Beach Boys 67: Sunshine Tomorrow By The Beach Boys

December 26, 2017

The endless summer of the Beach Boys has reached the 55 year mark. Created in 1962, it still beckons, several generations now, to a life that is just beyond the horizon.

The Beach Boys 67: Sunshine Tomorrow is the latest entry into the bands lexicon of music. It is a album for Beach Boys devotees as it gather studio tracks, alternate versions of songs, live performances, rehearsals, and a few oddities from 1967. The two CD contain a generous 67 tracks. It is not an album you may want to pop in the car stereo while driving down the highway but it does fill in a lot of gaps in the their musical journey.

The center piece of the release is a stereo mix of the Wild Honey album. Re-mixing an album in stereo can be tricky, especially given the age of the original tapes, but here the channels are just about perfectly balanced.

I have always found Wild Honey to be more interesting than enjoyable. Brian Wilson was moving away from their sunshine pop material. Wild Honey is about as experimental as he would ever get and as such it is a unique album in their catalogue. The band would quickly reverse direction and settle into a rock/pop hybrid sound. Still, Wild Honey is worth the journey and in many ways fares better in the musical world of today.

The album is populated by a number of interesting inclusions. There are live versions of “Wild Honey” and Country Air” from a November, 1967, concert. It is interesting to hear the band tackle technically difficult material. When the Beach Boys sing hit songs by other artists, they rarely get them right, but they do provide a unique perspective. “Game Of Love,” “The Letter,” and “With A Little Help From My Friends” add little to their legacy but find them covering songs like thousands of American bands.

Other highlights include an A Capella version of “Surfer Girl,” a rehearsal of “Heroes And Villains,” plus the 1967 version of “Surf’s Up.”

Whether or not you want to acquire this release will depend upon how invested you are in the Beach Boys. If you need everything by the band, then The Beach Boys 67: Sunshine Tomorrow is a treasure trove. If you just want to experience the eternal summer, then any of their compilation albums will do just fine.


I Get Around By The Beach Boys

January 16, 2015

 

The Beach Boys had come close to toping the charts with “Surfin’ USA” (number 3), “Surfer Girl” (number 7), “Be True To Your School” (number 6), and “Fun Fun Fun” (number 5) but finally and appropriately on July 4, 1964, the eternal American band reached number one with “I Get Around” and there they remained for two weeks.

“I Get Around” ushered in a new level of sophistication for Brian Wilson and the band as the sound and vocal harmonies were layered and just washed over the listener in waves. The song also became their first top ten hit in England.

The flip side, “Don’t Worry Baby,” was one of the best ballads  of their career. It is difficult to find two better songs on one single release.


Made In California by The Beach Boys

September 21, 2013

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It has been quite a busy couple of years for the Beach Boys. There was a new studio album, a successful 50th anniversary tour, and a live CD and DVD chronicling that tour. Now they have dropped the big one. MADE IN CALIFORNIA is six CD’s, 174 songs, and 473 minutes of music that includes 60 previously unreleased tracks. Everything comes in a high school type year book and also features recollections from the band members, classic artwork, archival photos, and inscriptions from Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, and David Marks. It is musical nirvana for any fan of the band.

The sound of the set is phenomenal and brings many of the older tracks into the 21st century. While some of the material is limited by their original recording process, overall the clarity does not get much better.

The first four plus discs are in chronological order. This means that rarities and unreleased tracks are mixed in with many of their well-known hits. An example of this release is the first disc, which begins with a home recording of “Surfin,’” followed by “Surfin’’ with session introduction, a demo of “Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring,” and the original mono long version of “Surfin’ Safari.” And so begins the journey of The Beach Boys, which continues with almost eight hours of music.

Some of the highlights include Dennis Wilson’s lead vocal on a live “Help Me Rhonda,” a true stereo version of “Do It Again,” a Blondie Chaplin vocal on “Wild Honey,” plus the previously unreleased “Goin’ To The Beach,” “California Feelin,’” “Soul Searchin,’” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” and “You’re Still A Mystery To Me.”

