The AAA Beach Boys Youtube playlist is now up and running at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9561D1E6678744B8
Monday, 4 August 2014
The Beach Boys: A Complete (Ish) Guide To Their Existing TV Appearances
The AAA Beach Boys Youtube playlist is now up and running at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9561D1E6678744B8
Dear all, welcome to phase (what are we on now? I don't know, erm...) #37 of Alan's Album Archives. Now that I've got 30 layouts for a series of 30 Alan's Album Archives books I'm trying to fill in everything that anyone could possibly want to know about AAA bands that we haven't covered yet. As it so happens I also have a fun new gadget that will allow me to get proper copies of all the Youtube videos that have been filling my 30 'favourites' folders for years now. So here with great synchronicity is the first in a planned series of 30 guides to every single existing piece of TV footage featuring every one of our 30 bands, designed to pad out the currently rather flimsy looking 'DVD' section. At the moment I'm deep in 'Beach Boys' territory and will be for the next fortnight so expect lots of fun, sun and surfboards to appear in this week's list!
Now as ever I'd better quantify that sentence: I would be amazed if this list is a full guide to everything this weeks' artists The Beach Boys ever did on TV around the globe. For a start, quite a lot of footage from the 1960s is 50 years old and has probably been wiped, lost, misfiled or otherwise mangled beyond repair. What's more while the UK and US TV stations do keep pretty good records, the same can't be said for every country around the world - and that's now, never mind 50 years ago in the past. Bear in mind too that we've already covered everything out on DVD in one of our earlier newsletters - so there's no 'Live At Knebworth', no 'American Band' documentary and none of Brian's run of DVD films/concerts/documentaries etc (although three UK documentaries yet to make it onto DVD have been included). So what we have is as full a lost as we can manage, in the best chronological order we can arrange (with dates used where known), with the hope that any readers out there will be able to fill in any gaps - or that we can come back to this list again before the publication of our Beach Boys book (sometime around 2017) and hopefully add a little more to it. Now I've been running out of ideas for these top ten lists and there's an awful lot of entries on this list so what we shall do is split these 'TV' entries off into 'part one' and 'part twos' and see how that goes (we can always go back to making just one entry for those groups who didn't do much TV). Unusually, The Beach Boys didn't record many music videos (unlike our other AAA groups to come) but they did do more telly than most it seems...
For copyright reasons we can't show you any of the clips here but you will be able to find the Alan's Album Archives 'Beach Boys' playlist on our youtube homepage at https://www.youtube.com/user/AlansArchives so why not give us a 'follow' and say hello?! (You can have a look at our six Alan's Album Archives videos while you're there!) Right, that's settled then, so here goes:
1) One Man's Challenge (Beach Boys US TV, 1962)
How amazing that this footage of the Beach Boys lip-synching their way through their first national single release should survive, even if the quality is far from perfect with flattened and missing corners. The recording it comes from is actually from a Dale Smith film about one man's attempts to open a 'teenage club' in California and even by 1962 the Beach Boys were naturally asked to appear, being the area's hottest act. Roger Christian is the film's narrator and within a year he'd be penning lyrics for Brian Wilson as the band went from strength to strength. The Beach Boys look ridiculously young and perform a little bit too much like the stiff-legged Shadows for comfort and the chap on the far left you might not recognise is Dave Marks, then aged all of 14! Check out the Beach Boys' Pendletone shorts by the way - at the time this recording made it to telly they had only just switched their name from 'The Pendletones' to 'The Beach Boys'. To date this clip only exists on Youtube.
2) Red Skelton Hour (Beach Boys, US TV, 24/9/1963)
The Beach Boys' first actual television appearance was for comedian Red Skelton's television show in the Autumn of 1963. The Beach Boys, showing off their new striped shirts, performed two songs, their current hit 'Surfin' USA' and a track unique to this television appearance, a cover of 'Things We Did Last Summer', best known from a Frank Sinatra cover. The song is not too successful, sounding rather square and the band look uncomfortable lip-synching all together (especially Dave Marks who never actually sang with the group!) The 'Surfin' USA' clip is great, however, with the earliest example of what the band must have been like on stage: deeply energetic and a whole lot of fun fun fun! Both clips have cropped up on various Beach Boys videos down the years, most notably as 'extras' on the DVD version of the 1998 documentary 'Endless Harmony'.
3) Live At The Hollywood Bowl (Beach Boys, US Concert, 1963)
Alas only sound exists from this recording featuring the Dave Marks-era lineup whose career is now clearly taking off, even if the announcer begins by telling Mike that he'll have to adjust his own microphone! The band start with their old tried and tested 'this is the way we make a recording' routine introducing the band an instrument at a time (you can actually see this on the 'Lost Concert' DVD taped the following year). The band play fairly ropey versions by their standards of 'Little Deuce Coupe' 'In My Room' 'Be True To Your School' and 'Surfer Girl'. I don't know whether it's the lack of video that makes you concentrate on the sound more but the band's harmonies really aren't hitting it tonight; what's more the band seem to know it and keep trying to gee each other up, which only makes it worse. That said, The Beach Boys pull the a capella opening to 'In My Room' off a treat and Brian adds a lovely 'oo-we-oo' countermelody over the end of 'Be True To Your School' that's really lovely. That's Brian's wife Marilyn and her sister Diane as 'The Honeys' by the way, doing the cheerleader chants in the middle of 'School' although to be honest they're probably there to make life easier for Brian. The band end by promising an encore but aren't sure what to play - after much debate between themselves about playing 'Surfin' USA' they decide to opt for 'Surfer Girl' instead, but sadly this is the worst performance of the song ever: the band clearly haven't played it in a while and unusually it's Carl whose really flat throughout. Not available commercially, an 11 minute fragment is all that's thought to exist.
