Monday, December 23, 2013

Let The Gang Know What Your Beach Boys Thoughts Are: Your Beach Boys Preferences: The Ultimate Beach Boys Survey!!!

Friends of mine who follow this blog who are Beach Boys Fans will want to complete the survey I put together at Tellwut. We have finished making edits, and the stats are beginning to accumulate.It may be found here:

The results from 2067 respondents for the survey may be viewed here:

Friday, November 29, 2013

I'm History--Van Dyke Parks New Single by Peter Reum

This month, Van Dyke Parks continues the productive pattern of releasing his new music as singles this month with a gorgeous new pair of tracks that offer a chance to see what is on his mind musically and lyrically. The "A" side, I'm History, presents a series of noble musings about the period from John F. Kennedy presidency to the present day. The grief many of us felt when that promising era was cut short is revisited, with a lovely syncopated track highlighted by beautiful accordian, flute, strings, and backing vocals recalling Discover America. I'm History is a track that has been in the works for a number of years, and a live version is available on youtube here...

The hallowed halls of government (or Venice CA 1903)

Van Dyke Parks Loves L.A....

The lyrics to I'm History are suitably  Parksian in their content. There are double entendres, puns, and a rough narrative forward of the 50 years since the assassination of Kennedy. I'm History tees off on several targets, especially Wall Street, Biblical Fundamentalists, and Tea Partiers. Parks makes the point that all things pass, and as a nation we will be judged by how we treated those of us who are homeless, elderly, children, and have disabilities. It is apparent that he is frustrated in his inability to communicate with Biblical Literalists, and he laments fundamentalists basing their Christian beliefs on The Old Testament.

The Maestro Himself With Inara George

The Maestro Circa 1968

The second tune, Charm School, is a lovely instrumental recalling Clang of the Yankee Reaper. Timbales, steel pans, guitar, and violins are mixed in a tropical gumbo that only Parks can concoct. The tune recalls some of the music Van Dyke has composed for cinema, and one can easily visualize credits to a tropically based comedic farce rolling over the music here. At times the guitar almost recalls the Rockford Files Theme. If you love Parks, his last album (Songs Cycled), or are curious about his work, this is as good a beginning as you will find. If you don't know where to buy the single, bug Van Dyke at go to ITunes, or listen on Spotify.

Text Copyright by Peter Reum 2013-All Rights Reserved

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Death of American Naivety (and Heroes) by Peter Reum

There are a handful of news reports in my life that have frozen me where I stood and provoked complete disbelief. Fifty years ago, I was a sixth grade student and another student ran up to me and told me that President Kennedy had been assassinated. It burned my ears like no event ever had. In listening to PBS today, I was once again reunited with people my age and older who were much younger then, when we still believed that government's motive was the betterment of the American people. In Cold War Los Alamos, New Mexico, we were used to bomb drills, secrecy, and the idea of keeping the world safe from the Communists. President Kennedy's rhetoric matched the Soviet Union's as the two rivals careened through the Sixties, oblivious to almost anything else except each other. John Kennedy had visited Los Alamos the previous December, and half the town covered the high school football field to hear his remarks.  He had come to hear about a classified nuclear rocket engine that would enable interplanetary travel in the future.

President Kennedy, December 7, 1962 with Dr, Norris Bradbury (left), and Dr. Glenn Seaborg (right)

After the assassination's verification, for roughly 72 hours, the tempo of the town stopped dead, as it did in most communities around the country.  The drama played out in an almost Shakespearean manner, with the accused assassin being apprehended after shooting a police officer, further compounding the tragedy. We witnessed the deplaning of the Air Force One passengers and crew, the unloading of Kennedy's casket, and the minute by minute commentary by talking heads on television. The tragedy was extended when a Dallas nightclub owner shot the accused assassin in front of millions of viewers that November weekend. We had been fast forwarded into the era of mass media reality television without realizing it happened. 

You may view an 11 minute Los Alamos National Laboratory Video of President Kennedy's visit to Los Alamos National Laboratory and excerpts from his speech at Los Alamos High School Football Field here:

In Los Alamos, even though later accountings of Kennedy's Los Alamos visit revealed that he was deeply skeptical of nuclear weapons and their utility in international relations between superpowers, and felt that  the "Los Alamos longhairs" were out of touch with reality as Kennedy viewed it (see below), we deeply mourned a man who had recognized our patriotism, sacrifice, and contributions to American Life. Through the years that followed, details of Kennedy's sex life emerged, and his star stopped shining the way it had for a few years after his murder. Kennedy's trip to Los Alamos placed him in a unique esteem that still is held today by many of us who had never been that close to a sitting U.S. President before the amazing day he came to visit us.

A part of us as a nation also died that day. Kennedy was a man of privilege, well educated, impeccably dressed, Ivy League educated, and quite young compared to his predecessors. Many authors have made the point that he was the first of the generation that served in World War II to be elected President. His successor, Lyndon Johnson, also was in Los Alamos that day in December, 1962, and was relegated to a minor supporting role. Despite that fact, Johnson subsequently held Los Alamos in high esteem, and gave us the chance to own our homes and modify them, after having paid rent to the US Government since 1943. But President Johnson  was a different man, older, with a Texas twang that most New Mexicans found objectionable. Texan jokes were de rigeur in New Mexico. It was as if we had our national leadership had morphed from an urbane, witty "modern" guy to a countrified rancher who flashed people with his gall bladder operation scar.

For the Kennedys, the mantle of leadership shifted to Robert F. Kennedy. For Los Alamos, the Cold War was a bonanza for every sort of defense technology the "longhairs" could envision. Los Alamos became the preeminent place for most of the future defense needs of our country. The assassinations continued, and the Vietnam War became a form of national quicksand which destroyed our national unity. There was no chance of restoring the faith in government that the Kennedy Era had ushered in. As his star became tarnished, it was almost as if we accepted the premise that heroism was temporary,and subject to a form of investigative journalism designed to find every hero's unsavory past. Worse yet, we relegated the assumption of honesty in our public servants to the ash heap. The Watergate Era let every American see what had always been there, but had been off limits by common agreement between the Presidents and the Press.....their private life.

When Kennedy's sexual addiction became well known, it was free range muckraking. Nothing began to surprise us as our heroes  became tarnished, slowly but surely, one at a time. We built people up, then tore them down. The list of true heroes has become quite a short list.....especially post Kennedy assassination. Two that come to mind are John Glenn and Neil Armstrong. Both of these men are direct products of Kennedy's Cold War goal of beating the Soviet Union to the Moon. Martin Luther King's legacy is another story closely intertwined with the Kennedys. Yet the press has exposed his sexual episodes with women outside of his marriage as well. The bar has been lowered to the point to where very few people want to seek public service as a career, except narcissists and sociopaths.

But....I remember December 7, 1962 as my one close encounter with a U.S. President, and although he was taken away prematurely, his presence that cold day in Los Alamos is something I will always treasure and remember.It was the biggest day of my nearly 10 year old life, and still thrills me to this day, 51 years later.

Note below: For some perspective on Kennedy's private reaction to his Los Alamos Laboratory visit, see the Kenneth O'Donnell and David Powers book on O'Donnell's years with John F. Kennedy-"Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye" Memories of John F. Kennedy (1972 Little Brown and Co.)

Text copyright 2013 by Peter Reum-All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Kids-My First by Peter Reum

On this occasion, my oldest daughter's 29th birthday, I remember her birth by my first wife vividly. Her coming into this world was difficult. Her mother and I had taken Bradley classes, and we decided to try to do things without medication. We had delayed our children by 10 years, which was a wise decision, as neither of us were ready for kids until then. It seemed that I sowed many wild oats in my 20s, and by 31, I had earned two graduate degrees, and money was flowing more substantially than ever before. We had bought a home, and I really thought it would be our home lifelong.

That first home had 3 bedrooms, plus a room for my ever burgeoning record collection. Insanity by vinyl multiplied. We searched for names, and Kalinda, a word from the ancient language Sanskrit meaning sunlight, was our choice. She was born in the Greeley, Colorado Hospital, and her Apgar Score at 1 minute was only 2.  Having been trained in Early Childhood Development, sirens went off in my head. Her mother was still dealing with the afterbirth when Apgars at 5 minutes were 5. By 10 minutes, she had "pinked up" to 8, and at 15 minutes, she was a solid 9. Her screams rang out as she discovered her world, and she calmed down when placed with her mother. Those first few weeks were heaven, as we learned her rhythms and she learned ours. My father asked me how I liked being a father myself.

She was always inquisitive, always spirited, fiercely independent, and wanted to do things herself. More than most of my other children and step-children, my first was observant, and learned by watching. Her mother's intellect was prodigious, and she inherited it. Friends of mine and her mother's dubbed her "Kalinda the Wonder Child." She was expressing her needs clearly by 7 months and walked early.   She loved being read to, and I read her stories nightly for her first 4 years. Preschool was a good experience for her, and she enjoyed the company of other children. By 4, she had developed a sensitive temperament, which she hid well.  From me, she developed a wonderful sense of rooting for the underdog, a quality she retains to this day.  She does not suffer fools who discriminate against others well, nor do I. She had the unique experience of growing up with a sister with cerebral palsy, and loves her sister dearly.

It must have been  hard being the sister who is "gifted" in a family with a newly diagnosed little sister who was a special needs child. Kalinda accepted this role, and, to my knowledge, never showed a bit of jealousy about the amount of time her parents spent with her younger sister in various therapies, special education programs, and other forms of intervention designed to help close the delays her sister had developmentally. As Kalinda entered school, she developed an interest in horses that she kept for most of her elementary school years. She became an accomplished rider, and despite a few falls and broken bones, kept on riding. She also developed a love of singing that she maintained all the way through her secondary school years. She has a beautiful soprano voice and a great ear.

When Kalinda was 10, her mother asked me to leave, and the pain she had in her eyes as I packed and moved out is seared in my soul forever. Her mother and I had grown apart, and we had a painful and protracted divorce that only hurt Kalinda more deeply. She expressed her anger to me, and presumably to her mother as well. I don't know, I was not there. I remarried on the rebound, and my second wife clashed personality wise with Kalinda.  They never really were able to tolerate each other, making Kalinda's relationship with me even more distant. I take full responsibility for this. It was a mistake I will always regret.

I moved to Montana, and Kalinda visited me the first two Christmases I was here. My second wife had died, and I was devastated. To this day, it is hard to determine whether the divorce or my second wife's illness and death was most shattering. I still could not see Kalinda's pain, and I wish I could have. Her mother remarried, and her second husband was a true gentleman. He did not try to win Kalinda over, but simply respected her feelings for what they were. This was a lesson I hadn't learned, and it hurt Kalinda.

Fast forward into the post high school years, and Kalinda went to college. She was absent from my life, and had good reason to be. I had been arrogant. Her mother helped her as best she could,
and to Kalinda's credit, she got through a rigorous undergraduate program in 3 years. She met her future husband, and they ended up getting married and went to graduate school in Montreal. Kalinda got her M.A. in History, and the couple had the first of two children they have today.  The children are beautiful, and have the delicate features their grandmother had.

They live an ocean and a half away, and when Kalinda visits, she comes to see her younger sister. Last time, she generously spent time with me for a few hours, and shared herself with me a little. Her talents are many, and her husband appears to be a generous and attentively loving man. For this I am very grateful. When her mother died, I couldn't help but wonder what things might have been like if I had gotten my act together and stayed, instead of selfishly being self-occupied.  I wish there was a way I could have made amends in a manner Kalinda and her mother could hear.

