Monday, 4 August 2014

The Beach Boys "Surf's Up" (1971) (Album Review)

1) Beach Boys - Advertising Horde by Alan Pattinson




"Oceans, rivers, lakes and streams have all been touched by man,  the poison floating out to sea now threatens life on land, toothpaste and soap will make our oceans a bubble bath, so let's avoid an ecological aftermath, beginning with me, beginning with you" "So hard to answer future's riddle when ahead is seeming so far behind, so hard to laugh a childlike giggle when the tears start to torture my mind, so hard to shed the life of before, to let my soul automatically soar, but I hit hard at the battle that's confronting me, knock down all the roadblocks a stumbling me, throw off all the shackles that are binding me down" "Pete knows all the treacherous blows, the fallen arches and the cramp in the toes, he went to HELP and got some sandals new, and dusty old saunas too" "Reality its not for me, but it makes me laugh, a fantasy world and Disney girls, I'm coming back" "The violence spread down South where Jackson State brothers learned not to say nasty things about Southern policemen's mothers, nothing much was said about it and next to nothing done, the pen is mightier than the sword but no match for a gun" "Unfolding enveloping missiles of soul recall senses sadly, mirage-like soft blue like lanterns below to light the way gladly, whether whistling heaven's clouds disappear, whether whiteness whisks soft shadows away, feel flows, feel goes" "Unbending neverending tablets of time record all the yearning" "I've been lyin' on my back like a freight train off a track, trying to find a job to fit my trade, with the morning sun come round, I'll be covering plenty of ground, and I don't need anybody to pay my aid" "Trees like me weren't meant to live if all this world can give is pollution and slow death, oh now I lay me down, no life's left to be found, there's nothing there for me" "I'm a cork in an ocean, floating over the raging sea, how deep is the ocean? I lost my way" "I'm a rock in a landslide, rolling over the mountainside, hoe deep is the valley? It kills my soul" "I'm a leaf on a windy day, pretty soon I'll be blown away, how long will the wind blow? Until I die" "Diamond necklace plays the pawn, hand in hand some drummed along, to a handsome man and baton, a blind class aristocracy, back through the opera glass you see, the pit and the pendulum dawn columnated ruins domino! Canvass the town and brush the backdrop, are you sleepy?"  "Hung velvet overtaken me, dim chandelier awaken me, to a song dissolved in the dawn, the music halla costly bow, the music - all is list for now, to a muted trumpeter's swan" "Surf's up, aboard a tidal wave, come about hard and join the young and often spring you gave, I heard the word, wonderful thing, a children's song....a children's song have you listened as they play? Their song is love and the children know the way!"

The Beach Boys "Surf's Up" (1971)

Don't Go Near The Water/Long Promised Road/Take A Load Off Your Feet/Disney Girls/Student Demonstration Time//Feel Flows/Lookin' At Tomorrow (A Welfare Song)/A Day In The Life Of A Tree/'Til I Die/Surf's Up

Of all the shifts in the Beach Boys discography, of the deeper lyrical couplets, the more complex chord sequences and the sheer amount of session musicians combining to make a drum sound like a tuba, perhaps the biggest shift for the band's songs is in tone. Even when Brian Wilson finds his once endless horizons confined to the four small walls of his bedroom, he's still buoyant enough to come up with a song like 'Busy Doin' 'Nothin' 'Friends' 'Time To Get Alone' or 'Add Some Music To Your Day' that lift your spirits with an indescribable down-to-the-bones joy. 'Sunflower', the majestic predecessor to 'Surf's Up', may well be the band's happiest album - the band have a new recording contract, a second chance to start their image anew and with all six members of the band pulling strongly and roughly in the same direction. 'Sunflower' is a lot of people's favourite Beach Boys album for one very good reason: it is the single best Beach Boys album (as opposed to the best Beach Boys album written, arranged and produced by Brian Wilson). However at first all that hard work and team togetherness seemed to have very poor rewards: the band were stung by the album's poor sales (a mere #151 on the American charts) and even more stung by the fact that critics simply ignored the album because it had the Beach Boys name on it. Squabbling amongst themselves once more, the band lost a lot of their momentum and their unity, with Brian retreating to bed (three of his four co-writes on this album come from 'old' songs), Mike retreating to a meditation centre in his head (getting just two co-writes and two lead vocals) and Dennis - the powerhouse behind 'Sunflower' - has effectively left the group, writing nothing and appearing on a mere handful of songs leftover from earlier sessions thanks to a hand injury and an aborted solo album (there's no mention of him on the sleeve which unusually has no photos of the band). The Beach Boys are clearly in disarray.

So how on earth did 'Surf's Up' become the best selling Beach Boys studio album of the 1970s? By giving up on the optimistic songs about endless summers and perfect relationships and coming up with arguably the band's most troubled and autobiographical work, that's how. As a result 'Surf's Up' sums up its troubled period of 1971 better than almost every other album out that year. All the songs on this album are unhappy in some sort of a way; typically Beach Boys, the narrators of both 'Long Promised Road' and 'Lookin' For Tomorrow' are imagining a beautiful future, 'the narrator of 'Disney Girls' is fed up of the present and is looking back to a beautiful yesterday and Pete taking care of his feet is added in for somewhat unconvincing comedy relief not quite knowing what day of the week it is, but all the narrators on this album, if asked about their state of mind at the time of singing to us, would admit that life sucks. Even Pete, if we ask him at the exact same time he's just stepped on something sharp. As a result, 'Surf's Up' is the yin to 'Sunflower's brightly cheerful yang, the tears behind the laughter, the frown behind the 'smile' even, with a series of songs full of warnings about the state of the band, the state of politics, the state of the planet, the state of the human condition - and, yes, the state of our feet (of all the two-fer-one CDs that put two Beach Boy records together on the same disc, this combination works the best, the two albums sounding like two halves of the same 'whole'). Even Mike Love, the group's cheerful cheerleader bar none, is reduced to singing a Beach Boys pastiche song about the state of the world's oceans and re-writing the words to 'Riot In Cell Block Nine' to take in references to the shootings at Kent State University and comparing the scene to the hippie festivals in 'People's Park', San Francisco. The years 1969-72 were a tumultuous time and until now the Beach Boys have been largely oblivious to the fact with only Dennis' earlier songs (ironically the one Beach Boy not really a part of this album) coming anywhere close. While most of 'Surf's Up' was being made the band came up with the collective working title 'Landlocked' which would have been perfect for an album where for once the band are avoiding the beach and the inherent sunshine: the seas polluted with water, the streets to the beach filled with riots and the narrators trapped in memories of the past and dreams of the future while scared of the present.

Yet only an album ago we were talking about how 'Sunflower' embodied the natural Beach Boys sunshine more than any album since 'Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!!)' in 1965. So where did such a fundamental shift come from? Well, if any album owes its existence to a band's manager then 'Surf's Up' is former disc jockey Jack Rieley's greatest life achievement. A shadowy figure who sensibly won first the affections of Brian Wilson (turning a sensitive ear to him on Rieley's Los Angeles radio show) and then the rest of the band with an unsolicited 'memo' with a plan to make The Beach Boys both hip and rich again. The band couldn't believe their luck: Brian Wilson never took to strangers in the 1971period as he'd taken to Jack, he was young, he was hip, he was everything the band wanted and his credentials seemed amazing - even though half of them (such as Riley running a TV network named NBC in Puerto Rico) turned out later not to be true. What's more Rieley's demands weren't revolutionary, they just needed someone outside the band's inner circle to suggest them: instead of headlining tours with dwindling audiences, Rieley booked the Beach Boys to be the support act on the Grateful Dead's 1971 tour (the Dead were thrilled to both have them there and have them lower o the bill, making everyone happy); Rieley also concentrated more on the band's European market - though has been in America the Beach Boys were still big draws in Britain with a number one single ('Do It Again') as recently as 18 months ago. Rieley then slowly built up the band's venues bit by bit as word of mouth about the band's sets grew until they first reached the prestigious Whisky-A-Go-Go (home of The Byrds among others) and then had enough of an audience to fill Carnegie Hall (not bad for a band who were making a loss on most gigs they played across 1970).  By the time 'Surf's Up' came out The Beach Boys had a whole new audience  who saw them in a different light to the striped-shirted beachcombers of yester year. All the band had to do now was give the audience what they might have wanted to hear.

Rieley's other big missive to the band was to take the ecology element that had started creeping into their work circa 'Smile' (ie 'Cool Cool Water')  and make it the focal part of their writing. This came more naturally to come of the band than others: Brian pitched whole-heartedly into 'A Day In The Life Of A Tree', his one new song for the album, even if he chickened out of singing lead on the song. Mike Love is enthusiastic too - a lot of his songs have been headed that way anyway thanks to the influence of his time with Maharishi and the 'twist' enables him to sing the sort of oceans-filled imagery of songs he always sang with the Beach Boys anyway (even if it takes Dennis to write the ultimate Beach Boy song on this theme, the title track of 'Pacific Ocean Blues'). However it's Al Jardine who really takes Rieley's advice to heart, inspiring a lifelong series of songs about saving the planet and natural phenomena that really help him find his 'voice' in a band that's already gifted with several strong writing styles. In time this will lead to Jardine's career highlights 'California Saga' and 'Santa Ana Winds' but even his two tentative songs here show are useful stepping stones for the quiet guitarist who, till now, has had to make do with adding bits to other people's songs or singing twee songs about birds at windows. Typically, Carl and Bruce are too busy going their own way to pay much heed to such advice.

Which is just as well because both Beach Boys are going through something of a creative high point. Perhaps Rieley's masterstroke in the whole of his short (three years) period managing the band was to properly encourage and recognise the hard work put in by the youngest Wilson brother. While all five Beach Boys stepped in creatively to some extent when the Brian Wilson well went dry, it wasn't clear who had the unusual combination of the good ears, the patience and the discipline to make a group as polished and harmony-based as The Beach Boys sound as good as they always had. Carl was a natural, despite having no experience other than soaking up his big brother at work and the rest of the band responded better to Carl's gentle nods than they would have done with Mike or Dennis (who left to their own devices would surely have stormed off long before 1971 when the latter finally did - don't worry folks, he'll be back in 1972) or an outsider who didn't 'get' the unusual inter-band relationships between cousins, friends and brothers. However Capitol had been reluctant to change the 'produced by Brian Wilson' tag line that had become a byword for excellence and sophistication long after Brian became incapable on delivering on that promise and even 'Sunflower' features a proud boast that it was 'produced by The Beach Boys' in a show of brotherhood. Rieley also encouraged Carl to have a go at writing songs (his only ones till now have been polishing his brother's song 'Our Sweet Love', possibly while he was singing it in the studio, and the guitar-based surf jam 'Carl's Big Chance'). Carl's first two 'proper' songs set Rieley's Van Dyke Parks-style stream-of-consciousness style to music that's remarkably good for such a beginner. In short, Carl shines on most Beach Boys albums anyway but he positively beams on 'Surf's Up' - an understatedly beautiful, thoughtful album with a big heart and deep thoughts far more in keeping with Carl's personal style than noisier albums like 'Summer Days' and 'Pet Sounds' in the past and 'MIU' and '15 Big Ones' in the future.

