July: 2012

A new album … by The Beach Boys?

It had once been said it would be easier to get The Beatles back together. No offense to the surviving Beatles; it just isn’t very easy to piece back together a team – once people have created separate projects on their own, or worst of all, when members of the group pass away. You’re forced to decide whether or not you replace the missing partner or carry on with what you’ve got.

The Beach Boys have seen every trial and tribulation in regard to this problem. They’ve survived separation, moved the chess pieces of their lineup around as deemed necessary, invited new friends and prodigies to join the experience, and tragically felt the loss of not only teammates, but that of flesh & blood family.

The fact that the current lineup of The Beach Boys is made up of 100% legit Beach Boys is nothing short of awesome.

I mean, the newest member of the band joined in 1965!

You get founding members: Brian Wilson, Mike Love, and Alan Jardine with David Marks and Bruce Johnston – backed up with some of the touring Beach Boys band members in harmony with members of Brian Wilson’s band, and at least one of these guys, Jeffrey Foskett, has performed with both bands, so it’s all good.

A quick history all Beach Boys fans know, but always a good recap for newer folks:

Alan Jardine of course continued his college education after The Beach Boys’ first single “Surfin’” came out on the independent label, Candix (1961). “Surfin’” was a local hit, but who knew The Beach Boys would still be making music 50 years later? Al wanted an education.

Enter neighbor David Marks. He lived right across the street and had learned to play guitar with Carl Wilson. He was able to jump right in and sign with the Boys on their original Capitol contract and play on the Beach Boys first four record albums (February 1962 to October 63). Marks says he also appeared on the fifth album as well, most likely tunes that were worked on before he left in ‘63).

Soon Brian became overwhelmed with multi-tasking and asked Al to rejoin the band, but Marks left soon after due to conflicts with Murry Wilson (father/manager of the band), and Brian eventually quit touring (let’s say took a “hiatus” from touring). That left an opening in the lineup, so the Boys hired Glen Campbell to fill in for three months before hiring Bruce Johnston in 1965. The first song Bruce performed on was “California Girls” and the rest is history.

And here we are: not only a new album, but a world tour ...

Here’s how excited I was about this recording. I pre-ordered the CD on Amazon, but I couldn’t wait for it to ship, so on the release day I ran down to Target and bought an extra copy just so I could hear it a few days sooner – and I was not disappointed.

Let’s take a look:

The album opens with “Think About the Days,” and we’re immediately taken on a melancholy, almost ghostly, trip of Beach Boys harmony. At just one minute and twenty-seven seconds, you know you’re in for something special, especially if you already dig The Beach Boys.

“That’s Why God Made the Radio” is the first single and preceded the album’s release – causing that crazy anticipation and reaching No. 12 on the Japan Hot 100, No. 30 on the Billboard U.S. Adult Contemporary, and No. 16 on the Billboard U.S. Hot Singles Sales chart. Not too bad.

Note: The album itself scored No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, and No. 15 on the UK chart.

You might think this offering would sound pretty much like Brian Wilson’s own band, which is pretty amazing, yet I believe this title song shows there is a unique magic, an exceptional blend that comes from only (the closest thing you’re going to get to) the original product. The harmonies invoke the vision that The Beach Boys helped carve seemingly out of the sun itself: the mythos of California.

Brian says the sound comes from the love they have for each other, and I don’t think you can argue with that. Despite the fact that mainstream reporters want to keep trying to stir the pot by mentioning former lawsuits or conflicts – the bottom line: this group is family & friends at the core, and for all us long term listeners of their music – The Beach Boys have given us the gift of letting us feel like they’re our family, too.

Especially if you’re from California!

I love this "radio" song. It’s not a rocker, but don’t look for that on this album. As Brian said, “It’s a mellow album, a good album.” I couldn’t agree more. That’s Why God Made the Radio is California cool at its best. Yet, it does contain a few upbeat numbers.

“Isn’t it Time,” (scheduled as the next single) picks up that beat and reminds me a bit of their better 80’s songs, although, I know they’re shooting more for ‘65. I dig it.

“Spring Vacation,” is straight up Beach Boys fun. You could make a great beach flick based on this one song.

“The Private Life of Bill and Sue” proves the Beach Boys have not lost their sense of humor. They’re making fun of reality TV here, but wouldn’t it be fun to have a Beach Boys “reality” show? They could live in a beach house and make music with Micky, Peter, and Mike. (R.I.P. Davy).

“Shelter,” gives Jeffrey Foskett (you might call him the 6th Beach Boy) a chance to show off his great vocals with Brian.

“Daybreak Over the Ocean” is a very welcome Mike Love composition and lead vocal. I know there’s a few Mike haters out there, but you all need to get over the negativity. The Beach Boys aren’t about war; they’re all about the love. Or as Mike would say: Mike Love, not war. Anyway, it’s a great song.

“Beaches in Mind,” is another tune that picks up the melody and gives an indication of what might happen if the Boys kick it up another notch and give us the rockin’ album that Brian has hinted he desires.

“Strange World” is another piece of nostalgia that somehow mixes an almost sad mood concurrently with an optimistic vibe. I would have loved to hear Carl Wilson’s voice on this one.

In “From There to Back Again,” we get an excellent lead from Alan Jardine, which again, gives this album a deeper Beach Boys tone than you’re going to get from a Brian Wilson solo record, especially when Brian comes in to share the lead. You don’t want Brian to pilot every song. The magic is in the mix.

“Pacific Coast Highway,” will take you back to the 70’s laid back vibe as we approach the final swan song of “Summer’s Gone.” You don’t necessarily want to hear the words, “I’m better off alone,” or “goodbye,” when these guys have just gotten truly back together, but they make their point in terms of the haunting reminiscence that is this record.

That’s Why God Made the Radio is a striking piece of modern nostalgia, and even though we feel the tide is almost pulling out for the last time with “Summer’s Gone” co-written with Jon Bon Jovi – we have to remember that this new album came on the heels of The Beach Boys performing and recording a new version of “Do it Again.”

Meanwhile, The Beach Boys are currently playing live all over Europe to sold out venues and their offspring have formed a new band to carry on the legacy.

California Saga is: Adam Jardine, Matt Jardine, Ambha Love, Christian Love, Carl B. Wilson, Carnie Wilson, Justyn Wilson, Wendy Wilson – mentored by the great Billy Hinsche, otherwise known as “Uncle Billy,” or more simply, “The Hinsche.” The Hinsche is of course the Billy of Dino, Desi, and Billy as well as a veteran member of The Beach Boys, Brian Wilson, and Alan Jardine’s touring bands.

Sounds like an endless summer to me.

For more info, click here: CALIFORNIA SAGA

A special thanks to all the girls in bikinis, surfers, beach bums, kooks throwing flying discs, sidewalk surfers, hot-rod delinquents, exotic cocktail drinkers, pirates and poets, who keep California and Summer Fun, sacred, all over the world.


July 19, 2012

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“The Beach Boys: That's Why God Made the Radio" review by Bradley Mason Hamlin.
Edited by Lucy Hell. © 2012 by Mystery Island Publications. Published: 07.20.12.
All rights reserved.

Image of Beach Boys album used here for promotional purposes.