They say the "woulda, shoulda, couldas" will eat away your soul. I believe it. My beautiful first born is a woman, a mother, an artist, a wife, and a citizen of the world. She has embraced the cultures of other countries, using her camera and her inquiring mind to learn about things I only dreamed of learning. Her mother rests at peace in Colorado, and my Higher Power has seen fit to give me a second chance to be a dad with her sister, now 23, and 3 stepdaughters and 2 children with my wife. My "second family" is a blessing, a chance to make a difference in the most important job a man can have, being a father and stepfather.

Kalinda has a gift for photography that is truly remarkable. Her site,, is a collection of photographs that I love immensely. Every few months, I go there to see what my oldest has found wonderful about the world in her travels. If I live long enough, my hope is that one day, I will be privileged to meet her family. In the meantime, once a year formally, and hundreds of times informally, I celebrate her life and her gifts, which are many. She is unique, my first, and nothing can take her place in my heart. You only have your firstborn once, and today, I celebrate her and her life....Kalinda.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Brian Wilson/Alan Jardine/David Marks/Jeff Beck Tour 2013 by Peter Reum

There are disadvantages to living in Montana. The biggest one for me has been the dearth of top tier concert tour stops here. The Wilson Band/Beck Band tour has been one of those lost opportunities. There are people who contend that Brian has been touring often enough that people may have lost the impetus to catch shows Brian and his band play. Well, having listened to a live recording of the tour, I am certain that people like myself who didn't go have lost a great opportunity to see two titans from the Sixties play their music.

The first thing to say is that Brian and his band continue to be masters of whatever tunes from Brian's palette they choose to play. Those of us who caught the Jimmy Fallon Show got a tiny sample of two hours of great music. Our Prayer/Danny Boy is a sample of the encore the two  bands have been playing. The combination, on first blush appears unusual. The tunes side into each other beautifully. As with Surfs Up, Jeff Beck's ability to make a guitar sing is astounding.

Brian, Alan, and David's set with their band recalls the best of Brian's music, with Alan's incredible voice adding power and honesty to what is already some of the most emotionally honest music ever written.  I was blessed with an audience recording of a concert from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania that is a terrific document of this tour. The show consisted of a little over an hour of Brian, Alan, David, and he band, followed by roughly an hour of Jeff Beck with his band, with the final 25 minutes of the show devoted to a unified set by both ensembles.

This show begins with a chillingly beautiful acapella version of Their Hearts Were Full of Spring, Brian's signature vocal tribute to his Four Freshmen mentors. The band then begins the introduction to California Girls, with Brian singing lead. The version here is playful and bouncing. There is a pretty 12 bar vocals only break near the end of the song. Do It Again is next, with David Marks playing perfect surf guitar over the complex vocals that come in during the choruses. Paul Von Mertens plays what sounds like a bass sax, which holds the bottom together. It rocks, and that is what great surf music should do.

Alan then does Then I Kissed Her, and just like the C50 Tour, he nails it. The version here could have come from Summer Days (and Summer Nights). There is no other Beach Boy who can sound so authentic, so true to the original Beach Boy recordings.  Don't Worry Baby follows, with  nice backing vocals and a pretty lead from Jeff Foskett. A tribute to Dennis Wilson follows, with David Marks telling a great story about Dennis chopping down a tree that David at age 6 fell out of and broke his arm. David then does a splendid version of Little Bird with backing vocals eerily true to the original Friends album recording. Probyn plays some banjo behind  David.

A concert segment follows that highlights American Music. It begins with Brian's arrangement of Ol' Man River, which then segues beautifully into Cottonfields. Again, Alan's incredible vocal brings the authority of the original recording by The Beach Boys into a live performance. The pedal steel in this version helps replicate the single version by the Beach Boys perfectly. Til I Die is next, with its wistful organ and vibes behind a suitably solemn group vocal effort. Brian echoes his backing vocal part on the record. Sail On Sailor is sung by Brian, with this version sounding more blues based than usual. The banjo is faintly present in the background. Brian's versions of this tune the last couple of years have allowed him to reclaim this tune as his own.

Brian loves Heroes and Villains, and has also reclaimed that tune as his to sing in the last two tours. The spooky bicycle rider keyboard part is very audible in this version. The acapella break eats their lunch at first here, but they pull it out and then go into the waltz time cantina section.  Brian then returns to sing the final verse. Probably my favorite tune that this band plays live, Marcella, is next, with a rocking backdrop and some suitable harmonica from Paul. The version here is less guitar and more keyboard based, with a nice bridge. As with some of the other tunes in this show, the sound is a little closer to the original recording than in the past. There is some great guitar work, presumably from David.

The title track from Pet Sounds follows, with the band shining. There is some lovely guitar and Nelson Bragg and Mike D'Amico really stand out on this tune. Paul's sax break here again highlights the jazz roots of many of Brian's compositions. Brian does God Only Knows, singing it more sweetly in the style of Carl's original vocal than in the past. In all, Brian's vocal is loving, sensitive, and tasteful. Sloop John B is next, with Alan taking Brian's first verse. Brian's doubling of Alan on the chorus shows that nothing is lost. Brian takes the second verse, The acapella break is spot on. Alan returns for the third verse, with Brian doubling. Concluding the Pet Sounds segment of the show is Wouldn't It Be Nice. The lead sounds like Alan, with Brian doing the bridge.  The vocals are simply beautiful.

The ending of this first part of the show begins with Help Me Rhonda, with Alan killing it. As on the C50 tour, he owns this tune. Jeff does a nice falsetto backing vocal. I Get Around, with its complex arrangement is next. David's solo on the bridge is short but tasty. Brian sings Carl's part on Good Vibrations, and the tune has the ethereal feeling that the studio version has. Some of the mid range theremin parts are done vocally, which is unusual. The cello triplets are reproduced using synthesizers. Fun Fun Fun is moved to being the end of this segment, and sounds out of place there. Despite that, David plays some cool guitar and the harmonies are perfect.

Jeff Beck and his awesome band do the second segment of the show, beginning with Eternity's Breath.  His five piece band is sufficiently versatile to do virtually any type of music, and I found this part of the concert not just enjoyable, but in some instances, transcendent. One is reminded of the best playing that Weather Report did with Jaco. Jeff's guitar is part improvisational, part literal. The drumming and bass here are tasteful and not only keep time, but amplify and complements the other instruments. Eternity's Breath segues into Stratus, a jazz fusion workout that cooks.

Jan Hammer's Even Odds follows, which combines some classic rock drumming with gorgeous guitar work from both guitarists in Jeff's band. The central riff plays off a descending chord pattern reminscent of Layla in some ways. The violin and guitar play beautifully in sync with each other in the last 90 seconds of the song. A tune entitled You Know You Know is next, with the violin and Jeff Beck's guitar again playing off each other. Time signatures go out the window as the band flies through the tune with the aplomb of a unit who intuitively know where each other is going next.  The sophistication of the violin as a progressive fusion instrument is both unexpected and inspiring.

You Never Know is a tour de force of guitar, drums, and synth. It rocks and swings simultaneously, and is perfect for a band of instrumental virtuosi like Beck's. Where Were You is turned into a sad and mournful blues workout, with Beck's guitar quite literally crying. I have not heard a guitarist be able to do this since some of Jesse Ed Davis's work with Indigenous poet and visionary John Trudell. Big Block is next with a menacing beginning out of Mancini's Peter Gunn Theme. The tune evolves into an unusual almost 12 bar blues feel with a machine gun speed guitar workout over it. Again, this band knows exactly where everyone is headed, but the route can vary from night to night. The time signatures again go out the window.

Beck and his band are then joined by Brian, Alan, David, and their band.  They promptly do Our Prayer perfectly, which then is followed by a segment of Smile's Second Movement, which includes part of Child Is Father To the Man segueing into Jeff Beck's astounding version version of Surfs Up on guitar with vocals by Brian and company. What is cool is that the violin plays the intro to Child live. Beck's subtle and restrained guitar throughout Surfs Up is elegant and it is easy to see why Brian was knocked out in 2005 at Music Cares.

Brush With the Blues is next. It showcases Beck at his best, recalling his finest blues rock workouts. Perhaps improbable, but not surprising is the combined group doing Les Paul and Mary Ford's How High the Moon. For those of us who love their work, it is a piece of ear candy. Beck's version of Day In the Life begins in the restrained world weary manner of The Beatles' version, then escalates into a loud arpeggio which fades back into the world weary theme of the first part of the song. The orchestral crescendo is replicated incredibly by Beck, leaving the listener breathless. His final number, Rollin' and Tumblin' recalls Yardbirds days with a great blues rock interpretation of the old Hambone Willie Newbern blues recording from the dawn of recorded blues.

The two bands played an encore, beginning with the best live version of Barbara Ann that I have heard in awhile. Jeff Beck's solo is short but flaming.  Surfin' USA follows, simple, yet profound in its Chuck Berry roots. Beck's slack key guitar on Danny Boy is so evocative of the great Hawaiian guitarists, especially Gabby Pahinui. The vocals are so splendid as to be spiritual. Thus, an Irish song is morphed into a beautiful Hawaiian hymn.

There are so many highlights, and it is hard to identify just a few moments. Suffice to say that for this brief tour, two of the best bands in the world united to create an experience unique, yet probably overlooked by rabid fans of both bands. Two men who admire each others' musicianship synergistically created an experience that anyone who caught this tour will remember with great appreciation in the years to come.  I can barely wait for the album that Brian is cutting with Jeff as a guest artist. Congratulations to everyone who made this tour happen....

Text copyright 2013 by Peter Reum-All Rights Reserved

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Beatles-The Esher Demos By Peter Reum

Growing up with the Beatles is a fundamental common experience of Boomers my age. I remember seeing Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show, but The Beatles' appearance on the Sullivan Show was almost a universal experience among my generation. As we grew up, so did The Beatles. Their youthful effervescence changed into jaded skepticism as ours did concurrently.

The Beatles changed as do all groups in whatever endeavor they undertake change. Group dynamics are well known and researched. The process model known among all group therapists like myself is "forming, norming, storming, working, and dissolving." The core Beatles had been together since the late Fifties by the time the preparation for the double album simply entitled "The Beatles" came along. They had all written songs in India with The Maharishi, and their cynicism about the experience was well known and publicized. Their return to the UK coincided with a need to turn in an album.

Songwriters don't stop writing, even if they are in India under the Maharishi's dubious tutelage (at least in The Beatles' point of view). The group reunited in England at George's home in Esher with a 4 track tape recorder, and acoustically laid down some 27 tracks, playing what they came up with in India for each other. The results were astounding.

I should now interject some opinions of my own. I am not a big White Album fan. I have always felt that The Beatles was a self-indulgent excessively lengthy double set. Personally, I am a "middle period" Beatles fan, enjoying the period roughly from Rubber Soul through the US Magical Mystery Tour album. That said, an album of these demos. recorded in the manner that Bob Dylan and The Band cut the Basement Tapes would have sold me on a double set, with no reservations. The legendary Basement Tapes are everything a double album should be....incredible musicians sharing their music together playing as an ensemble in a manner that makes the songs the star of the show, not the production.

A great song should sound great without production enhancements. That is the nature of most of the Esher Demos. There are some dalliances with whimsy, but hearing them "naked" brings out their inherent humor. The demos are roughly evenly divided between John and Paul, with few strong pieces from George. Most chronicles of the sessions show doubt that Ringo was present.

The tapes begin with John singing Julia, and the tune's sensitive and lovely character comes through beautifully. The song's chords are played on acoustic guitar, and it sounds like John doubled his vocal by overdubbing. John's loving tribute is as sensitive a song as he ever composed. It is sung tenderly, as a mother might sing to her son.  It is as gorgeous a song as John ever wrote. Paul's Blackbird is next, and again the chords played acoustically make the song the star. Paul's intention here was a song of encouragement to African-Americans fighting discrimination, and though presented allegorically, there is no mistaking what the song is about. Two homeruns in two at bats.....