Talking of Van Dyke Parks-style lyrics, Rieley's final big development for The Beach Boys in 1971 may be his cleverest move of all. The band had fallen from grace in 1967 not because they were hip and unfashionable and unable to cut it with 'the big boys' as so many people thought following their no-show at the Monterey Pop Festival. 'Smile' was an album way ahead of its times, not behind it and only Brian's crucial loss of confidence and loneliness when Van Dyke Parks had left the project (plus a few too many drugs) had prevented it from seeing the light of day. The world wasn't exactly ready for 'Smile' in 1971 - to be honest it wasn't ready for it in 2003 when Brian finally finished it solo - but word of mouth had been growing among true Beach Boys fans that 'Smile' was something special and that the world would soon see one day when the group got around to releasing it (the two songs added to pad out '20/20' when the band came up short had also helped its reputation no end). The Beach Boys will aim to do just that in 1972 (the plan is to make next album 'Carl and the Passions - So Tough' a double set with 'Smile' before Brian gets scared by too many ghosts and 'Pet Sounds' get re-issued in its place instead).  Rieley has the power no other Beach Boys fan has - he can actually listen back to tapes of the project and one song in particular hits him: 'Surf's Up', in many ways the centre-point of that album (the fact that he writes with something approaching the same intellectual style as Van Duke Parks did is either a happy coincidence or evidence that Rieley had been doing a lot of listening to these tapes). Although unfinished the song is hauntingly powerful and its lyrics of doom and tragedy make a lot more sense in 1971 than in 1966, summing up Brian's own fall from the creative Garden of Eden as well as the world's in general since the sixties. What's more 'Surf's Up' is the perfect title for the 'Beach Boys' Rieley wants to take into the 1970s; the surfing days are over and darker times are here. However Jack hit something of a brick wall: while Brian had responded well to his new manager's conversations and chats, he baulked at the idea of re-using anything from a project that had nearly wiped him out for good. 'Surf's Up', in particular, was a song that was sacred to him and the ghostly lyrics about 'columnated ruins domino' echoed too chillingly with his current predicament for comfort. Brian simply shut down and stopped communicating, effectively ending his involvement in the album, with Carl stepping into the breach to fill in the 'missing parts' of the song so superbly that few fans in 1971 even realised they were listening to a collage. By the time The Beach Boys started work on the coda (slightly altered from Brian's original intentions) Brian's curiosity had overcome his fear and eventually he declared himself happy with the result (although he still hates his original 1966 vocal - recorded hastily for what he thought was a simple demo - to this day; this seems strange given that it's bang on the money for such a simple recording, full of pathos regret and  melancholy - perhaps it's the realness of this demo and all the dark shadows it invokes rather than the pitch and timbre that worried him so much?) The decision to include it at the end of this album was a masterstroke, a recording so powerful that all the people who'd thought the Beach Boys past it suddenly got interested again and all those who had kept the faith over 'Smile' could smugly walk around saying 'I told you so' in between crying bucket loads of tears over their lost youth, a fact already mapped out in song five years earlier.

One other big plus for this album is that famous cover, actually a painting based on a sculpture titled 'End Of The Trail' by James Earle Fraser, of a pioneer slumped over an equally weary horse, the very image of sadness. Perhaps the band were reminded of it by their similar logo for their label 'Brother Records' (which depicts an Indian on his horse, arms outstretched, as if in greeting). 'The End Of The Trail' did indeed sum up how The Beach Boys had been feeling after the poor reception to 'Sunflower' and 'Lookin' At Tomorrow' makes special reference to 'pioneers', struggling in the dirt and mud but dreaming of a brighter future when everything has sorted itself out. That cover was everywhere for a while in 1971 and was a clever move for a band looking to distance themselves from their surfing past (whilst I'm highly fond of the sheer intimacy of it, the 'Beach Boys with family shots' on 'Sunflower', similarly designed to show off the band's deeper maturer selves, doesn't work as 'art' : any teenager interested in the band would have run a mile at the thought of listening to a group old enough to have kids of their own). At least part of the album's success can be born from it (which makes it a mystery why at least the next five Beach Boys studio album covers are so bland and generic - it will take 'LA Light' to add some colour to the Beach Boys' world again and that album does it by hiring 12 painters to illustrate the record).

'Surf's Up's other big hero is engineer Steve Desper. While calling this album The Beach Boys' best engineered record would be too much of an insult to Brian's right hand man in the 1960s Chuck Britz, 'Surf's Up' does have a sparkle and life to it that a lot of other Beach Boys don't possess (if 'Holland' had shone as much as 'Surf's Up' with its even better songs then there's no way The Beach Boys would have lost their Warner Brothers contract in 1973). A lot of the songs on this album are 'Smile-'like in their ability to fit several contrasting sections together: to pull of something like that you don't only need a strong arranger but a strong engineer whose able to get the same sounds over and over again. 'Take A Load Off Your Feet' might be too oddball to be a Beach Boys classic, but the way its arranged - with panning sound effects, stunning block harmonies and unusual instruments draped over the mix like a foot-bath, the recording comes close to sounding the best the Beach Boys ever had.  'Surf's Up' is a busy, frenetic record - surprisingly so given its general downbeat tone - but it's never cluttered (even 'Sunflower' was cluttered occasionally).
So, an album featuring a re-energised band, a gifted manager (for the moment - things go downhill quickly for Jack Rieley by the time of the 'Holland' saga), several strong songs, great engineering and production and finally the five-year-delayed appearance of what's generally regarded as one of the greatest Beach Boy songs of all time begs the question : why isn't 'Surf's Up' one of our original  'core' 101 near-perfect albums? Well, like most of 'Pet Sounds' I as a listener have a real problem with having my emotions tugged in such a firm way. At times 'Surf's Up' is like that television soundtrack that keeps going 'duhn duhn daaaaahn!' every time the baddy shows up or has a violin 'weeping' after every other line of dialogue. This change in Beach Boys personas is such a sudden one that everyone feels the need to point out that this is a 'sad' and 'solemn' album (except for 'Feet' which is an overtly jokey and silly song) that your brain hardly gets a workout; only two albums ago we were trying to come to terms with the patchwork quilt of emotions that was '20/20', an album full of trapdoors, shadows and unexpected glimpses of sunshine. By contrast 'Surf's Up' has the weather raining all the frigging time, with the exceptions of 'Disney Girls' (a technicolour sunshining past too perfect to have ever really been) and 'Feet'. Along the way 'Student Demonstration Time' 'does' angry, 'A Day In The Life Of A Tree' 'does' sad and 'Feel Flows' 'does' weird. The only songs that really sound completely natural are the yearning  'Long Promised Road' and 'Surf's Up' - and when two of the three weirdest songs on the album (along with 'Feel Flows') become the benchmark for normal emotions then you know something is slightly out of kilter.

While none of the songs are truly bad - certainly not to future low standards such as  '15 Big Ones' or 'MIU' standards  - only about half of them are truly worthy of the praise 'Surf's Up' always seems to get from critics then and now. Carl's pair, Bruce's 'Disney Girls', Brian's 'Til I Die' and particularly 'Surf's Up are all sublime, while Al's 'Lookin' At Tomorrow' is a likeable song simply a verse too short to make much of an impact. That leaves the single dodgiest Beach Boys lyric till 'Mekelekikimaka' (or how to say something patronising in Hawaiian - I must admit I can't remember anymore and I'm resisting looking the song up in case it goes round my head again): 'Don't Go Near The Water', which manages to rhyme 'bad with 'sad' and the surely unique rhyme of 'aftermath' and 'bubble bath'. Remember that The Beach Boys were writing powerful pocket vignettes like 'This Whole World' a mere album ago and sigh. As if this wasn't enough the albums also contains the second dodgiest Beach Boys lyric, 'Student Demonstration Time', a re-write of a Leiber-Stoller song that finds Mike Love's heart in the right place but his usual lyrically instinctive brain disengaged (a lot of it doesn't even scan!) 'Take A Load Off Your Feet' would have made a fine comedy B-side but sounds deeply out of place on an album designed to make The Beach Boys seem serious and grown-up and even that excellent arrangement can't make up for the fact that this is a second-strong Beach Boys song, sensibly left off 'Sunflower' in favour of better, deeper material. That just leaves 'A Day In The Life Of A Tree' which is a song right on the balance of pastiche with its doomed church organ and over-dramatic lyrics: so much so that fans have debated for decades now whether Brian and Jack meant it genuinely or as a joke. Chances are it's either your favourite or your least favourite song on the album, although interestingly it tends to be the less-than-devoted Beach Boys fans who hate it the most.

Still, if that last paragraph sounds a little harsh then that's meant as more of a compliment to the other, wonderful albums around 'Surf's Up' that don't get much of a look in. 'Carl and the Passions' has similar extremes of brilliance and incompetence and that album's barely even mentioned these days; 'Holland' is a much tighter, thematical album with an even richer tapestry that only true passionate Beach Boys fans seem to rate highly; finally 'Sunflower' has all the things the better known 'Surf's Up' has in spades, without as many mistakes. What's more, all of these albums have Dennis Wilson's grit to counteract the occasional lapses into bad taste, goonery or impenetrability (or in the case of 'Feet' all three). Frankly I'm just grumpy that 'Surf's Up' did so much better when it's actually one of the weaker Beach Boys albums in a great period and it always saddens me when non-fans (or at least only 1960s Beach Boys fans) gives this album a little taste, decides it's not that great ('Surf's Up' apart, generally speaking) and then passes over all the band's other 70s material because they assume it's worse. All that said, 'Surf's Up' would have to be a pretty poor album otherwise to get less than half marks when it contains a recording as powerful as the title track. The brilliance of 'Long Promised Road' (a candidate for Carl Wilson's greatest ever song) , 'Feel Flows' (perhaps the best song I've ever heard containing lyrics that are actually complete gibberish), 'Disney Girls' (sickly and sentimental but powerful with it) and 'Til I Die' (another of the greatest Brian Wilson songs ever written and tailor made for their soaring harmonies) nudges the album up at least another couple of marks too. Above all else, 'Surf's Up' meant that fans could stop asking the question 'what would a sad Beach Boys album sound like?' which had been on everybody's lips since 'The Lonely Sea' revealed that there was more to the band than having fun in the sun. The answer is lyrical, poetical, sweetly melancholic rather than downright miserable but with a little touch of anger and brittleness, but with a tendency to go over-the-top rather than ply things with subtly. In all, then, Surf's up isn't bad then - in fact by and large it's greats, with a lot of things finally falling into place for the band after an incredibly difficult five years - just don't consider it the high watermark of the Beach Boys canon.

Opening track 'Don't Go Near The Water' sums up both the strengths and weaknesses of 'Surf's Up' in a handy three minute summary. On the one hand it's fascinating to hear The Beach Boys have fun with their own formula, using the beach not as a safe haven but as a place of danger and using their block harmonies not as the voice of angels but as the voice of doom. A better-than-average arrangement also makes this song feel really busy, bouncing from one unrelated section to another with all sorts of electronic effect trickery added on top (the 'underwater guitars' are especially strong) and an 'ah-hum diddy waddah' chant originally part of the 'lengthy' 10 minute version of 'Heroes and Villains' plus a choral section straight out of 'Good Vibrations' - the band have clearly been listening back to a lot of 'Smile' in 1971. There's even a moog synthesiser in there somewhere too, giving the song a feeling that we've gone back to the days when the band were pioneers, not has-beens. Unfortunately, though, the song itself is rather limp. You get the sense that Mike and Al think that writing an ecological statement is a good idea but they don't actually know anything about pollution and ecology (few in the general public did in 1971) so they're simply filling in time until the killer one-line chorus comes in. Mike sounds even more uncomfortable on the lead vocals than he has of late and Al is a touch too convincingly 'crazy' on the manic counter-verses (the others don't do much, although apparently that's Brian playing the unusual dissonant piano chords - a kind of eerie variation on his favoured 'boogie woogie' lines). That's a shame because overall this is exactly the sort of thing the new-look Beach Boys should have been doing. The second verse about 'poison floating out to sea, threatening life on land' is a great inversion of what most people would have been expecting from the first track on a new Beach Boys themes and production-wise this is the most complex we've heard for some time (barring Dennis' songs) - possibly since the heady days of 'Smile'. Timothy White's intriguing sleevenotes for the CD re-issue adds that the band may have been trying to pull of a grand metaphor here for the state of the band and their disappearing career (ie the creative seas that used to be so grand are now 'polluted'); usually I'm all for unlikely autobiographical metaphors (as any long-term reader will know!) but I'm not quite buying this one, even if it does mean the band can unite at the end with a triumphant cry that they will 'all help the water'. I'd love to tell you all jokingly not to go near 'Don't Go Near The Water' but in truth this is a good idea that nearly comes off - it's just a shame that some of the lyrics and especially the rhymes are so awful.

