The Beach Boys formed in 1961 in Hawthorne, California. They released their first album, SURFIN’ SAFARI, the next year. Initially the group was comprised of brothers Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson along with their cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine. They have had thirty-six US Top 40 hits and fifty-six Hot 100 hits, including four number-one singles. I have been a fan since my childhood. On December 16, 2011 it was announced that Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, and David Marks would reunite for a new album and fiftieth anniversary tour in 2012. When they performed at the 2012 Grammy Awards it was their first live performance with Brian since 1996! On June 5, 2012 the Beach Boys released their twenty-ninth studio album THAT’S WHY GOD MADE THE RADIO (Brother Records). It was produced by Brian Wilson and executive produced by Mike Love. It was the first to feature guitarist David Marks since 1963. This album reached #3 on the Billboard 200.
‘Think About the Days’ is a brief, beautiful piece that features the Boys harmonizing, kind of like they’re warming up. ‘That’s Why God Made the Radio’ is the pleasant, easy listening lead single with Chad Cromwell on drums. It should not be taken to be a literal theological statement: “Feel the music in the air/Find a song to take us there/It’s paradise when I/Lift up my antennae/Receiving your signal like a prayer/That’s why God made the radio/That’s why God made/So tune right in everywhere you go/He waved His hand/Gave us rock and roll/The soundtrack of falling in love/Falling in love/That’s why God made the radio.” ‘Isn’t it Time’ finds Jim Peterik on ukulele and percussion. This song has a Caribbean feel to it and is about rekindling romantic passion in a relationship: “The good times never have to end/And now’s the time to let them happen again/And we can have ourselves a blast/The good times they aren’t only in the past/Isn’t it time we danced the night away?/How about doing it just like yesterday?/Every time I think of you/All of those things we used to do/Remember those nights we spent just you and I/Little did we know how the time would fly/Isn’t it time?”
‘Spring Vacation’ is a strong track that is about the group’s latest reunion: “As for the past, it’s all behind us/Happier now, look where life finds us/Singing our songs is enough reason/Harmony boys is what we believe in/Some said it wouldn’t last/All we can say is we’re still having a blast/Spring vacation/Good vibrations/Summer weather/We’re back together/Easy money, ain’t life funny/Hey, what’s it to ya?/Halleluia.” ‘The Private Life of Bill and Sue’ is a great story song. It is a tongue-in-cheek look at our obsession with celebrities that ends with this radio report¨”Bill and Sue/Stars of the once popular reality show/The Private Life of Bill and Sue/Were reported lost at sea today/Along with their camera crew/While filming an episode on vacation in Catalina Island/Skeptics speculate that the once popular duo/Whose ratings have been tumbling since leaving the network/Actually faked their demise.” ‘Shelter’ is one of several tracks where Jeffrey Foskett lends vocals. This track which includes the use of trombone and harpsichord, speaks of spending intimate time with one’s romantic partner: “Shelter from the sunlight/Shelter from the cold night/Just where I wanna be/Baby just you and me/Staying at home/Summertime/Take a few calls/Make a little love/Thank God for shelter.../Do you ever still think of me/And the way that we used to be/When the world was just you and me/Hanging out in our shelter?”
‘Daybreak Over the Ocean’ was penned by Mike Love and includes some vocals by Christian Love, Hayleigh Love, and Adrian Baker. This soft ballad is a plea for a lover to return to his or her partner: “Will my love be returning/Like the sun to brighten up my life?/And as day breaks over the ocean/Moonlight still on the sea/I pray the waves gentle motion/Will bring my baby back to me/(Bring back) Won’t you bring back/(Bring back) Bring my baby back?” ‘Beaches in Mind’ has an appropriately carefree, laid back sound to it. It finds the Beach Boys young at heart: “Southbay surfing again/Haven’t been this way in I don’t know when/If I have my say we’ll be back again/Where the good times never end/We’ve got beaches in mind/Man it’s been too much time/Not a care in the world is where I wanna be/With the surfers, sand, and the sea/We’ll find a place in the sun/Where everyone can have fun.” ‘Strange World’ has Michael Rhodes on bass and Gary Griffin on accordion. It begins with one of the heavier Beach Boys lyrics: “On Santa Monica city pier/We watch the people who gather here/The uninvited who’ve lost their way/And now we’re all here to stay/And it’s a strange world/There’s nothing to it/Strange world/I’m getting through it/Strange world/Thinking it over/It’s a strange world after all.”
The last three songs are thought to be a PET SOUNDS and SMILE inspired suite. ‘From There to Back Again’ makes use of tack piano, flute, violins, and cello. Strings are arranged by Paul Mertens. Lyrically it deals with the ups and downs of a love relationship: “Why don’t you run away and spend some time with me?/On this summer’s day/There’s nowhere else I’d rather be/Why don’t we feel the way we used to anymore?/There’s a place along the way/That maybe we could stay/Listen to the waves at my front door.” ‘Pacific Coast Highway’ is about aging while on this journey we call life: “Sometimes I realize/My days are getting on/Sometimes I realize/It’s time to move along/And I wanna go home/Sunlight’s fading and there’s not much left to say.” ‘Summer’s Gone’ was penned by Brian Wilson, Jon Bon Jovi, and Joe Thomas. It’s about the passage of time: “Summer’s gone/It’s finally sinking in/One day begins/Another ends/I live them all and back again/Summer’s gone/I’m gonna sit and watch the waves/We laugh, we cry/We live then die/And dream about our yesterday.”
In the liner notes for THAT’S WHY GOD MADE THE RADIO one finds these words: “After 50 years The Beach Boys want to thank their families, friends, and of course, all the fans.” This latest effort from the group is a decent one, but truth be told, there are only a handful of memorable songs on it. While the harmonies are second to none, what is missing is lyrics about pretty girls, fast cars, and surfing; all of which one thinks of when hearing the name The Beach Boys. The mellow tracks far outnumber the faster paced ones. This project is more suited to listen to while sitting on your porch sipping a cooler in the evening, than for cranking up at a beach party. I’m rating it 80%. For more info visit www.thebeachboys.com.