The Beach Boys released their first album SURFIN’ SAFARI in 1962. Their 25th album THE BEACH BOYS was recorded in London and Los Angeles. It came out on Caribou Records on June 10, 1985. It was produced by Steve Levine who had produced for Culture Club. The album reached No 52 in the States. On it, the Beach Boys are: Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, and Bruce Johnston. The album is dedicated to longtime drummer Dennis Wilson, who drowned while drinking in December 1983.
The album begins with ‘Getcha Back’ penned by Mike Love and Terry Melcher. It has a sunny pop feel musically and finds Steve Grainger on baritone sax. It was a Top 30 hit and finds a guy strongly missing a past love interest: “I’m gettin’ tired layin’ around here at night/Thinkin’ bout some other guy holdin’ you tight/He may have money and a brand new car/May even treat you like a movie star/Ain’t no matter what he ever do for you/He can never love you like I can do/So if I leave her and you leave him/Can we ever get it back again?/Getcha back/Getcha back baby”. ‘It’s Gettin’ Late’ is a light pop song written by Carl Wilson, Myrna Smith Schilling, and Robert White Johnson. It is about a guy burning with passion or lust: “You got me in a situation/My love is risin’ high/Don’t let any more love pass us by/Girl, we can make it up to paradise/Just give it a try/So hurry now and girl make up your mind/It’s gettin’ late/Don’t know how much more I can stand/Girl, I need your lovin’/I’m so tired of waitin’/Come on there’s no one else around/Oo-sweet girl, it’s gettin’ late/So please don’t hesitate/Been waitin’ to get your defenses down”.
‘Crack at Your Love’ is a breezy pop song that begins with these words that could come from a teenage boy: “I’ve been keepin’ my eyes on you/I finally found the nerve to talk to you/There’s something that you ought to know/Don’t you know that I love you so?/Our life together could be eternal bliss/If we could just get close enough to kiss/And you know, I’d like to get a crack at your love/Crack at your love (2X)”. ‘Maybe I Don’t Know’ is a light rock song. Gary Moore is great on rhythm and lead guitars. The song begins with these words of self-reflection: “You got me calling at all hours of the night/I don’t think it’s right/But still I do it/You got me thinking your existence is my life/It’s time to see the light/I think I’ll leave it”.
‘She Believes in Love Again’ is a nice ballad written by Bruce Johnston. It uses violin, viola, cello, and trombone. It includes these words of a man determined to do the hard work to make a relationship work: “I woke up, I spoke up/And let her know the way I feel/Changes I could make/Wouldn’t have to take a lifetime/She wants me, she needs me/She always let me know before/And now it’s up to me/To give her all she needs the right way/She believes in love again/She believes in me/Now we’ve gone far beyond/The way we used to be”. ‘California Calling’ was penned by Alan Jardine and Brian Wilson. Ringo Starr plays drums and timpani! This one has a welcome old time rock and roll feel to it. It finds the band fondly reminiscing about days long past: “In the fifties it was ‘Hey-Daddy-O’/Then came the surfers and the Hodads you know/We had our woodies and our custom cars/And when we drove around we knew we were bad/My baby listens to my car radio/And when we’re cruisin’ lets the whole world know/And when our favourite surfin’ song comes on/We always let ‘em know it’s ‘Totally Rad!’”
‘Passing Friend’ was composed by Culture Club members George O’Dowd (Boy George) and Roy Hay. It is certainly not the happiest song on the album: “Well, there’s nothing worse than a passing friend/Who will die on you till the bitter end/There’s nothing worse than a burning heart/Or a past that tears the world apart.../Why do you love someone/Who wants to break your heart?/Why do you need someone/Who wants to tear your world apart?” The next song ‘I’m So Lonely’ is credited to Brian Wilson and Eugene E. Landy. Later on, all of Landy’s credits on the album would be erased because the therapist exploited Brian. This track is mellow and is influenced by doo-wop. Thousands of guys worldwide will be able to relate to these lyrics of longing: “I’ve wished since you went away/That you’d soon be back to stay/I’m so lonely for your love tonight/Since you left, it’s been this way/Every night and every day/When will it/When will it ever change?/Whoa”.
‘Where I Belong’ is a pretty ballad that gets romantic: “In my mind we’re together/Even when I’m alone/And my heart leaves you never/Never will our love grow old/My destination forever/You are my shining star that navigates me home/Don’t need to search no more exotic islands/Now that I found you’re right where I belong/Never been as much at home as I am/Loving you is right where I belong”. The next song¸ ‘I Do Love You’, is a Stevie Wonder composition. He plays drums, bass¸ Fender Rhodes, and harmonica on this mid-tempo R&B track. The lyrics have a guy really opening up to a gal: “When you say you do/Makes me want to spend life with you/I never knew life could be so good/When you say you care/Want to be right there beside you/And show the world/You’ve been good to me/And you know I do/All my love/You are my love/Without your love I go nowhere/All my love/You are my life/You are the girl I’m dreaming of/You’re the one I really love/I do love you (4X)”.
‘It’s Just a Matter of Time’ has a slow doo-wop groove to it and uses dobro and harmonica. It is the song of one who is not content: “Darling, I’m lost without you/Sad with nothing to do/It’s just a matter of time/Whoa, darling/What is it you’re doing?/What’s that mood that’s brewing?/It’s just a matter of time”. The CD release of this album includes a twelfth song called ‘Male Ego’ credited to Brian Wilson and Eugene Landy. It includes these humorous lyrics: “Male ego is played by all/Chasing ladies and having a ball/Hey girl, I’m gonna give you a call tonight/Don’t know why we love to chase those tasty ladies/Betcha boys we’ll be doing it in our eighties”.
After this 1985 release CBS let The Beach Boys’ contract expire. In my opinion, this album has too many sad songs on it. Lyrically, it gives the impression that if you don’t have a lady in your life or if one has left you, you can’t be a whole, complete person and there really isn’t much to live for. Various group members take a shot at lead vocals and the group’s well known harmonies are still there. Unfortunately the album is a hodge podge of sorts musically and has a fair share of mediocre songs. There are enough good ones though to warrant me giving it an 80%. For more info visit: www.beachboys.com.