'Long Promised Road' is, at last, the real Carl. He may be singing a torturous lyric from Jack Rieley that lesser singers would have given up on, but you sense that this song's mixture of laidback ease and sudden bursts of adrenalin at life's obstacles is at last close to the 'real' Carl. Like many of brother Brian's songs, the best thing about this song is the way so many disparate sections somehow 'fit' together to make a whole much bigger than the sum of their parts, taking the listener on a journey from being wary of the future, to 'hitting hard' at any of life's obstacles and ending up finally, briefly, at our goal, 'at one' with the Earth. Carl's music manages to be both tough and resilient,  ready to fight but only when necessary (ie when a whacking great key change comes along and the whole ground underneath our feet shifts). Carl was always the band's most reliable vocalist but he excels himself here on a song he truly feels, growing in stature with every push and pull of the song's dynamics and his sudden variation on the howled 'dow-e-wo-wen' in the last verse, hinting at more troubles unspoken, just when you think the song is coming to a safe ending is delicious. Rieley's lyrics, whilst far too busy (sample lyric: 'So hard to lift the jewelled sceptre when the weight turns a smile into a frown')does successfully convey the idea that life is sometimes tough but you always have the capacity to be tougher than you realise (the lines about the difficulties 'shedding the life of before' are the song's real heart and particularly apt for this period in Beach Boys history - no wonder the band felt such a connection with Rieley who clearly shared their hunger for change). The other Beach Boys don't get much to do on this one but when they do appear the effect is mesmerising, block harmonies launching into a backing chorus of 'hit hard hit hard at the battle yeah, knock down knock down all the roadblocks, throw off all the shackles binging me down, down dow-wn down!' that makes them sound like a group of cheerleading spirit guides, willing you on down the road. The song also manages to be just about ambiguous enough: this could be you in the present day (well, 1971) but it could equally be the American pioneer on the album cover, 'planting the seed of reform' in the hope that future generations can nurture these seeds the best way. There's even the single best use of the synthesiser on a Beach Boys recording, way before their use became common (The Who are the other band using the digital sort this early on) and the fact that the band keep it for that glorious moment when the narrator's life goal is finally sought, leaving him misty-eyed and filled with more wonder, is a brilliant idea (again its Steve Desper's brilliant idea, the engineer turning the band on to the new equipment around to use). Overall, yes the lyrics are often fussy bordering on gibberish but 'Long Promised Road' still manages to convey real emotion and it's life journey is one of the greatest of all Beach Boys songs. Another in a series of flop singles (peaking at just #79 in America) 'Long Promised Road' deserved to do much better - its easily the highlight of the album tracks not to be originally taken from 'Smile' and is in fact one of the band's greatest songs of the 1970s. A triumph for the band but specially Carl (who plays everything except the moog - notably there are no drums on the track), the younger Wilson may have been slow adapting to songwriting but when he did take the plunge he had the talent to become one of the band's most gifted of writers, in touch with the band's past but with the band's future in mind too.

'Take A Load Off Your Feet' has a complicated history for such a simple, silly song. When the first version of 'Sunflower' (still titled 'Add Some Music To Your Day') was drawn up Brian Wilson was in productive but frivolous mood. His early songs for the project included the delightfully dotty 'HELP Is On The Way' and 'I Just Got My Pay' as well as that album's 'At My Window' - delightfully childish songs the elder Wilson may well have written for his young daughters as much as his band. Al Jardine was fast becoming the emotional sponge of the band, soaking up the ideas flying round at a particular time and trying to match them and came up with his own daft novelty song, a hymn to feet (Al recalled later that the song had started when his old school friend Gary Winfrey came round to his house and they jokingly decided to write a musical in the vein of the ever-popular 'Hair'; the pair chose feet because Gary's wife was pregnant and finding it painful to walk on her swollen ankles, the writers being intrigued by how much they took their feet for granted). The Beach Boys wouldn't have known it, being Californian, but comedy actor Bernard Bresslaw had already had the same idea in the 1950s, recording his own novelty song 'You Need Feet', a song even dafter than what the band delivers. The group then had fun dressing up the song with all sorts of funny electronic trickery and sound effects (again the band have clearly been listening to 'Smile' sessions, notably 'Workshop' - here Brian hits a water container with a rubber mallet, records his own footsteps and the horn of his new purchase, a Rolls Royce Phantom he never actually drove which can be seen on the inner sleeve of the 'Sunflower' LP; however the most effective sound effect is a simple 'ouch!' from Mike Love when narrator 'Pete' stands on some broken glass, the vocalist returning to his days of 'daft' overdubs on the likes of ';Cassius Love V Sonny Wilson' and 'Beach Boys Party') which at least makes this song sound interesting, even if the lyrics have already palled by the second verse. What's interesting, though, is how involved Brian is with the song, tackling the first verse with such aplomb that it must have fooled more than a few people into thinking this was a Brian Wilson song. The result is a novelty track that would have worked fine on the original 'Sunflower' and fans would have been jumping up and down over had it appeared for the first time on one of the two Beach Boys boxes (the first one is stuffed full with 'Sunflower' outtakes); here as track three on 'Surf's Up' it sounds woefully out of place, like a comedian invited to a dinner with nine philosophers vainly trying to make them all laugh. Few out and out Beach Boys comedy songs have ever worked (see 'County Fair' 'Drive-In' and a good two-thirds of the forthcoming 'Beach Boys Love You'); the best you can say about 'Take A Load Off Your Feet' is that it gets closer to being funny than most.

'Disney Girls' is the best known Bruce Johnston song from his time in the band (his hit for Barry Manilow 'I Write The Songs' is his only solo contender) and surprised more than a few critics who had Bruce pegged as the least prolific member of the band. 'Disney Girls' makes good on the promise shown in 'The Nearest Faraway Place' 'Deirdre' and 'Tears In The Morning', returning to the same 1950s childhood theme but with slightly more polish and originality. While some of the lyrics are confusing (are the 'Disney Girls' of the title the Mickey Mouse 'mouseketeers'? Or is this a more literal interpretation of every Disney heroine from 'Snow White' through to Eva Gabor voicing the 'posh' mother cat in 'The Aristocats', the nearest equivalent film to the 'Surf's Up' period) they successfully invoke the idea of a past golden age that will probably never come again and probably only existed in people's imaginations anyway ('Reality, it's not for me'). We're in a real shift back to the 1950s in 1971, with glam rock reviving the innocence of the age (the very real danger of the 1950s, all Teddy Boys and military service, is left unsaid for now although the punks will recycle a lot of the imagery in about five years' time) - the sense that somehow civilisation took a wrong turning at the crossroads (the 1990s will later do the same with the mid to late 1960s). Interestingly, Bruce gives this song a very specific dating though (1957), which suggests that at least part of this song is based on memory (when Bruce would have been fifteen) - is this perhaps a clouded memory of a first romance, back in the days when love seemed easy and natural and came without responsibilities, arguments and mortgages? Like Carl, Bruce conjures up a dreamy world from his own  laidback melody and with the Beach Boys in disarray chooses to record most of the instruments himself (playing the keyboards, mandolin and a pioneering use of the moog to play the 'bass line' - the new romantics will be full of this idea but not for another few years yet), with Ed Carter adding the guitar and Dennis' collaborator Darryl Dragon (later the one half of the Captain and Tennille) on drums. The result is a song that borders on the sickly sweet and sentimental (I could have done without the flute flourish) but just about gets by thanks to some typically gorgeous block Beach Boys harmonies and the fact that, unlike Bruce's other songs, there's a resolution of sorts here: the narrator wakes up in the last verse to find his dreams have become real and his perfect imaginary girl is now real; the twist being that he then sets off an entire new set of 'dreams' for the future ('It'll be a peaceful life, with a forever wife and a kid some day' - Bruce is the only Beach Boy without children to pose with on the cover of 'Sunflower', apart from Dennis who had already lost touch with most of his - a fact that may well have hit the sensitive Johnston when looking back at the proofs). A quiet triumph, this song has been covered by a wider and more varied selection of artists than almost any other Beach Boy track (including fellow AAA star Art Garfunkel who records a nice version of this song on his 1975 'Breakaway' album). Alas the bad news is that this song's success tempts Bruce away from the band and into a solo career that never quite happens and by the time he's back with the Beach Boys (in 1979) he's treated more like a hired hand than a writer their equal.

Very unusually, it's Mike Love who kicks 'Disney Girls' imaginary supports away from under her, reminding the world of the turbulent reality of 1971's America. 'Student Demonstration Time' is a good example of a song with its heart in the right place (commenting on the peak period of disobedience and protest, particularly on college campuses) that gets it all so fundamentally wrong. Mike is as fascinated yet horrified as anyone would have been at the time, watching the violence on television gradually edge nearer and nearer California, but his way of reacting to the song the horror is not to fan the flames or condemn the whole scene; instead Mike warns people 'like him' to 'stay away when there's a riot going on' (and, its hinted, pretend the whole thing isn't happening). The fact that Mike sets his loosely political lyrics to an already existing song (Leiber and Stoller's 'Riot In Cell Block Nine' - not for the first or last time the song is close enough for the original writers to receive a co-credit and half the royalties on the track) that for some of the youngsters causing 'trouble' would have been the music of their parents (if they had children young, anyway) shows just how out of touch The Beach Boys still were. Like 'Don't Go Near The Water' this is the sound of a band trying to do all the ecology and contemporary politics their new manager has asked of them, but never quite understanding the brief. Instead of pitching himself on one side or the other, Mike takes the easy way out and simply lists the facts, not his opinions, mentioning  the Berkley Free Speech Movement protest of 1964 (in response to a decision to band free speech at the Berkley, California University), May 1969's 'People's Park' again in Berkley (created by students for students to use and a natural meeting point for political rallies), June 1970 riots in Isla Vista, California (a riot against curfews for teenagers), the Jackson State Killings (where students at a Mississippi University were shot for protesting against Vietnam) and the May 1970 Kent State shootings (when a group of Ohio students were shot on Nixon's orders during an anti-Vietnam rally; the same event that inspired CSNY's 'Ohio'). However while the song makes clear that 'there's a riot going on' and people aren't happy, there's no sense that Love has learnt anything more than from watching the news - there's no sense that an evil regime is being overthrown, no sense that people should be allowed freedom of speech without the troops being sent in, just the thought that America is out of control. The decision to have Mike singing as if through a megaphone throughout, while a nice idea, doesn't work either: Love sounds more like the news reporter watching it happen than a man at the heart of the action. The result divided fans on release - some loved the fact that the Beach Boys had finally got 'political' while others felt the song was so left-field and clumsy for The Beach Boys that it ruined the album for them (in a rare case of standing up to his cousin Brian reportedly hated this song and tried to have it taken off the album; the song clearly still bothered him in 1990 when the CD sleevenotes were being written). As for me, I'm pleased that the Beach Boys were brave enough to risk their reputation and try something like this, but this song is merely secondhand emotion tacked onto a song that was already 12 years old and it too quickly runs out of interesting things to say. Were it not for another strong album production (with bullets and sirens whizzing past your ears throughout), most fans then and now probably wouldn't have given it the time of day.

