Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Beach Boys: 1985 (And A Happy Ending!!!)

In 1985, THE BEACH BOYS got together with producer STEVE LEVINE (who had guided the recording career of CULTURE CLUB with great success in the early '80's) and produced a new album called, simply, THE BEACH BOYS. Critically panned as being "too perfect" (it was the first time THE BEACH BOYS had recorded digitally), I, personally, think it is one of the finest LPs they ever recorded. (One reviewer described it as "technically perfect yet generally sterile.") The lead-off single was a smash by BEACH BOYS standards ... GETCHA BACK went all the way to #25 and, again, proved that the harmonies were still intact. The follow-up single, IT'S GETTIN' LATE, rocked a little harder than most of their recent material and had a great hook-chorus ... yet it only charted as high as #78. The last single pulled from THE BEACH BOYS album was the pretty BRUCE JOHNSTON ballad SHE BELIEVES IN LOVE AGAIN, which never charted at all. A cover of the BOY GEORGE-written tune PASSING FRIEND and the STEVIE WONDER track I DO LOVE YOU made for great LP cuts but never were considered for single release. (Instead, the B-Side of IT'S GETTING LATE was the 1976 single re-release IT'S OK ... go figure!)

THE BEACH BOYS tried a few other tricks to jump-start their career. In 1984, a one-off single with their former East Coast rivals THE FOUR SEASONS produced the awful EAST MEETS WEST single ... it never charted (deservedly so.) In 1986, the single ROCK AND ROLL TO THE RESCUE snuck up to #68 on both National Charts. It was originally included on an LP called 25 YEARS OF GOOD VIBRATIONS, and was sold at their concert appearances only. The follow-up single, a remake of THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS classic CALIFORNIA DREAMIN', came from the same LP. (It went to #49 and really isn't a bad version ... former BYRDS guitarist ROGER McGUINN plays 12-string guitar on that track ... and it very well may have paved the way for former Papa JOHN PHILLIPS to be involved in what would be THE BEACH BOYS' biggest hit in 22 years ... he cowrote KOKOMO with producer TERRY MELCHER, SCOTT McKENZIE and MIKE LOVE ... and, incredibly, in 1988 THE BEACH BOYS were back at #1!

Could there possibly BE a more appropriate song to finish up our special BEACH BOYS series than HAPPY ENDINGS? Released as a single in 1987, the unlikely pairing of '60's icons THE BEACH BOYS and '50's rock pioneer LITTLE RICHARD teamed up to record a beautiful ballad written by BRUCE JOHNSTON and TERRY MELCHER (as in "BRUCE & TERRY") for the WHOOPI GOLDBERG motion picture THE TELEPHONE. THE BEACH BOYS are in fine voice and LITTLE RICHARD just may be at his most restrained ... their voices blend perfectly together ... and this one SHOULD have been a hit. (Of course, someone would have actually had to play it on the radio in order for that to happen!!!) Their very next release would be another duet ... this time the "God-Only-Knows-Awful" WIPEOUT with THE FAT BOYS ... and THAT one went all the way to #12!!! Soundtrack music would become a big part of THE BEACH BOYS' repertoire during this period ... MAKE IT BIG from the SHELLEY LONG film TROOP BEVERLY HILLS and the title track from the JOHN RITTER film PROBLEM CHILD were just a couple of songs that never saw the light of day on the pop charts. However, the following year, they would have one of the biggest hits of their career when KOKOMO (from the film COCKTAIL) went all the way to #1. Who would have thought? Soon, THE BEACH BOYS were a hot ticket item again (and all over the TV screen as well .... they were pretty much "adopted" by the FULL HOUSE gang!)

DIDJAKNOW???: The original single release of KOKOMO featured the #1 BEACH BOYS hit on the A-Side and the LITTLE RICHARD classic TUTTI FRUTTI on the B-Side! (Both songs were featured in the Soundtrack to COCKTAIL.)
The music of BRIAN WILSON and THE BEACH BOYS will never die ... and, hopefully, we've introduced you to a few new tracks you may not have been familiar with during this special series ... or, at the very least, some songs you just don't get to hear very often. With the option to go see AL JARDINE's "BEACH BOYS FRIENDS AND FAMILY" show or the ever-touring MIKE LOVE / BRUCE JOHNSTON version of THE BEACH BOYS or, even better yet, a chance to go see the reclusive BRIAN WILSON live in concert (with his incredible back-up band, THE WONDERMINTS), there's plenty of opportunity to catch a wave and have fun fun fun here in the new millennium. (Shortly after this piece was first published, MIKE LOVE won a HUGE court settlement entitling him to sole use of THE BEACH BOYS name ... JARDINE will have to use a different moniker the next time he hits the road. LOVE also won the royalty rights to DOZENS of songs previously credited to BRIAN WILSON, despite the fact that LOVE had, in fact, collaborated on them.) And, BRIAN WILSON has a BRAND NEW album coming out on September 2nd ... so the music just keeps on comin'!!!

Thank you for spending a week with us as we shared one of our favorite artists with you.