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.


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.


That’s Why God Made The Radio by The Beach Boys

May 24, 2012

The Beach Boys have reached the 50 year milestone in their career. To commemorate that achievement, Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, and David Marks have reunited for an extended tour and the release of a new studio album, That’s Why God Made The Radio, which is currently scheduled for an early June release.

The album demonstrates that The Beach Boys are alive and well, at least in the studio. Brian Wilson has reassumed his leadership in the studio as producer, and songwriter as he co-wrote 11 of the 12 tracks. The best news is he kept his grandiose impulses under control, which allowed the band to reach back in time and create an album of simple but enjoyable music. The melodies are catchy and straightforward, while the lyrics tell simple stories similar to their early career material.

The lead vocals may show the wear and tear of the past half century, but the harmonies are tight and exquisite. If there is one thing Brian Wilson has always been able to do, it’s blend the individual voices of The Beach Boys into a virtual choir that has been and remains unique in American music history. In many ways these new harmonies are the centerpiece of this release.

The music and vocals are centered primarily around the five Beach Boys. The only additional musicians are their long-time guitarist Jeff Foskett and drummer John Cowsill, who has been touring with Mike Love’s edition of the band. Adrian Baker and Christian Love provide backing vocals on one track and the rest is all the band members.

The album’s first track, “Think About The Days,” establishes the fact that The Beach Boys have returned. It begins with the five voices united in a cappella harmony. A simple piano enters as the song flows gently along. There are no words but only vocal sounds.

The title song, lyrically and emotionally, is about capturing memories. It features a simple instrumental background with a heavy bass and drum backbeat. The lyrics may be a little self-indulgent in places, but the harmonies more than make up for it, which allows it to emerge as a track that would fit in with their better material.

“Spring Vacation” is an ode to themselves as Wilson and Love share the lead vocals. The lyrics express their happiness of being back together and it’s been decades since the Beach Boys issued a happy song. “The Private Life of Bill and Sue” features Wilson’s plaintive lead vocal with a ska/reggae beat in support. Both of these songs are probably the most sophisticated musically as the various instruments weave in and out and then combine in unique ways.

“Beaches In Mind” has a Mike Love lead vocal but it is the repetitive chorus with the united voices that is memorable.

The final three tracks are a loosely united trilogy of the band looking back while accepting the present. “From There to Back Again” is a nostalgic ballad of looking back when life was spread out in front of them. “Pacific Coast Highway” is a nostalgic and reflective look at life from the present. “Summer’s Gone,” with Brian Wilson’s sad vocal, brings the album to a conclusion as it’s time to go.

I have seen The Beach Boys in concert four times and bought all of their studio releases. Their generation has aged gracefully in some ways but ungracefully in others, so I am willing to overlook a few flaws as this may be the last Beach Boys studio album. It is one to savor as one tries to catch a final glimpse of the endless summer.

It may not be as good as their best early career material but it is excellent in its own right and place in time. It is representative of their sound and that alone makes it an album worth owning. Fifty years have passed and The Beach Boys may not pass this way again.

Article first published as Music Review: The Beach Boys – That’s Why God Made the Radio on Blogcritics.


Looking Back With Love by Mike Love

February 23, 2012

Love him or hate him, Mike Love has been the one costant in The Beach Boys for the past half century. He kept the band together and on the road for the past 15 years or so and while it may not have been the band we were used too, his lead vocal was always present.

On the other hand he sued Al Jardine over the use of the band’s name and Brian Wilson twice for recognition and royalties as a writer of many of their classic songs.

The problem with his only solo solo album, LOOKING BACK WITH LOVE, is it just doesn’t matter. It is inoffensive pop, and even catchy in places, but is very light weight when compared to those of fellow band mates Brin, Dennis, and Carl Wilson and even Al Jardine’s latest effort.

It seems to be a rushed affair. I can listen to it but an hour or so later, it’s gone. It just doesn’t matter.


Best Of The Beach Boys Vol. 2 by The Beach Boys

February 20, 2012

Back in the 1960s compilation albums were not as prevalent as they are today.

1967 found The Beach Boys releasing their second BEST OF album and like the first, they padded it with some non hits in order to save them for a third BEST OF album. Money was the name of the game and albums of this nature by group’s such as The Beach Boys were commercial winners.

“Let Him Run Wild,” “Please Let Me Wonder,” and “Long Tall Texan” were filler on a Greatest Hits album. The heart of the release, “When I Grow Up,” “California Girls,” “Help Me Rhonda,” and “I Get Around” were some of the best pop releases of the 1960s.

Just like their first, BEST OF THE BEACH BOYS VOL 2 album, it was a good album that could have been better.


The Man With All The Toys 45 by The Beach Boys

November 8, 2011

“The Man With All The Toys” was an original Christmas song written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love for The Beach Boys. Released December 5, 1964, it reached number six on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Christmas Chart.

It was one of those songs that kept selling year after year and while it may not have had alot of chart success, BILLBOARD MAGAZINE now ranks it as one of the 100 best selling Christmas songs of all time.

The flip side of the original single contained a wonderful Brian Wilson vocal on the old standard, “Blue Christmas.”


Jingle Bell Rock 45 by Mike Love

June 10, 2011

Love him or hate him, Mike Love has been loyal to the Beach Boys for half a century now. He is still out on the road fronting the band as he continues to gather musicians, including Bruce Johnston and David Marks, to present their music in concert.

He has rarely released any solo material down through the years. There has been only one true solo studio album plus a few singles.

One of his best solo perofrmances was the single “Jingle Bell Rock,” which I think was also part of a Radio Shack Store release.

It is a rocking version of the old Christmas classic and his vocal is not as nasal as usual, as he carries the song in a nice modern interpretation.

If you can ever find a copy of “Jingle Bell Rock” by Mike Love, you are in for a treat.