Onto side two and 'Feel Flows' is effectively 'Long Promised Road' part two, an even more elaborate Carl Wilson-Jack Rieley collaboration that takes intellectual mysticism to new levels. Again Carl virtually plays solo and the other Beach Boys only appear briefly in a group chorus that flits in and out of the song to beautiful effect. Rieley's lyrics verge even more on the impenetrable at times ('encasing all embracing wreath of repose') but occasionally hit on a lyric that is genuinely poetic and multi-faceted ('Unbending never-ending tablets of time record all the yearning'). Together with the tick-tock rhythm of the percussion-heavy backing track, a heavier than normal guitar solo smothered in grungy feedback and the exotic treatment on Carl's voice (which sounds revolutionary now but must have sounded other-worldly in 1971) the pair just about get away with it, Carl sounding like a mystical prophet. In as much as this song makes any sense the idea of expanding on Brian's description of this sudden musical insights as his 'feels' is a good one, the song hinting that real emotion is such a deep and powerful feeling that at times it seems like it comes from somewhere 'else'. The hint that somewhere deep in all of this feeling there is a 'path', a warm glowing light that brings us to our senses, is less well presented but nevertheless even these thoughts chime with 1971-period philosophy (where an 'all appearing message divine' sometime in the future will 'ease the burning' and life becomes more readily understood. The riveting middle section where all hell breaks loose (Carl's guitar slicing through the song's mysticism before being partnered by floating Moody Blues-ish flutes and a demented saxophone part) is particularly strong, lasting a full 75 seconds and really making the listener feel as if they've been on a journey to some dark mysterious inner world. Overall, then, 'Feel Flows' is a flawed song that just about gets by thanks to an exotic backing track that manages to say more than the lyrics ever can, with Carl turning in another delicious vocal (treated with 'backwards echo' added afterwards that gives his voice the feeling its being pulled this way and that). 'Feel Flows' is another example of just how strong the natural Beach Boys sound can be with a more contemporary setting (and again all credit to Carl for creating it more or less on his own) and is another album highlight. The song has cropped up in modern popular culture a couple of times since - The Super Furry Animals, longterm Beach Boys fans, using it on their CD compilation 'Under The Influence' and the recording does indeed sound like many of their rich tapestries of sound, while Madonna lifted a sample of the bass and guitar part from the song's middle section for her own song 'Swim', although shockingly Carl doesn't get a credit for it.

'Lookin' At Tomorrow (A Welfare Song)' is another example of where The Beach Boys sound could have gone, this time largely courtesy of Al Jardine who plays nearly everything on this understated, muted composition. Al's voice and strummed guitar, both treated with echo and phasing, sounds delightfully eerie and the sudden full-quality appearances of other sounds 'dropped' into the song (from the band's vocals, to a bass part, to shining synthesisers) really catch the ear, sounding like the track slowly pulling into focus. The narrator is unemployed and restless, 'like a freight train off a track' as one memorable metaphor puts it, dreaming of the future when he can afford to eat and he won't 'need nobody to pay my aid'. The first verse could have been recorded at any time, but the second (and the song's subtitle) makes it clear that this is one of America's settlers, frustrated at having travelled so far for a new life only to find it as bad as the old one, again harking back to the album cover and weary pioneer trudging slowly home. Alas this promising song then ends not with a third verse that makes good on the promise of a 'better tomorrow' or comes up short with the fact that it will never happen but a simple wordless 'bah-bah-bah-bah-bah-bah' scat sung variation on the song's main verse. The CD sleeve-notes bill this song as a 'coda' to 'Long Promised Road, with the pioneer busted in his starry-eyed ambitions', which does make a kind of sense (and would have made even more had the songs been placed next to each other), but there's no actual evidence to link the two other than a feeling of short term pessimism and long term optimism. That's an awful shame because this low key composition desperately needs something more to it to make it a really good rather than merely good - certainly a big improvement on 'Take A Load Off Your Feet', Jardine's other collaboration with Gary Winfrey.

'A Day In The Life Of A Tree' begins a trio of Brian Wilson songs with his latest song - and the last to fully take up his attention, given that 'Marcella' 'Sail On Sailor' and 'Funky Pretty' were all more or less finished off by the rest of the band and/or manager. Rieley's discussions with Brian about the importance of conservation clearly struck a chord with a writer who was always sensitive to the needs of others. Brian's imagination even allowed him to 'feel' the pain of the planet in the form of a tree - actually Rieley's suggestion as a useful metaphor for passing on the melancholy of a planet once rich with promise and now ruined by greed. Brian clearly picked up on the 'sermon' feel of Jack's words and turned this ecological protest song into a hymn, based around simple organ chords that give the feeling of a tree 'rooted' in our ancient past. Brian was more enthusiastic about this song than any he'd written for ages, reportedly learning the first verse off by heart (no mean feat for his poor addled brain in 1971) and dancing round the studio singing it - but when he came to recording what was intended to be his main non-Smile lead of the record he figured he was having problems cutting it and refused to sing. Instead he coaxed Rieley - on hand to see how his composition was going - to sing a 'guide vocal' for him and without his knowledge used it as the final master. The result is a curious mixture: while heartfelt the song is undeniably childish and while a Brian Wilson vocal might have offered just the right childlike quality (see most of the charming 'Friends' and the rather less charming 'Beach Boys Love You'), Rieley sounds too much of a 'grown-up' to be indulging in such a nakedly empty song. Unlike some Beach Boys I'd never claim that 'A Day In The Life Of Tree' is an awful song or even an awful recording - but it does feel like an unfinished demo from a school play rather than the grand statement of the album the band clearly hoped it would be. The song only really comes alive with the glorious finale, where lots of glorious Beach Boys harmonies criss-cross over the top and really do sound like some second chance has just been granted (interestingly Al Jardine fits this track far better than he does his own 'Take A Load Off Your Feet' - perhaps the band should have got him to re-record the full vocal?)

'Til' I Die', however, is a pure carat gold masterclass of a song. Brian had had the song a while - perhaps as early as 1969, more likely from his creative burst of 1970 - but The Beach Boys had passed over it, feeling that this tale about being an insignificant speck in the vastness of human life had no place on a feelgood Beach Boys record. A lot of the 'rumours' about this song have spread because of the single best passage in Brian's autobiography 'Wouldn't It Be Nice?', recalling a beach trip he took late at night where he saw the vastness of space and wrote about how empty his life seemed, even thinking about attempting suicide until a voice in his head told him how there was 'no music' in death and he'd better go back inside. Brian then talks about spending an awful lot of time crafting this song - more than any since 1969 - only for the band to crush his spirit, cal it 'depressing' and refuse to release it. The fact that the song has appeared intact on just about every Beach Boys compilation eligible to include it (and that it appeared on the Surf's Up' album over more happy-go-lucky 'Sunflower' outtakes featuring Brian) suggests that yet again the gist of Brian's dubious autobiography (ghost-written by his therapist Eugene Landy) is right but the facts are wrong: The Beach Boys were eager to include it and put together the single best group performance on the record, all the band shining on a near capella track that ends in a haunting vocal round that lasts nearly a full minute. It could be that the song was 'delayed' because it didn't fit the overall happy theme of 'Sunflower' but that this song inspired the far more dramatic downbeat mood of 'Surf's Up'. Whatever the cause, this is a remarkable composition, again twisting the usual Beach Boys themes of the beach as a place of safety and joy and the sun as a golden glow of fortune by having three verses imagine in turn Brian's narrator as a cork bobbing helplessly up and down on life's oceans, a rock sliding painfully down a mountainside and a leaf being blown around on a 'windy day'. The first storm ever seen in The Beach Boys' perennially sunny Californian landscapes, 'Til I Die' also conjures up the sheer size of the backdrop musically: the Beach Boys sound locked together in a tiny corner in the middle of the sonic spectrum, trapped against their will. All the usual Beach Boys elements are here: the harmonies, the boogie woogie chord sequences and Brian's childlike voice at the heart of it all (or, possibly, Al Jardine doing an amazing impression of Brian's childlike voice), but everything is inverted: this isn't fun fun fun, this is misery misery misery, the narrator lost in a world he doesn't understand and unable to contemplate living in it anymore. Only those soaring harmonies, with Carl and Mike (allegedly the one who hated the song) outdoing themselves offers to put the song right, stretching up to the skies on some of the best harmonies the band ever arranged. The result is a masterpiece of a song, staggeringly brave for a band known for their summer sunshine and evidence of the darker shadows following the Beach Boys around by 1971.The only negative point you could make about the song - that at three verses, three minutes and no choruses or middle eights the song is too short to be as epic as it wants to be - was answered delightfully by an alternate mix made by Steve Desper unknown to the band, which built up the song layer by layer and instrument by instrument before cycling back round with the vocals placed even higher, doubling the running time. While unofficial, many fans now rate this mix as better than the original album version - you can hear it for yourself as part of the band's 1998 rarities set 'Endless Harmony'.

Only a totally magical song could possibly follow 'Til I Die' - but luckily 'Surf's Up' is that song. We've Already written about this song twice on this website (for Brian's solo version of 'Smile' in 2003 and the Beach Boys' original heard on the 'Smile Sessions' set in 2011). This version is a hybrid of both arrangements, Carl taking it upon himself to re-assemble the opening section from memory and half-finished tapes before seguing neatly into Brian's naked demo of the song before culminating in a  marvellous sequence of cascading harmonies taken from what was originally another 'Smile' song entirely, 'Child Is Father To The Man'. The result is a patchwork quilt that shouldn't work but does, Carl's gentle parental vocals gradually getting younger and younger on a tale of corruption and collapse before ending up at Brian's innocent vocal from five years before and the closing lines that 'the children's song is love and the children know the way'. 'Surf's Up' is a special song amongst Beach Boys fans for so many reasons: the melody line is both haunting and beautiful all at the same time, Van Dyke Parks' lyrics stretch the metaphor to breaking point but are filled with instant visual images that say a great deal about the natural ebb and flow of the universe ('Surf's Up' isn't all that far removed from 'Feel Flows' after all) and the Beach Boys' performance is stunning, even Brian's vocal on the demo which he was adamant the band shouldn't have used. What's eerie - and what particularly put Brian off working on the song - was how accurately 'Surf's Up' summed up his slump in form. 'Are you sleepy, brother John?' sings a younger Brian to his older self, who'd already taken to bed for many long years, with the Beach Boys' success and his creative prowess now replaced by a 'dim chandelier', a light source now too low for the grand surroundings. 'Columnated ruins domino', with one bad experience turning into another in a vicious cycle Brian couldn't escape from, could have been his signature tune of 1971, despite being written in 1966. The perfect finale to an album all about the darker, more unpleasant side to life, the timing was another masterstroke, stoking even more interest in a project dismissed at the time as 'unworkable'. What a shame, then, that the demons of 'Smile' were still too close for Brian's comfort; had he handed his pet project over to Carl to finish in 1971 it might not have sounded like it should have done, but like this re-recording 'Smile' would still have been sensitively handled and ended up sounding amazing. On any album 'Surf's Up' would have been the highlight, but here the song is the perfect ending to an album all about tragedy.

