L. A. LIGHT ALBUM is the 23rd studio album released by The Beach Boys. Light is defined here as “the awareness of and the presence of God, here in this world as an ongoing, loving reality”. This album released by Brother/Caribou/CBS in 1979 was produced by Bruce Johnston (who hadn’t been with the band since 1972), James William Guercio, and The Beach Boys. Brian Wilson was not in great shape at the time, so he was not a major contributor to the album. At this time many viewed The Beach Boys as an oldies act.
The album opener ‘Good Timin’’ was penned by Brian and Carl Wilson. Carl sings lead on this wonderful light pop song with signature harmonies. It hit #40 on the Billboard chart and is carefree: “We’re all goin’ places/Sharin’ each other/A celebration/Of being together/I love/Good, good timin’/Good, good timin’/Ahhhh, ahhhh/You need good timin’/It takes good timin’/You need good timin’/Yeah/Good, good timin’”. ‘Lady Lynda’ is based on Bach’s ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring’ and did well in the UK. It is a tribute to Al Jardine’s then wife, sung by him: “Won’t you come here and lie lady Lynda with me?/We can lie in the green canyon meadows/And we’ll hear the birds sing in the Spring/Don’t you know if you’ll stay lady Lynda with me/We can talk about love ever after/When you lie lady Lynda with me.../Lynda won’t you say that I am your man?/Don’t look surprised, it’s all in his plan, ooh/But darlin’ evolution is drawing us near/Lie lady lie”.
Carl and Geoffrey Cushing-Murray wrote ‘Full Sail’. It is an easy listening tune that will capture the attention of boaters: “Full sail, full sail/Waiting for the wind to blow/The wind will blow/Does the silence of the sea/Sound warning of a storm ahead?/Whispers of the breeze/Stir and disappear/Too soft to hear/What’s in store for me/Adventure on the high seas/Put the childhood dream to the test/Find the measure of the man/Follow the sun heading west”. Dennis Wilson sings lead on the adult pop song ‘Angel Come Home’. It is a song of longing and heartache: “I’m waitin’ till my angel comes home/It’s been hell bein’ here alone/I’ll be in heaven when my angel comes home/Angel, angel come home/If you see her tell my angel come home.../Does she remember that I can’t forget?/Does she know I regret I never told her how I, I wanted to hold her?/I just let her go”.
‘Love Surrounds Me’ is another song on the subject of lost love: “On my own again, left alone/To remember when her love filled my life/Made my life alive her love/Love around me/How can I cope without the love that I had?/All around me, love surrounds me/The love that I lost was more than I could hope to find/Love surround me, all around me/Did I have love or did love have me?/Oo, love around me/But there’s no/There’s no love of my own”. Mike Love wrote and sings lead on ‘Sumahama’. It is easy on the ears and includes these lyrics: “Sumahama/There’s a lover’s leap in old Japan/Where the lovers walk along the sand/Hand in hand at Sumahama.../Sumahama/In the autumn as the leaves are falling/One can almost hear the lovers calling/From the sea at Sumahama”. The song also includes Japanese lyrics.
‘Here Comes the Night’ was an R&B influenced track on 1967’s WILD HONEY. They turned it into a disco single that hit #44 on the Billboard chart in early 1979. The album version here runs almost eleven minutes long. Carl and Al sing lead and Bruce Johnston and Curt Becher produce this funky track. It includes these passionate words: “I know livin’ is takin’ and givin’/Baby I’m givin’ you my best/One of these days you know/I’m gonna go crazy in the middle of your caress/When the day goes down/Honey, I’ll be around/Why don’t you wear your pretty red dress?/Here comes the night/Hold me, squeeze me, don’t ever leave me/Tell me I’m doin’ alright (2X)/Hold me, love me, ooooo”. Dennis Wilson, his wife Karen Lamm, and Gregg Jakobson wrote ‘Baby Blue’. It is the piano-based ballad of a man in touch with his feelings: “Lie alone in bed at night/Feel the pull of a lonely day/Thoughts like music start to play/I wonder where you were today/Baby, baby blue/Baby, blue eyes I dream of you/Late at night when/The whole world’s sleeping, I dream of you/Close to you/I feel your sweet heart beating/I dream of you”.
Carl Wilson sings lead on ‘Goin’ South’. It uses keyboard and sax. Many Canadian snowbirds will easily relate to these words: “I think of goin’ south for the winter/It’s getting mighty cold/I watch the fire glow/The moon shining ‘cross the snow/Maybe Florida or Mexico/Is where I oughta go/Somewhere where everything is green/Oo, the change of scene/Might do me good/When the swallows go/When they leave Capistrano/Fly away so gracefully/Maybe that’s for me”. The last song, ‘Shortenin’ Bread’ dates back to 1900. Here it is adapted by Brian Wilson into a happy go lucky rockin’ tune. It contains these playful lyrics: “They caught me with the skillet/They caught me with the lid/They caught me with the girl eatin’ shortenin’ bread/Six months for the skillet/Six months for the lid/Now I’m doin’ time for eatin’ shortenin’ bread...Mama’s little baby loves shortenin’ bread”.
To me, L.A. LIGHT ALBUM is a creative highpoint for The Beach Boys. They proved they could put out a pleasant, artistic, emotional album for the most part without the help of Brian Wilson. The songs here are of very good quality and the vocals are performed well. Pair this project with their oldies hits and you have a great and diverse musical group. I’m rating L.A. LIGHT ALBUM 90%. For more info visit: www.thebeachboys.com.