Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Pitchfork Media "The Warmth of the Sun" Review
Consider the taxonomy of the Beach Boys compilation. First, you have cheapies like Beach Boys Greatest Hits Vols. 1, 2 and 3, each gathering a dozen or so singles into a succinct package. With such a deep collection of quality hits, the Beach Boys could continue to repackage these in various combinations forever. Various permutations can still be found on cassette in gas stations from coast-to-coast.
Then there's Endless Summer, from 1974, the prototype for the expanded compilation that gathers hits but also attempts to position the band as an iconic snapshot of a bygone era. It's hard to convey now how massive that double-LP set was during the remainder of that decade. Widely considered all the Beach Boys anyone ever needed, Endless Summer charted for three straight years and launched the idea of the band as a touring oldies act-- a nostalgic fantasyland you could revisit where Vietnam never happened and baby boomers never had to face the responsibilities of parenthood. Everything on the record predated Pet Sounds, before things got heavy and complicated. Even #1 single "Good Vibrations", widely considered the band's (and sometimes pop music's) peak, had to wait for the CD reissue in the 80s to come along for the carefree ride. In 2003, a new set, Sound of Summer, properly updated the "Only Beach Boys You Ever Need" comp for the era of the 80-minute CD, and (again) went multi-platinum.
Read the whole article:
Friday, May 25, 2007
Enter VH1's Contest to See the Beach Boys ((LIVE ))
OK, it's true that Brian and Al are on their own, but you'd be suprised to see "The Beach Boys" that Mike Love and Bruce Johnston head up. They're really good and how could you not like the music? I saw them last year at Mohegan Sun, and I was really surprised at how packed the house was and the age range of the crowd. We brought our 7 year old twins and they loved it. Mohegan Sun is a great place, there's so much to do there, so if I were you, I'd definitely enter the contest - it doesn't cost anything, and you'll probably "still dig the sounds..."
(Click on the "VH1 Beach Boys Contest link under the "Links" category at right).
Monday, May 21, 2007
"The Warmth of the Sun" Rises Tomorrow ... and More ...
It's all about the music, and this collection is perhaps the finestever compilation that explores the entire - and some of the best - music arc of the Beach Boys. It's fantastic to see more obscure (but essential) tracks like "All This Is That," "'Til I Die," "Disney Girls" and "Please Let Me Wonder," etc. on one album. Sure, we all know they're great songs and we cherish them, but it's fun to think that these songs will be heard for the first time by many people buying this collection. They're in for a treat and a set like this will further the Beach Boys appeal, and thus their relevance and lasting appeal. I think it's safe to say that there will continue to be compilations long after we're gone - it's just how they'll be delivered. Maybe you'll just be able to download songs right to your brain - or in Brian's music case- right to your heart.
We hope you like Episode 3 of this podcast series. Al takes the lead on this one, as he, Brian, Mike and Bruce discuss "Little Honda, "409" and "It's OK." We spliced in a little piano Brian played for us after the car sound effect and before the track begins. Kinda cool that Brian plays songs on his piano in their original key. It's fun to hear the guys talk about "409" and how they got the car sound from Brian's tape recorder - and upset their neighbors. Al talks about Brian wanting a "dirty" sound for "Little Honda" and Brian calls it one of his favorites. Bruce has something to say about the environment on this one. MIke talks about his and Brian's "It's OK" and how he tries to bring positivity to his music, Al didn't want to talk about it (draw your own conclusions). Brian's not "OK" with this song even though he likes the bass line, Dennis' "fade tag" and the lyrics (you'd think that would be enough) - but in the end it "doesn't bring pleasant memories to me" - again, draw your own conclusions. Bruce calls it Mike at his "nasal finest." All in all, a cool episode, but they get even better.
Friday, May 18, 2007
The Beach Boys Have Another Hit ...
The new series not only features brand-new interviews with Brian, Mike, Al and Bruce, but you'll be able to hear the six stereo remixes that are required listening for all Beach Boys fans. The second episode (now available) has the Boys talking about three of their earliest hits: "All Summer Long," "Catch A Wave" and "Hawaii." Brian opens up the episode (as he will with future ones) playing a few bars of one of the three songs featured. I have to admit it was pretty cool asking Brian to play snippets of songs at his piano in his music room - and he sounded great. My associate, Joe, opened up the top of Brian's grand and put the microphone right in there to get a great sound. After Brian played us 8 or 9 tracks, we (selfishly) asked him to play "God Only Knows," and Brian nailed it - and played nearly the whole thing. It was pretty astonishing to hear the composer play it just for us, and of course, Brian was only happy to oblige. As Bruce told us, "Brian's cool."