4) American Bandstand #1 (Beach Boys, US TV, 1964)
The Beach Boys, now with Al Jardine back in the group, still look distincly uncomfortable miming to their records. 'Don't Worry Baby' is the track they're plugging this time and the band sans instruments are gathered around Brian in their striped shirts and their arms folded with Dennis especially looking like he wants to get out of there quick! This is especially daft given the song's lengthy guitar solo, during which the band click their fingers and do a bit of dancing to fill in time! Much more interesting to the collector is the interview with TV host Dick Clark, asking Al how he feels being the 'outsider' in the band, Brian who determines what ('I guess I do but I dunno!'), Dennis adds that the band can veto Brian but he 'always has the right ideas', Mike is asked about the band's tour of Australia and New Zealand and comes out with the damning fact that they 'aren't as modernised or fast-moving' and that the disc jockeys are 'really out of it' and for some reason Carl gets the surfing question, adding that the band were too 'busy' to do any. Finally Al Jardine gets the name of the album wrong and gives it as 'Fun Fun Fun', rather shocking Dick Clark who knows that its actually 'Shut Down Volume Two' (to be fair he probably thought he meant the current single!) This fascinating early clip is at the moment unavailable anywhere except Youtube
5) Ready Steady Go! (Beach Boys, UK TV, 6/11/1964)
The Beach Boys' first UK television appearance was not on the BBC's Top Of The Pops like most American bands but the more cultish 'Ready Steady Go' on ITV. The Boys are on fabulous form, performing a storming version of 'I Get Around' and sensitive reading of their latest single of the day 'When I Grow Up (To Be A Man')', although the band still look incredibly young here incidentally! The most interesting things for fans is the interview with a bemused Keith Fordyce, which keeps being interrupted by screaming girls. Fordyce starts by calling Dennis 'Ringo at the back there...' , asks Mike what surfing is ('Well what do you mean? Surfing's a sport!) before finally getting onto surfing music ('Surfing is only beat music with a surfing lyric'). Brian is then asked what he thinks about Britain ('I love it! Of course!') and what he most wants to see on his trip over ('See? As many kids mostly, younger people...') Perhaps because of this slightly nervy banter the usually unflappable Beach Boys then completely flop their complex introduction to 'When I Grow Up', sheepishly breaking into giggles. The Band nails it the second time though, a bemused Mike grinning as he sings 'it might take a while!' All in all one of the greatest pieces of Beach Boys footage, but alas like almost all of the 'Ready Steady Go' material its currently unavailable (although it was released on a 'Ready Steady Go' video compilation in 1987 it hasn't been seen since and is currently sitting in Dave Clark of the Dave Clark Five's vaults! That's why Dave Clark seems to appear on every episode of the series ever made - as the rights owner the episodes have been re-edited to show as much of his band as possible!)
6) Shindig! #1 (Beach Boys, US TV, 23/12/1964)
The Beach Boys performed six songs in total during this special festive edition of the classic American music show 'Shindig' 'direct from their riotous tour of Europe': their last single 'Dance Dance Dance', three songs featured on their recent 'Concert' LP 'Monster Mash' 'Papa Oom Mow Mow' and 'Johnny B Goode' and two Christmas crackers 'Little Saint Nick' and 'We Three Kings'. Mike Love is particularly on form for this show and his dancing and face pulling has taken on new levels (Brian jokes before 'Monster Mash' that they're going to 'let the lead singer out of his cage'); Dennis however looks and sounds out of it with some particularly lacklustre drumming (had he been on the eggnog before the show?!) 'Dance Dance Dance' is particularly energetic and sounds mighty good here as part of the band's live set; alas the same can't be said for 'We 3 Kings' which seems even slower and drabber here than on record. As for the twin onslaughts of 'Papa Oom Mow Mow' and 'The Monster Mash' they rather beg the question - why did 'The Beach Boys Concert' become the band's biggest selling record of the time, as Dick Clark mentions in his introduction?! You wouldn't know it from looking at the clip but it was flying to a gig from this very TV appearance that saw Brian suffer his 'nervous breakdown' on board an aeroplane that will change his life and that of the band - perhaps if the band were all that tired then that's why the band seem a bit low in spirits here? Alas these clips have only ever been seen on Youtube and sadly this little slice of history isn't in great nick either, particularly Saint Nick as it happens.
7) Shindig! #2 (Beach Boys, US TV, 21/4/1965)
Shindig appearance number two is a bit more 'traditional': five songs are performed, three of them hit singles ('Fun Fun Fun' 'Help Me, Rhonda' and a mimed 'Do You Wanna Dance?', perhaps to allow Dennis to sing without worrying about the drums) plus a cover of Four Freshman song 'Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring' (which never did make an album despite being recorded by the band several times) and 'Beach Boys Concert', erm, 'favourite (the term is used loosely) 'Long Tall Texan'. Mike is again very much on form and pulls some great faces as the rather stupid Texan cowboy in his ten gallon hat as well as some frenetic dancing during Denis' spot on 'Do You Wanna Dance?' (to get the cameras off his cousin and onto him?...'), although its Brian too who seems impressively at home despite this being one of the few early Beach Boys TV appearances without him singing lead anywhere (this is the earliest footage we have of him post-breakdown and he looks much happier than in the last one I'm pleased to say). All of these clips are nice but it's the rare one of the band singing 'Spring' a capella (gathered around some steps) that's the real gem here - the song is taken much faster than any other recording of it and yet the band are still spot on. Unusually Dennis is in the middle and Brian trying to control the group from stage left (this is clearly his peak period as the band's sex symbol). Again these shows are not available anywhere else except Youtube at the time of writing and again the clips look as if they need a good brush-up and clean (the youtube copy has the 'timecode', incidentally, suggesting it was kept by someone who worked on the show).
8) Andy Williams Show (Beach Boys, US TV, 1966)
Crooner Andy William's TV show was just entering its 4th year of nine when The Beach Boys guested on it. Not that many rock and roll bands ever guested on it so The Beach Boys' appearance must have seemed very out of kilter compared to most weeks. That might be why the band have gone to a lot of trouble for their appearance, delving into their past songs for the obscure near-single 'Little Honda', which results in a hilarious Mike Love 'gear shift stick' dance. The band aren't allowed to advertise 'Honda' on television so they change the name to 'Cycle' - Mike copes with the choruses but has to think hard before the line 'I'm going down to the ---cycle shop'. Meanwhile the rest of the band are now singing 'Andy Andy go faster faster' instead of 'Honda Honda'. Andy Williams joins in as he does with many of his guests after Love informs the audience he's used to singing with his own brothers so he may as well sing with the Wilson brothers but looks deeply uncomfortable until finally blossoming at the very end of the song with his own OTT dancing, much to the band's amusement. A fun clip that is still not available commercially.