Overall, then, 'Surf's Up' is a good, strong album with the last two songs particularly among the top ten greatest recordings the Beach Boys ever made. The album largely deserved its success with the day's counterculture and offered the band a way to enhance their sound to a new era without getting rid of any of the factors that had always made the band so special. The problem is that 'Surf's Up' isn't one of the band's more consistent albums - there's a good three songs that should never have been released and another couple that while OK are nowhere near the high standards set by the rest of the album. In short, 'Surf's Up' deserved the success this album got, but the consistent 'Sunflower' deserved that success even more. However far from the surf being up, I think most fans who continued to listen to the band's records past 'Smile' recognise this album and this period as some sort of high-water mark, from a time when the tide was still very much in and there was still a major musical role for The Beach Boys still to play. Overall rating - 7/10

Other Beach Boys review from this site you might be interested in reading (some of which have been newly revised!):





'Surfin' USA' (1963) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-beach-boys-surfin-usa-1963.html

'Surfer Girl' (1963) http://www.alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/the-beach-boys-surfer-girl-1963.html

'Little Deuce Coupe' (1963) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.nl/2016/09/the-beach-boys-little-deuce-coupe-1963.html

'Shut Down Volume Two' (1964) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/the-beach-boys-shut-down-volume-two-1964.html

‘All Summer Long’ (1964) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/the-beach-boys-all-summer-long-1964.html

'Beach Boys Christmas' (1964) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/xmas-bumper-issue-revised-beach-boys.html

'Today' (1965) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/the-beach-boys-today-1965.html

'Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!!!!!!!) (1965)
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/news-views-and-music-issue-65-beach.html

'Party!' (1965) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/the-beach-boys-party-1965.html

'Pet Sounds' (1966) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2016/12/the-beach-boys-pet-sounds-1966.html


'Surf's Up' (1971) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/the-beach-boys-surfs-up-1971-album.html


’15 Big Ones’ (1976) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/the-beach-boys-15-big-ones-1976.html

'Love You' (1977) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2016/07/the-beach-boys-love-you-1977.html

'Pacific Ocean Blue' (Dennis Wilson solo) (1977)
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/news-views-and-music-issue-97-dennis.html

'Merry Xmas From The Beach Boys!' (Unreleased) (1977)
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/news-views-and-music-issue-126-merry.html

'M.I.U Album' (1978) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/the-beach-boys-miu-album-1978.html

'L.A.Light Album' (1979)
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2008/07/review-75-beach-boys-la-light-album.html

'Keeping The Summer Alive' (1980) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/the-beach-boys-keeping-summer-alive-1980.html

'The Beach Boys' (1985) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/the-beach-boys-1985.html

'Still Cruisin' (1989) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2016/10/the-beach-boys-still-cruisin-1989.html

'Summer In Paradise' (1992) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/the-beach-boys-summer-in-paradise-1992.html

'Smile' (Brian Wilson solo) (2004) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2008_06_29_archive.html

'That Lucky Old Sun' (Brian Wilson solo) (2008)
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2010/03/news-views-and-music-issue-55-brian.html

'Smile Sessions' (band outtakes)(2011)  
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/news-views-and-music-issue-142-beach.html

'That's Why God Made The Radio' (2012) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/the-beach-boys-thats-why-god-made-radio.html

The Best Unreleased Beach Boys Recordings  http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/the-beach-boys-unreleased-songs-top.html

A Complete (ish) Guide To The Beach Boys' Surviving TV Clips http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/the-beach-boys-complete-ish-guide-to.html

Solo/Live/Compilation/Rarities Albums Part One 1962-86 http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/beach-boys-sololivecompilationunrelease.html

Solo/Live/Compilation/Rarities Albums Part Two 1988-2014 http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/beach-boys-sololivecompilationunrelease_25.html

Non-Album Songs Part One 1962-1969 http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/beach-boys-non-album-songs-part-one.html

Non-Album Songs Part Two 1970-2012 http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/beach-boys-non-album-songs-part-two.html

Essay: The Beach Boys and The American Dream https://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/the-beach-boys-essay-american.html
Five Landmark Concerts and Three Key Cover Versions https://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/the-beach-boys-five-landmark-concerts.html