Rocky Raccoon on The White Album comes across as a send up of America's rednecks. It is ironic that today in the USA that there is a deep divide between gun owners and the National Rifle Association and people who want stronger gun control. Thinking back to 1968, it may be a commentary on Paul's part about the deaths of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy by assassins. Back In the USSR has a strong resemblance to The Beach Boys on The White Album, but the chords are undoubtedly indebted to Chuck Berry. This tune is simply a great piece of rock and roll.

Honey Pie thumps along with a lyrical continuation of the USA Western theme, with a guitar for percussion, a Roaring Twenties music and lyrical theme, and some rowdy background vocals. It sounds like a tune you would hear in a saloon. Mother Nature's Son has the amazing chord progression that only a  Brian Wilson or Paul McCartney could come up with. This has always been a favorite of mine, and this version kills.  The only version that approaches this one is John Denver's ironically. There is a second guitar playing along, possibly George. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da follows, and is very catchy if a bit gimmicky. The tune is a musical bow to Dub music, but is too light lyrically.

Junk is a McCartney tune that did not see release until Paul's solo career. It is an achingly pretty song, and one wonders why a song like Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da made it to the White Album and Junk did not. It is a McCartney melody that is simply lovely in acoustic form. Dear Prudence is a beautiful song in its acoustic form here, and is also certainly a highlight of The White Album as well. Lennon does a little rap alluding to the Maharishi at the end of Dear Prudence which segues right into Lennon's Sexy Sadie, a commentary on the Maharishi's sexual prowess in Rishikesh. Lennon was not a person who dealt  well with pretense or duplicity, and this song is an sample of those feelings.

Cry Baby Cry, another Lennon composition, is quite beautiful and all too brief. Lennon apparently wrote it about the time he wrote Good Morning, Good Morning, and this version, like so many of these demos, could have been released as it was cut in Esher. Child of Nature is obviously inspired by the time outdoors in Rishikesh, and the song did not make it to The White Album. It surfaced on John's Imagine album as Jealous Guy. I actually prefer this version with these lyrics.

The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill appears to be a commentary on the American predilection for violence. In 1968, America was torn into a thousand pieces, with rioting in the cities, a hated and divisive War in Viet Nam, and an election that was not well received by the world.  I'm So Tired apparently has an extra spoken passage on the Esher version. It is an unhappy John Lennon voicing his dissatisfaction with his life, and the constant demands being placed upon hum. This version is eminently releasable as is, and it is a shame it hasn't seen official release.

Yer Blues, from John Lennon, is a wonderful 12 bar blues with some fine slide guitar playing from George. The slide guitar is fairly unique in these demos, and Lennon's vocal is "suitably bluesy." John had apparently tried to hook up with God in India to no avail. His anger about the experience is spread out in several of these demos. Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey is a Lennon tune that alludes to heroin use. The tune, in my opinion refers to the seductive nature of the drug, which is blissfully enslaving, then becomes a demanding bitchy mistress instead of a vehicle for emotional numbing.

What's the New Mary Jane, another Lennon tune,  was not released until 1988. The tune is a Lennon lyrical mish mash, similar to some of Dylan's lyrics in the Basement Tapes. It is fairly pedestrian, and not his best work. Revolution is a tune on the Esher Demos that sparkles and screams for release. The song rocks acoustically, and is an obvious radio tune. I like Lennon's rejection of violence and prejudice and call for love in this tune. It is a generational anthem. The falsetto "don't you know it's gonna be" vocals are a kick.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps, George Harrison's classic, is as gorgeous here as it appears on the White Album. The guitar and organ here intermingle and form a bond that is wistful and incredibly sad. The tune almost sounds like chamber music in demo form. Simply beautiful.  Circles is accompanied by an organ that is jarring in tone, and is reminiscent of The Beach Boys Smiley Smile period. The tune is a George Harrison tune, and is an obvious outtake, and is not his strongest work.

Sour Milk Sea, first cut during the Esher Demos, was recorded by the late Jackie Lomax for his Apple lp. The tune, a George Harrison composition, may have been a commentary on some of the negativity some group members expressed about their Rishikesh experience. It is sung in a falsetto, has a strong melody and it's lyrics are probably what kept it from the White Album. Not Guilty is a Harrison tune that appears to be a musical retort to Beatle members who found the India experience unsavory. Harrison appears to be saying that what each group member experienced in India was of their own making. If those members didn't "get it", it was their own fault.

Piggies is a Harrison tune that almost sounds like Lennon could have written it. There is some masterful guitar work on the demo, and it is a tune that  satirizes the bankers and lawyers that dominate financial life in the world. In that sense, it reflects everyday feelings that ordinary citizens have about those people....Happiness Is a Warm Gun, a Lennon tune, begins with a Strawberry Fields feel, then abruptly jumps into some Lennonized puns, and the song has some continuity transitions that are rough in demo form. These appear to have been worked out on the White Album version. It is an acoustic delight.

Mean Mr. Mustard follows, with the whole tune having a slice of life feel, similar to the first section of A Day In the Life. The song is a minor composition, and found it's way into the Abbey Road album. In this version, the song's weaknesses tend to stand out, an unwanted side effect of acoustic performance.  Polythene Pam is similar in it's weaknesses to Mean Mr. Mustard. It is a song fragment from India, and describes a tryst that Lennon had.

Lennon's Glass Onion follows, and is he last tune in this collection of incredible demos. It is a Lennon tune that appears to make fun of the Beatles obsessives that played records backwards and searched for hidden meanings in Morse Code flatulence. It is a strong tune and one that I believe is usually underrated among Lennon's compositions. It is an acoustic delight in it's demo form.

What to make of these demos? Well, the first thing to say is that they cement Lennon. McCartney, and Harrison's reputations as great songwriters. Most of these demos stand alone in a stripped bare form beautifully. Second, the group knew themselves well, and they selected the best of these demos for The White Album. There are misfires on the album itself, but the best of these demos would have made a great single album plus part of another. This is The Beatles' "unplugged" album, and it is a very strong one, perhaps the best done by a major group. Third, the tension in the group shows up in the songs themselves, and those tunes are obvious. The India experience was not  good for either John or Ringo. Finally, this set needs to be released as an album. It is a shame these demos are not readily available for Beatle aficionados, including myself.  

Copyright 2013 by Peter Reum-All Rights Reserved

Friday, September 13, 2013

Personal Favorites 3-Koop-Waltz For Koop by Peter Reum

Koop's 2002 album, Waltz For Koop, came from out of the blue and captured extensive time on my stereo for much of 2011. Their music is difficult to categorize. Allmusic primarily labels Koop an "acid jazz" group, but for me, their music is fairly unique and enthralling. I first encountered their music while exploring youtube, and I was fortunate to have the first track I ever listened to be the title track of this album.

The guys in Koop have a tremendous knowledge of both the worlds of music and the recording process. They are from Sweden, and Oscar Simonsson and Magnus Zingmark are their names. The cd that I have is a 2002 release on Quango/Palm Records, and includes a bonus dvd with video of four tunes from the album. The insert on the album has a picture of Magnus and Oscar at a mixing board with large banks of computers behind them, like something out of a Sixties science fiction film.

Waltz For Koop Album Cover

As may be heard from a close listen to the album, Waltz For Koop features some well known and not so well known jazz vocalists who are featured on various tracks.  Cecelia Stalin and Yukimi Nagano were new artists when they contributed vocals to this album. Veteran singers Terry Callier and Earl Zinger wrote lyrics for their respective tunes, and are longtime jazz vocalists.  A small combo of Dan Berglund on bass, Ola Bathzen on bongos, Magnus Lindgren on reeds and flutes, and Matias Stahl on vibes add jazz instrumentation to the vocals and electronic music onboard this album. The album won a Swedish Grammy and was Billboard's best selling Electronica album of 2002.

The title track, Waltz For Koop,  is a lilting 3/4 time composition with a bassline similar to The Beach Boys' 1968 single Friends. Cecelia Stalin's vocal recalls Astrid Gilberto, but also she also contributes wordless scat singing. Synthesizers nest her vocal in lovely and warm tones that resolve beautifully. There is woodblock percussion, and the wordless bridge has a synthesized string section that might resemble a sunrise if it could be expressed in sound. It is entirely captivating and recurs in memory after a few listens.

The waltz time tune Tonight features Mikael Sundin as the vocalist. A beautiful baritone sax solo accompanies the vocalist on the tune's bridge. The song is warm, romantic, and is over before one can grasp all of it. As with Waltz For Koop, the song's lyrics are about a relationship's beginning. The vocalist sweetly reassures his new love that although his partner is quite sad that their evening has to come to an end, he will return again soon. He has a hard time leaving, as both people want more time.

Cecelia Stalin returns for Baby, the album's third tune. This time, the vocal protagonist in the romantic pair tries to reassure the previous vocalist from Tonight about their love. The song is quite uptempo, and continues the optimistic flow of the album's music and lyrics. A bass begins the tune, with synthesizers again providing a lush and warm background.  Percussion plays against the bass, with a flute solo and scat singing making the bridge catchy and then the bass returns, followed by Cecelia Stalin's reprise of the lyrics. The bongos then return, followed by a keyboard chordal reprise of the melody.

The next tune is introduced by a man as Baby segues into Summer Sun.  It is a wonderful uptempo workout. The Summer Sun reference is an allusion to the singer's love interest, who has knocked her off her feet into uncontrolled passion and desire. She seems to think that her partner is a rascal, but says that he or she belongs to her anyhow. There is a nice brassline that goes uncredited on the album's notes, followed by Yukimi Nagano's sexy jazz vocal. Once again she scats on the bridge with what sounds like vibes and initially a trumpet that then goes into extended keyboard work. Nagano repeats the song's lyrics to finish the tune, which is simply infectious to an extreme. Summer Sun is one of the songs featured as a video on the dvd accompanying the album.

Soul For Sahib is a bit of a departure, in that it is primarily instrumental with a badass flute accompanied by a bongos, drums, and bass. It is a tune that is bebop in nature, with the narrator explaining how he composes jazz.   A few times during the tune, a horn part flares and then the bop resumes. The whole tune reminds me of several jazz artists just jamming together enjoying each other. Modal Mile features Earl Zinger vocally. It has a samba tempo that underlies Zinger's erotic lead vocal. It has a cool hornline that reprises the melodic base of the tune. The vibes on this tune float sinuously around the vocal. Zinger's vocal is contemplative in nature, yet, in the end, he decides to commit to the relationship's wild ride.

In a Heartbeat follows, a tune that has a bassline resembling the heartbeat in the song's title. Lyrically, the tune advises it's listener to live in the present, which keeps things free and loose. Percussion is important here, riffing off the steady heartbeat of the bass. There is a synthesizer tone that accompanies the chorus of the song which heightens the sexual tension of the lyrics. Terry Callier's lyrics and  lead vocal amplifies the tension of attraction and being fully smitten with a loving partner. The tune celebrates the ecstasy of love, the yearning that comes when partners are apart but want to see each with each other.....

Relaxin' At Club F****n' is the next to last song on the album.  The tune begins with a thumping bass and synthesizer riff recalling a harp. A sax that could accompany an erotic video enters, and the picture is not difficult to imagine. The act of love with all of it's mystery and passion is expressed in this gorgeous and amazing tune.  A vocalist simply repeats "All the colors are changin'....our love is here." The album has built to this tune which is the crucial and necessary center of the mystery of people in love.