9) Jack Benny Hour (Beach Boys, US TV, 1966)
Vaudeville comedian Jack Benny starts off his introduction for the band by going off on one of his long rambling monologues, before the 'cameraman' comes from behind the scenes to mock-strangle him and tells him to 'shut up - I want to see The Beach Boys!' At least I hope its a mock cameraman, although I must admit I was beginning to think the same thing...The Beach Boys are here to plug their 'Party' album and play a really groovy, fast-paced version of 'Barbara Ann', unusually for this period with Brian on tow (he does a good job at filling in Dean Torrence's high vocal from the record) and no Bruce. Brian looks less than well, actually, with the struggle over 'Pet Sounds' already visibly getting to him. The highlight of this version is Carl's grungy guitar solo, which is far wilder and frenetic than what he played on the record. Alas this clip has never been made available commercially and is only currently available via Youtube; actually I'm amazed it survived at all as not much from Jack Benny's show has.
10) Sloop John B (Music Video, 1966)
I'm not quite sure why the Beach Boys decided to make this song their first to have a 'proper' video, but anyway the band (with Brian still very much involved) seemed to shoot this one in England. That's Beatles and briefly Beach Boys press officer Derek Taylor overseeing the band as they clown around in a hotel swimming pool with a lilo and play with cameras in the hotel lobby (Brian sticks a captain's hat on and greets the band as they walk round the corner - next shot he's got his back to them and - shock horror - meets himself, or at least his younger brother with the same cap on!) This slice of Beach Boys whimsy has often been included in clips shows as it's one of only two music videos they made in the 1960s and is available officially as a bonus track on the 'Endless Harmony' DVD documentary.
11) Good Vibrations (Studio Session, Summer 1966)
Unseen for 46 years, a clip of the band apparently working on arguably their most famous song at Western Studios came to light and was aired in the 2012 documentary 'Do It Again'. It looks as if the Beach Boys are 'setting' up' rather than recording, 'faking' it in the same way The Beatles are only 'pretending' to record 'Al You Need Is Love'; in the 'One World' broadcast. Still, it's a terrific chance to see Brian in his natural habitat at the height of his strength, living every last percussion overdub and drilling the band through their harmonies. It's a thrill too to see just where the Beach Boys recorded so many of their great works and the engineers and staff working with them.
12) Mrs O'Leary's Cow/Fire (Studio Session, Summer 1966)
The biggest surprise of the first official Beach Boys documentary 'An American Band' in 1985 was the existence of so much video footage from the 'Smile' era. Especially the session named for the cow who accidentally knocked over a lantern and started the Great Fire of London in 1666 where the visibly confused studio session musicians are all encouraged to wear fire helmets as they play. We all thought this footage was burnt on the orders of Brian Wilson after an incident later on that night when an old building across the street from the studio 'burnt down' , kick-starting Brian's slow decline. As a result its tremendously eerie seeing Brian so utterly in control for pretty much the last time in his life - you so want to jump into the screen and tell him not to do it! How different 'Smile' would have been if 'Fire' had been recorded on the very last day instead of merely near the end?
13) Ed Sullivan Show (Beach Boys, US TV, 13/10/1968)
For some reason American bands used to get short shrift on the famous 'Ed Sullivan' TV variety shows - the show staff seemed to favour European bands. Anyway for whatever reason The Beach Boys don't end up on their homeland's most prestigious music-linked show until five years into their career and at a time when their sales are fading. Any fans with access to any amount of music TV clip shows will know the band's brief performance well - it's the clip of 'Good Vibrations' where the music director has been to too many hippie parties and ends up distorting the frame so that the Beach Boys effectively end up doubled or worse (Dennis looks really good with three heads!). It's a shame the visuals are so distracting because the band are putting in a good performance of a complex song, with Carl fully in control and Mike just about coping with playing the theremin part live. There's a terrific chaotic ending, too, with some truly bizarre phasing techniques that make even the record sound 'normal' and thundering clatter of drums from Dennis. This clip starts a long run of shows on which Brian has effectively been replaced by Bruce Johnston, his live substitute. Sadly this clip isn't on any of the handful of ED Sullivan DVDs doing the rounds but is repeated often on both American and European telly, so keep your eyes peeled.
14) Friends (Music Video 1968)
To be fair, this charming two minute clip of The Beach Boys running round a forest chased by hundreds of children could have been shot to any soundtrack, but 'Friends' is as good a choice as any. The band look strangely at home followed by so many children, 'Uncle Dennis' (now growing a beard) seeming like he's having the most fun. Check out Carl's look of surprise when a little girl decides to suddenly sit in his lap though - he's more interested in the picnic hamper! (This is four decades before the Jimmy Saville scandal came to light by the way!) Brian, perhaps sensibly, sits this one out but again Bruce is there in his place. Not often seen, this video was included as a 'bonus extra' on the DVD of the 1998 documentary 'Endless Harmony'.
15) Beat Club (Beach Boys, German TV, 31/12/1968)
Europe stayed loyal to the Beach Boys long after the hits stopped coming in America and this three song set for German show 'Beatclub' (which will be cropping up a lot on these 30 lists...) is the first in a run of four European TV appearances. The band mime to their old hits 'Surfin' USA' and 'California Girls' as well as their new hit 'Do It Again', with some highly period camera work (the band in small silhouette at the bottom of the screen, with their faces projected large on a screen behind them - and on 'California Girls' the album covers for 'Smiley Smile' and 'Friends' replacing the walls around them, which is pretty creepy actually). The Beach Boys are in their 'white suit' period here and not for the last time Brian has stayed at home, with Bruce Johnston now very much a part of the band. These clips aren't available commercially but do crop up on television a lot (especially 'Do It Again', the most 'normally' filmed of the three clips) and are available on some distinctly unofficial DVDs.
16) Unknown (Beach Boys, Holland TV, 1969)
Not much is known about this clip of 'Break Away', which seems to have been cut from an Amsterdam music show soon after broadcast and sent out to other countries where it became stapled onto their own collections. The Beach Boys mime, with Carl tackling both his own part and brother Brian's - who, as is normal for this period, stayed at home. The cameraman seems to have developed a love of unflattering close-ups during this clip leaving you with plenty of views of foreheads and eyes but not many full faces; however there are several great shots of Carl, Al, Bruce and Mike actually lined up together (with Dennis behind on the drums). The song of course is pure magic - the last Beach Boys single release on Capitol, this is as far as I know the only clip of the band promoting it that's survived. This clip has been repeated on various clip shows but has not been released yet commercially.
