"Angel Come Home"
"L.A. (Light Album)"
If you start with "Pacific Ocean Blue", you won’t get it. But this delivers the pure Dennis Wilson essence, even though he didn’t write it. Doesn’t it sound just like a surfer past his prime who’s been abandoned by his honey who got tired of his slacking ways?
Meanwhile, it was written by Carl (and Jeffrey Cushing-Murray), and his background vocals add sweetness to his brother’s rough…whew!
I’ve played this record after every breakup, whether initiated by myself or my ex-significant other. Now you will too.
"I Was Made To Love Her"
Speaking of Carl Wilson…
Yes, this is the Stevie Wonder song, but with Carl out front it’s more than a cover.
"Girl Don’t Tell Me"
"Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)
You know how we’ve all got a favorite track, even though it wasn’t a hit? Like "Every Little Thing", my favorite Beatles cut. This is my favorite Beach Boys cut. It reminds me of summer, of regret, it’s wistful, it brings me right back to what once was and will never be again.
When I was twelve, I went to Camp Laurel-wood, the t-shirt spelled it with a hyphen, but we always wrote it as one word, "Laurelwood". It was run by the New Haven Jewish Community Center, and being from Fairfield, half an hour away, I was new blood. And I’m good in those situations. It’s when my 360 degree personality comes out most. Not often enough today.
Actually, this was my third and final year at Laurelwood. I was well-established. And in that music-mania era, I brought along my Beatle and Beach Boy records, and at the very first social, I dropped the needle on "Do You Wanna Dance?", the opening cut on "Beach Boys Today!" and I stole Jimmy’s girlfriend Jill just like that. Really.
And it lasted all month. But when I called her that December, the rumor was true, she’d gone back to him. Which on one hand was o.k., on the other when I hear "Girl Don’t Tell Me" I remember one of the best summers of my life.
"Come Go With Me"
Yes, the Del-Vikings song. But I hardly knew it, it was a hit in the fifties.
Get past the nonsense intro, stay until you hit the vocals… You just want to join in. Al Jardine makes this track, the same way he did with "Help Me Rhonda".
My first Beach Boys album was "Today!" And then "Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) I became so enamored of the band, became such a fan, that I then went back and bought what came before, which is quite a chore when you’re twelve and cash-challenged.
My first catalog album was "Surfin’ USA". I’ll spare you the tale of trying to comb my hair like Dennis Wilson’s on the back cover, but will tell you my father used to make fun of me, singing ""Tell the teacher we’re surfin’…" at opportune moments, having heard me play it ad infinitum. Then again, when we did get to Los Angeles the following summer he did drive me to Malibu on a cloudy day and rented me a board.
But that summer, of ’65, we went on vacation with the Sheketoffs to Atlantic City. And one night, on Steel Pier, we did go to see "Girls On The Beach", where Brian Wilson sat by a campfire and…
Didn’t sing "Farmer’s Daughter". But every time I think of this song, which I can sing note for note in my head, I remember that evening, all of the above.
Yes, there were tons of farmer’s daughter’s jokes. But I was too young to either hear them or understand them.
People think Barry Gibb has the most famous falsetto in rock. But really, it’s Brian Wilson. It’s just that Brian’s is so natural, they don’t realize it.
"It’s About Time"
I used to be a famous artist
Proud as I could be
Struggling to express myself
For the whole world to see
I used to blow my mind sky high
Searching for the lost elation
Little did I know the joy I was to find
In knowing I am only me
"Sunflower" is the album where the rest of the boys stepped up. Especially Dennis, it includes his composition "Forever" and the opening cut "Slip On Through" and "Got To Know The Woman" and he even had a hand in writing this.
But so did Carl. And Al. And Bob Burchman, whoever that is.
And Carl sang it.
You’re famous, successful, THEN WHAT?
But as insightful as the lyrics are, when "It’s About Time" breaks down at 1:18, you’ll experience the sheer joy of music. That airy feeling with the music swirling inside your head when you believe you’ve just experienced the most beautiful thing in the world.
Not as good as an album, "Holland" gained notoriety and success as a result of the afterthought hit, "Sail On Sailor". Still, "Holland" was very satisfying.
And by this time, Carl Wilson had become the glue that kept the band together. He built his reputation on these later albums, where his voice soared. Listen at 2:42, you’ll get it.
"15 Big Ones"
From the comeback that was not.
It was painful listening to this album, except for this. Which is the legendary Beach Boys sound, Mike Love shines.
"Carl and the Passions – "So Tough""
After "Sunflower" and "Surf’s Up", this album could not have been more of a disappointment. "Pet Sounds" was packaged with it to try to give value, divert attention. But then, just when you were wincing, at the end of side one, came this.
You’ve got to listen on the big rig, experience the stacked choir. It’s truly the voice of the angels. You listen in awe.
Brian Wilson has brought "Marcella" back from obscurity by featuring it regularly in his concerts. His fans resurrected "’Til I Die". First Don Was, and then everybody else. But if you bought this album back then, it was clear "’Til I Die" was the masterpiece. But you had no one to discuss it with. It was not a hit single and despite the hype, I never found another person who owned the album. It was my own secret treasure. But now it’s everybody’s, and that’s fine with me.
Yes, "Surf’s Up" was seen as a comeback. There was an article in "Time". I loved it, but it was not as good as "Sunflower" and most people still thought the Beach Boys uncool, sixties relics, this was just before their live show gained traction and became a major attraction.
But many have never heard this gem. Once again propelled by a Carl Wilson vocal.
In the album era, it wasn’t a hit and then filler… Hell, despite the label trying, there was no hit at all from "Surf’s Up", but here I am talking about it forty years later.
I drove to E.J. Korvette in blistering heat. I stopped at the Merritt Canteen for a hot dog thereafter, stashing the album in its bag under the seat so it wouldn’t warp.
And then got home, broke the shrinkwrap and dropped the needle.
Today’s music is hard and edgy. Maybe it’s apropos for the times. Where everybody’s fighting for a piece of the pie. Where you have to mortgage your future to go to college. But even though the sixties had ended by time "Surf’s Up" was released, we were still in an era of personal development, of exploration. You’d put on this record and drift…
I’m drifting right now.