Yukimi Nagano returns for Bright Nights, the album's closer. The tune has a persistent bass that keeps tempo against a syndrum. Vibes and Nagano's vocal wordlessly accompany them. The feel one gets is that the couple have made love, and want to spend the rest of the night with each other drinking in the sounds and sights of the club where they escaped and made love. The album, while not strictly a song cycle, celebrates love in it's music and lyrics as well as any I have heard. It would be worth noting that the music herein is not like Eighties Club Music, but recalls it's best aspects. If you are looking for something romantic, jazzy, and erotic, this album is for you.  

Text copyright 2013 by Peter Reum-All Rights Reserved


Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Beach Boys 2012 Live Recordings-Part 4-Osaka by Peter Reum

This particular recording from Osaka is a shorter concert than many of the concert recordings that I have been writing about. Osaka's show was held indoors at The Osaka Municipal Central Gymnasium. This show actually was done on the day after Chiba, and the similarities in the repertoire performed at both venues is uncanny. The show begins with a recording of The Fantastic Baggies doing Summer Means Fun.(!?) Introductions are made just before Do I Again. The audience is on fire and the enthusiasm is quite impressive. 

Do It Again really rocks at this show. It is a great opening number, and although the vocals are a little too highly mixed, the churning bottom is quite audible and powerful. David Marks once again cuts through with a sharp edged guitar solo. Jeff's high part is miked a little higher than some of the other shows I've heard. Little Honda follows with an audience that is following every nuance The Beach Boys play. Mike seems a little tired on lead vocal. The backing vocals are on the spot. The surf tunes come next beginning Catch a Wave. Once again Mike's lead gets somewhat buried. The harmony vocals are solid and quite tasteful. The sound cuts out a few times here, but again, David Marks is slicing and dicing.

Hawaii is next. The vocals are initially a little off time, but resolve at the beginning of the second verse. Mike's singing here is very strong, with Jeff's vocal being a little too highly mixed.  Don't Back Down follows with a great group harmony vocal behind Mike. John's drums are perfect, along with Nelson's percussion. This is a stellar version. Surfin' Safari is similarly powerful. With this many musicians onstage, the song loses it's punk feel and becomes an all out rocker. David's guitar solo is on the money, short and tasteful. The audience by this time has gone nuts.

Mike introduces Brian, who takes lead on Surfer Girl. The group has a couple of members who are flat on this number. Brian's vocal is inaudible until the bridge. I hate to say it, but sounds like Brian is flat. Getcha Back follows, and it doesn't sound like David doing the lead vocal. The lead vocal is about a quarter beat behind the song's tempo. The tag is ragged. Jeff doing Don't Worry Baby is professional and solid. His voice is not as jarring as at some of the other shows. The backing vocals are well done,  with perfect timekeeping from the rhythm section. None of this seems to matter to the listeners, who are beyond enthusiastic.

The car tunes begin with Little Deuce Coupe, and Mike is on the money here. I think he genuinely loves singing these tunes, and the audience is clapping so loudly that at times the backing vocals are inaudible. 409 rolls of the line next, and the tune is played beautifully with "driving guitar".....(pun intended).  David's guitar solo is longer than usual and it rocks. The drumming here is incredible. Shut Down is segued from 409, and the audience is bonkers. This is true rock and roll at it's best. The bottom here is very powerful. I Get Around caps off the car tunes and the crowd is flying. Mike's vocal is true to the record, and it is important to recognize how his vocals are the signature sound for these early tunes. No matter what one feels about him, his vocals make the show on the old tunes.

Having given the audience a literal plethora of oldies, the group does That's Why God Made Radio next. The tune has a loping feel to it, not unlike Sail On Sailor. Harmonies are present and beautiful. The group is playing the last 10 or so shows after this concert, and their knowledge of their repertoire is impressive and very tight. Brian loves this tune and is more audible here than in many other tunes in the show. He follows with Sail On Sailor and then Heroes and Villains. Sail On Sailor is beautifully done, similar to what Brian did in Chiba. The group's harmony vocals are mixed a  little too high. The instruments bury Brian's lead on the second verse. Overall, this is a great version despite the mix problems.

Heroes and Villains is sung well by both Brian and the backing vocalists. Brian's vocal on the chorus is very strong. The rolling vocals midway are a delight. The a capella break is similarly wonderful, with all vocalists audible. After the full stop, Brian returns with a perfect vocal. The group not only has mastered this tune, but it is apparent that it is a group favorite. Isn't It Time is next, and the group does the first verse to just the rhythmic clapping of the audience. They gradually fill in the instruments, and the vocals are perfect, with Alan's vocals in the background shining. The last chorus drops out, perhaps due to a mixing mistake. Mike seems to be  having trouble hearing the feed.

Alan introduced Why Do Fool In Love, is next, and somebody flats. If you wonder whether they do this live or fly it in, it is definitely live. The rhythm section shines here. Jeff is a bit bright on high vocal.   The whole version sounds a little out of sync, but the audience loves them anyhow. When I Grow Up To Be a Man has a cold intro that they do well. Jeff is mixed too brightly here. Mike's lead is excellent, and again, this is a song that needs his vocal. This version is very cleanly done, and is an obvious audience favorite. Alan sings Cottonfields next, with a nice lap steel and rhythm piano behind him. His vocals are impeccable on this tour, and this is no exception. There is some great doubling vocally going on fortifying the lead. It is not a tape. Gorgeous harmonies, great playing, and the group hits a homer.

The tributes to Dennis and Carl follow. Forever leads off, and many of you have Chiba's video by now, and the version here is really not that different. The vocals are live harmony wise, and are spot on. God Only Knows featuring Carl is next. The vocal is from Knebworth, and the tempo is a shine too fast. Probyn plays french horn, and Paul plays flute. The tag with Bruce and Alan is very well done. Mike and Al follow with All This Is That, which is a standard on this tour. Vocally, this is a highlight of this concert. The percussion may be mixed a little too high here. Brian's vocal here is very nice. Carl's heavenly tag here is once again too pretty for words.

Sloop John B is a great rock number on this tour, and Brian begins it grandly. The choruses are perfectly sung. Brian is mixed a little too high on the second chorus doing backgrounds.  The break is beautiful but brief. This number is an obvious Brian favorite. Wouldn't It Be Nice concludes the Pet Sounds segment. Alan gets the lyrics correct this time, and the backing vocals are solid. There is a lovely rhythm piano in the background.  The slower section is nice if a little too bright. The run of hits leading up to the concert's conclusion is next, beginning with Good Vibrations. Brian starts it, with help from Jeff. The cello triplets sound like they are either flown in or played on a guitar. They bury the vocals, the whole song sounds excessively loud, making the quiet sounds before the tag extra somber. The group nails the tag.

Throughout the tour, Alan's voice has been a consistent pleasure to listen for. Then I Kissed her here is delivered beautifully, out of order.  The guitars are mixed a little too loudly, so no one probably notices. Backing vocals are also nicely done. In this case the rhythm section is mixed too loudly, probably to offer a Wall of Sound feeling.California Girls is delivered very smoothly with Mike offering a vocal that again is true to the record and offers the proof that these are the real Beach Boys. Throughout the second half of the show, the drums and bass guitar have been mixed too loudly. 

All Summer Long begins cold, and Mike then flats out. The band as a whole here is quite loud, perhaps   due to the acoustics of the Osaka Gym. Rhonda segues from All Summer Long, and again, Alan's voice lends a clarity and authenticity to the tune. The crowd is again bonkers and singing "Help Me Rhonda" with the band. This tune is a touch faster than the original recording, and is finely tuned to be a winner in the concert's closing segment. Paul takes a cool solo on sax for twelve bars and it is back to the tune's end.  Rock and Roll Music is again misplaced at the  end of the show and the momentum hat has been built wavers. Do You Wanna Dance is sung by Brian and he flats out, with Jeff then doubling. I have to wonder if the feed into Brian's ear wasn't too loud for him to hear. David's lead solo burns, having been missing since the car tunes. The tune is ragged, but by this time the audience is nuts. Surfin' USA is a perfect concert closer, familiar, singable, and fast paced. 

The encore begins with Kokomo, which chills the crowd before Barbara Ann and Fun Fun Fun. The crowd predictably cheers for several minutes. Bruce introduces it. Mike's vocal is suitably mellow.Somewhere there are some pans, and I can't tell whether  they are live or flown in. The version here overall is a little anemic, but, Kokomo is not my favorite Beach Boys tune. Paul's sax solo is a highlight here though. Jeff sings Carl's old part well. Barbara Ann heats things to a boil gain. This is one  tune that every audience loves, and this one is no exception....the band plays the tune to be sung along to, and the Japanese may be the best audience worldwide for them, if you don't count the British. Nelson's percussion throughout this show has been stellar. Fun Fun Fun predictably is the perfect closer, with David reeling off a perfect guitar introduction. The whole audience is audible singing along,  and again, Mike's voice makes this song what it is. Imagine several thousand Japanese fans "oooing" at the end to the degree that you can barely hear the band itself, and you have a hole in one between the group and their audience. 

Highlights here are the usual suspects...the tunes that Alan sings lead on, the surf and car tunes, and Biran's Heroes and Villains. I am sure that Osaka fans will remember this show a long time. Low spots...Getcha Back, Do You Wanna Dance, and Rock and Roll Music due to its place in the sequence. 

Text copyright by Peter Reum 2013-All Rights Reserved

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Review of The Beach Boys' Made In California Boxed Set by Peter Reum

The Beach Boys: Made In California Review
by Peter Reum

In memory of Paul Williams

Overall Rating of This Boxed Set is A- on a scale of A to F

Writer's note: Album titles are underlined to clarify a sometimes confusing chronology for the casual reader

Now that Made In California is hitting peoples' homes, here are some impressions of the set  as a whole, and several song impressions.  I hope everyone enjoys their set. There are quibbles, but the overall objective was to showcase a 50 year history of recording, and this set succeeds in that mission. Yes, there are tracks we all would have liked to see included, but the set hits a balance between hard core collectors and people whose only purchase of Beach Boys music will be this set. Why do I say this? Because I buy sets to capture a sample of a group's career output.

Disc 1:

The Demo Tape:

The group's first rehearsal tapes are hilarious. If anyone doubts they were a garage band when they began, these recordings will settle the argument. The fountainhead of Beach Boys "professional" recording is the Surfin' session with what may be Chuck Britz calling off takes. Their Hearts Were Full of Spring is positively chilling. The vocal blend is already there with Brian directing the session in the studio.The version of Surfin' Safari on the demo tape is the one released by Capitol, as is the version of 409. In essence, Capitol was HANDED the first single. There are very few groups that can do that now, much less in 1962. The version of The Lonely Sea is also unchanged as issued on Surfin' USA. This is the demo tape.....and it is terrific.

