Archive for Al Jardine

Review: Wily Veterans & Classic Rock?

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , on July 6, 2010 by 30daysout

Summer’s here and the time is right for some classic rock.  Or more accurately, new music from artists that at one time made classic rock and pop music.  Cynics might look at these people as once-vital artists who now have to cash in on past glory in order to keep the utilities on.  But I prefer to keep a warm spot on my heart for these folks, who are all too happy to remind us why we loved them in the first place.

Al Jardine is the only member of the original Beach Boys who wasn’t a blood relative of Brian Wilson.  Even so, Jardine’s new A Postcard from California manages to evoke the spirit of the Beach Boys more successfully than the recent work of even the Sandbox Genius (that would be Brian, who’s about to release an album of George Gershwin covers).  And by evoking the spirit of the Boys, I mean not only that sublime surf-and-hot-rods sound but also the goofy social commentary and cracked sense of humor that characterized a lot of the Beach Boys’ later work.  At 68 years old, Jardine’s voice is just as perfect as it was when he sang “Help Me Rhonda” in 1965.

Now Jardine isn’t the most prolific songwriter so he covers a handful of old Beach Boys tunes that won’t make you forget the originals – despite the presence of guest performers like Neil Young, Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell of America, Steve Miller and Norton Buffalo, David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Brian Wilson his own self.  One of those oldies is “Don’t Fight the Sea,” which is actually an unreleased Beach Boys track that features harmonies by the late Carl Wilson, Bruce Johnston, Brian Wilson and Mike Love (Carl and Bruce cut their parts in the 1980s, Brian and Mike recorded their parts more recently).  This environmentally conscious song, like the others on this album, take on a new urgency with the current disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Brian Wilson turns up again on “Drivin’,” a duet that features self-serving vocal backgrounds from America … some of that weird humor here.  Another highlight is Jardine’s revisiting of his “California Saga” epic, this time with harmony help from Crosby, Stills and Young and with a spoken-word piece from Alec Baldwin (!).

Listening to A Postcard From California over the Fourth of July weekend, the album managed to grow on me.  You have to be in a certain place to enjoy this kind of Grandpa Rock – being an AARP member and qualifying for senior discounts doesn’t hurt – but if Al Jardine can take me back to another time and another place even for a fleeting moment,  I’d sign on for that trip any time.

Track samples from A Postcard From California at Al Jardine’s website

YouTube: “Help Me Rhonda” (with Steve Miller, Norton Buffalo and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers)

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Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: The Beach Boys

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , on June 6, 2010 by 30daysout

Today we’re going to pull out a record from my own collection – Holland, the 1973 album from the Beach Boys and one of my all-time favorites from the band.   By the early 1970s, the days of hit singles (and even hit albums) were behind the Beach Boys, mainly because Brian Wilson’s control of the band had dissipated as he faded into a haze of drugs and mental illness.

The band’s manager (Jack Rieley, who also wrote lyrics for some of the Beach Boys’ music) suggested the group cut an album in Holland in hopes that a change of scenery might help snap Brian back to reality.  So in 1972 the Beach Boys, their families and handlers and recording people all flew to Baambrugge, Netherlands, along with truckloads of California recording equipment.  After a few false starts and panic attacks, even Brian Wilson got on the plane.

With younger brother Carl Wilson as the ringleader, the rest of the band stepped up to fill in for brother Brian – Dennis Wilson wrote two songs, “Steamboat” and “Only With You” (with lyrics supplied by Rieley and Mike Love, respectively) and Carl wrote “The Trader” (with anti-imperialist lyrics from Rieley).  New members Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar, who joined the previous year, chipped in with “Leaving This Town” and “We Got Love.”

All of the songs above are a mixed bag, if you’ve never heard any of them before it might be hard to recognize the Beach Boys’ trademark sound as you know it.  They’re pleasant and professional, they’re a little edgy and experimental but honestly whenever Holland comes up those are rarely the songs people talk about.

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30 Days Out (From Christmas): The Beach Boys

Posted in 30 Days Out (From Christmas) with tags , , , , , on December 6, 2008 by 30daysout

merrychristmas

Day Nine – Our heroes from California first entered the Christmas music derby in 1964 with their seasonal offering, The Beach Boys Christmas Album.  It was a gold album for them, and the record went to No. 6 on the album charts.  “Little Saint Nick,” a Brian Wilson/Mike Love original, was already a hit from Christmastime 1963, and “The Man With All The Toys” also charted.  These are fairly standard arrangements, although I once read that these were “some of the most nasal carols ever committed to wax.”  But the album is listenable, particularly Wilson’s original “Christmas Day,” which features Al Jardine’s first recorded solo vocal.

In 1998 Capitol issued the original Beach Boys Christmas album on a package titled Ultimate Christmas, which featured some alternate takes and 11 additional tracks including the 1974 single “Child Of Winter” and several previously unreleased tracks from an aborted 1977 Christmas album.   

MP3: “Little Saint Nick”

MP3: “Christmas Day”

MP3: “Frosty The Snowman”

MP3: “Child Of Winter”

MP3: “Santa’s Got An Airplane”

MP3: “Melekalikimaka”

MP3: “Dennis Wilson Christmas Message”