Archive for the ‘Beach Boys’ Category

Remembering The Magic Gardens Of 1967/2017

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

The 5th Dimension - The Magic Garden.jpg In remembering 2017, there is a natural inclination to also remember the original Summer of Love in 1967, 50 years ago. Being the year that I also turned 50, there an even greater inclination to reflect back to that pivotal year that I have no real memory of, but have many musical mementos to call upon.

1967 was the year of Sgt. Pepper and it’s less known but equally interesting Magical Mystery Tour.  The Beach Boys failed to release SMiLE but Brian and the boys were actually quite productive, both in releasing albums, performing live and recording songs. There were a lot of other great albums, not least of all Forever Changes. Another great record, released late in December 1967 and previously reviewed on this blog, was The Magic Garden, Jimmy Webb’s masterpiece, performed by the Fifth Dimension and reflecting the ups and downs of the era, and life in general.

50 years later the music overall isn’t as great, but there are pockets of brilliance, in hearing more unheard gems from the Beach Boys from the many Sunshine Tomorrow releases, but also in some great new music, not least from the likes of Lucky Soul and Saint Etienne. Brian Wilson also reminded us that he has been a lot more than just a Beach Boy, but also a very viable solo artist for more than half his musical career.

2017 was a year of a lot of pain for the world, as the bad decisions of 2016 became more real. However, with Mugabe out and Zuma down, for the first time in many years, my part of the world begins 2018 with some real hope. It was also the year that I got married. So we begin 2018 with cautious optimism – I wish all the readers a wonderful year, both musically and otherwise.

Pet Sounds 52

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Additional dates have now been added to the May 2018 Pet Sounds tour, meaning that the tour will now be substantially extended into the 52nd anniversary of the great album! You can see the new dates here

The Beach Boys Christmas Surprise

Monday, December 18th, 2017

Exactly 3 months after the belated Smiley Smile, the Beach Boys released another album just a week before Christmas. It wasn’t a seasonal album but a collection of all-new songs that saw the band move from psychedelia and complexity to simplicity and basic R&B. It was also released just a few days before I was born, so as Wild Honey celebrates its 50th birthday, it will be last Beach Boys album featured in my 50 anniversary posts that is older than me.

After the trauma of the scrapping of SMiLE and the critical and public befuddlement at the “odd” Smiley Smile, the Beach Boys clearly needed to take another direction. However, coming so soon after Smiley Smile, this new album direction was released to a public that, in the USA, at least, was already indifferent to the Beach Boys.

The new direction took the “back to basics” element of Smiley Smile and added the boogie-woogie feel that Brian and his family had grown up. The result is a spirited, up-tempo album that still hinted at the melodic genius of Brian. It was also an album for Brian to “cool out” to, in Carl’s words, after the traumas of 1967, although as with all the albums in the immediate wake of the SMiLE sessions, there is still a connection to the material from those sessions in Mama Says, a fragment of Vegatables abandoned for Smiley Smile. Brian is, from a composers point of view, still very involved, although How She Boogalooed It is the first original non-instrumental track put out by the band not written by Brian.

Individual track highlights include Aren’t You Glad which hints at Bacharach, the beautiful, soulful Let The Wind Blow and Darlin’ which is a retread of the earlier tune Thinking About You Baby but features a fantastic Carl vocal and great production.

The rest of the songs all fit in well to the overall mood of the album, but the fact the harmonies, production and tunes are not all top-drawer prevents this album from being right at the top of the Beach Boys pile. Having said that, this is still a vastly underrated album that gives many other much more vaunted works of 1967 a good run for their money in the quality stakes, and this year’s release of Sunshine Tomorrow and the rich body of the band’s work at this time has helped with the critical re-appraisal of the record.

Indeed, the fact that 1968 releases from the Stones, Dylan and the Beatles reflected a “back to basics” ethos may indicate that Wild Honey was ahead of its time. While there were probably many other factors in these 1968 releases going in that direction, it is hard to believe that Wild Honey had absolutely no influence on this direction, even given the Beach Boys’ diminished “hipness” as that stage. Once again, the band put out a work ahead of its time, and for all times.

More Sunshine Tomorrow Than You Ever Thought Possible

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

As a Christmas present to fans who were generally quite impressed with the 2 CD Sunshine Tomorrow collection, there is suddenly a whole lot more available for legal download -29 unreleased studio tracks on Sunshine Tomorrow 2: The Studio Tracks and an astonishing 109 live tracks on Live Sunshine. You can see the full tracklists here in Rolling Stone. This certainly also bodes well for some interesting releases in the next few years as the Friends/Sunflower/Surf’s Up albums reach their 50 year copyright expiry anniversary…

Al And Brian

Friday, December 1st, 2017

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, ocean and outdoor Although the Pet Sounds tour featuring Al Jardine is continuing in 2018, Al Jardine will also be doing a few shows without Brian Wilson, featuring his son Matt. These promise to be intimate, acoustic shows -there are four dates now but more may be added.