The rest of Disc 1:

After listening to The Beach Boys' first Capitol single, culled from the demo tape and included on the Surfin' Safari album, the Beach Boys' identity as a punk band based on the life of Dennis Wilson is established. The genius of Surfin' Safari as a prototype punk/New Wave album I wrote about in a previous entry in this blog, the very first entry. Surfin' USA, their second album, became the album that took the Beach Boys to a national stature. That album was an interesting amalgam of vocal and instrumental surf music, and the quality of the album was head and shoulders above other so called "teen music" of the period. The pattern of a mixture of some introspective ballads, car songs, surf songs, summer songs, and "relationship songs" became the topical formula that was used all the way through Summer Days (and Summer Nights).  The stereo separation of the vocals on these early songs is very listenable. If there was any doubt Brian was producing from the beginning, listen to him producing vocals in the studio even on the demo tape. By the amazing Surfer Girl album, he is in full command. The group defers to his judgement. Surfer Girl is the first of several Beach Boys albums which are full of quality tunes with little filler. Because Capitol had Brian recording and submitting 3 albums a year, some of the albums could not help but be issued with so called "filler tracks."  The early version of Back Home is a great record, and swings like Little Deuce Coupe. The Little Deuce Coupe album is somewhat of a rerun of the Surfer Girl album with around 5 new so called "car songs" added. That album can be considered without  "filler," because the new recordings were not silliness or uninspired music. By Shut Down Volume 2, Brian was stretched like a rubber band holding up a bowling ball. Despite his touring and studio responsibilities,  most of Shut Down Volume 2 is not filler. The mix of Fun Fun Fun here is the crispest I have heard, simply delicious. Brian's mix of Why Do Fools Fall In Love in mono is more powerful than the stereo mix. Nevertheless, the stereo mix also shows his mastery of the Wall of Sound. The Warmth of the Sun 2012 mix is exquisite, the song finally getting the sonic treatment it deserves. It is the finest blend of music and lyrics that Brian and Mike ever wrote.  The mix strikes an great balance between track and vocals.

The Beach Boys Concert Album (Sacramento) was a master stroke, mainly because Brian was able to send out an album promoting the Beach Boys now quite potent live show, without having to write new songs for that album. The Beach Boys Christmas Album, recorded in 90 degree weather in the summer of 1964 in Los Angeles only required five newly written tunes. Recorded in response to The Phil Spector Christmas Album, it became a classic in its own right, and contributed a place for the 1963 Little Saint Nick single to land on an lp. The stereo Little Saint Nick on this disc is very nice with vocals mixed up front. I can barely hear the sleigh bells and glockenspiel however. The second of the "all beef, minimal filler" albums was All Summer Long which is the second excellent album nearly half represented on this disc. The All Summer Long album tunes are all presented beautifully, with the possible exception of Don't Back Down.  The vocals are mixed very brightly. All Dressed Up For School to me has thematically always struck me as a first stab at The Little Girl I Once Knew. The tune knocks me out. In some respects, All Summer Long is topically laid out fairly similarly to Surfer Girl. The stereo separation on Little Honda is very clean, and the bass is mixed in a little better than the rest of this disc. It is a pleasure to hear.

The ballads picked from The Beach Boys Today's romantic second side are the ones that really stand out. In the Back of My Mind is mixed in a more balanced manner than previous versions. It sounds like Brian doubles Dennis in a few places on it for brief segments. The Beach Boys Today was an album that not only foreshadowed Pet Sounds, but was an album full of new innovations. The Beach Boys Today extends the theme of relationships into the post teenage years, and couples are described in terms more like relationships in the early twenties than teenage years. The thoughts expressed on the second side of The Beach Boys Today are thoughts that run through the minds of young men and women who are not only sexually intimate, but are considered marriage. The so called "rock side" of The Beach Boys Today still concerns the subject of relationships, but is more high school oriented, with Don't Hurt My Little Sister, Good To My Baby, and the two 'dance" songs, Dance Dance Dance and Do You Wanna Dance. The vocals here on this disc are nicely mixed with the guitars on Dance Dance Dance. The guitar solo is presented very well. The phenomenal growth of The Beach Boys as artists and Brian Wilson as a producer, performer, arranger, and songwriter is right here on this disc and disc 2 of this set. 

 I think this disc is a winner and rate it an A on an A to F scale.

Disc 2:

Tunes from The Beach Boys Today conclude with Do You Wanna Dance, which is nicely done on this disc. That album's best tunes are here on the box. The single version of  Help Me Rhonda and 5 other songs from the Summer Days (and Summer Nights) album are also on this disc. Summer Days (and Summer Nights) had the distinction of having several hit singles and "B" sides culled from it's program. Worldwide, California Girls, Let Him Run Wild, Help me Rhonda, Amusement Parks USA, Girl Don't Tell Me, You're So Good To Me, Then I Kissed Her, and Summer Means New Love  were all singles or "B" sides from this album.  Help Me Rhonda is a mono mix, which is the rerecorded single version. It is still stunning 45 years after it was released. The stereo mixes of California Girls and Salt Lake City have always been favorites of mine. Amusement Parks USA, a big hit in Japan going to #3, but on here is lyrically clumsy, and lacks some of the overdubs that make the finished version an early Heroes and Villains sort of prototype. Let Him Run Wild speaks about Brian's father, who had an affair that angered the Wilson Brothers. It is written to his mother, Audree Wilson from Brian, which he couched in the first person.. the song is a painfully yet beautifully expressed letter to a mother from her eldest son telling her to let her husband go...he is not worth crying over or allowing home. Graduation Day is simply amazing. Over a simple acoustic guitar, The Beach Boys pay tribute to The Four Freshmen. Play this tune next to the demo tape version of Their Hearts Were Full of Spring to see how far they came in those first four years.

The Little Girl I Once Knew treads some of the same turf as All Dressed Up For School and Beach Boys Love You's Roller Skating Child. It would be nice to hear this in stereo one day. An informal air covers the very rigorous work The Beach Boys did on the Beach Boys' Party Album to sound "informal." There's No Other is performed "straight" with none of the "witty repartee" of some of the other tunes. Barbara Ann with Dean Torrence is in stereo and good to hear. Pet Sounds is represented by the tunes that were singles either in the USA or in the UK. The one exception is I Just Wasn't Made For These Times, with its early use of theremin and autobiographical lyrics. It is perhaps one of the more personal songs Brian ever wrote, and the tune has a stateliness to it that is most often heard in choir music.  It was the last tune recorded for Pet Sounds. Referring to Wouldn't It Be Nice, The Rolling Stones once said in total frustration, "we write a song about taking a girl to bed and get told to change the lyrics for TV. The Beach Boys sing about the same subject like innocent choir boys and get away with it." God Only Knows was  a hit "A" side in the UK, and established Brian Wilson as a mysterious  "boy wonder" in The UK and Europe. Caroline No describes the heartache of a deeply intimate relationship ending. Released as a Brian Wilson solo single, it made top 35 in the Billboard Singles chart. In the USA, Pet Sounds was sabotaged by Capitol, when they released a Best of The Beach Boys album shortly after Pet Sounds went top ten in Billboard. Pet Sounds from that point on became an "underground album", especially for guy listeners, who shared  their love of the album very selectively and carefully for fear of being ridiculed. Simply put, Pet Sounds is the evolution of Brian Wilson's tunes about relationships into an adult perspective, following his growth as a person whose affection for women changed from puppy love, to high school "going steady,"  to dating seriously, to looking for a life partner, to marriage. We would not see a similar change in Brian's perspective until 1977's Adult Child where Still I Dream of It and It's Over Now would explore the permanent end of marriage and the uncertainty and loneliness that divorce brings.

The Grammy Award winning The Smile Sessions Box Set is amply represented. The recently remastered Good Vibrations is presented first, in mono.  The reconstructed Smile track lineup is not followed in this box, and many of the best "anchor songs" of Smile are instead highlighted. After a stereo Our Prayer, the two sided single reconstruction of Heroes and Villains is presented. The length and parts of the 1966-67 Heroes and Villains two sided single are mostly based upon interviews of the '66-'67 period. The tune probably would have sounded very much like this version, had Brian's ideas not been in such a state of flux. The tune as reassembled runs roughly over 7 minutes, which is the conjectured length of the single from Smile period interviews. To this listener's ears, it doesn't flow the way the 5 minute version on The Smile Sessions Box does, or the 1967 Smiley Smile version does. Vegetables, another "anchor song," and a song considered for a single release, seems to better capture the good humor concept of the Smile album art by Frank Holmes.  Wind Chimes has the same incredible bassline that also was to be used in Can't Wait Too Long. The song alternates between bombast and tinkling piano. Perhaps this represents the variability of the wind itself. As in The Smile Sessions Box version of Smile, The Elements (Fire) follows Wind Chimes. Fire is all that the legend made it out to be. Another Smile "anchor song,"  Cabin Essence, is next. When little if any Smile music was officially released, the appearance of Cabin Essence and Our Prayer on the 20/20 album cemented Smile's reputation musically and only whetted people's appetites for more.

Brian's modular replacement for Smile, Smiley Smile, an exercise in Zen starkness which turned production values on their head in 1967, is represented by the released Heroes and Villains single from 1967 and by the radically innovative Wonderful. Heroes flows much more easily in this released single version than Part 1 and Part 2. It is an incredible achievement, and won France's Record of the Year Award in 1967. Wonderful is transformed from a near baroque chamber piece to a confiding, almost gossipy tone.  The lead vocal here is salacious in tone. with the bridge being spoken and sung in counterpoint, copied by dozens of choir composers since it appeared on Smiley Smile.  Country Air rolls out the new and less ambitious production ethos of the Post Smile Beach Boys, from their production transition album, Wild Honey. Carl Wilson and the rest of the group to a lesser degree assumed a more active production role, and Brian took a needed break that turned into a 10 year period of sporadic recording. Wild Honey, for this listener, is an evergreen album, one that I can listen to anytime, anywhere. It recently was named as one of the top ten all time summer themed albums.

This disc also deserves  an A on an A to F scale.

Disc 3:

The Wild Honey album is also represented by the punchy Darlin' single, which charted well, and by the gorgeous waltz time tune Let The Wind Blow. Both of these tunes are stereo. More than any other album not yet mixed in stereo, the ENTIRE Wild Honey album deserves  to be heard in stereo.  1968's jazz flavored Friends album is gentle, loving, and spiritual. The organ found on the opener, an extended Meant For You, underlies a wish for peace and tranquility in 1968, a year of turmoil worldwide, but especially stateside. Friends, the single from the album, is a waltz time loping tune, almost sounding like the soundtrack to a film of a horse running through a field. It was used by Berklee College of Music to show budding music students how a song in waltz time should be written. Dennis's Little Bird, with an intimate tone and "carpe diem" lyrics by Stephen Kalinich is exquisite. Brian's arrangement of the tune incorporates some hornlines from Smile's Child Is Father To the Man. On Busy Doin' Nothin', Brian, now adjusting to a less harried life, presents a bossa nova musical arrangement illustrating his newly burgeoning Type B personality. The tune is a tour de force.

Sail Plane Song is a psychedelic wonder that eventually became a tune called Loop de Loop. The song is the best piece of psychedelia Brian cut after Good Vibrations. It could have easily blown away people on the 20/20 album. We're Together Again has a wonderful Brian/Carl  lead vocal, and would have been a great closing track to Friends.  The 1968 so called "summer single," Do It Again, appears here in stereo, and showcases the group's vocals very well. The tune served as the kickoff tune for the 50th Anniversary Shows in 2012. The drum that begins the song was added by Carl Wilson to avoid a "cold start" on the tune. Do It Again begins a series of tunes from 1968 culled by the group to fulfill their Capitol album contract. 20/20. It was the group's last Sixties Capitol album, and was a mosaic of different tunes from various sessions that was musically eclectic.

Brian's arrangement of Ol' Man River was never fully realized. partially due to the group wanting to try other tunes. His version here is beautiful, and one has to wonder what he might have come up with had he been able to complete the tune. On 20/20, Dennis's Be With Me is a tune that foreshadows the Dennis Wilson songs of the Seventies. It is intense, intimate, and seductive. I Can Hear Music is a single that Carl Wilson produced that was huge overseas, and sold well in the USA. The acapella break is cited by several critics, such as Steve Simels, as being the most powerful piece of Beach Boys vocal work post Smile. Brian's waltz time tune, Time To Get Alone, was written during Smile, but intended for the Brother Records 1967 "Pre Dog Night" group Redwood. The string arrangement here is a star of the show....brilliant. Brian's I Went to Sleep, another waltz, is a second slice of Brian's simplified life akin to Busy Doin' Nothin'. The tune would have fit on Friends.