17) Kraft Music Hall (Beach Boys, German TV, 19/2/1969)
Meanwhile, over in Germany, the band are miming to one of their biggest European hits with aplomb. You must know this clip if you've ever lived in Europe for anytime - its the one where the band are standing ona set that looks a little like the one from game show 'Fun House' surrounded by girls crammed on every stairwell and with Mike Love wearing a captain's hat. Once again Bruce has replaced Brian and this causes problems for the band as the elder Wilson's parts are very clear on the record - the cameraman seems to be clueless though and looks at the wrong Beach Boys most of the time anyway. This clip is another included as a 'bonus' track on the 'Endless Harmony' DVD of 1998.
18) Mike Douglas Show #1 (Beach Boys, US TV, 5/4/1969)
Singer, entertainer and TV host Mike Douglas seemed to have a special spot for the band - they appeared on his shows more than any other and his introduction ('one of the most popular bands in the world, ever!') seems awfully generous given how unpopular the band were in 1969. Mike Douglas talks to the band about their trip to Czechoslovakia, one of the first Western groups to tour there (Bruce fills in for a quieter than normal band by talking about the political protests there before Carl talks about their being a 'symbol of freedom' and Al adds that the band were told they had to spend half of their earnings inside the country for tax purposes). Later on he talks about the floods in California (the band, only recently returned to the USA, don't have a clue what he means). Douglas talks a lot about the band's new album '20/20' but the band start off by playing both sides of their 'Break Away' / 'Celebrate The News' single. Mike Love performs sans hat but with beard, Bruce seems to hyperventilate doing the 'baby baby' section on 'Break Away' and Al Jardine didn't seem to get the memo about the white suits, being the only band member to appear in blue. Only then do they sing 'I Can Hear Music' , with the band now dressed in multi-coloured garb and stood in front of a very 60s backdrop and a particularly strong performance from Carl. The highlight, though, is a surreal performance of the rare 'Never Learn Not To Love' co-written by Dennis and Charles Manson (we're just four months away from his murder of Sharon Tate). Dennis is in a happy place, with the spotlight back on him for the first time in ages, and bounces throughout the song in a Mike Love type way while the others group around two microphones and attempt to mime the rest of the song (Dennis sings a 'new' vocal live over the top). Without the strings and taken at a much faster pace 'Never Learn Not To Love' almost sounds like a 'happy' song - a million miles away from the version on the record. Interestingly Douglas introduces this song by saying 'is this the a capella thing? No?', which suggests the band intended to play one of their Four Freshman covers at this show but ran out of time. All in all a fascinating glimpse at the band during a key but unfortunately poorly covered period. Sadly these clips are again unavailable commercially.
19) Olympia Concert (Beach Boys, Live in France, 16/6/1969)
The Beach Boys' 1969 tour might have been the worst attended but its arguably the best documented - at least until the 1980s. A full and fascinating show from Paris has survived, from a time when the band are so low on the bill that Mike has to spend part of the set holding onto Carl's microphone to stop it escaping and the band have to shift their own on-stage furniture (the piano!) yet still high enough to have their own five-part horn section nervously perched over the stage! The band play fiery if ramshackle versions of 'Darlin' 'Wouldn't It Be Nice?' 'California Girls' 'I Can Hear Music' ,an unusual medley of the opening to 'Warmth Of The Sun' 'Don't Worry Baby' 'Please Let Me Wonder' 'Surfer Girl' and 'In My Room', 'I Get Around' 'Sloop John B' 'Do It Again' 'Break Away' 'The Nearest Faraway Place' 'Cottonfields' 'Barbara Ann' 'God Only Knows' 'Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring' 'Good Vibrations'. Mike Love, dressed from head to toe in a white toga (the rest of the band are in white suits - which means Al must have finally picked his up from the cleaners!) is in a particularly mischievous mood - here are some of his introductions: 'California Girls' is introduced by Mike saying 'this is one of my favourite songs...because I sing it!' (perhaps a dig at the Carl-friendly setlist in 1969?), jokes 'its' nice to be in Madrid...whoops sorry!', introduces the medley by talking about how Brian used to work 'doing little bits that when joined up ended up in a whole...and if you don't believe me I want you to go out to your local record store and buy up all our albums...', does motorbike noises through 'I Get Around', 'Break Away' by saying 'And Uncle Murray wrote it! Oh no - ssshh - no he didn't (Murray did indeed co-write the song with Brian but as 'Reggie Dunbar' due to a publishing dispute!), promotes 'Franco-American relationships' by singing 'Pompadoo' to the tune of 'Barbara Ann' (!), Mike has to ask Bruce what album 'God Only Knows' is from ('Pet Sounds, the best Beach Boy album' he replies' - 'Hell no!' Mike jokes in response) and this year's gag about the a capella 'Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring' : 'a capella means without sleeves!' The most impressive thing though might be the dance that the band have created for the instrumental break in 'Barbara Ann' with Carl, Mike and Bruce hotfooting it across the stage - something they'll still be doing in the act in at least a decade's time. Oddly Dennis doesn't get a vocal or even a close-up. We only have three full Beach Boys concerts on film and the rest aren't until 1980 and 2012, making this intimate show highly important to collectors - it's well worth seeing even if currently it is only available on Youtube.
20) Fall Tour Film (1969)
Possibly the same camera crew followed the Beach Boys around during their 'off' days from the tour - although we're not quite sure why (the clips weren't used until the 'American Band' documentary in 1985 but a lot of time obviously went into them, with voice overdubs and everything). The clips are highly revealing about the Beach Boys' personalities: Al waxes lyrical about Scotland, Bruce waxes lyrical about Britain (pretending to conduct an imaginary band in London's Hyde Park), Mike makes a corny joke about asking a hotel attendant to show him the 'loo-vre' and being directed instead to a humble outside 'loo', Carl has a lazy and lovely looking breakfast in his hotel room (it certainly looks as if he wasn't expecting the cameras that day!) and Dennis is on board a train, complaining that people keep 'waking me up' after a heavy night dancing the night before ('I really dug that beautiful blonde chick I was with...') The clips were re-used again on the 1998 documentary 'Ebndless Hamrony' where they accompanied the first release of 'Loop De Loop Flip Flop Lying In An Aeroplane'.
