In 1972 the Beach Boys released their 18th studio album CARL & THE PASSIONS: SO TOUGH (Brother Records/Reprise). It saw the addition of two new members to the group. Blondie Chaplin (guitar/vocals) and Ricky Fataar (drums/vocals) had both played for the South African band The Flame. Soon after the sessions for this album started, Bruce Johnston had a disagreement with manager Jack Rieley and exited the Beach Boys. Of this album, Elton John says: “This album is a step away from PET SOUNDS, but still has moments of breathtaking genius and experimentation”. It reached #25 in the UK and #50 in the U.S.
Brian Wilson and Jack Rieley penned the upbeat rock and roll song ‘You Need a Mess of Help to Stand Alone’. It uses tack piano, banjo, slide guitar, and fiddle. The lyrics draw on nature to make a point: “I need a breeze blowing softly/To keep my wind vane from standing/I need a whole lot of sunshine/To keep my sundial advancing/I need some soil ‘fore my grass will grow/I need some spark to make my candle glow/Relief I cried/Ain’t no shuck ‘n’ jive/I need a mess of help to stand alone”. ‘Here She Comes’ was written by the two new group members. It speaks of the power of a lady: “Here she comes, breathing life into my thoughts/There she goes, leaves a portrait in my soul/Rolling in madness/She does everything to me/Wherever she goes, you know the devil dances/And the gods lay down in defeat/Am I living?/Crazy woman can’t you see/That I’m giving/Giving to you?/Can you dig me?”
‘He Came Down’ is a happy rock and roll song that uses Hammond organ, piano, handclaps, and finger snaps. It is a lyrical hodge-podge of spirituality: “Jesus came down to save the world from sin/Sayin’ ‘Seek ye first the kingdom within’/Maharishi teaches us to meditate/To dive deep within, come out and radiate/All of the saints through all creation/Sing the same song of revelation”. ‘Marcella’ is a breezy pop song of infatuation: “Mystic maiden’s more than soft and sexy/She can mess my mind with the stuff that she knows/Her newfound beauty goes beyond her covering/And sets a flame in her soul/One arm over my shoulder/Sandals dance at my feet/Eyes that’ll knock you right over/Ooo, Marcella’s so sweet”.
‘Hold on Dear Brother’ is a piano based waltz that also uses the pedal steel. It makes clear our need for friendship: “Won’t you please/Hold on dear Brother (3X)/Brother, Brother/In your heart you know it’s love/A simple feeling that you shout/I want your love/You touch my hand/I need your love/To carry me home”. Daryl Dragon of Captain and Tenille fame is responsible for the orchestration on the sweeping ballad ‘Make it Good’. Dennis Wilson delivers these simple, but heartfelt lyrics: “All of my life/I haven’t known much/All I know is what I feel/And what I feel (2X)/Love/I’m in love/Love, love”.
Al Jardine, Carl Wilson, and Mike Love wrote ‘All This is That’. This easy listening number has a decidedly New Age message: “Golden auras glow around you/Omnipresent love surrounds you/Wisdom warming as the sun/You and I are truly one.../I am that, thou art that, all this is that”. ‘Cuddle Up’ includes these passionate (pun intended) lyrics: “The night has come/Cuddle up to me/Keep warm, mmm, close to me/In dreams/We’ll dream/Making love to wake/To find/Mmm, we’re still one/Your love (3X)/Your love for me is so warm and good to me/Growing every day/Honey, honey/I’m in love”.
I quite like CARL & THE PASSSIONS: SO TOUGH. It has a lot of feeling and emotional investment to it. That doesn’t mean I agree with every lyric. Really, it sounds like a completely different group than that which recorded classic hits like ‘Surfin U.S.A.’ and ‘California Girls’, especially when it comes to the lead vocals. However, the group harmonies are still present. This is more mature music that should not be overlooked. I’m rating it 88%. For more info visit: www.thebeachboys.com.
The next year, 1973, the Beach Boys released their 19th studio album HOLLAND (Brother Records/Reprise). Much of it was recorded in Holland while Brian Wilson was back in the U.S. with emotional and mental problems. The album reached #20 in the UK and #36 in the U.S. The cover photo is an upside down picture of the Kroome Waal, a canal in Amsterdam. Tom Petty writes that this album “is not only a wonderful listening experience, it’s a great case for The Beach Boys being more than Brian Wilson’s backing singers”.