Back to this episode: It's funny how people see differently about things - especially 45 years later. While Al loves the music track to "All Summer Long," he doesn't care as much for the vocals, calling them "pitchy." He attributes this to the Boys always being so busy, on the road, etc. and perhaps they just didn't have the time to make it perfect. Brian, however, calls it one of the Boys classic vocal performances. This is a good episode, but they get better. Just as Brian is in concert, he gets better as gets going, and next week's episode featuring "Little Honda," "409" and "It's OK" is pretty cool. Listen for Brian on "It's OK" - it sounds like everything wasn't...
Monday, May 14, 2007
Brian and Bruce and Six Degrees (or less) of Separation
Springsteen is a student of Rock 'n Roll, so he's gotta like the Beach Boys and he certainly has got to be aware that Brian is the guy that wrote it all down. Plus, I'm sure he got a charge out of playing with Brian - that has got to be a cool thing for someone so aware of Rock ' n Roll. History.
Springsteen used to play "When I Grow Up To Be A Man" at his concerts and it would be just him and his acoustic guitar. And like any great artist, he would take the song and make it his own. Unlike the Beach Boys version, which sounded fun and upbeat, The Boss turned it into a lament about the possibility and sadness of not living up to one's expectations. It gave the song an entirely different perspective - it put the lyrics front and center and revealed them to be not only simple - but actually very deep. When I spoke with Mike Love last month for the podcast series, I told him that Springsteen sang this in concert and he was very flattered - he had no idea.
In a recent interview with Pete Fornatele, Pete compared Brian to Bruce in terms of being brave with their music. Brian quickly distanced himself from Bruce by saying "Bruce is a Rock Star and I'm a Pop Star!" Apples and oranges I suppose. One more footnote about Brian and Bruce: I remember reading an interview with Brian from 1985 and the writer said Brian was singing "Cover Me" from Springsteen's recent "Born In The USA" album.
OK, so how does Brian in concert relate to The Warmth of the Sun CD. Well, interestingly, his set list contains a number of songs from the CD including "The Little Girl I Once Knew," "Then I Kisssed Her," "Hawaii," "Catch A Wave" and "Sail On Sailor."
Friday, May 11, 2007
Are The Beach Boys Underrated?
It shows, that while Brian was clearly "THE guy," Carl, Dennis, Al, Mike and Bruce were very talented and capable guys who were all strong writers and singers. What other group can you say that about? It's nice to see that not only are there hits on this CD, but also incredibly strong album cuts that have stood the test of time.
There were a lot of things I learned about these songs when I talked with Brian, Mike, Al and Bruce for the podcast series. For instance, Brian told me that he was actually on "Feel Flows" which I would have bet he wasn't on. You'll hear him talk about it in one of the episodes.
Brian had real nice things to say about tracks not associated with him, including Bruces' "Disney Girls." He reminded me that Bruce wrote "I Write The Songs" and told me it was a classic - even if Bruce said it wasn't! Brian said he loved "California Saga" and said it's a great song when you want to get in a good mood. He also proudly said that he came up with the first few lines of the song ("On my way to sunny Cal-i-forn-i-a, On my way to spend another sunny day") and sung them. He told me he loves Dennis' "Forever," and he played it in concert for awhile, but he stopped because it made him feel too sad. He really had a lot of emotion when he talked about Dennis and Carl.
Interestingly, both Brian and Mike said that while they liked "Sail On Sailor" very much, they both don't like the lyrics at all - they called them too "weird." Brian loved the tag at the end of "Don't Go Near The Water," and while it sounds just like something Brian would do, he didn't. Interestingly, a lot of the arrangements not done by Brian, were created as if they were. For instance, when I told Bruce how much I loved the harmonies on "I Can Hear Music," he told me that he arrranged them "as Brian would have." He wouldn't even take the complement because he said he was just "doing Brian Wilson."
So, while Brian was not the main creative force he was in the sixties, his influence was all over the place and he raised the level of the other guys to make the best music they could. And, of course, they did.
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
A New Beach Boys Podcast Series
The first podcast is an introduction to the album featuring brand-new interviews with Brian, Mike, Al and Bruce. For good measure, we raided the Capitol vaults to find additional narratives from Carl and Dennis, which makes this first podcast truly special. You'll also see that this episode is also available as a video podcast. It's really fun and the rare photos from the Capitol vaults makes this episode even better. Not only can you watch this podcast on your iPod video, but if you're one of the lucky ones to have purchased Apple TV, you'll also be able to watch this episode on your flat-screen TV - and it looks great.
Personally, I want to thank Brian, Mike, Al and Bruce for being so enthusiastic about this project and taking their time to talk about each of the album's tracks. You're all truly special people and it shines through in your music - which continues to give us such Good Vibrations more than 40 years later. Thanks guys, and we hope you love this series as much as we did producing it.