21) Mike Douglas Show #2 (Beach Boys, US TV, 1971)
The Beach Boys' second appearance on the Mike Douglas Show is deeply unusual in that the band play 'Cool, Cool Water' for about the only time after making the record in 1970 - it's not even on the album they're trying to plug ('Surf's Up).The band shosuld have kept this 'Smile' re-write in the set as it works really well live and the band turn in a sprightly performance. Carl handles the lead vocal well and few people watching would have realised that the wrong Beach Boy was singing it (Brian sang the lead part on the record -and once again he's not here; neither, weirdly, is Bruce although Dennis makes one of his rare appearances with the band in 1971). Notable changes in appearance since the last TV slot include Carl growing the beard he'll wear for the rest of his life and Mike Love growing his to an almost unmanageable length.
22) David Frost Show (Beach Boys, UK TV, 28/5/1971)
Frustratingly, only audio exists for the Beach Boys' two songs on presenter David Frost's TV programme in Britain. That's a shame because the Beach Boys choose not to perform their latest songs or their old hits but two real rarities: 'Forever' and 'Vegatables'. The first may well be there to appease Dennis, who is making a rare appearance with the band in 1971 (he's ostensibly working on his first solo album and isn't part of that year's Beach Boys album 'Surf's Up'), while the second is fascinating - the first time the band ever attempted this 'Smile' track live, although this arrangement is actually closer to the 'Smiley Smile' arrangement. The audio of both clips is available on Youtube, although sadly the interview that came in between the two performances is incomplete.
23) Old Grey Whistle Test (Beach Boys, UK TV, 16/5/1972)
Now, why isn't this clip shown during any of those interminable repeats of the cult BBC show 'The Old Grey Whistle Test' (so named because the writers at Tin Pan Alley knew they had a hit on their hands if their old grey cleaner was able to sing a song they'd been playing hours earlier at the end of his shift!) There's no Bob Harris on the existing clip - just a very groovy and confident Beach Boys, complete with new members Blondie and Ricky, the former of whom - I think - is providing the 'counter' vocal to Carl's voice (he simply double-tracks it on record). This time Al has grown a beard while Mike has cut his and both Brian and Dennis (who'd fractured his wrist in an 'accident'/'argument' with a plate glass window and couldn't play the drums) are absent.
24) Mike Douglas Show #3 (Brian Wilson, US TV, 1976)
'I shattered my mind, but I came back - I just don't know in how many pieces'. Brian appeared solo for the third Beach Boys appearance on the Mike Douglas Show and doesn't so any singing, instead bearing his soul for an in-depth chat designed to promote the 'Brian Is Back' campaign and '15 Big Ones' album. Brian talks about his drug problems as if they're a problem from his past he's well over (poor Brian -that's so not true!), adding the interesting point that drugs 'take you to both heaven and hell and you can't have one without the other'. He gets spiky when Douglas challenges him about why a person with 'as much talent as you have' takes drugs - Brian is adamant he doesn't take them to create, but to cope with life. Brian adds that he took to his bed for two-three years, 'Maharishi like' and is beginning to tell Mike about the 'red lights' he saw in his head when unfortunately he's interrupted - what secret was Brian about to pour out? He then goes on to say that he took the decline in sales 'personally', rambles about what money means to him even though he's lost most of it and then closes by saying that 'people talk about drugs as if they are the Messiah - but they're wrong'. An interesting chat, even if it turns out to be a little premature (did the things Brian said in this interview come back to haunt him during the even darker 1977-83 period?)
25) Endless Summer aka It's OK (Beach Boys, US TV Special, 1976)
A real oddball this one. The Beach Boys were back in the studio for the first time in four years and wanted to make a big splash for their return so they came up with the idea of a TV special. Somewhere along the line the producers of comedy series Saturday Night Live got involved and John Belushi, Dan Akroyd and co all pop up in various roles (they will go on to make another TV special with Paul Simon the following year, which is a lot funnier than this one I have to say). The Beach Boys aren't natural comedians and only really shine on the interview clips (especially Brian interviewed for irony's sake in the bed he's just 'escaped' to go back into the studio and make the album - or at least that was the idea...) and shots of them playing nosily on stage. Along the way there are interviews with the Wilson's old headmaster (who tells us the 'cheerleading' bit from 'Be True To Your School' is really the school 'fight' song - why the hell didn't my school have a fight song?!), a rather nutty sounding Van Dyke Parks ('Mike Love - a straw in the wind...let me say this about the guy, he's got a lot of meat') interviewed outside his local record shop, There's also scenes of Brian's 34th birthday party with special guests Paul and LInda McCartney (a clip often recycled on Beach Boys and Beatles videos - usually to remove the truly awful live version of 'Good Vibrations' going on over the top), Al Jardine in his natural habitat (his newly purchased farm - the band will later record part of 'Keepin' The Summer Alive' in the barn behind him) and Dennis in his natural habitat - judging a beauty pageant! (Everyone else look so so serious but Denny is clearly having a whale of a time!; I'm surprised the rather prim 'Miss Forster' won though - she doesn't seem Dennis' type) Poor Brian gets the worst deal: a so-called comedy sketch has Akroyd and Belushi as two cops from the 'surfing police' who force him out of bed, into their car and down to the local beach where he bravely enters the waves. Brian writes about this scene in his autobiography, of his panic attack before the scene and his conviction he was going to die before his therapist wrote a note guaranteeing he would survive it and slipped it into his dressing gown; even so, if he was as great a therapist as this chapter claims in the book then what the hell is he doing letting his uncoordinated patient anywhere near those waves? (Get Dennis to surf instead!)He brightens up when asked about his dad though, revelling in his angry attack on him 'I'm Bugged At My Ol' Man' while his brothers get the giggles doing the backing vocals. Given the events that are about to unfold in the next seven odd years, this is arguably the last clip of the three Wilsons together. By and large though the TV special is unfocussed and unfunny,without any real direction to it. However it's worth sitting through for the magical clip of a perky Brian back in his natural habitat, singing 'Back Home' while backed by a piano, the band on harmonies and a whole gospel choir - had the album version sounded like this then '15 Big Ones' might not have seemed like such a waste of time.