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

The Beach Boys recorded a lot of great TV footage - as well as a bit of ghastly footage  - and all of it is here in our 'complete guide to the existing TV footage' volume one! 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. I'd love to be able to go back in a time machine and tell the future us what we're missing, but I can't, so this is a guide to what is known to exist rather than everything the Beach Boys ever recorded. 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 so we might well be missing some obscure 5 am version of [385] 'Kokomo' during an appearance on a Scandinavian satellite channel or something. 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 on this list (although three UK documentaries yet to make it onto DVD have been included). So what do we have? 42 clips of varying quality both TV-wise and performance wise, arranged in the best chronological order we can manage (with dates where known), with the hope that any readers out there will be able to fill in any gaps. 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 or direct at  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9561D1E6678744B8 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 ([8] ‘Surfin’ Safari’ US TV, October? 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 state'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 fourteen! 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 ([23] ‘Surfin’ USA’ [41] ‘In My Room’  [96] ‘The Things We Did Last Summer’, US TV, September 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', a preview of  'In My Room' that's positively gorgeous 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 ([40a]  ‘Little Deuce Coupe’ [41] ‘In My Room’ [48] ‘Be True To Your School’ [35] ‘Surfer Girl’ US Concert, October 1963)
Alas only sound exists from this recording featuring the Dave Marks-era line-up 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 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 [41] 'In My Room' off a treat and Brian adds a lovely 'oo-we-oo' countermelody over the end of [48] '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 [23] 'Surfin' USA' they decide to opt for [35] '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 ([60] ‘Don’t Worry Baby’  US TV, April 1964)
The Beach Boys, now with Al Jardine back in the group, still look distinctly uncomfortable miming to their records. [60] '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 whose the boss who determines what the band do ('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' as Americans 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 (neatly side-stepping the fact that four of the band hate it). Finally Al Jardine gets the name of the album wrong and gives it as 'Fun Fun Fun', rather shocking Dick Clark who knows that it’s actually 'Shut Down Volume Two' (to be fair he probably thought he was being asked about the current single!) This fascinating early clip is at the moment unavailable anywhere except Youtube
5) Steve Allen Hour ([23] ‘Surfin’ USA’ [59a] ‘Fun Fun Fun’ US TV ?/1964)
Remember all those weird names they use for wrestling moves. Did you ever wonder where they came from? Most were from Steve Allen, a TV presenter who started out as a sports reporter before turning to a more variety based format and becoming the first ever host of the long running American series ‘The Tonight Show’. The Beach Boys are plugging their album ‘Shut Down Volume Two’ and perform two songs – a tight ‘Surfin’ USA’ and a very ragged version of their latest single Fun Fun Fun (with what sounds like Mike singing live and Dennis really thumping the drums but everyone else on tape) that comes to a rather sudden full stop. I bet it was more entertaining than the other guest on the show anyway: Samuel Kling, the author of ‘The Complete Guide To Divorce’!
6) Ed Sullivan Show #1 ([71a] ‘I Get Around’ [77] ‘Wendy’ US TV, September 1964)
It seems a bit rich that homegrown talent The Beach Boys had to wait until seven months after The Beatles for their first appearance on America’s premiere music programme. At least Ed (or at any rate one of his stage-hands) has provided a car, though it seems unlikely any of The Beach Boys would have driven such a dated looking jalopy for real. The band are visibly nervous playing before their biggest audience yet and start their latest single in a very wonky manner indeed before picking up by the time they make the first chorus. By the end they’re really getting into it, pummelled by Denny’s drums. ‘Wendy’ is an unusual song to perform and opens with an extended funky ve3rsion of Carl’s opening guitar part shot in close-up. The band clearly aren’t as comfortable with this song, which might be why Mike audibly sings along with the record. For some odd reason the camera spends an age on each Beach Boy in turn, giving the Wilson boys so many close-ups mum Andre must have been thrilled at home.
 7) Ready Steady Go! ([71] ‘I Get Around’ [101] ‘When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)’, UK TV, November 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 [71] 'I Get Around' and sensitive reading of their latest single of the day [101] 'When I Grow Up (To Be A Man')', although the band still look incredibly young here incidentally despite their song about aging! 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!)
8) Shindig! #1 ([103] ‘Dance Dance Dance’ ‘Monster Mash’ [124] ‘Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow’ ‘Johnny B Goode’ [83] ‘Little Saint Nick’ [89] ‘We Three Kings Of Orient Are’ US TV, December 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' and were releasing so much material back then they effectively did three promotions in one: 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 they 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.
9) The TAMI Show ([23] ‘Surfin’ USA’ [71] ‘I Get Around’ [35] ‘Surfer Girl’ [103] ‘Dance Dance Dance’ US TV, December 1964)
‘The TAMI Show’ is a film that was sent out to theatres but worked as a sort of variety show for fans who couldn’t get to all the concerts. The Beach Boys play in front of a ‘real’ audience that could be ‘you’ and reportedly most girls screamed in the cinema as loudly as they did at the shows. The Beach Boys turn in some of their better performances of the period here because they’re genuinely playing ‘live’ for once and really going for it, breathlessly playing for some nine minutes in total that fly by in a sea of harmonies and crashing cymbals. The band’s old friends/rivals Jan and Dean were ‘hosts’ for the show, while The Beach Boys shifted their song ‘Surfin USA’ to the start of their set for a change – perhaps because they were immediately followed by Chuck Berry (and the ‘steal’ from ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’ might not seem quite so obvious!) Nowadays most people have forgotten this film, which is best known in collecting circles for its quite dreadful theme song, which makes the colossal mistake of stating that The Rolling Stones are from Liverpool not London! (Someone should have been shot for that one!) The Wrecking Crew also appear, not long after they started substituting for The Beach Boys on their own records.
 10) The Girls On The Beach ([79] ‘The Girls On The Beach’, Film, April 1965)
The Beatles had ‘A Hard Day’s Night’. The Monkees had ‘HEAD’. And The Beach Boys had this cash-in, a typical period American romp where some girls have to raise some money to save their college sorority house from extinction. Oh no! I mean, they might have to move to another one and make new friends! It’s not exactly taxing on them as they set about winning beauty pageants and you suspect the film took less time to write than it did to watch. It all gets a bit odd by the end when the girls pretend that they have hired The Beatles for their talent show – hmm, I wonder if the managers tried to get the fab four first before settling for the fab five? It seems an odd move today, like hiring Blur for a film that keeps praising Oasis. For The Beach Boys, though, being part of a film was a big deal at the time and they sing the ‘theme song’ with gusto, appearing in front of a mocked-up backdrop as if they’re performing at the beach though really they’re miming, sorry performing, at a club. They’re completely upstaged by the cast’s performance of their original song ‘I Want To Marry A Beatle’ (chorus: ‘One is great but we’ve rather have two, yeah yeah yeah!’)
11) Shindig! #2 ([59] ‘Fun Fun Fun’ [102] ‘Help Me Rhonda’ [98] ‘Do You Wanna Dance?’, US TV, April 1965)
Shindig appearance number two is a bit more 'traditional': five songs are performed, three of them hit singles ([59] 'Fun Fun Fun' [102] 'Help Me, Rhonda' and a mimed [98] 'Do You Wanna Dance?', perhaps to allow Dennis to sing without worrying about the drums) plus a cover of Four Freshman song [196] '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 a) a post-breakdown TV clip and b) one of the few early Beach Boys TV appearances without him singing lead anywhere (this is the earliest footage we have of him post-December 1964  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 the drummer's 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).
12) The Monkey’s Uncle (Film, August 1965)
The Beach Boys’ second film wasn’t exactly ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ either. In this goody-two-shoes live action Disney Film, Annette Funicello and her brother own a pet monkey and attend a school in need of money. They get told that they will get a large donation from a mad professor if they help him build a machine that can fly (they don’t need The Beach Boys, they need Wings and The Monkees!) The Beach Boys turn up at a fundraising event and look deeply uncomfortable, especially as the song they’re singing (which really is named ‘The Monkey’s Uncle’) isn’t by them but by Disney regulars The Sherman Brothers (who did ‘Mary Poppins’ amongst others). The result makes for uncomfortable viewing with Mike already defining the definition of ‘dad dancing’. Altogether now: ‘What a nutty family tree, a girl, a bride, a chimpanzee!’
13) Jack Benny Hour ([131] ‘Barbara Ann’ [115] ‘California Girls’ US TV, November 1965)
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 it's 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. What has survived is a much repeated clip of the band, in glorious technicolour, charming their way through California Girls while surrounded by exotic dancers (so much so that Dennis is having too much ogling to play the drums!) The end of the song though is interrupted by the unusual comic pairing of an aging Benny and Bob Hope dressed in surfing gear asking to ‘hang ten’. Brian refers to them as ‘some senior citizen dropouts’ in a sketch that’s actually quite funny before they show off their ‘beach buggy’ (made out of a shopping trolley) and claim to have had their best surfing experience ‘in a lake’ (never mind the waves!) Interestingly Mike is by far the most comfortable at this sort of thing and his comic timing is spot on – Brian looks terrified. 
14) Andy Williams Show ([74] ‘Little Honda’ US TV, ?/1966)
Crooner Andy William's TV show was just entering its fourth 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 [74] '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 the host looks deeply uncomfortable you have to say 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.
15) [144] 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 Carl 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.
16) [171] 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.
17) [167] 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?
18) Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution (April 1967)
This clip is a good approximation of just what a peak of music we lost, with Brian appearing solo as a guest on a programme 'West Side Story' composer Leonard Bernstein bravely put together to show 'mums and dads' not all hippies were scary. Bernstein praised The Beatles and a number of safer, asexual bands of the era but reserved special praise for 'our era's Beethoven' Brian Wilson. This clip, shot in November 1966, proves his point: Brian's working on an early version of [161] 'Surf's Up# and even shortened and without any overdubs or the 'Child Is The Father...'coda it's haunting stuff. Brian seems possessed, lost in the music as each line is dragged from his soul and his performance - the last caught on film before he takes to his bed -  is stunning, doing much to spread the 'Smile' myth. Especially given that the 1971 re-recording features Brian's lead vocal from this performance tacked onto the second half. Sadly still not officially available complete, although bits crop up on Beach Boys documentaries such as 'Endless Harmony' (1998).
19) Ed Sullivan Show ([171] ‘Good Vibrations’ US TV, October 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 though!) 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 now Brian is in bed 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. 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.
20) [199] 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 at the time and is caught off-guard! 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'.
21) Beat Club ([23] ‘Surfin USA’ [115] ‘California Girls’ [216] ‘Do It Again’ German TV, December 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.
22) [217] I Can Hear Music (Music Video 1969)
Aww, Carl looks so cute in this video, the first real music promo that The Beach Boys put together on his first real song ‘in charge’ of The Beach Boys’ legacy. You don’t get to see much in this clip except the band smiling and singing along, but after all the difficult late period 1960s it’s just good to see The Beach Boys at peace again.
23) Unknown ([226] ‘Break Away’, 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). This clip has been repeated on various clip shows but has not been released yet commercially.
24) Kraft Music Hall ([115] ‘California Girls’, German TV, February 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 - it's the one where the band perform [115] 'California Girls' while standing on a set that looks a little like the one from 1980s 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.
25) Mike Douglas Show #1 ([226] ‘Break Away’ [227] ‘Celebrate The News’ [217] ‘I Can Hear Music’ [225] ‘Never Learn Not To Love’ US TV, April 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, ev-uh!') 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 Douglas talks about the floods in California (the band, only recently returned to the USA, don't have a clue what he means). The host 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 instead. 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 at this time). 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.
26)  Olympia Concert (Live in France, June 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' with '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' and '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'  - 'This is one of my favourite songs...because I sing it!' (perhaps a dig at the Carl-friendly setlist in 1969?), Mike jokes 'its' nice to be in Madrid...whoops sorry, this is France!', 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', introduces 'Break Away' by saying 'And Uncle Murry wrote it! Oh no - ssshh - no he didn't (Murry 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 vocal-only '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 (Al sensibly sits this one out!) Oddly Dennis doesn't get a vocal or even a close-up after dominating the band just months before and sticks to his drums.  We only have four full Beach Boys concerts on film and apart from ‘The Lost Concert’ 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.
27) 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 'Endless Harmony' where they accompanied the first release of [232] 'Loop De Loop Flip Flop Lying In An Aeroplane'.
28) Don’t Go Near The Water (Music Video 1971)
In comes the ‘mature’ Beach Boys look on a music video that did a lot to restore faith in the band as a ‘ecological protest’ kind of band. Interestingly this is the first time in this list that The Beach Boys have been anywhere near ‘actual’ water, performing on a pier and looking freezing cold. Brian isn’t here but new boys Ricki and Blondie are, all gathered round in a circle and looking very much like they belong. Most of the band are bearded by now (only Dennis and the two new boys aren’t) and they are all wearing thick heavy coats (Carl at the back even has a bobble hat on!) a million miles away from their usual summer sunshine vibe. None of this can rescue how dumb some of the song’s rhymes are though and Mike and Al look deeply embarrassed at times. One thing to note: the final note on Als’ seque4nce ‘beginning with me, beginning with a…’ is given over to Bl,ondie to sing for the ‘yooooou!’ part. Is this just for the video or is it like that on the record too? I can’t tell!
29) Mike Douglas Show #2 ([169] ‘Cool Cool Water’, US TV, ?/1971)
The Beach Boys' second appearance on the Mike Douglas Show is deeply unusual in that the band play [169] 'Cool, Cool Water' for about the only time after making the record (take your pick between 1966 and 1970) - it's not even on the album they're trying to plug on this show ('Surf's Up).The band should 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.
30) David Frost Show ([243] ‘Forever’ [164] ‘Vega-Tables’ UK TV, May 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 this year (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.
31) ‘Good Vibrations From Central Park’ (US Concert, August/1971)
‘Dennis, you made it!’ yells Mike in genuine surprise at the start of this celebratory show. By now The Beach Boys’ stock is rising again and performing a televised free show from Central Park, in the manner of a Grateful Dead or Jefferson Airplane, is giving their reputation no harm at all. Making the most of this second chance, the band’s setlist is notably low on their poppy striped shirt stuff for a change and includes some really technically challenging songs: the full line-up is [153] ‘Heroes and Villains’ (with Al sounding good backed by a horn section and it even has the ‘Bicycle Rider’ theme reinserted from ‘Smile’!), a bizarre cover of a song they did on stage with The Grateful Dead named ‘Okie In Musogee’ by Merle Haggard, a fun [71] ‘I Get Around’, a sweet [243] ‘Forever’ where Dennis has a real crack in his voice but is still very much together for now (on-off wife Barbara is spotted from the audience at one point and looks as if she’s trying not to cry) and a noisy and messy [240] ‘It’s About Time’ where only Carl sounds as if he knows what he’s doing. The result is a fun highlights show – it would be great to see the whole show released on something official one day.
32) Live In London (UK Concert, ?/1972)
A year later and The Beach Boys are back in Blighty and feeling bitey! They’ve put most of their biggest songs back in the setlists again but don’t seem to remember them too well (it’s all that meditation!) Only a nine minute segment seems to exist and if these are the highlights they make you wonder what the rest was like! Mike forgets the words in a couple of places on opener [216] ‘Do It Again’ and a raucous [178] ‘Wild Honey’ with Blondie on lead is a little too messy even by this song’s standards. Elton John then guests for a version of [102] ‘Help Me Rhonda’ that, uniquely, has Carl on lead and actually sounds very much in Elton’s style. No wonder the latter was such a big fan of the ‘Carl and the Passions’ album as he seems to be really enjoying the sound of The Beach Boys in this period! Overall, though, it’s something of a scrappy show and a definite step backwards from the year before.
33) Old Grey Whistle Test ([260] ‘You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone’, UK TV, May 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 of 'A Mess Of Help' - 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, Brian is absent and Dennis (who'd fractured his wrist in an 'accident'/'argument' with a plate glass window and couldn't play the drums) vamps away on a piano one-handed.
34) Dick Clark’s New Year’s Eve Party ([171] ‘Good Vibrations’, US TV, December 1974-January 1975)
Happy new year! How do The Beach Boys see in their first full year since 1960 when they didn’t release a single note? By performing a greatest hits best described as ‘tidy’. Carl sings perhaps his best performance of this song ever in front of a most dapper looking Beach Boys in their thick woollen coats and smart white trousers. The band are though going through some changes – Blondie has gone but for now Ricki is still there in one of his last performances with the band, while Dennis’ friend Carli Munoz has arrived on keyboards. It’s a tight little performance by The Beach Boys at perhaps the last time they were a great live band. Sadly it’s all downhill from here…
35) 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 do any singing, instead bearing his soul for an in-depth chat designed to promote the 'Brian Is Back' campaign and the '15 Big Ones' album. Brian talks about his drug problems as if they're a problem from his past he's well over by now (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 his music, 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? We were tantalisingly close to getting a real insight when we have to cut to adverts then. Brian then goes on to say, post commercials, 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?)
36) Endless Summer aka It's OK (Beach Boys, US TV Special, August 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 [48] 'Be True To Your School' is really the school 'fight' song - why the hell didn't my school have a fight song? It had the fights!), 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 [181] 'Good Vibrations' going on over the top), Al Jardine in his natural habitat (his newly purchased farm - the band will later record part of the 'Keepin' The Summer Alive' and 'The Beach Boys' albums n the barn behind him) and Dennis in his own 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 Dr Landy 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 if someone has to!) Brian brightens up when asked about his dad though, revelling in his angry attack on him on [119] '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, which is very poignant. By and large though the TV special is the opposite of poignant, being crass and obvious, unfocussed and unfunny, without any real direction to it. However it's worth sitting through for the one highlight, a magical clip of a perky Brian back in his natural habitat, singing [233] '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.
37) Saturday Night Live ([233] ‘Back Home’ [171] ‘Good Vibrations’ Brian Wilson, US TV, November 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. 
38) Live In Perth (Australian Concert, ?/1978)
Australia didn’t get many Beach Boys tours despite their obvious similarities of beaches and sunshine, so they made the most of the band when they had them and broadcast one of their handful of concerts nationwide. The show is, though, awful by their highest standards with a clearly under-rehearsed band trying to busk it and struggling. The band start with a shaky version of a brand new song they haven’t released yet ([341] ‘Lady Lynda’) before Mike, weirdly, puts down their ‘mellow songs’ and how awful they are before singing…[287] ‘Everyone’s In Love With You’. Mike looks as if he’s been fasting and doing too much meditation, wired and tired all at the same time and with a wild look in his eyes that means he isn’t quite there all night. Guest saxophonist Charles Lloyd guests on [266] ‘All This Is That’ and [102] ‘Help Me Rhonda’, not always convincingly, but then the band don’t sound that convincing either tonight. A slurring Carl is visibly drunk, arguing with Mike at one stage over the lyrics to a song as he tries to teach the crowd (I think it’s meant to be funny, but he’s too gone to get the words right) and with Dennis over getting a copy of his ‘Pacific Ocean Blue’ album from a record shop after rushing to buy one (‘he got it for free!’) Carl and Dennis then get all the girls in the crowd to stand up and the former jokes ‘I’d like to pick you all up!’ before laughing uncomfortably. This is a nice gig for hearing different material compared to usual though – other oddities tonight include Dennis taking the lead for [34] ‘Surfer Girl’ and Mike accidentally re-writing [283] ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Music’ when he forgets the words! Dennis and Carlos Muniz close with one of his better versions of [359] ‘You Are So Beautiful’.