The live tracks run the gamut from all periods of their career. Live performances making their debut are “Runway” (1965), “Friends” (1968), “Little Bird” (1968), “Sail On Sailor” with the lead vocal by Carl Wilson (1995), and acoustic versions of “This Whole World” and “Slip On Through (1993). Of particular note is the re-discovery of the 1964 BBC live in the studio sessions, which include “Wendy,” “When I Grow Up (To Be A Man),” and “Hushabye.”

MADE IN CALIFORNIA is a rare big set that is worth the price. It traces the journey of The Beach Boys through a half century of their career and is a journey worth taking with them. It is an essential listening experience not only for fans of the band but for anyone still seeking the eternal summer.


Good Vibrations Tour DVD by The Beach Boys

August 7, 2013

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The Beach Boys celebrated their 50th anniversary last year with the release of a new studio album and a series of commercially successful and artistically brilliant concerts. A DVD and CD of those concerts have recently been released. Who knows what will soon follow? Now, to capitalize on the renewed interest in the band, Eagle Rock Entertainment has climbed aboard the time machine to issue the DVD, Good Vibrations Tour.

The Beach Boys were promoting their latest revival back in 1976. They had just released 15 Big Ones, but more importantly Brian Wilson had become active again. To capitalize on the then-renewed interest in The Beach Boys, the cameras were rolling during a concert in Anaheim. That concert material was combined with some studio tracks, interviews, and skits to create a television special. That program has now been resurrected, which is good news and bad news.

The concert features the original Beach Boys, consisting of the three Wilson brothers, Al Jardine, and Mike Love. The show is basically a greatest hits affair. Songs such as “Fun Fun Fun,” “I Get Around,” “Good Vibrations,” “Help Me Rhonda,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” “California Girls” and the like have been sung thousands of times live by the Beach Boys and the performances here are workmanlike. They are fine but there is nothing to separate them from what has gone before or has been released since.

One major issue is Brian looks completely lost. He is rarely the focus of attention and contributes little. On the other hand, Dennis Wilson is very animated and a center of attention. He shows why he was always the cool Beach Boy and is far different than his zombie-like appearance several years later, chronicled on the 1980 Live At Knebworth DVD. It is also a poignant look at Carl Wilson, whose voice and stage presence makes one realize just how important he was to the band.

One important fact to remember is this was a television program. There are a number non-concert sequences included among the concert tracks. There is a spectacular performance of the group performing “That Same Song,” supported only by a Baptist Church Choir and a piano. At the other end of the spectrum is Carl, Dennis, and Brian gathered around the piano performing a goofy version of “I’m Bugged at My Ol’ Man.”

There are a number of skits, for want of a better word. Lorne Michaels of Saturday Night Live was involved in the project and here we have John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, dressed as policemen, arresting Brian Wilson for violations of the surf code. I probably could do without Dennis Wilson judging a beauty pageant and Carl flying a plane, but it’s all harmless fun.

The major problem is the video quality. It was recorded during the 1970s and still looks like the 1970s. I don’t think there was any effort to clean it up using modern technology.

The Good Vibrations Tour DVD basically is a look at the Beach Boys at a specific time in their career. In many ways it is a nice counterpoint to what is being released from their 2012 tour. It is not a necessary release, but a pleasant one. It should fill in some gaps for their large fan base.


Live: 50th Anniversary Tour by The Beach Boys

July 17, 2013

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The Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Reunion Tour is a thing of the past. The tour and their latest studio album, That’s Why God Made the Radio, were better than any fan of the band could have hoped for or imagined. What the future holds for the band is unknown, but with Mike Love now back fronting his own version of the group, their future is filled with “what ifs” at the present time.

What we are left with is the residue from their extended anniversary tour, which no doubt will be issued in a number of different formats and configurations as the years pass.

I prefer to watch or listen to entire concerts, without interruption or studio tinkering, that present the good and the bad as it was at a specific point in time. Hopefully some entire concerts will come in the future but for now fans of the group will need to be content with this piecemeal approach.

The band members have all reached retirement age and their voices are not as supple as they were 40 years or so ago and Carl and Dennis Wilson are still missed. Having said that, they still sound pretty good and the harmonies remain intact. When needed, they fill in the sound with other voices.