Can't Wait Too Long was cited by Bruce Johnston as the most beautiful unreleased tune in The Beach Boys' Vault in 1980. A composite 6 minute version was extracted at that time from the session tapes, of which this section is the opening segment. See if you agree....Bruce might be right. Worried by a lack of record sales in the USA, Brian Wilson and his father Murry buried the hatchet and composed Breakaway, a jewel of a tune that was a big hit everywhere except the USA. This version is one of many that have surfaced through the years, and has a longer fade than the released single. It is worth noting that beginning with the Friends album, all new subsequent Beach Boys albums were released in stereo, thus handicapping Brian, who hears only in one ear. Even singles began to be mixed in both mono and stereo because of the rise in FM station's musical profile. Dennis's Celebrate the News, the "B" side of the Breakaway single, is unique in the Beach Boys' songbook. It is a towering production, showcasing Dennis's composing skills. Cottonfields was cut twice by The Beach Boys. Brian's production appears on 20/20. The single version, redone by Alan Jardine, was the final record in the original Capitol contract. This version as presented on this box has a steel guitar overlay, and is a more uptempo arrangement with horns. It was a number 1 in several countries around the world, but stiffed here in the USA.

The Beach Boys, after leaving Capitol in 1970, were without a recording contract for a period until signed by Reprise, part of the Warner Records conglomerate. The group reactivated their Brother Records logo, and began to juggle tracks to sift out an album for Reprise. Susie Cincinnati was a track that appeared as the "B" side of the initial Brother/Reprise single, Add Some Music. Reprise asked the group to retool the rejected Add Some Music album to be stronger for radio play. A number of fantastic tracks were summarily recorded by he Beach Boys, and then sifted for album placement.

Good Time, a Brian Wilson production and arrangement, offers an incredible horn arrangement, albeit with some rather unusual lyrics. The innocence expressed on this tune resurfaced when it was placed on an album full of  tunes with Brian's innocent lyrics, Beach Boys Love You, in 1977. Slip On Through is a radical departure for the group, and proves that the group could be soulful when they chose. It opened the released Sunflower album, which had several standout Dennis compositions. Thematically, the first Reprise single, Add Some Music, is a paean to the power of music as a healing force. This is probably the most important reason Brian wrote music. This philosophy is discussed in the little Carl Wilson segment at the end of Disc 6. It is a Brian production, mixed to stereo by Carl. It is no coincidence that Brian and the Beach Boys' music is cited as a power that helped  people get through harrowing spots in their lives.

This Whole World is a Brian/Carl production that is named by Music Critic Steve Simels as having the best tag to any tune he has heard. Brian has mentioned in several interviews over the years that he is really concerned about the world and its well-being. The song's lyrics reflect this orientation admirably. Dennis's Forever is a Beach Boys standard, the most well known song of Dennis Wilson's compositions. It features gorgeous vocals, courtesy of Brian, Dennis, and Carl. A vocal only version appears on another Capitol album. It's About Time feature a tremendous percussion track that is innovative and quite avant garde for 1970 when it was recorded. The ambient true stereo on the 1970 Sunflower and 1971 Surfs Up albums is courtesy of engineer Stephen Desper. This period from 1970 and 1971 is the zenith of Beach Boys album production work as a group.

Soulful Old Man Sunshine is a venture  into vocal jazz by Brian Wilson and co-writer Rick Henn, formerly of the Beach Boys soundalikes The Sunrays. The tune swings, with a great brass arrangement and a flute sailing over the vocals. One can only wonder what might have happened had the group pursued this direction more ardently. Dennis Wilson, a prolific writer and composer, issued a solo single on the EMI Stateside label outside the USA as Dennis Wilson and Rumbo, with Rumbo being Darryl Dragon, keyboard player for The\Beach Boys road band, and later of The Captain and Tennile. Fallin' In Love, aka Lady, heard here in stereo, is a beautiful Sunflower album period love song from Dennis. The "A" side of the single, Sound of Free, is a mid tempo tune with nice guitar from Carl, who is in the background vocals as well. The version here is in mono.

By late 1970, Brian's emotions were quite labile, and he composed Til I Die as a way of expressing his  very dejected mood and feelings of powerlessness about his life and world. It was issued on the Surfs Up album in 1971. The Surfs Up title track is a blend of the gorgeous 1966 track recorded for Smile and a 1971 lead vocal from Carl on the first half of the tune. Brian's solo recording from 1966 surfaces with the transition to the second half of the song, at "dove nested towers." The tag is a 1971 Brian idea, appended to the Brian solo vocal second section. It expresses the idea of a child growing older and taking care of the parent in the parent's old age, after being raised by the parent as a child.  The idea in the tag is now a part of the second movement of the 2004 Brian Wilson Presents Smile, which concludes with Surfs Up, which was another Smile "anchor tune." Left off of the Surfs Up album were two incredible Dennis Wilson songs, Wouldn't It Be Nice (To Live Again) and Fourth of July. These compositions were left off of the Surfs Up album due to group friction, with the former tune making its debut on this box, having been a song sought by Beach Boys aficionados for decades. Fourth of July appears on an earlier Capitol compilation. 

This cd is also an A on a scale from A to F.

Disc 4:

1971's Surfs Up, as an album, was the best selling original Beach Boys album since Pet Sounds. It received lots of FM airplay, although singles from the album were not hits. After the relatively slow sales of the Sunflower album, The Beach Boys needed an album that sold well. At the time of it's release, sales were upwards of 350,000 units, an exponential increase from the critical hit yet slow selling Sunflower. The Beach Boys on Surfs Up reflected a culture that was concerned about the environment, health, and in Brian's case, quality of life. Carl's Feel Flows showed a newly found spiritual consciousness amplified by the group's use of transcendental meditation. The group had at least three members who actively meditated. The chilling flute solo in Feel Flows is by Charles Lloyd, jazz auteur, who is also a meditator. After 42 years of waiting,Wouldn't It Be Nice (To Live Again) finally makes its debut in the Surfs Up album context. The tune is sung passionately by Dennis Wilson, in a voice not yet ravaged by hard living.  The song builds into a peak, then maintains it for a few minutes before dissolving into a little jam between Dennis on drums and Charles Lloyd on flute.

1972's Carl and the Passions-So Tough is represented by Marcella, a tune about a masseuse that Brian went to regularly in the early Seventies. It has become a hard rocking Beach Boys concert standard, and Brian loves to play it live. The counterpoint tag is a Beach Boys highlight. All This Is That is a tune based on Indian Vedic scriptures. The theme is about transcendental meditation, and has a tag that spotlights Carl Wilson singing perhaps the most chillingly beautiful 45 seconds of his entire career. He simply sings Jai Guru Dev over and over as the counterpoint vocals fade, leaving only his voice remaining.

The Beach Boys spent the latter half of 1972 in The Netherlands recording the Holland album in a converted barn in a cow pasture. Having come aboard on Carl and The Passions-So Tough, former South African group "Flame" members Ricky Fataar and Blondie Chaplin became full members of the group, and accompanied them to record Holland. After countless equipment failures, and false starts by Brian to fly to Amsterdam, the group returned to Los Angeles with an album that was promptly rejected by Reprise for lack of a single. Sail On Sailor was finished by Van Dyke Parks and Brian and designated to be the album's single.  After tries by Dennis and Carl, Blondie Chaplin sang the tune with a passion that reflected his struggles in apartheid plagued South Africa. The Trader, beginning with Carl's son Jonah saying"hi," explored the theme of European and American imperialism toward Indigenous peoples of the Americas. Despite the holocaust that was the Indigenous life experience after the Europeans and Americans appeared, the song dares to tread into the strong survival drive that Indigenous peoples have had despite the deaths of nearly 60 million Indigenous people since 1492.   Alan Jardine's wonderful (On My Way to) California celebrates the stark and treacherous beauty of the Big Sur coastline, where people live off the grid, and the cliffs meet the Pacific. The Beach Boys played the Big Sur Folk Festival in 1970, were warmly welcomed, and Alan Jardine lived there afterward. In 1973, the family's patriarch, Murry Wilson, died of a heart attack at his Whittier home. Both Brian and Dennis were utterly devastated, and Brian was so shaken he flew to New York to promote his wife and sister-in-law's single rather than attend the funeral. The family seemed to be unable to recover from this event. All three Wilson brothers descended into tailspins for years afterward.

After the advent of Capitol's Multiple Platinum compilations of Brian's 1962 to 1965 work, Endless Summer and Spirit of America, The Beach Boys were silent after Holland with the exception of a Christmas single and a double live set entitled The Beach Boys In Concert. Pressure built for Brian to take control of the group again, as The Beach Boys were unsure about how to compete with Brian's brilliant work from the Sixties. In 1975, Brian, was placed under the care of Dr. Eugene Landy, a psychologist specializing in Behavioral Milieu Therapy. Therapeutically, the idea was to cut a double set, one album full of remakes of oldies that Brian liked, and one album of new material from Brian. As it turned out, the album that emerged, 15 Big Ones, was a mish mash of a few originals and vault chestnuts, along with several oldies the group liked. More oldies than originals were done, and Brian did not have the sense of perfection and meticulous attention to detail in recording that he had in the Sixties. A favorite expression Brian had when he was recording 15 Big Ones was "where's the fire, I don't feel the fire." He was speaking about the sense of compulsive competitiveness and perfectionism he had in the Sixties.

The first single from the 15 Big Ones sessions was Chuck Berry's Rock and Roll Music, and it went to Number 5 on the Billboard charts. This set's version has an extra verse with a Farfisa organ riff.  The album itself was critically mixed in its reception. It was evident that Brian was doubtful enough about his desire and  mental state stability to only very reluctantly reassume the  producer's role he had filled in the Sixties. Complicating this was the fact that other Beach Boys had been writing songs of high quality that they were asked to defer for Brian's therapeutic writing and producing. It became somewhat of a charade when Brian was asked to write songs to earn hamburgers to eat. Apparently no one told Dr. Landy that pieces of birthday cake were the reinforcement contingency that Brian preferred. Landy's treatment plan, labelled in the publicity and press as "Brian's Back," was eventually scuttled mostly from external press criticism and Landy's imperious manner with Brian's loved ones and The Beach Boys.The group did a summer television special named after the 15 Big Ones album's second single, called It's OK. The version of It's OK presented here has a riff that begins the tune which appears in several tunes of the period, competing for frequency of appearance with Brian's legendary "Shortnin' Bread" synthesizer riff, which appears in probably 20 different songs from 1972 to 2004. The song itself has a summery feel to it that is cut with a lyric that talks about "gotta go through it, gotta get to it" .....lyrically it sounds like the Protestant Ethic meets Surf, serious fun. The third of 15 Big Ones' tunes on this cd, Had To Phone Ya, is a lovely song first cut in 1973 by Brian with his first wife Marilyn,  his sister-in-law Diane, and David Sandler, a wonderful writing  partner for Brian. Dennis's lead vocal here is magical, and makes the tune, which has a lovely track featured on CD 6 of this set.

After 15 Big Ones won an RIAA Gold Record Award, Brian was asked by the group to write and record a new album. In the Autumn of 1976 and Spring of 1977, he cut an album of songs entitled Adult Child, which featured two amazing songs, Still I Dream of It, and It's Over Now.  Adult Child was not well received by Reprise, and Brian two masterpieces were sent to the Vault for many years. The version of It's Over Now that appears here is breathtakingly beautiful, yet deeply sad, in a Sinatra Blue Mood manner. Carl Wilson's lead  vocal here may be the most beautiful lead he sang in the Seventies. Brian's first wife also makes a cameo vocal appearance here.