39) Midnight Special (US TV, April 1979)
The Beach Boys had a great record to promote this year ('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' appearing with each band 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 [306] 'Ding Dang'). The band play a rather jaded [171] 'Good Vibrations' and a tired-sounding [283] 'Rock and Roll Music' before the highlight of the show: Dennis purring his way shyly through his brother Carl's [343] '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 after seven years away. 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.
40) American Bandstand #2 ([345] ‘Sumahama’ [341] ‘Lady Lynda’, US TV, September 1979)
Mike chats in Japanese and talks about his song (‘I didn’t research it but we’ve been there lots of times and I picked bits up!’) A returning Bruce says that he’s not so much a producer or a band member and is really ‘just a friend’. The band return after a fifteen year absence with a nervy and emaciated looking Brian looking like he wishes the ground would swallow him up. Dick tries to engage him in conversation with the words ‘are you still writing my friend?’ but Brian isn’t playing ball and says that Carl’s the one who does the writing now, not him. Carl steps in like the good brother he is to diffuse the situation and talks up Al’s lovely new song which Al dedicates to his real wife Lynda ‘who is patiently waiting at home in Big Sur for me to do it!’ As for the performances, they’re more together than many Beach Boy performances in this period and it’s refreshing to hear them do some new songs for a change.
41) 4th July Show (US Concert, July 1980)
Here we are in Washington for an American Independence Day show that was a huge deal. More than 500,000 people turned up to celebrate…my birthday! Oh and also America’s, obviously. Even Brian showed up, with this the penultimate show to feature all five Beach Boys (the last being Knebworth the same year – see our DVD section!) The show was broadcast across most of America and was the first of three Independence Day shows the band would play until they were infamously banned from Washington by Interior Secretary James Wyatt for ‘attracting the wrong element’. There’s no sign of that here in an excellent and disciplined show with a few surprises, including a pretty darn good go at replicating the tricky harmonies of [340] ‘Good Timin’, the surprise return of [41] ‘In My Room’ [36] ‘Catch A Wave’ and [41] ‘Hawaii’ to the setlist and the only time that I’ve seen The Beach Boys backing Bruce on his hit with Barry Mannilow ‘I Write The Songs (That Make The Whole World Sing)’.
42) American Bandstand #3 ([115] ‘California Girls’ [102] ‘Help Me Rhonda’ [171] ‘Good Vibrations’ [23] ‘Surfin’ USA’ US TV, December 1980)
Alas The Beach Boys just mime to oldies on this return appearance, but they do at least get to chat longer. Brian’s weight fluctuates a lot in this ers and he’s now very heavy indeed, while Dennis is temporarily absent. Brian says that ‘we’re steering clear of ballads and sticking to uptempo tunes’ and that he’s written fifteen songs with Mike – which makes a nonsense of the resulting ‘Keepin’ The Summer Alive’ album! Bruce also says that ‘I don’t think my music fits our band – it’s too smooth’, which makes Carl cover him ‘I’ll take the best songs available by anyone’. Asked what inspired him, Brian first responds ‘You!’ to Dick Clark and then expands ‘no, it’s people’.
43) Fridays ([349] ‘Keepin’ The Summer Alive’ [171] ‘Good Vibrations’  [354] ‘Goin’ On’  US TV, ?/1980)
‘Fridays’ was a comedy show that went on a Tuesday…no only kidding, it really did go out in the late night Friday slot when everyone is too drunk to notice what’s on. They used to have guests to break up the sketches and one week The Beach Boys was it, with Brian still in tow but still looking incredibly unhappy. Carl is the star of this one, close to being his last performance before his ‘retirement’ and he sounds terrific, back to being his old sober eager self. I’ve heard me a better ‘Good Vibrations’ down the years but a pretty, stripped-down ‘Goin’ On’ compares nicely to the rather ugly studio version and ‘Keepin’ The Summer Alive’ really rocks! A late period classic!
44) Good Morning America (US TV, ?/1980)
A rare chance to see Brian and Dennis chatting in a full group interview and manager Jerry Schilling, this is an early birthday present as the band get ready to enjoy their twentieth anniversary. Dennis is still asleep but pretending his microphone is broken so Carl answers most of his questions for him, although the most interesting answers come from Brian who talks proudly about his daughters and the fact they play his music (‘No they don’t, jokes Dennis, ‘they’re in bed early!’) Asked what music he listens to Brian shoots back straightaway ‘Be My Baby’ by The Ronettes’. For some reason interviewers always give Brian the awkward questions even though he can’t handle it. Asked if all the family differences have been put to bed Brian parrots an answer Dr Landy has surely given him that ‘Mike is better equipped to handle that question than I am’. Mike’s answer is a good one actually – the band and family are always going to have ups and downs but – at Al’s prompting – they all love each other enough to put their differences aside.
45) Long Beach (US Concert, July 1981)
By now Carl has quit the band, tired that they’re turning into an oldies act not interested in making new music and longing for them to ‘sing in 1981 like we did in 1961’. Neither the audience nor the band seem to care, turning in one hit after another without much challenging on a show that’s as run-of-the-mill as they come. Dennis, weirdly, has returned to the band and, suddenly clean shaven, suddenly seems like an eager sober participant again. The one rare song played tonight is a surprise medley of old favourites from ‘Beach Boys Concert’ including [28] ‘Shut Down’ and even ‘Little Old Lady From Pasadena’. When Carl said he wanted the band to go back to 1961, I don’t think he meant it literally! However it’s the sight of poor Brian, looking very overweight and unhappy, singing a heartfelt ‘let me go home!’ on [144] ‘Sloop John B’ that you remember most from this gig.
46) The Merv Griffin Show (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. [331] '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 [363] 'The Beach Boys Medley' (a surprise top ten hit earlier in the year, made up of 30 second snippets from classic singles stuck together into one unconvincing whole) and [341] 'Lady Lynda'.  Given that [102] '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 it's 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.
47) Mike Douglas Show #4 ([115] ‘California Girls’ [353] ‘Ring! Ring! Goes The Bell (School Days)’, 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 [115] 'California Girls' and a rarer performance of Chuck Berrys' [353] '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. This is 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.
48) T J Hooker ([115] ‘California Girls’ [59] ‘Fun Fun Fun’ US TV, October 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.
49) The Tonight Show ([133] ‘Graduation Day’ US TV, ?/1984)
Joan Rivers was the surprise guest host for this edition of the chat show which features all the band post Dennis, including Brian perched at a piano to make him feel more at home. The theme of the night is nostalgia and the band sound rather good on ‘Graduation Day’ considering that they hadn’t performed it for nearly twenty years! Joan gets the date wrong (‘I was told you started in ‘57’ ‘No that was the date of our Chevrolet!’ giggles Mike). Poor Brian looks deeply unhappy when Joan asks which of them are married (he’s not taking his divorce to Marilyn well) and natters that ‘divorce is like a Phil Spector record in mono’, which is good a metaphor as you’re going to get! Mike gets the biggest laugh by holding up both hands when asked that question – it’s a good job Dennis isn’t here or he’d fall over! Brian gives a big namecheck to Dr Landy and admits that even though he’s lost a lot of weight successfully ‘I think about food all the time’. Mike ends the show by trying to persuade Joan Rivers to come as their opening act for their July 4th show and even offers to send her a private plane. ‘To keep?’ she asks innocently. Meanwhile, poor Al doesn’t get a word in edgeways and Carl barely manages two1
50) [366] 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 and no girls!) 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.
51) Live Aid ([115] ‘California Girls’ [102b] ‘Help Me Rhonda’ [138] ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice?’ [171] ‘Good Vibrations’ [23] ‘Surfin’ USA’ World TV, 1985)
Performing between Bryan Adams and George Thorogood, The Beach Boys were an obvious choice for massive fundarising effort ‘Live Aid’, with organisers Bob Geldof and Midge Ure both figuring that the band would bring some sunshine to proceedings. Putting their differences aside, a still poorly Brian vamps on piano and looks dazed while Mike, Carl and Al try and pretend that they are best friends at a show Dennis would surely have loved to have played. No ground gets broken, no gambles are made and this is not a vintage Beach Boys performance, but for eighteen precious minutes The Beach Boys are a safe pair of hands and can be counted on to deliver exactly the  nostalgia their audience wants. Legend has it more people (200,000) pledged money during The Beach Boys’ portion of the show than any other the whole night. The last three songs in the set all appear on the various artists four disc DVD ‘Live Aid’.
52) Farm Aid ([23] ‘Surfin’ USA’ [131] ‘Barbara Ann’ 1985)
Farm Aid was Live Aid’s insular little brother, designed to raise all American money for all American farmers rather than send it abroad. More designed for country music stars, somehow The Beach Boys were persuaded to play it two years in a row, with two oldies chosen for the TV highlights programme that year.
53) Farm Aid ([378] ‘Rock and Roll To The Rescue’ 1986)
More interesting is the only song that seems to have made the highlights of their second appearance. The Beach Boys struggle to get to the end of their flop single, Carl and Al giggling as they get the intro wrong and Mike pausing as he hits the wrong note. At least it’s a new song though and despite the problems it sounds like it might have bedded into becoming rather a good live song.
54) [378] Rock and Roll To The Rescue (Beach Boys, Music Video, 1986)
A more straightforward music video than most 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.
55) You Again? (October 1986)
Mega Beach Boys fan John Stamos starred in this weird and mercifully short-lived ‘comedy’ written by Rising Damp creator Eric Chappell. A delinquent seventeen year old moves back in with his stuffy dad and wants to be a musician in his spare time. Asked to fill in as The Beach Boys’ drummer for a TV appearance, inevitably the band appear. The best parts though are when the moocher son tells his dad he might actually get paid, resulting in a joyous off-key performance of [115] ‘California Girls’. At least Stamos’ acting is more convincing than Brian’s who gives a heart ‘good!’ when asked how he’s doing in the midst of one of his bleakest years. As well as ‘California Girls’ and [23] ‘Surfin’ USA’ The Beach Boys get tot mime to their latest single, Mamas and Papas cover [379] ‘California Dreamin’. Stamos’ character is in for a rude awakening though – after his energetic performance the band give him a pile of homework’ because they have to keep their arrangements ‘fresh’. He messes up, with Carl and Mike having fun outdoing each other with the thumbs down! Rejected at the audition, he agrees to go back to college after all the way his dad wants. Erm, I’m not sure that was the motto of any real Beach Boys song but at least Stamos didn’t murder [243b] ‘Forever’ anywhere this time around!
56) [386] Wipeout (Music Video, with The Fat Boys, 1987)
Well, how did it come to this? The Beach Boys are basically extras on their own song which starts out as a fake wrestling match before getting taken over by the Fat Boys rap team and awkward all round. I mean beating people up is the antithesis of The Beach Boys and their ‘Good Vibrations’ spirit isn’t it? It’s cheesy as hell even if you’re used to the single and there are surely better things to do with your time than watch The Fat Boys in the back of a limousine and flirting with scantily clad girls in the hope of an odd (and I do mean odd for this video) shot of The Beach Boys (they’re very brief at the very beginning and end if you need to see them, with Mike strutting his stuff in the ‘dance sequence’). There’s even an official extended version of both video and song for masochists who couldn’t get enough the first time!
57) [385] Kokomo (Music Video 1988)
Basically a long trail for the ‘Cocktail’ film for which this song was made, there’s no Beach Boys in this promo except for the singing. Which given that it’s this song is a definite mixed blessing. If you ever wanted to know what Tom Cruise looked like making a cocktail then this will be for you, but I can’t say four minutes of a chat up at a bar I can’t hear would make me rush to see the film.
58) David Letterman Show ([40] ‘Little Deuce Coupe’ 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 Cruisin' album, although its odd they don't play [385] '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.
59) Full House ([230] ‘Barbara Ann’ 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. The 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 [385] '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 - thirty bucks it costs and buy the next twenty-nine volumes of 'Alan's Album Archives' instead!
60) Still Cruisin’ (Music Video 1989)
At least The Beach Boys actually appear in this video, although they look so totally 1980s that it’s sometimes hard to stomach. They’re filmed miming to the song as they play a ‘gig’, footage of which is intercut with yet another film the song was written for, ‘Lethal Weapon Two’. I’m not sure I’d watch it based on this trail either!
61) Live Acoustic Camp Party ([14] ‘Surfin’ [230] ‘Barbara Ann’ ‘All I Have To Do Is Dream’ ‘Be My Baby’ 1989)
One of the cuter clips from this article’s second half, this is a fun variation on ‘The Beach Boys Party’ where the band cash in on the ‘Unplugged’ format early and sing a brief concert in the outdoors.  The intimate atmosphere brings out the best in the band who natter to themselves between songs (Brian: I really like [230] ‘Barbara Ann’, let’s do that one!’) and there are some lovely performances of old friends. Original single ‘Surfin’ sounds particularly good in this format with Bruce having a whale of a time singing a part of Beach Boys history for the first time! Everlys cover ‘All I Have To Do Is Dream’ sounds nice with Brian and Mike harmonies too, while The Beach Boys finally get around to covering one of Brian’s favourite songs ‘Be My Baby’. One of the better Beach Boys promotional ideas. Most of their fans seem a little on the, err, young side though – shouldn’t they all be in bed? And who invites toddlers to a camp fire anyway?!? This is health and safety gone mad!
62) [388] 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 even electrocuting poor 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.
63) Crocodile Rock (‘Two Rooms: The Songs Of Elton John and Bernie Taupin’, US TV, ?/1991)
‘Two Rooms’ was a weird kind of tribute, never really repeated, in which a whole bunch of famous bands chose an Elton John song to ruin (I mean cover!) while their makers look on aghast. Elton was a big friend of The Beach Boys – enough to provide the rather odd sleevenotes for the CD re-issue of ‘Carl and the Passions : So Tough’ of all albums – and he must have been to have stayed friends after seeing the band camp up one of his harder-edged songs. I’m not sure if it’s San Diego Zoo the band have returned to (as per the front cover of ‘Pet Sounds’) but wherever it is they have very plastic looking crocs. And I don’t mean on their feet – if anything The Beach Boys are overdressed for the weather in some hideous Hawaiian apparel.
64) Talking Telephone (US TV, ?/1996)
The random collaborations just keep on coming. A charity fundraiser for Samaritan helplines, it features Status Quo in England putting a call through to the Boys in California. The Beach Boys don’t get much to do and are hard to see hunched round two microphones (I know this is for charity but could they not afford one each?) and Quo’s version sucks all the life life life out of fun fun fun. Still, it’s good to see The Beach Boys plugging a good cause.
65) Home Improvements (Beach Boys, US TV, ?/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 'AAA tip to improve home improvements' - ditch the tips, they aren't funny! The Beach Boys come into a storyline in series six 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 [35] '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 by Jan and Dean!) and 'Little Cobra' (The Ripchords, produced by Bruce incidentally). His typically unfunny comment: 'Well thank God you didn't write [40] '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!' Me, I don't know why they get together that often. Don't worry, though - the band are back for the closing credits for an interrupted a capella - dear God, no - 'rap' version of [230] '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 twenty-one episodes of series six. Bet you can't wait.
66) 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 [230] 'Barbara Ann' [59] 'Fun Fun Fun' and 'Love and Mercy'. A whopping thirty-four 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 [35] 'Surfer Girl'; another is David Crosby enlivening an otherwise rather gormless version of [161] 'Surf's Up' (sadly only the final coda as one of the Eagles hogs the limelight instead, another reason to hate that band). 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.
67) 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' ready to die and the bad acting that follows - 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' with any girls in his life - her knowing laugh in reply says it all; alas these clips are seen all too briefly in amongst the usual TV footage (i.e. 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 I tell you!) 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 as it happens. 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!
68) 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 [167] '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 hanging on by his finger-nails, but The Wondermints make good cheerleaders, getting the performances to flow by with just about enough swing.
69) 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 emotions 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.
70) Late Night (2012)
Brian and Mike look uncomfortable sitting together and plugging their fiftieth anniversary reunion album. Brian tells his favourite Elvis story, karate chopping him randomly and scaring him off. ‘There’s a lot of stories like that…’ Mike sighs, but sadly we don’t get any interesting ones after that, just the usual stuff.
71) Do It Again (Beach Boys, UK TV Documentary, 2012)
Made to celebrate the band's 50th anniversary 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 on film about the band 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' [181] '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!
72) Studio Q (2012)
The Beach Boys look equally uncomfortable as a quintet talking for a full half and hour and skirting over why they are back together again for what is primarily a radio show in Canada (but which is also filmed for TV on big occasions). ‘I always knew it would happen!’ says Al before blinking and trying not to meet Mike’s eye. This band are a great subject study for body language experts – most of them have their arms folded every time someone else speaks and they barely look at each other all night (Al neven closes his eyes when Mike talks). Some of the anecdotes are fun though: Bruce recalls being exhausted singing an a capella section before [216] ‘Do It Again’ before Brian informs them ‘this is just the warm up, guys!’, Al saying that nowadays ‘Brian and I fight for the lower part’ of the harmony and amazingly Mike is the one who praises everyone in the room (well sort of, his take on Bruce is ‘I think I’d need an operation to sing that high!) Bruce praises [104] ‘Please Let Me Wonder’ and [148] ‘I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times’ as the moments in the love show that always get to him. Sensible chap! He does argue with Al though over whether the middle eight was in Spanish!
73) The Queen Latifah Show ([59] ‘Fun Fun Fun’, US TV, February 2014)
The reunion is all over and the Mike ‘n’ Bruce Beach Boys need the money so they’re back on tour and promoting it back air for their ropiest performance yet. Mike’s voice is really faded on this performance and this isn’t so much ‘Fun Fun Fun’ as ‘Torture Torture Torture’.
74) The View ([171] ‘Good Vibrations’, 2016)
Things pick up slightly for this performance, mostly thanks to Jeffrey Foskett doing the Brian part, but even better is the chat. Mike says The Beach Boys stay popular because of ‘love’ leading to that old gag ‘Mike Love?’ and giggling. He talks about his new book and that it features ‘different versions of stuff’ that has a different perspective on how these things are usually told. Mike says that he had ‘procrastinated’ and hadn’t come up with the verse lyrics so dictated it to his wife on the way into the studio. He looks genuinely cross when asked ‘what were you on?’ and says ‘I was driving and I was sober!’ (The clueless presenters clearly didn’t get the memo about his hating drugs!)
75) Christmas Tree Lighting (‘Too Cruel’, US TV, December 2017)
People really have it in for Mike Love. Most of the time I don’t know why: he’s a friendly chap, eager to talk to fans and he writes some of the best lyrics in the business. Yes reports of him picking on his younger cousins are worrying, but who didn’t have a cousin who did that? (Actually thinking about it, I’m the oldest cousin in my family – whoops! I only made you listen to my music, come back!) I don’t know the guy though and three brothers against one cousin seems a little unfair. But then suddenly I get a flash of what other people see in him that I don’t – a look here, an anecdote here. Or the fact that Mike Love is the only member of the entire AAA-universe who actually likes Donald Trump. More than that, he supports ‘Quasi DoDo, The Hunchback Of Notre Shame’ and even brought what’s left of The Beach Boys to appear at the Christmas Tree lighting in the White House. This seems especially wrong given that the ‘new’ song played (from the ‘Unleash the Love’ solo LP) is about wanting to live together in peace and harmony. Seriously Mike, you think you’re going to find those things with Trump? Sheesh, a few years ago Obama had CSN to light his tree!
Woah there are a lot of Beach Boys links up at our site now. Read them all here:




'Surfin' USA' (1963) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-beach-boys-surfin-usa-1963.html

'Surfer Girl' (1963) http://www.alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/the-beach-boys-surfer-girl-1963.html

'Little Deuce Coupe' (1963) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.nl/2016/09/the-beach-boys-little-deuce-coupe-1963.html

'Shut Down Volume Two' (1964) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/the-beach-boys-shut-down-volume-two-1964.html

‘All Summer Long’ (1964) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/the-beach-boys-all-summer-long-1964.html

'Beach Boys Christmas' (1964) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/xmas-bumper-issue-revised-beach-boys.html

'Today' (1965) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/the-beach-boys-today-1965.html

'Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!!!!!!!) (1965)
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/news-views-and-music-issue-65-beach.html

'Party!' (1965) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/the-beach-boys-party-1965.html

'Pet Sounds' (1966) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2016/12/the-beach-boys-pet-sounds-1966.html


'Surf's Up' (1971) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/the-beach-boys-surfs-up-1971-album.html


’15 Big Ones’ (1976) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/the-beach-boys-15-big-ones-1976.html

'Love You' (1977) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2016/07/the-beach-boys-love-you-1977.html

'Pacific Ocean Blue' (Dennis Wilson solo) (1977)
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/news-views-and-music-issue-97-dennis.html

'Merry Xmas From The Beach Boys!' (Unreleased) (1977)
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/news-views-and-music-issue-126-merry.html

'M.I.U Album' (1978) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/the-beach-boys-miu-album-1978.html

'L.A.Light Album' (1979)
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2008/07/review-75-beach-boys-la-light-album.html

'Keeping The Summer Alive' (1980) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/the-beach-boys-keeping-summer-alive-1980.html

'The Beach Boys' (1985) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/the-beach-boys-1985.html

'Still Cruisin' (1989) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2016/10/the-beach-boys-still-cruisin-1989.html

'Summer In Paradise' (1992) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/the-beach-boys-summer-in-paradise-1992.html

'Smile' (Brian Wilson solo) (2004) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2008_06_29_archive.html

'That Lucky Old Sun' (Brian Wilson solo) (2008)
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2010/03/news-views-and-music-issue-55-brian.html

'Smile Sessions' (band outtakes)(2011)  
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/news-views-and-music-issue-142-beach.html

'That's Why God Made The Radio' (2012) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/the-beach-boys-thats-why-god-made-radio.html

The Best Unreleased Beach Boys Recordings  http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/the-beach-boys-unreleased-songs-top.html

A Complete (ish) Guide To The Beach Boys' Surviving TV Clips http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/the-beach-boys-complete-ish-guide-to.html

Solo/Live/Compilation/Rarities Albums Part One 1962-86 http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/beach-boys-sololivecompilationunrelease.html

Solo/Live/Compilation/Rarities Albums Part Two 1988-2014 http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/beach-boys-sololivecompilationunrelease_25.html

Non-Album Songs Part One 1962-1969 http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/beach-boys-non-album-songs-part-one.html

Non-Album Songs Part Two 1970-2012 http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/beach-boys-non-album-songs-part-two.html

Essay: The Beach Boys and The American Dream https://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/the-beach-boys-essay-american.html
Five Landmark Concerts and Three Key Cover Versions https://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/the-beach-boys-five-landmark-concerts.html