry’s death to the psyche of all three Wilsons, the success of the hits package Endless Summer (and subsequent hits packages), Jardine opting for the Love camp (and you can kinda see why) and, inevtably, the substance abuse by the brothers, especially Dennis and Brian, almost did for the creativity. Thank God Brian’s still with us. I don’t think he’s produced a wholly satisfying album in his solo career, but there’s good stuff on all of them and the new group album, to me, had one unbelievably excellent song and four or five good ones.

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  9. Frank Black
    December 31, 2012

    Oh, and I have to add that while I always liked Love You, I’ve warmed considerably to 15 BO over the years.

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    • Thanks for your comments, Frank. I can understand how a lot of their post-M.I.U. songs & albums aren’t for everyone. They’re certainly not among my favorites, as it’s clear that their purple patch lasted between ’64 & maybe ’76, but I tried to assess them individually on their own merits without always comparing them to their earlier, superior work. Every album since the late-’70s has at least a couple of songs that I would consider “keepers,” i.e. songs that I would include on a career-spanning anthology. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the latest album, and based on your comment we’re probably in agreement regarding the 5-6 good or great songs. It’s hard to think of The Beach Boys without Carl & Dennis, but they’ve done a great job of re-capturing what was great about the group without just being a nostalgia act.

      I completely agree about Brian’s solo career. I own everything he’s released except for his album of Disney songs, and while none of them are great from start to finish (even his recording of SMiLE, which I always found a bit too clinical-sounding), it’s always great to hear what he’s working on. It’s just too bad that he stopped being influenced by other music since the ’60s, so his reference points (musical & lyrical) are often limited. One of these days I’ll turn my attention back to his solo career, but I have a lot of other artists I want to revisit & write about before then.

      I really appreciate you stopping by & sharing your thoughts. One of the main reasons I started this blog was to have conversations with other music lovers, so thanks for helping me accomplish that. Best wishes and Happy New Year.

      Rich

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  10. Jon Lyness
    February 7, 2014

    Rich, I’m way late to the party here but thought your readers might enjoy this cool clip. Brian and the boys performing That Same Song with a gospel choir, circa the mid-70s!

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    • Hi Jon. You’re never late, since these are ongoing conversations about the music we love (or maybe not so much). This clip is fantastic. Thanks so much for sharing. Nice to see Brian so engaged & animated. It’s just a shame that his voice was so damaged by that point. I especially like hearing Carl’s & Al’s voices occasionally stand apart from the others. I hope anyone who reads this post will make their way down to the Comments section to check this out.

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  11. kookadams
    May 18, 2015

    As a devout BBs zealot I can say that other than love you their post-holland output is a waste. Miu, light album and ktsa are all outtakes and rerecords, more miss than hit.

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    • Thanks for stopping by, kookadams. I appreciate your passion but I definitely disagree about the post-Holland output being a “waste.” It’s certainly hit-and-miss but perhaps I found more “hits” than you did. I try not to compare it to any of their earlier material and just enjoy it for what it is. Even the last album had some lovely moments, which is more than any of us could expect 50+ years after the group formed.

      It’s always a pleasure to meet another devout Beach Boys fan and I appreciate your feedback.

      Cheers.
      Rich

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  12. James Hollingsworth
    February 10, 2017

    Have been listening to ‘Keepin the summer alive’ for the last few days and it grows on me everytime, initially I would just favourite the odd one or two but it is now becoming almost as essential in its entirety as ‘Holland’.

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    • Hi James. Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your newfound passion for Keepin’ The Summer Alive. I’m not sure it will ever enter “essential” territory for me but I like it a whole lot more now than I used to. As I wrote in the post, it’s certainly a very good latter-day BB album and it might be one of their most overlooked records.

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  13. James Hollingsworth
    February 10, 2017

    I discovered the Beach Boys after hearing ‘feel flows’ in the ‘Almost Famous’ movie, I thought what was that? Then checked the end credits to see it was the ‘fun fun fun’ Beach Boys, I went out and bought Surf’s up and Sunflower (I already had Pet Sounds). Since then, they have become my favourite band, always hearing something new and good in all of their music. I am going to see Mike Love and Bruce Johnson as the Beach Boys at the Albert Hall in May and then Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplain in Sheffield in August. I can’t wait. By the way, although I agree with you about some of the lyrics within ‘love you’, this album seriously improves with each listen.

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    • I had forgotten about “Feel Flows” appearing in Almost Famous. Do you remember which scene it was in? That’s certainly a great gateway into their catalog, especially their under-appreciated early-’70s albums like the ones you mentioned. Have you seen any version of The Beach Boys or Brian Wilson yet, or will the upcoming shows be your first? I’d love to hear your opinions on both. I’m guessing Mike Love will focus on the hits while Wilson (who I’ve seen a few times since he launched his first Pet Sounds tour, whenever that was…early-2000s?) will mix the hits with cool album tracks.

      I agree about Love You improving with each listen. I can look past some simplistic lyrics when the songs & performances are that good.

      Thanks again for checking in. I really appreciate the feedback.

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      • James Hollingsworthoctopussy
        February 15, 2017

        Not sure exactly where is features in the film but it is one of the tracks played in the end credits. This will be my first time seeing any Beach Boy on stage, so really looking forward to it. I accept that maybe they are not in their prime and that two of the main players are sadly no longer with us and that Mike Love will probably be playing just the hits but am sure it will still be great. I liked his solo outing on ‘God made the Radio’ and am hoping he might play that as well. I hope they continue to play for a long time yet in one form or another. Will continue to read your blog (now I have discovered it) and be in touch again.

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      • Hi James. I’m really excited for you to see both “versions” of The Beach Boys. I’m sure they’ll be incredible experiences. I was fortunate to see them in 1983 when Dennis Wilson was still with them, and Billy Joel joined them for a couple of songs. I also saw them a year later at an amusement park. They were good but you could tell they were still reeling from Dennis’ death.

        I really appreciate the kind words about the blog. Looking forward to having more music conversations with you. Please share your thoughts on the upcoming Beach Boys and Brian Wilson shows. Have a great time.

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      • Phillip Helbig
        February 16, 2017

        I saw the big reunion tour a few years ago: Brian Wilson, Bruce Johnston, Mike Love, Al Jardine, and David Marks. This is as original as it can get now. Marks sang on the first three albums or whatever while Al was at college or something, and Johnston was in early on, standing in for Brian. There were also about a dozen other musicians on stage. They played for about three hours, all the hits, and sounded really, really well. Much better than the original Beach Boys ever sounded live.

        Soon Mike Love will be in town (not sure if Johnston is with him), but somehow I figured it wasn’t worth it.

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      • I believe Johnston is still playing with Love’s version of The Beach Boys. I’m sure the show is fun but after that nearly-full-band reunion a few years ago they can never reach those heights again. One of thee things I loved about the set lists on that reunion tour is that they mixed all the hits with deeper album cuts, showing casual fans the broader scope of their music. It’s really a shame that Dennis and Carl aren’t with us anymore. Their voices & personalities are sorely missed.

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