Brian had also put together a series of demos for a solo album that was being encouraged by Dr. Landy. Entitled Brian Loves You, the demos became the foundation of a new Beach Boys album when Adult Child was turned down by Reprise. The new replacement album, Beach Boys Love You, was a collection of 14 songs that summed up Brian Wilson's world in 1977. Beach Boys Love You is represented on this set by five songs, including Good Time, recorded in 1970. Beach Boys Love You  begins in a promising manner with the rocker Let Us Go On This Way. Brian's use of Moog Bass on this album is innovative, and was cited by Peter Buck of highly influential on Eighties records by them and other groups. Carl's lead vocal is in his 'rock and roll" voice. I'll Bet He's Nice is a wonderful tune written by Brian that explores the theme of being replaced in his love's heart by a new guy. The Wilson Brothers all contribute great vocals here.

Solar System was inspired by a stained glass window at the now razed Brother Studio in Santa Monica.  This writer had the privilege of touring the studio in 1978 and seeing the window. There was also an RIAA Gold Record Award for the Surfin' USA album embedded in the back door loading dock. It was a thrill to actually hold the master tapes for Smile in my hands. The Night Was So Young is a song written for a woman who Brian loved for many years in between his first and second marriages. It is a Beach Boys classic, and is simply a masterpiece. Loneliness became a recurring theme in Brian's writing from Beach Boys Love You until his second marriage in 1995. 

The Beach Boys were courted and signed by CBS Records at about the time Beach Boys Love You entered the charts. The signing was not kept confidential, and Beach Boys Love You died from a promotional campaign truncated by Reprise, who had wanted to resign the group. After Beach Boys Love You, Dennis Wilson's Pacific Ocean Blue solo album was released on CBS Caribou, and it outsold any new Beach Boys product until 1987's Still Cruisin' album on Capitol. Dennis's solo album was the product of withholding great tunes so Brian could work therapeutically, and having his own Brother Studio available to record at any time he desired. The backlog of tunes Dennis recorded was uniformly excellent, and caused some rancor in the group. A group blowout with threats of breaking up after a New York City free concert was well documented by a Rolling Stone Magazine writer who was an eyewitness to the arguments first hand that led to the group's fracturing.

The problem at hand was that The Beach Boys still owed Reprise one more album before they could be able to consummate their contract with CBS/Caribou. In early 1978, several group members decamped to Fairfield, Iowa to the campus of the former Parsons College, renamed Maharishi International University. The main players were a very homesick Brian Wilson, Mike Love, and Alan Jardine. The final Reprise album, named after the site where it was recorded ala Holland with makeshift equipment was The M.I.U. Album. Before The M.I.U. Album was accepted by Reprise, The Beach Boys submitted a second Christmas Album, Mele Kaliki Maka to Reprise that was rejected. The group then retooled those songs into The M.I.U. Album.

The final songs on CD are generally from the sessions for the first CBS album, L.A Light Album. The exceptions are California Feelin', Come Go With Me, and Brian's Back. California Feelin' is a tune dating to the early Seventies which was written by Brian Wilson and Stephen Kalinich. The demo for the song, dating from 1974, is featured on Disc 6. Brian and Stephen go back as friends many years before then. Stephen is the only lyricist who collaborated with all three Wilson Brothers. This version is from 1978, and was considered for The L.A. Light Album. Why it was left off is a mystery, as CBS wanted Brian to be a major songwriting contributor to Beach Boys albums in their contract. It begins with Brian singing lead, then changes to a Carl lead vocal for the rest of the song. The song has the feel of a hymn, and perhaps it was not rock and roll enough for The L.A.Light Album.

Come Go With Me was recorded first as part of the batch of oldies recorded for 15 Big Ones. While at M.I.U., the song was reworked and appeared initially on The M.I.U. Album. In 1981, it was issued as a single to promote the release of the Ten Years of Harmony double set which presented the best of the period from 1970 to 1980. Come Go With Me as redone by Alan Jardine was a hit, and became a staple of the Beach Boys' live set for the next 30 years. Brian's Back was a Mike Love tune that was written as a memoir of Mike Love's family relationship with Brian, and features a nice tag done by Carl Wilson which is based  on the end of Pet Sounds' You Still Believe In Me.

The L.A. Light Album was the debut album on the CBS/Caribou contract. In 1979, while at Criteria Studios in Miami, Brian, struggling with his physical and mental health, concluded he was not in good enough shape to produce the album. He called Bruce Johnston, who had been the replacement for Brian on the road from 1965 through 1972, having left then due to differences with group management. Bruce agreed to return and tour with the group and produce The L.A. Light Album. Bruce began work on the album, and he spearheaded a 10 minute long remake in disco format of Here Comes the Night from The Wild Honey album which was the first single. The tune, an attempt to modernize The Beach Boys sound, yet keep their legendary vocal blend, was not well received critically or commercially.

CBS subsequently issued as a second single, Good Timin', a Brian and Carl Wilson composition, begun as a track only in 1974 at Caribou Studios in Nederland, Colorado, which was finished for The L.A. Light Album. The tune as completed went to Number 40 in the Billboard Top 100, and top 5 on the Adult Contemporary Billboard Chart. In minor ways, it bears some similarity to the instrumental track Why, which appears on Disc 6 of this set. Angel Come Home is a Carl composition which is beautifully performed by Dennis Wilson. It received some solid FM airplay at the time of The L.A. Light Album's release. Baby Blue is a Dennis Wilson composition, issued as the "B" side of the Here Comes the Night single. It is the unquestionable standout track on this album, and shows Dennis Wilson at the top of his creative power. The tune should have been the first single, and is the pinnacle of The Beach Boys' post Brian's Back period on CBS/Caribou.

It's a Beautiful Day was issued the same year as The L.A. Light Album, on an otherwise forgettable soundtrack for a movie entitled Americathon. The tune on the soundtrack goes on for about 3 minutes longer than the single version, which is what appears on this set. The shortened version would have been a great selection for a track on The L.A. Light Album. Goin' To The Beach was recorded in the time between The L.A. Light and Keepin' The Summer Alive albums, It was considered for inclusion on Keepin' The Summer Alive. It was a vehicle for The Beach Boys to resurrect their Sixties Fun In The Sun image.

This CD is a mixed bag of great and pedestrian Beach Boys work. It reflects the difficulty The Beach Boys had in establishing an identity independent of their Summer, Surf, and Car songs recordings. For this reason, I am rating it a B on a scale from A to F.

Disc 5:

Keepin' The Summer Alive was the second album released by CBS/Caribou by The Beach Boys. By that time, The Beach Boys' battle with nostalgia was long over, to their detriment,  yet they were still committed to a number of albums under their CBS/Caribou contract. Brian Wilson was more active in writing on this album, contributing to roughly 60% of the songs on the album. The clear jewel was Goin' On, a tune that while lyrically dull, had a catchy melody, and a chorus that used The Beach Boys' voices to go up the musical scale. A similar technique dates back to All Dressed Up For School on Disc 1 of this set, and was revisited in 1967 in one of Brian's many experiments for Heroes and Villains. Keepin' The Summer Alive did well in a number of countries. It saw solid airplay in Japan, The United Kingdom, and Germany.

To listen to this disc, one would conclude that Brian was on a Phil Spector recording spree. Why Don't They Let Us Fall in Love and Da Doo Ron Ron date from the early Eighties, and are demos of Brian's. To this listener's ears, the demo for Why Don't They Let Us Fall In Love sounds like a Brian production with Brian and Mike doing vocals. It has a charm that comes from the blend of the two mens' voices, which is exceptional. Da Doo Ron Ron sounds like a Brian production, with  a Carl lead vocal. By this time, both Brian and Dennis's lives were degenerating due to chemical dependence, mental health issues, and for Brian, morbid obesity. Brian's and Dennis's health became such a concern for the group as a whole that both of them were "fired" for periods of time from the group. I had occasion to visit Brian just before he was taken to Hawaii and put under Landy's care for the second time, and he was not expected to live through the next year. Dennis Wilson battled his memories and inner demons, and started to enter chemical dependency treatment, only to postpone it. Things were very bleak.

We all know what happened to both men. Dennis's death shook the family, and was deeply painful for them, and for his children and loved ones. The beginning part of Brian's second period with Dr. Landy was productive and his physical health improved dramatically. The Beach Boys as a group died when Dennis died. He was a lion.... untameable, strong willed, and wild. He was the beach boy in The Beach Boys. The group carried on, and recorded one final album for CBS/Caribou in 1985, simply entitled The Beach Boys.  Dr. Landy had already begun to isolate Brian from his family, sequestered in a beach home in Malibu. He was around for 1985's The Beach Boys, but his songs were only sketches that reinforced the impression that he was very lonely, very sad, and yet, somehow compliant with Landy's treatment regimen. The only tune in this set from The Beach Boys is Getcha Back, which is again about love lost.  It begins the album with some drum beats as a memorial in sound to Dennis.

After the CBS/Caribou contract ended, The Beach Boys were without a recording contract for the first time since 1970. They did some tunes that were placed on soundtracks, most notably Kokomo, a tune that was on the Cocktail Movie Soundtrack. Brian signed a recording contract with Sire Records' Seymour Stein, and embarked on the recording of his first solo album. Ironically, as his first album entered the Billboard Charts, Kokomo exploded, and The Beach Boys, sans Brian, had a worldwide hit. Kokomo is a midtempo number, written by John Phillips, Scott McKenzie, and Mike Love. The tune, along with California Dreamin', was produced by former Byrds producer and Bruce Johnston pal Terry Melcher.'

In 1995, following the court ordered separation of Eugene Landy from Brian Wilson, Brian, along with collaborator Andy Paley, approached The Beach Boys and offered to record an an album with them. Two songs were recorded, both jewels that have languished in the vault for nearly 20 years. Soul Searchin' is a tremendous Brian Wilson and Andy Paley song that has a doo wop feel yet also sounds very soulful. Carl Wilson's vocals on it are simply stunning. You're Still A Mystery is a Wilson and Paley tune that recalls some of the great Beach Boys counterpoint vocals achievements.  It is the best song The Beach Boys recorded since The Beach Boys Love You. After a reunion for a Nashville Sounds type of Beach Boys and various Country Artists Sing the Beach Boys' Songbook project, the group seemed to fly apart. Most of this was due to the grief the group felt seeing spiritual and live band leader Carl Wilson pass away in February 1998 from cancer. For Brian, the tragedy was doubled. His mother Audree also died during that period.  Brian, having married for a second time in 1995, had the support of his wife Melinda, and his remaining family to support him during this bleak period.

For years after Carl's death, Mike Love and Bruce Johnston have toured representing The Beach Boys. Brian and Alan have toured together and apart during the same period. Carl's death seemed to unbind the surviving members, perhaps due to the grief they all felt but couldn't express to each other. This is not just a family or a is a family business. When the second of the members, Carl, passed. the band seemed rudderless.  But there is the legacy of their live performances which lives on, as exemplified by the live performances covering some 30  years  over the second half of this disc. Before we discuss those, there is the matter of the 2012 Beach Boys album.

That's Why God Made Radio arrived in 2012 to low expectations on my part. The family seemed too fractured to reunite. But they gave it a go, and united to release a surprisingly good album. When they cut Do It Again, it seemed like an olive branch, a gesture from the two camps to each other. They were then able to record the new album.The absence in this case did make the heart grow softer. A huge positive was the invitation to David Marks, rhythm guitarist in 1962-63 to rejoin. The title track on the album is a holdover from Brian's work on his Imagination solo album with Joe Thomas. The vocals are stunningly good. It was a drink of cool water upon emerging from the desert. The single version of Isn't It Time left me wishing they had left the song alone.  Despite the "improvement," the song is head and shoulders above anything issued as a single since Come Go With Me. As the line from the song says, "it's time to raise a glass to kindness."