26) Saturday Night Live (Brian Wilson, US TV, 27/11/1976)
Of all the people you'd expect to see cameo-ing in a prime time comedy sketch featuring young and trendy comedians, the 1976 vintage Brian Wilson is the least likely. And yet there he is, clearly not taking the 'surf police' debacle in the TV special to heart. Brian plays, of all things, a burly security officer at an airport during an interminable sketch with a traveller who adores metal and has a metal collar and a metal hat, never mind half a ton of metal in his pockets. Next in the queue? The tin man from the Wizard of Oz! Brian doesn't say a word till the very last sentence of the sketch and its almost painful to watch him fluff it before neatly recovering (That was the tin woodsman? I should have asked him for his autograph!') As his reward Brian gets to sing a funky version of 'Back Home' with the house backing band, who sound better here than The Beach Boys did to be honest, and later a rotten solo piano rendition of 'Good Vibrations', with that once great falsetto shot to pieces and sounding more naked and vulnerable that it ever has.
27) Midnight Special (Beach Boys, US TV, 27/4/1979)
The Beach Boys had a great record to promote ('L A Light Album', their last record truly worth buying) but sadly they only get to play one song from it during this straightforward mini-concert of hits on the long running American variety show. Most of the performances on this TV show included ';special guests' and the Beach Boys' is ex-Byrd Roger McGuinn, who plays some inaudible guitar during one song (this is clearly revenge for his role in The Beach Boys' nonsense 1977 song 'Ding Dang'). The band play a rather jaded 'Good Vibrations' and a tired-sounding 'Rock and Roll Music' before the highlight of the show: Dennis purring his way shyly through his brother Carl's 'Angel Come Home'. The middle Wilson brother seems remarkably together, given than in this era he's only just been forced to abandon his second solo album 'Bambu' and is not in a happy place creatively, financially or personally (yet another marriage is on the rocks in 1979). Other big news: Bruce is back in the band and slots in comfortably to his old slot behind Mike and Al. The house audience are clearly enjoying the show and even come in danger of knocking Mike Love out when somebody hurls a jacket right into his face as he's trying to make an announcement! Once again, there's no Brian and once again this episode of the series has not been made available commercially.
28) The Merv Griffin Show (Beach Boys, US TV, 1981)
The Beach Boys are on television to promote not a new studio LP but the 'Ten Years Of harmony' compilation and as such they perform some rather unusual songs that you don't really get to see anywhere else, although sadly all of them are mimed. 'Come Go With Me' was the surprise hit single from the album - surprise being the word, given that the song was three years old at the time of release - and is performed first, before 'The Beach Boys Medley' 9a sruprise top ten hit earlier in the year, made up of 30 second snippets from classic singles stuck together into one unconvincing whole) and 'Lady Lynda'. Given that 'help Me Rhonda' is prominent in the medley this gives an awful lot of camera time to Al Jardine, who will never get this many close-ups again. Brian Wilson is on hand but clearly out of it - watching his older, dishevelled self miming awkwardly to his younger self's eager vocals on his older hits is deeply uncomfortable, like hearing a record playing at the wrong speed. For some reason Merv decides to spend a good few minutes introducing the band, despite earlier saying they were some of the most recognised people on the planet before arguing with Mike over concert dates (well, I had my own satellite so I saw you on the 4th!') and debating whether its been a long time since the band last had a hit (the answer's yes In America but not In England; Mike says he's more fussed about radio airplay). The most interesting part of the chat is Mike's declaration that the band plan to do 'symphonic' arrangements of the band's back catalogue - something that will happen but not for another 18 odd years! The talk then descends into a discussion about who is wearing the best clothes, the band or the presenter (mike is wearing a Blue Hawaiian shirt if that helps you pick!) Elsewhere it's business as usual, with Dennis there but content to stay in the background and Mike Love all but staring down the camera during the medley of hits. This show has not yet been commercially released.
29) Mike Douglas Show #4 (Beach Boys, US TV, 1981)
The fourth and final appearance on the Mike Douglas Show takes the unusual step of having the band play live to a crowd of musicians...on a beach! (the only time on this list the band are in what you might call their 'natural' habitat!) Luckily, it's another beautiful day in Hawaii and nobody gets wet. The band perform a rather drum-heavy version of 'California Girls' and a rarer performance of Chuck Berrys' 'Ring! Ring! Goes The Bell (School Days)' - the closest thing to a hit from the band's most recent record 'Keepin' The Summer Alive'. If you can get to see the clip keep an eye out for long-serving guitarist Ed Carter who is now playing a prominent role and now stands equal with Carl to his left and the fact that the band all wear Hawaiian necklaces around their necks. That's most likely Dennis' last performance with the band caught on film, although frustratingly the camera doesn't give him a close-up once; he's audibly ailing though, with some truly terrible drumming throughout 'California Girls'. As with the other Mike Douglas show clips neither of these performances are available commercially.
30) T J Hooker (Beach Boys, US TV Show, 23/10/1982)
T J Hooker is an oddly named police crime drama (or 'cop show' depending which side of the Atlantic you live on) that ran between 1982 and 1986 and stars William Shatner (although sadly he never gets to say 'cuff 'em up, Scotty once). Shatner's character lost his partner in a fight just before the series started and has vowed to take his revenge on the mean streets of Los Angeles. In this particular episode ('Blind Justice') Shatner and his new partner have bought tickets to a Beach Boys concert and are dreaming of their time in the sun - only there's been a 'foul up' with the mail and the partner doesn't get his tickets. Luckily his on-off girlfriend has some, given to her by a 'very special man'. Some 40 excruciating minutes later - and a hopeless plot about a blind witness being protected from a bunch of criminal goons by the police squad - that special man turns out to be none other than Carl Wilson, who in some specially cut footage cleverly edited to look like part of the full show praises the LAPD and calls Shatner 'an old surfing friend from Miami Beach...the Big Kahuna'. There's a pretty impressive cover of 'California Girls' over the opening credits - which sounds very like The Beach Boys - before the real thing turn up minutes later thanks to an extract from an unknown concert (it looks recent, although of course Carl wasn't in the band between 1981 and 1982 so my guess it's the 4th July show 1980; Brian is there which rather narrows the field to that year too). The band then rock out on 'Fun Fun Fun' over the end credits. A real oddity - I wonder how on earth this episode came about?! The episode, part of the second series, is available on DVD in America and was released in 2005.
