August 20, 2011

Behind the SMiLE era of 1966-67, my next favorite period of Beach Boys music are the years from 1970-73, when their popularity was at its lowest ebb and they were trying to find their own image and sound with founder and leader Brian Wilson in recluse. While their albums during this period – Sunflower, Surf’s Up, Carl and the Passions – “So Tough”, and Holland were amongst their poorest selling at the time, they have stood the test of time and have come to be seen as minor gems, if not outright classics, in the BB catalog.

What I think I like most about this period of time, especially with the last two albums in this series, is how un-Beach Boys-like they sound. The primary reason for this is the change in personnel resulting from bassist Bruce Johnston’s departure following Surf’s Up, Dennis Wilson’s nearly two-year absence on drums following an incident involving one of his hands and a plate glass door, and the addition of two South Africans from the band The Flame, guitarist Blondie Chaplin and drummer Ricky Fataar. This change in personnel brought about a more soulful and funky edge to the traditional Beach Boys sound, quite different from that on Sunflower and Surf’s Up, and much different from the one that would follow after Chaplin’s and Fataar’s departure prior to 1976 and the whole “Brian Is Back” campaign that resulted in 15 Big Ones.

I think I also like this period best because it was the most current when my brother Mark and I first discovered the Beach Boys in all their hairy and hippie glory. Understand, this was before “Endless Summer” and “Spirit of America”, and the record-buying public re-embracing the classic Beach Boys tunes of the early- and mid-sixties as escapist tonic to Watergate and the winding down of the Vietnam conflict. Mark and I loved the fact that you could play their music from this period to anyone and they’d never guess who the artist was – to us, that made the Beach Boys cooler than cool. Mellow due to Dennis’ fascination with love songs and the group’s embrace of Transcendental Meditation, funky with the addition of Chaplin’s and Fataar’s energy and musicianship. It was a combination hard to beat, even if only a few were listening at the time.

Here, then, are some samples of their stuff from 1972 and 1973. To me it never, ever gets tiring:

From Carl and the Passions – “So Tough”: “All This Is That” (Mike Love’s and Alan Jardine’s ode to TM), “He Come Down” (a mix of gospel and TM, quite unlike anything else they have ever recorded), “Marcella” (a more classic BB-sounding tune), “You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone” (a bit of soulful funk with a gritty Carl Wilson vocal featuring Daryl “The Captain” of The Captain and Tennille on piano), and “Cuddle Up” (a Dennis Wilson classic with Dragon on piano and Toni Tennille on background vocal).

From Holland: “We Got Love” (featuring Chaplin and Fataar, an anti-apartheid tome dropped from the album at the last minute, unreleased in studio form to this day), “Steamboat” (a murky Dennis Wilson tune featuring Carl on lead and an atmospheric slide-guitar solo), “The Trader” (Carl Wilson on the lead), “Sail On Sailor” (one of their all-time great tunes), and “California Saga – California” (Brian Wilson actually sings the intro to this hint of classic sound in a folksy, ’70s setting).

Classic sounds, great memories.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:33 | Comments (2)
  1. You are the “go to guy” for all things Beach Boys…Remember how surprised you were to discover my love of the Beach Boys when you and Tracey first moved in???? I knew then you would be a good friend in spite of your issues with GRITS and conservative political views for which I know of no cure, but that is ok, I love ya anyway.
    Can someone let Michelle Bachman know that the threat of the rise of the Soviet Union has been addressed and maybe she can focus on some other historical event that is ACCURATE. Wonder if she Palin skipped school on the same days when they had History and Geography classes? Mis-quoting is one thing, inaccuracy for a political figure is inexcusable (no matter their politcal party affiliation)

    Comment by Jana — August 20, 2011 @ 5:36 am

  2. I’m thinking that my brother Dave might have been right when he told me he thought Bachmann was “batshit crazy” (see May 23), and this from a libertarian/conservative who’s right of Attila the Hun! I mean, it’s one thing to confuse the start of the American Revolution between Concord, Mass and Concord, NH – OK, I suppose (I guess) you could chalk that up to a misspeak if you’re speaking off the cuff as she was. Remember Barack Obama talking about his being through all 57 states? I’m sure he was just confusing the U.S. map with the varieties of Heinz products and was thinking about lunch while speaking. That being said…

    It’s a whole ‘nutha thing to: a) encourage your audience to sing “happy birthday” to Elvis on the anniversary of his death (this from a supposedly “huge Elvis fan”, then b) express concern about the rise of a nation that hasn’t been around since it dissolved twenty years ago.

    So Dave maybe right after all. The one thing about political campaigns is that they have a way of sorting themselves out so that after time the cream rises to the top. In our 24/7 cable channel -blogosphere world that’s more the case than ever. Between these gaffes and how she mishandled that joint apparance with Rick Perry in Waterloo, Iowa (where Perry showed her a thing or two about how retail politics is truly done), I think Bachmann did serious damage to her campaign this week.

    I have my own thoughts about Palin’s upcoming entry into the race, will blog about that soon.

    Glad you enjoyed the music – I love that period in BB history and really enjoyed digging up those YouTube videos. Knew you’d like them.

    Comment by The Great White Shank — August 20, 2011 @ 10:46 am

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