The array of live tunes on CD 5 is spread over 30 years, from 1965 to 1995. Runaway from late August 1965 is the 5 member combo including Bruce Johnston. Not more than 4 months or so later, I caught them for the first time in  Albuquerque. This tune really rocks, and Alan really "runs away" with the song. Carl's solo is great. This is one of those songs that you rarely hear The Beach Boys perform. You're So Good To Me from Paris 1966 is one of those legendary shows where one wishes he had been there. The Beach Boys rocked, and a good Beach Boys friend of mine attended the show and got backstage. He said the guys were delighted to see an American who was a diehard fan of their music. The Letter has previously been released, and was recorded by the group for their Lei'd In Hawaii album. It was originally done by The Box Tops, whose guitarist and singer Alex Chilton, returned the favor by cutting Solar System live on an acoustic solo show that has been recently released.

In the Spring of 1968, The Beach Boys mounted a tour with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi that bombed and cost them a great deal of money. Friends and Little Bird are from an early July show in Chicago. They are charming, and Friends in particular is done beautifully. There is an organ which accompanies Friends that really matches the studio version nicely. Friends' "B" side, Little Bird, is played as well, and is introduced somewhat whimsically by Mike. The song is done very well, especially the uptempo bridge. An odd in-joke is made with Mike calling off days of the week...a real treat. All I Want To Do is probably the hardest rocking song the Beach Boys ever cut. It was released on Beach Boys Rarities in 1983. Mike shows that he has the pipes to do great hard rock. This version is an outtake from the Live In London album.

We fast forward four years, and are treated to a delightful ballsy rocking blues version of  Help Me Rhonda sung by Dennis. Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar are obvious presences in the background vocals. A soulful Carl Wilson does some blues screaming in the choruses. This style of Rhonda was first played when the Beach Boys jammed with The Grateful Dead about 2 years earlier. Daryl Dragon plays a great keyboard solo.  Wild Honey, performed in an untamed hard rocking version  by Blondie Chaplin, is also from 1972. It is an outtake from The Beach Boys In Concert single album, rejected by Reprise because it did not have enough hits from the Sixties on it. The concert was held on November 19, 1972. The final track from 1972 is Carl's performance of Dennis's Only With You. The song at that time was as yet unreleased, scheduled for Holland. It is a gorgeous, almost intimate version. Dennis does the tag, and closes.

Forward to 1973, and a rare performance of  It's About Time from Sunflower. At this point, Carl was at the top of his art, and this version is as soulful as can be. Mike be heard doing some counterpoint in the background. A stinging guitar solo rings the song to a close. Forward to 1975, and we hear Carl singing I Can Hear Music. He sings it the way Ronnie Spector did. The vocal break is done as on the single, without instruments. This is from the famous Chicago/Beach Boys Tour, and this performance is from June 1975.

The next three tunes are from The Beach Boys "Deep Cuts" 1993 Tour, done in part to promote this set's predecessor, Good Vibrations. That set was named reissue of the year in 1993 in Rolling Stone Magazine. The versions of Vegetables and Wonderful that are on this disc are the versions from the Smile arrangements of these tunes rather than Smiley Smile's versions. These tunes are done faithfully to their studio counterparts, and are unique to this tour. This was a treasure for the fans who caught this tour. Sail On Sailor is identified as being from 1995. Carl's vocal here is as I heard it through 70 or so Beach Boys concerts. It is a sad reality that he is not here to be singing it today. He is sorely missed, not only by his family, but by the millions of Beach Boys listeners who grew accustomed to hearing his majestic and soulful vocals. This cd concludes with a version of Summer In Paradise from the album of the same name. It was released by Brother Entertainment in 1992. This version dates from 1995.

This disc is a treat for the ears, and a potential example of the depth and breadth of The Beach Boys live concert vault. They have the most numerous selection of live recordings of any group in Rock Music.  All anyone has to do is review Jon Stebbins and Ian Rusten's book, The Beach Boys In Concert, to imagine how many concerts were recorded.   Perhaps they were not done with the highest fidelity equipment, but most collectors are sitting on literally a few hundred concerts themselves....all of us would rather hear them as presented in this the best fidelity possible.

The Beach Boys as a studio entity lost their mojo after Dennis's death. The simple truth is that most studio albums after Love You had perhaps between 3 and 5 listenable cuts, and the rest was drivel. That said, the compilers of this set have done a nice job of finding music of quality to put on this disc. The live material could have filled a disc by itself. Because of the strength of the live material, and the inclusion of the 1995 Wilson/Paley written tunes, and the 2012 new tunes, I am rating this CD a B on a scale of A to F.

Disc 6:

This particular disc is the one most long-term Beach Boys fans went to first before the rest of the set. The challenge here was to find material that is both unheard, and of sufficient musical proficiency so as not to be an embarrassment to members of The Beach Boys, living or deceased. Even someone of my length of following them is excited to hear new studio material or live work that is novel to my ears. The grim reality, is that between the various Boxed Sets already released, The Sea of Tunes series, and miscellaneous "unauthorized" cds, the amount of studio material unheard and unreleased is meager. So, here we go, the disc I have been waiting for, Disc 6.....

Some impressions...On the early take of Don't Worry Baby I hear Brian singing much more like Ronnie Spector in this performance than in the released version. It is powerful, as he wrote the song for her. Perhaps there is a little more drama in this version, which is "unsanitized." The vocals only version of Slip On Through has some background  vocals that at times have been run through an oscillator. The arrangement is brilliant. Sometimes hearing a song in this manner can bring a whole new appreciation for it. This is the case for me here.

Pom Pom Playgirl is a tune that I have been mostly underwhelmed by. This is interesting in that Brian has one of his "dog ear" episodes, and Carl is advised on how Brian wants it to be sung. For the simple example of a "dog ears" Brian moment, it is worth hearing. Guess I'm Dumb is the lost 12th track to The Beach Boys Today! and this beats Bull Session With the Big Daddy. To have the backing vocals and track isolated is simply majestic. Glen Campbell did a wonderful lead, and why this wasn't a hit is one of those unexplained mysteries of the music biz.

Sheri She Needs Me suffers from a Brian 1976 vocal and insipid lyrics. The track musically is magic. That is enough said. There is a reason things are unreleased. The version on Imagination with new lyrics is BEAUTIFUL.The tag here where The Beach Boys come in is fantastic though. I first heard Mona Kana (nee Mona Kani) on a Smile cassette. It is a portent of things to come from Dennis, especially the first 45 seconds. The later parts of the melody almost sound like the soundtrack from a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western movie. This Whole World is a song that I have loved since I first bought Sunflower. It is a revelation to hear this mix, especially Brian's bridge and the tag.

Where Is She is another lovely Brian Wilson waltz tempo tune that just is a thrill to hear. I first heard it about 30 years ago, and the impression it made stuck with me a long time.I hear some Beatles influence  here, and it is cool, a delightful inclusion on this set. Why no Little Red Book? The Had To Phone Ya track is another highlight of this disc. Although it has been bootlegged, it is much clearer here, and shows some great Brian mid Seventies arrangement skills.

I have adored the The Smile Sessions Box vocal montage since I first heard it. There is a tendency to think that Smile was mostly music tracks recorded without vocals, until one assembles the various vocals from Heroes, Cabin Essence, and the other Smile tunes. The Good Vibrations stereo segments are from The Best Summers of Our Lives 1976 15th Anniversary Radio Show. I sent my copy of Best Summers of Our Lives to Brother Entertainment earlier this year because they did not have these tapes. I would bet they are culled from my old set!

Dennis's Be With Me demo is him at his most intimate. It is as if he is sitting in your living room playing the tune for you. The demo has a depth that the 20/20 version does not. This is probably due to the "Charlie" type sounds on the finished tune. "Dennis does Elvis" at the end is sublime. I had no idea what I Believe In Miracles was supposed to be, until I heard it and realized it was a Can't Wait Too Long fragment. It is nice to hear in isolation. Why is what sounds like a Brian composition from an unknown period that has some relation to the song Good Timin'. The two songs are almost exactly the same length, and share some chords.

Barnyard Blues sounds cool, and somewhat derived from least the animal sounds. To be honest, it sounds like a playful Dennis and Carl studio moment rather than a serious song.  The track to Don't Go Near the Water is beautiful, and has been somewhat unappreciated. The synthesizer work on it is pioneering.  The tag is an obvious homage to Stephen Foster, probably Old Folks At Home. Brian's You've Lost That Lovin Feelin' was an afternoon at Brother Studio Project. He first cut the track, then overdubbed his vocal, singing Bill Medley AND Bobby Hatfield's parts in the same take. He then went back and added duet parts where needed.

Transcendental Meditation
as the closer to Friends was never a tune I appreciated. The version on this disc is the track without vocals. I love it. The track is early jazz fusion, and most likely could have been released  sans vocals. It is reminiscent to me of some of Sun Ra's music, or possibly Cannonball Adderly's work from the same period. The Our Sweet Love vocals are from Sunflower...'nuff' said... Heavenly. Alan Jardine's version of Back Home is something I first heard in the Seventies. It occurred to me at that time that it could have easily fit into the California Saga on Holland. It is really a different song than anything Brian did. I am glad it got released, along with Brian's swinging 1963 version. The only thing they really share is the shuffling pace. Brian's California Feelin' demo has some great piano on it, as well as some unusual MOR type singing. Good to hear it again.

The so called "studio rehearsal" Lei'd In Hawaii sessions are really a live in the studio session, and the majority of the recordings from those sessions are fantastic. Perhaps more of these sessions could be released, rather than "escaping." Help Me Rhonda from the same session is also just terrific. These vocals can be contrasted with Disc 1's Their Hearts Were Full of Spring from the demo tape and Graduation Day from the Summer Days Sessions,and the Slip On Through vocals only work and Smile vocals montage on this disc. The growth in vocal artistry is unparalleled.

What more can be said about the 1967 "Wild Smile" version of Surfs Up?  It is a performance of a life time. There is only music like this in is sung so naturally, so relaxed, that you finally realize that this version would have been just fine on Smile as is. My Love Lives On is a lost Dennis Wilson tune that I frankly like as much as Wouldn't It Be Nice To Live Again. The tune seems to look ahead to Dennis's shortened life, and could serve as a message to his children. It is poignant, intimate, and moving, and has an intimate feel that his more full productions don't have.

The BBC tunes are nice for me to hear, mainly because I have had a crappy cassette of them for years, and the sound improvement is huge. There are little moments...Carl's brief guitar solo on Wendy, the "Beatle Ending chord" on Wendy, Brian's wonderful live singing on When I Grow Up, Carl's guitar solo on there as well, Mike's "won't last forever'" the chilling harmonies on Hushabye, and Mike's wonderful lead on Hushabye.

What to make of this disc? amplifies aspects of The Beach Boys' talent the way an archive disc has to. After 50 years, will you hear this disc with "new ears?" I sure did. I haven't had the time in years to sit down by myself, put on some headphones, and just LISTEN. I grade this disc an A on a scale of A to F.


My friend, fellow music lover/critic, and much missed music fan and colleague Paul Williams wrote a brilliant essay in reaction to the Good Vibrations Boxed Set that set the standard high for critical essays about Beach Boys' Boxed sets. I can't presume to duplicate his incredible work in that essay, but I want to dedicate this essay to him as a memorial that can point the way to his incredible writing about whatever music that he delighted in

Text Copyright 2013 by Peter Reum-All Rights Reserved