Meanwhile, the successful Pet Sounds tour has hit the radar of some of the top-grossing tours at the moment -some way behind U2 and the Rolling Stones but still very solid for someone who toured very little from 1964 to 1999.

23 Songs For Today

Sunday, October 15th, 2017

1) Autumn Afternoon   – Association
2) Run James Run    -Brian Wilson
3) Rock ‘N’ Roll with Me -David Bowie
4)Just Like Always   -Glen Campbell
5)It Won’t Bring Her Back    -Glen Campbell
6) When Eddie Comes Home    -Jimmy Webb
7) Mia & Sebastian’s Theme (Late For the Date)    -Justin Hurwitz
8) It’s Over / Engagement Party    -Justin Hurwitz
9) Silver Lining   -Kacey Musgraves
10) Merry Go ‘Round    -Kacey Musgraves
11) Another Day of Sun    -La La Land Cast
12) (Hurts Like a) Bee Sting   -Lucky Soul
13) Locked Out   -Lucky Soul
14)Strut!    -Lucky Soul
15) America    -Prefab Sprout
16) City of Stars    -Ryan Gosling
17) London Like a Distant Sun    -Saint Etienne
18) Whyteleafe    -Saint Etienne
19) What Kind of World    -Saint Etienne
20) Sweet Arcadia    -Saint Etienne
21) Lonely Days  – The Beach Boys
22) Always You   – The Sundowners
23) Beach Boys    -Weezer

 

Farewell Dennis Dragon

Friday, September 29th, 2017

Another sad passing of a Beach Boys associate -Dennis Dragon, best known from the Surf Punks and brother of Daryl “Captain” Dragon has passed away. He most notably played with the Beach Boys on Al’s Susie Cincinnati.

We Need A Melody

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

Weezer-pacific-daydream-album.jpgPlayback: The Brian Wilson Anthology, the first solo Brian Wilson compilation is released today and as we digest that album and Brian’s solo career, we’ll take a detour to Weezer’s new album, which includes a heartfelt tribute to Brian and the Beach Boys. Simply called Beach Boys, it’s one of the best tributes ever, capturing the spirit and emotional depth of Brian’s best music.

An Odd Smile

Monday, September 18th, 2017

Today is the 50th anniversary of the release of Smiley Smile – more than 16 months after Pet Sounds, which would be seen as productive these days, but was an eternity in the mid 60s. And a lot has happened since I posted on the 50th anniversary of Pet Sounds in May last year.

Ah..Smiley Smile, the album released during the “Summer Of Love” in 1967 that befuddled a generation, changed the commercial and critical perception of the Beach Boys, and now survives as a minor cult classic. What can one say about this unusual album which sounds nothing like the Beach Boys, or any other group, released before or since. “Barbershop on acid” may be one description, but one really has to hear this record to believe it.
Smiley Smile shares a similar name, and at least five songs with the abandoned SMiLE album that you can read about here. Indeed much of the music was probably conceived at some stage during the SMiLE sessions, but aside from Good Vibrations and parts of Heroes And Villains, was completely re-recorded in Brian’s home studio.

There is a “stoned” feel that permeates much of the album, but there is also a wide variety of styles. The slick production of Good Vibrations also doesn’t sit well with the homespun feel of much of the remaining material. Quality is also a mixed bag…Little Pad and With Me Tonight have strong tunes beneath the goofiness, the alternative Wind Chimes is spooky but fascinating, but the bizarre approach to Wonderful doesn’t work when contrasted with the SMiLE versions.

As David Leaf noted, the progression from Surfin’ Safari to Pet Sounds was stopped with this album which seemed to go in a direction that no-one predicted or understood. This album must take some of the blame for the loss of critical and commercial appeal that blighted the Beach Boys in the late 60s and early 70s, and prevented the strong albums that followed this one becoming succesful in their own time. It also seems bizarre that the band approved this release when seeming to resist the groundbreaking, but surely more conventional album that SMiLE surely would have been had it been released in 1967.

Even so, an album with Good Vibrations,Heroes And Villains and some great harmonies and a sense humor is still better than average. Smiley Smile will befuddle you, but over time, you may well learn to love much of it.

Brian’s Hidden Beauties CLII: Darlin’

Monday, September 11th, 2017

Image result for darlin' beach boys big bang

With my wedding still fresh in mind, I offer one of the great Beach Boys love songs – one that has become a bit less obscure after featuring in a Big Bang Theory episode. Once again, the result of some musical recycling, this is a development of the Thinkin’ About You Baby melody, which became a distinct, stomping but eternally catchy love song. No wonder it became Sheldon’s ear-worm.