As with their concerts, the song list combines many of their big hits with some of their lesser-known songs. “I Get Around,” “Surfer Girl,” and “In My Room” share space with “Pet Sounds,” “Marcella,” and “Hawaii.” Throw in such songs as “Don’t Back Down,” “Wendy,” “409,” “Shut Down,” and “Add Some Music to Your Day” and you have a wonderful trip down memory lane. “Good Vibrations,” “California Girls,” and “Help Me Rhonda” are performed in a row. If you are a fan of the Beach Boys, it doesn’t get any better than that.

There are about two hours of music, which is more than worth the price of the CD. My only major complaint is the lack of any liner notes, extensive or otherwise, which would have provided some prospective to the performances.

The Beach Boys have always been a part of the eternal summer of American culture. Much of their music emanates from a time that never will be again (and in many ways never was) as it was just beyond the horizon. Still, The Beach Boys’ Live – The 50th Anniversary Tour allows one to travel back in time one more time, while listening to some fine music along the way.


Barbara Ann by The Beach Boys (Dutch Release)

March 22, 2013

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Many singles by the Beach Boys were issued in various countries with different picture sleeves.

“Barbara Ann” was first issued by The Regents during 1961 and it reached number 13 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart. The Beach Boys version spent two weeks at number two duringng early 1966. The odd thing about the release was that Dean Torrence of Jan & Dean provided the lead vocal.

The Beach Boys PARTY album was supposed to have been recorded live at a Beach Boys get together. Brian Wilson could not help but tinker with it in the studio. Still, “Barbara Ann” has a live feel to it.

The Beach Boys had four number one hits but “Babrara Ann” was their only number two making it the fifth biggest single hit of their career. The Dutch picture sleeve shows a very young group just about to enter the most creative period of their career.


Live In Concert: 50th Anniversary (DVD) by The Beach Boys

December 8, 2012

Fifty years ago the Beach Boys caught a wave and rode it into the American consciousness. Their songs of surfing, cars, and romance combined with impeccable harmonies and catchy melodies to create a summer without end. While that eternal summer was just beyond the horizon and never really attainable, they at least kept the possibility alive.

In celebration of their golden anniversary the surviving Beach Boys created a wonderful studio album, That’s Why God Made The Radio, and embarked on an extensive 75-stop world tour. Live In Concert: 50th Anniversary presents a glimpse of their tour.

The good news is the 21 tracks are excellent and a testament to the lasting virtuosity of the band. Yes, they are older and the voices show some wear and tear but the harmonies are still present and the disc is a fine ride through some of the well-known and lesser known songs. The bad news is what is missing. Many of their concerts were divided into two sets which stretched out to 50 songs to match their 50th anniversary. Their Phoenix concert came close to that mark and songs such as “Please Let Me Wonder,” “Pet Sounds,” “Don’t Worry Baby,” “Add Some Music to Your Day,” “Little Honda,” and about 20 others were performed but not released on the DVD. If you are going to release a concert, then my feeling is include everything.

What is here is very good and worth the price of admission. From the opening “Do It Again” to the closing “Fun Fun Fun,” they appear engaged, relaxed, and happy. Yes, there are supporting musicians to fill in the gaps, including longtime guitarist Jeff Foskett, but the focus is mostly on the main members and they come through in fine style. The playing, the singing, and the general atmosphere they create are better than I expected.

Such eternal hits as “Good Vibrations,” “California Girls,” “I Get Around,” and “Little Deuce Coupe” share the stage with new songs, “That’s Why God Made the Radio” and “Isn’t It Time.” Throw in deeper cuts like “Hawaii,” “Marcella,” and “Sail On Sailor” and you have a ride through their 50-year career.

Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, David Marks, and Bruce Johnston reunited for what may or may not be a final ride. If you just focus on what is here, then this this DVD is a worthwhile purchase. They prove that the eternal summer is still out there somewhere.

Article first published as Music DVD Review: The Beach Boys – Live In Concert: 50th Anniversary on Blogcritics.