31) Getcha Back (Beach Boys Music Video, 1985)
The Beach Boys' first official video follows the very Moody Blues-like tale of a nerdy kid and the girl down his street who never get over the separation when his family move house. Time passes and the pair meet again - at a Beach Boys party, no less, with the hint that the girl is none other than Carl's daughter (erm, not likely - he had two sons!) Challenged to a surfing duel at the beach, he hires a 'bubble' ball and gets out of it that way - until it bursts; luckily she seems to be rather proud of this rather than mortified as everyone else at the beach is; now that really is true love! Along the way Mike Love has a cameo in the opening shot walking past with some boxes, Al serves drinks at the party, Brian is the man from the ACME company who delivers the water-ball and Bruce is the angry lifeguard who ticks him off. Inconsequential and the band aren't in it much, but fun. To date this clip isn't anywhere anywhere except Youtube.
32) Rock and Roll To The Rescue (Beach Boys, Music Video, 1986)
A more straightforward music video which features the band miming to one of their all-time worst songs and a clearly uncomfortable Brian who'd clearly rather be elsewhere and starts rocking worriedly when he thinks the camera isn't on him. At least he's looking thin and healthy again, though, with those years of therapy with Dr Landy clearly paying off in some form. Oh well, at least this clip is mercifully short and at least the invited audience seem to be having fun! To date this clip isn't available anywhere except Youtube.
33) David Letterman Show (Beach Boys, US TV, 1988)
This latter-day Beach Boys appearance on the king of American chat shows features a much bigger band than seen so far: Matt Jardine, Al's son, is now guesting on guitar and Jeffrey Foskett is singing all the high harmonies The Beach Boys' middle-aged vocals can't reach. So far so good, but unfortunately there are 'guest stars' too: James Howse positively destroys 'Little Deuce Coupe'. Alas the band don't talk, just sing (presumably they're plugging their 'Still Crusin' album, although its odd they don't play 'Kokomo' or something actually from that record!) It's good to see Brian looking so well and with it though - those years of therapy with Dr Landy are clearly paying off by 1988, with the now slim elder Wilson much more his old self than the last time we saw him in 1986; he'll be long gone on his solo career by the next entry on our list. This clip is not yet officially available.
34) Full House (Beach Boys, US TV, 18/11/1988)
We're into the land of 1990s American sitcoms now, with The Beach Boys popping up in the John Stamos series about a widowed father reaching out to his family to raise his daughters. Yep, it sounds like a barrel of laughs doesn't it? Danny, who runs a talk show, is excited when The Beach Boys agree to appear - but, shock, horror! The band has to cancel. DJ saves the day by winning some tickets in a radio competition but can only pick one 'guest' out of her family of five. A family argument begins but, wait, who is that on the phone? Only The Beach Boys inviting them to appear with them on stage! The two children in the series make guest appearance doubling on Al Jardine's microphone and the 'brother' grooves on guitar alongside Mike as the band sing a very rough version of 'Barbara Ann' (there's also a snatch of 'Kokomo' earlier on to set the scene). This is what passed as entertainment in America in 1988? Excruciatingly unfunny, even if the Beach Boys are enjoying themselves. This episode is naturally titled 'Beach Boy Bingo' and appears as episode six in series two of the series. The whole of series two was released on DVD in 2005, but trust me, you don't really want to see it do you? save the - gulp - 30 bucks it costs and buy the next 29 volumes of 'Alan's Album Archives' instead!
35) Problem Child (Beach Boys, Music Video, 1990)
One of the stranger songs in the Beach Boys' canon is this oddball salute to a 'problem child' who makes life hell for his teachers and principal. We've already covered the actually rather annoying song elsewhere; the video however is a lot of fun, combining clips from the film with specially shot footage of the pre-teen star running riot during a Beach Boys recording session. Ignoring the 'recording in progress - do not enter' sign the 'problem child' wreaks havoc: knocking over guitars like dominoes until they land on Bruce's foot, unscrewing a microphone stand which knocks a drink over the band's new drummer's lap, re-wiring the mixing board to make the engineer's hair stand on end, filling Mike's saxophone with soap suds and electrocuting Al Jardine. Carl, meanwhile, tries to look cool in shades while all this is happening - not an easy feat! All in all this is a lousy song but is easily the best of the band's small amount of promos. To date, the video has not been made available anywhere except Youtube.
36) Home Improvements (Beach Boys, US TV,14/1/1997)
Even The Beach Boys haven't taken enough punishments from B-list American sitcoms and here they are again on a Tim Allen series that ran for eight years. The premise of the series is that an ex-salesman for a company that made tools is trying to settle down to family life and can't - so each episode includes a 'home improvement tip' Here's our 'home improvement improvement tip' - ditch the tips, they aren't funny! The Beach Boys come into a storyline in series 6 where a character with the unlikely name Wilson W Wilson invites his cousins over to stay. When they appear - good grief its Carl and Mike! (the others appear later, with Matt Jardine in tow). The band give a brief a capella burst of 'Surfer Girl' to prove they are who they say they are but Tim Allen wants to hear his favourite Beach Boys songs, asking for 'Little GTO' 'The Little Old Lady From Pasadena' (both y Jan and Dean!) and 'Little Cobra' (The Ripchords). His comment: well thank God you didn't write 'Little Deuce Coupe' eh?! Cue another a capella performance with Mike, sadly, unmiked (sorry for the poor pun - it seems to fit this mess somehow). Mike's departing comment: 'well I can see why the family only gets together once a year!' Don't worry, though - they're back for the closing credits for an interrupted a capella 'rap' version of 'Barbara Ann' featuring their 'cousin'. To think that poor Carl Wilson had to spend part of his last year on Earth recording this rubbish - he really doesn't look well and doesn't have many lines. The episode was entitled 'The Karate Kid Returns' after another mind-numbing sub-plot and was released on DVD in 2007 along with all the other 21 episodes of series six. Bet you can't wait.
37) TNT Tribute Night For Brian Wilson (Various Artists, US TV 2001)
This tribute night is a very odd affair - Brian looks about the most comfortable of any of the special guests there and pretty much everyone turns in ropey performances of Beach Boy classics, climaxing with Brian's own mini-concert of 'Barbara Ann' 'Fun Fun Fun' and 'Love and Mercy'. A whopping 34 songs were performed during the event, most of which are rather painful to the ears, but two cover versions stand out for AAA fans. One is Paul Simon doing a passable cover of 'Surfer Girl'; another is David Crosby singing a rather gormless version of 'Surf's Up' (sadly only the final coda as one of the Eagles hogs the limelight instead). Not the greatest hour of your life you could ever spend, but it's nice to see a bit more cross-pollination between our bands and the songs are of course wonderful. To date the TV show has only been broadcast once and is not available commercially.