‘Sail on, Sailor’ was written by Brian Wilson, Tandyn Almer, Ray Kennedy, Jack Rieley, and Van Dyke Parks. Blondie Chaplin handles lead vocals on this soulful rock song that would become a concert favorite. It tells a story: “I sailed an ocean, unsettled ocean/Through restful waters and deep commotion/Often frightened, unenlightened/Sail on, sail on sailor/I wrest the waters, fight Neptune’s waters/Sail thru the sorrows of life’s marauders/Unrepenting, often empty/Sail on, sail on sailor/Caught like a sewer rat alone, but I sail/Bought like a crust of bread, but oh, do I wail”. ‘Steamboat’ sounds a bit like a Tom Waits song musically. Tony Martin plays slide guitar. The song includes these poetic lyrics: “The river’s a bed of sweet berries and flowers/Banks of thirsty lies/(Please be careful)/The stream is an eyeglass of heroes/Bridged with bright replies/The creek is a funnel of forgiveness/Winning every prize/The steamboat of living ever faithfully ride/The river’s a dream in a waltz time/Banks of jasper glaze/Have a ball and sing”. Mike Love wrote and performs lead vocals on the mellow country and western song ‘California Saga/Big Sur’. It uses harmonica and pedal steel and finds one longing for home: “Big Sur, I’ve got plans for you/Me and mine are going to/Add ourselves to your lengthy list of lovers/And live in canyons covered with a springtime green/While birds and flowers to be heard and seen/And on my old guitar, I’ll make up songs to sing/Sparklin’ springs from the mountainside/Join the Big Sur rivers rushing to the tide/Where my kids can search for sea shells at low tide/Big Sur, my astrology, it says that I am meant to be/Where the rugged mountain meets the water”.
‘California Saga/The Beaks of Eagles’ is based on a poem by Robinson Jeffers and makes use of the flute. It is a mix of Kevin Max like spoken word and group singing. ‘California Saga/California’ was penned by Al Jardine. It sounds closest to the good time rock and roll sounds that made the Beach Boys famous. It begins with these carefree words: “On my way to sunny California/On my way to spend another sunny day/Water, water, get yourself in the cool, clear water/And the sun shines brightly down on Penny’s place/The sun shines brightly down on the bay/The air’s so clean it’ll just take your mind away/Take your mind away (2X)”. Carl Wilson delivers the lead vocal on the soulful rock song ‘The Trader’. It has been said to be anti-imperialistic: “Trader said they’re not as good as folks who wear velvet robes/Wrote home again and asked/’Please help, their breasts I see, they’re not like me/Banish them from our prairies and our hillsides/Clear them from our mountains and our seaside/I want them off our lakes, so please reply/Signed sincerely’/Trader he got the crown okay/Cleared humanity from his way/He civilized all he saw/Making changes every single day”.
‘Leaving This Town’ features a great, lengthy Moog solo by Ricky Fataar. This is the ballad of one who is lonely and searching: “Sometimes it’s hard to make it through the day/Sometimes it’s hard to find my way/Sometimes it’s hard to notice the changing days/When your friends have all gone/Leaving this town for another one/The night is coming round/I can feel the weight of coming down/So afraid to lose this dream/I want you to understand that I’m trying to do the best I can/It’s so easy to lose my way”. Dennis Wilson and Mike Love wrote ‘Only With You’. It is a simple love song: “Love is so many things that I feel/I have only felt with you/Only with you/And then there are the things that we do/That I’ve only done with you/Only with you/Before love had always had its up and downs/Until the love I finally found”. ‘Funky Pretty’ is a forgettable song that draws from astrology.
HOLLAND is artistic and creative. It does not sound rushed at all, but well thought out. For the most part, it is not music for the masses. The lyrics are not always easily accessible to all. Like its predecessor, HOLLAND has a mature vibe to it. There are, however, a couple of songs that are reminiscent of the Beach Boys’ earlier, more commercial sounding material. I’m rating this album 85%. For more info visit: www.thebeachboys.com.
Originally included with HOLLAND was MT. VERNON AND FAIRWAY (A FAIRY TALE): A FAIRY TALE IN SEVERAL PARTS. It was produced by Brian and Carl Wilson. Jack Rieley serves as a narrator. It was inspired by the boy’s time at the Love home as teens, listening to a transistor radio. It runs over thirteen minutes. Both albums I have reviewed here, plus the fairy tale, can be found on the 2000 double album CD released by Brother/Capitol Records.