Made In California by The Beach Boys

September 21, 2013

Made In California 2

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.


I Can Hear Music 45 by The Beach Boys

March 8, 2011

The Beach Boys had nearly reached the end of the line with The Capital Label. They had produced one of the best catalogues of songs in music history while recording for Capital.

“I Can Hear Music” was released March 6, 1969 and became a moderate hit reaching number 24 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.

It was a cover of an obscure Ronettes song which was released during the fall of 1966 and spent on week on the American singles chart at number 100.

It was a Carl Wilson production and includes his nice soulful vocal. The use of a cappella harmonies is old style Beach Boys. It may not be one of their classic car of surf singles, but it was a very good release that helped close the first part of their career.


Do It Again 45 by The Beach Boys

January 30, 2011

The Beach Boys released “Do It Again” July 27, 1969 and it was a return to their former surfing style of song.

The single reached number 20 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Top 100 Pop Chart. Oddly it reached number 8 on CASHBOX and 7 on RECORD WORLD. There were no doubts in the U.K. and Australia as it reached number 1 in both countries.

The song was written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love and was one of the last singles to be released on the Capital label. It would provide The Beach Boys with a nice send-off.


California Dreamin’ 45 by The Beach Boys

January 24, 2011

The Beach Boys version of “California Dreamin'” may not be the equal of the original by The Mamas & The Papas but it was an excellent cover nonetheless.

They recorded the song for their 1986 MADE IN THE USA compilation album. It was released as a single September 20, 1986 and reached number 57 on the American singles charts during its 10 week run.

One of the highlights is the 12 string guitar work by Roger McGuinn. John Phillips played the saxophone on the track. Michelle Phillips appeared in the orginal video.

Their harmonies worked well on the song and it remains one of their better cover songs.


Peggy Sue 45 by The Beach Boys

January 22, 2011

Every once in awhile The Beach Boys would issue a cover song. Their 1981 rendition of the Dell Vikings classic, “Come Go With Me,” was excellent. Their 1978 cover of Buddy Holly’s “Peggy Sue” was average at best. The music buying public would agree as it only reached number 59 on The American singles charts during its six week run.

The recording just did not have a full sound and their classic harmonies were missing something.

Sometimes a song is better left in the care of its originator, and in this case the Buddy Holly version can’t be beat.


Child Of Winter 45 by The Beach Boys

January 21, 2011

The Beach Boys have released a number of Christmas/holiday songs during their long career. Songs such as “Little Saint Nick” and “The Man With All The Toys” became Christmas hits.

If ever a song deserved to be a holiday hit, it was the mid-seventies song “Child Of Winter” by The Beach Boys. Written by Brian Wilson and Steve Kalinich, it was a gentle song of the season. Mike Love provided the lead vocal and Brian handles the spoken word.

“Child Of Winter” was issued on The Beach Boys 1998 ULTIMATE CHRISTMAS album