38) Wouldn't It Be Nice? (Beach Boys, UK Documentary, 2004)
'This is a story of rock and roll, with sex drugs and beards thrown in'. Brian Wilson's first UK tour in some four decades was big news over here and saw a rush of Beach Boys-style compilations and documentaries. This is a 70-minute-long BBC one that sought to tell the familiar story of The Beach Boys without quite as much success as either the clips-heavy but self-indulgent 'An American Band' (1985) or the fascinatingly rich music-fest 'Endless Harmony' (1998). This being a British documentary the emphasis was firmly on the 'Pet Sounds' and 'Smile' years. Mike, Brian, Al, Bruce and Van Dyke Parks are all featured in new interviews and are more open than usual (Mike claims he can be ruder to the band than anyone else because they're family - some of them literally) and the band's darker side is emphasised over their talent or break throughs. For instance there's way more on Brian's years with Dr Landy than you might be expecting and a clever use of the 1976 Special 'Brian Goes Surfing' sketch to illustrate the point that Brian didn't want to take part in any of the '15 Big Ones' years; check out the shot of Brian and Landy arm in arm with the latter talking about how people thought he'd be 'the next Elvis' - Brian has never seemed less at ease). However the scariest part is hearing Brian talk about being hounded by hallucinatory demons even as late as 2004. There's some nice home footage of Murry and Audree dancing, Brian walking to his garage and Dennis surfing plus Dennis cheekily telling his mother he'd 'never ever messed around' during a family get together - her knowig laugh says it all; alas these clips are seen all too briefly in amongst the usual TV footage (ie a lot of this list) too. However whether there was enough new things here to justify a full new documentary is another matter and there are way too many talking heads from music historians who know nothing (not like me! Honest! I'd never call Dennis' voice 'the most beautiful ugly voice ever' - it's beautiful all the way through!) What chance a full Beach Boys reunion? All the band seem hopeful - except Brian, who 'doesn't like Mike Love at all - he's too egotistical, I can't be around the guy at all'. The reunion is eight years away. The documentary was never released on DVD and is currently unavailable. Oddly I don't think it's even been repeated since - come on BBC 4 get a move on!
39) Glastonbury (Brian Wilson, UK Live, 2004)
Brian's decision to play the biggest UK festival - Glastonbury - was such big news they even filmed the rehearsals and they featured an amazingly relaxed Brian backed by The Wondermints grooving behind some excellent songs. Alas an unexpected fire in soundcheck the night before the event seemed to throw the elder Wilson's focus, perhaps bringing up memories of the 'Fire' sessions where several houses next to Western Studios burnt down the night he was recording the song of the same name. The BBC's Glastonbury coverage is always a mixed blessing - for every gem there's ten minutes of the presenters gurning and talking about mud. Brian's performance wasn't shown in full and there were no red buttons in those days so the most we got from the setlist was 'Surfer Girl' 'I Get Around' 'Sloop John B' 'California Girls' and 'Good Vibrations'. None of them are classic performances with a rather zombie-fied Brian, but The Wondermints make good cheerleaders, getting the performances to flow by with just about enough swing.
40) The Voice (Beach Boys, UK Documentary, 2004)
Now don't worry - this version of 'The Voice' isn't that godawful reality series and talent (read 'talentless') show. However I almost wish it was: instead this is a pretentious and patronising series about what made the Beach Boys special, in terms of mathematics, arranged harmonies and history. What rot - the Beach Boys are special because of their big hearts, not their big heads and this series drove me scatty by trying to intellectualise music and take all the emotion out of it. The sniffy commentary, which only rates classical music as the highest art form, was also enough to make me throw things at the television: we all know don't we, dear reader, that rock and roll is the highest art form there is? There is nothing so powerful or so deep and no other art form combines music and lyrics for emotion's sake in quite the same way. The Beach Boys crop up in the second half, as part of 'the surfing movement' - the writers perhaps missing the point that there wouldn't be surfer's movement without The Beach Boys; Dick Dale aside, everyone else was copying them - but only 'Pet Sounds' is really mentioned (where the hell was 'Smile'?!) Brian is interviewed, looking uncomfortable once again, with the highlight some more unseen home footage of him and Marilyn on the back of a motorbike. Sample quotes: On overdubs 'It's something to do with magnifying the imperfections'. Thankfully this documentary was never repeated or released on DVD - by fan agreement one thinks. Give it a miss.
41) Do It Again (Beach Boys, UK TV Documentary, 2012)
Made to celebrate the band's 50th anniverdsary and reunion, this telling documentary might not be up to 'American Band' or 'Endless Harmony' but gets an awful lot of things right. The band are all interviewed for the documentary, together as well as individually, and there are some very telling asides ('Who suggested you put the theremin on 'Good Vibrations, Brian?' 'That Was Carl' 'Really' says Mike Love, 'my cousin Carl Wilson suggested that?!') The highlight is Dave Marks, who gets to talk at length for the first time and has slotted back into the band remarkably well, effectively as Carl's replacement. The band seem genuinely warm to each other - and not just for the cameras - having come a long way since the earlier documentaries and everyone gets teary-eyed talking about Carl and Dennis. The highlight and biggest talking point is undoubtedly the discovery of a full four minute tape of the band 'recording' 'Good Vibrations' - to be honest the band look as if they're miming for the cameras but it's still great to see inside the studio, where the band would have been standing, etc. The only downside of this documentary is the lack of any comments from people outside the band and the fact that the storyline basically gives up after 'Smile' and jumps right to Dennis' death. A few more rare clips would have been nice too instead of the same old things but the finale of a 20 minute Beach Boys reunion concert - interspersed with interviews still - is a great way to end this article. To date this documentary has not been made available commercially, although the BBC do repeat it from time to time so keep your eyes peeled or give your British a cousin a ring so they can tape it for you!
And that's that. Did we miss anything important? Heck, did we miss anything at all?!? Our top ten should get back to normal next week with another in our random wacky lists involving lots of AAA groups but stay tuned for our look at the Beatles' existing TV appearances which should be with you in about three week's time. Remember, you can see a good three-quarters of these clips over at my Youtube page 'Alansarchives' so get befriending me! Ciao for now!