Once again, thanks to my partner in crime, Joe Vella (pictured at right above with me and Brian). Joe is the super-talented producer who has become the King of Podcasts, having co-produced this series, as well as producing dazzling other works for Yo-Yo Ma, John Coltrane, Elvis Costello, and so many others.
Coming blog posts will talk about each of the episodes as well as my interviews with Mike, Al and Bruce, and hanging out with Brian at his home and being totally amazed at his incredible memory, as well as his piano playing - which we used to open up each of the episodes. Thanks, Brian and Melinda - you're the best.
Monday, May 7, 2007
Why We Need Another Compilation ...
OK: Another Beach Boys compilation. Someone at Capitol told me that there have been over 70 TO DATE AROUND THE WORLD? Other than Elvis, I can't imagine anyone even coming close to this. It's just a reminder of how great the Beach Boys were and how every new generation picks up on the "Good Vibrations."
Why do we fans need this one - when we have all the songs already? Well, first of all, it's a beautiful package with great track information and to have these diverse songs (see press release in the previous post) on one shiny new disc is enticing for us completists. But, what a minute: there's also a very real and legitimate reason for fans to own this CD - actually there are six.
The new 28-track set includes six tracks mixed in stereo for the first time and they sound absolutely spectacular. Remember how good "California Girls," "Surfer Girl," and "Kiss Me, Baby" sounded on the Endless Summer CD awhile back? These remasters are ear-opening and it just shows you how great Brian Wilson's music stands the test of time. Following are the newly mastered tracks:
"All Summer Long"
"Your'e So Good To Me"
"Then I Kissedd Her"
"Please Let Me Wonder"
"Let Him Run Wild"
Do I have to say anymore? The difference between hearing these new versions against the old ones is almost like comparing black and white to color. They are fantastic and thanks to Mark Linett for working his magic. For those of us more hard-core fans, you'll be happy to see that the great "Let Him Run Wild" is finally appearing on later-day compilation. For years, Brian didn't want it out because he didn't like his voice on it.
I was at Brian's house last month (which is a whole other story and a future post) and I asked him why he didn't like his voice on it. He laughed and said "because I sounded like a chick - a sick chick!" I told him I couldn't agree with that, but he did have to admit the backing track was pretty spectacular and he concured - which is why it's been added to this track list.
Anyway, the album is available for pre-order at Amazon.com and it will be released on May 22. Click on the link at the top right of the page to buy it.
The Warmth Of The Sun Is Coming...
Following is a press release from Capitol about the May 22 release of "The Warmth Of The Sun." You'll also see a list of podcast episodes we've produced. Get your iPods ready!
THE BEACH BOYS TO LAUNCH EXCLUSIVE PODCAST SERIES IN MAY
NEW BEACH BOYS-COMPILED CD AND DIGITAL COLLECTION, THE WARMTH OF THE SUN, TO BE RELEASED MAY 22 BY CAPITOL/EMI
Career-Spanning Compilation’s 28 Tracks Complement 2004’s Double Platinum The Very Best Of The Beach Boys: Sounds Of Summer
Hollywood, California – April 16, 2007 – An 11-episode Beach Boys Podcast series, featuring new interviews with Mike Love, Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston, will launch May 8. The series, to be presented in weekly installments, focuses on the 28 tracks selected by The Beach Boys for their new career-spanning Capitol/EMI collection, The Warmth Of The Sun, to be released May 22 on CD and digitally. The Podcast series can be accessed via The Beach Boys’ official Website, www.thebeachboys.com.
Compiled and sequenced by The Beach Boys’ Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, Mike Love, and Brian Wilson, The Warmth Of The Sun showcases the broad scope of the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers’ recorded canon. The new 28-track set includes six classic tracks mixed in stereo for the first time and traces the iconic band’s creative arc in a sunup to sundown musical journey that goes beyond the beach, presenting a broad view of the rich musical legacy of America’s band.
The perfect complement and companion to 2004's double-platinum certified Sounds Of Summer: The Very Best Of The Beach Boys, this new collection delves deeper into The Beach Boys’ musical legacy with hits like “Sail On, Sailor” “The Little Girl I Once Knew” and “Feel Flows.” Within The Warmth Of The Sun’s three decade-spanning tracklist, much of The Beach Boys’ most accomplished work is illuminated.
From the beauty and depth of the title track to the melody and groove of “Break Away,” the journey moves from the surf to the streets, each story narrated with The Beach Boys’ unparalleled trademark harmonies. With its full spectrum of themes and ambiance, The Warmth Of The Sun is a must-have collection for any fan of The Beach Boys’ musical mythos.
For the latest Beach Boys news and to access the band’s new Podcast series, please visit the official Website: www.thebeachboys.com
PODCAST SERIES SCHEDULE (SEE RIGHT COLUMN):