Back To The Beach: My Favorite Rarer Beach Boys Songs

A few remaining Capitol Record Cassettes and “Problem Child” Single from my collection.

One of my fondest summer memories growing up was when I would go to my hometown Fisher’s Big Wheel (which was similar to K-Mart) and go to the music section. The store had albums, 45s, and cassettes. It was at the bargain bin where I got “Destroyer” by Kiss on cassette, along with several from The Beach Boys that were thrown together by Capitol Records. I would walk to the other side of town with my best friend, buy the cassettes and rush home to put it in my boom box player and practice playing drums to the songs.

The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys have always been one of my favorite bands of all time, and I wanted to list a few of my favorite Beach Boys songs that some may not know about. Everyone knows about their surfing songs like “Surfin USA” and car songs like “Little Deuce Coupe,” but these ones are unique in their own right, especially when some fans may have stopped listening to them in the 1980s.  So here are some of my favorite underrated Beach Boys songs (and the album it was on):

  1. “Getcha Back” (The Beach Boys-1985). I constantly write on this site how much I LOVE this album, which was the first album after drummer Dennis Wilson’s death. Some fans do not like the album, but for me, it was a big part of my summers growing up in the 1980s, and since my best female friend was a fan of the band as well, it brings back good memories.  The song deals with a guy reminiscing after hearing “their” song from an ex (remember when couples had their song?). Written by Terry Melcher, the song hit #26 on the U.S. Charts and brought a new audience to the band with their appearances on shows like “Solid Gold” for younger listeners.  To this day, it is one of my favorite songs of the 1980s.
  1. “She Believes In Love Again” (The Beach Boys- 1985). From the same album, this ballad was written by Bruce Johnston, who sings lead on the song. Carl Wilson helps out on the chorus, which shows no matter how polished and produced this album is, with its 1980s drum machines and synthesizers, Carl still had a great, pure voice. Gary Moore also played on the song, which fits in with any Pop Ballad of the time. This is one of my favorite songs on the album.
  1. “Rock And Roll to the Rescue” (Made In USA -1986). This song was part of a Greatest Hits package, which a friend of mine had when we were growing up. I loved the autobiographical tone to the song, which could be an example of any musician that fell in love with music. I also loved the fact that the story starts off about a shy boy who ends up playing to concert arenas by the end of the song. Brian Wilson sings lead on this song, but still kept the vocal harmonies of the band, even in the 1980s.
  1. “Do You Remember” (All Summer Long- 1965). I discovered this song on one of the Capitol issued cassettes I mentioned earlier, which was on 1983’s “Summer Dreams.” I fell in love with this song which tells a small history of Rock and Roll, because of my professional wrestling infatuation. One of my favorite tag teams was The Rock and Roll Express, who came out to ELO’s “Rock and Roll is King” song. I also thought this would be a good song as theme music when I used to play with my AWA Wrestling action figures. The song also has a feel to it similar to Danny and The Junior’s “At The Hop.” The song was part of the lawsuit that Mike Love ended up getting credit for that was uncredited for years.
  1. “Girl Don’t Tell Me” (Summer Days and Summer Nights-1965). Another song that was on the “Summer Dreams” cassette that I loved. This song was one of the early songs Carl Wilson sang lead on, and it was different from their other work, due to the acoustic guitar vibe to it. I used to listen to this song and think Carl was sitting on a beach by a fire playing the song. There is also a lack of the other members singing on the chorus, which makes the song unique. The song reminds me of the days when a person would have a friend from another school or state that would visit for the summer and then go back home and refuse to continue to stay in touch, or when people used to have pen pals. The line “I’ll see you this summer and forget you when I go back to school” and “Girl don’t tell me you’ll write me again this time” are in that theme.
  1. “Problem Child” (Released as a cassette single-1990). This was the theme song from the movie with John Ritter, which was written by Terry Melcher. I bought the cassette single, even though I still haven’t seen the movie. This was in the 1990s, when the band was fading with their audience, except for the diehard fans. John Stamos played drums on the song. The lyrics deal with how people can change and dispel labels being put on them. The lyrics like “Who wants to work until you’re 93” and talking about the girl next door may “Turn into a work of art” still showed that the band could find great lyrical content. The arranging of putting the children’s “Na Na” chant in the song was clever, which is what great Pop songs need. Even the video was fun to watch.
  1. “The Private Life of Bill and Sue” (That’s Why God Made the Radio- 2012). This album was their first since the death of Carl Wilson, and the first with returning member David Marks since 1963. Written by Brian Wilson and Joe Thomas, the song talks about how obsessed our culture is with fake celebrities and reality stars. The song is similar to the song “South American” off of Wilson’s 1998 Solo CD “Imagination.” Even though the rest of the album is OK, due to the fact that it seems scattered all over the place, this is my favorite off the album. This is a fun song.

Maybe these songs will make you check out some of the rarer songs by the band, or any band. These show that The Beach Boys were not all about surfing, cars, and higher pitched vocals.

 

 

Underrated Albums You May Not Know

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If you grew up in the 1960s- 1990s, you may remember going to the local mall or record store and spending hours trying to decide on an album to buy (or cassette or CD). Malls and even most record stores are rare anymore, so today’s music lovers just download songs or watch a video on YouTube or their phones for music. The record labels don’t back their artists like the used to, if they do at all, and some albums get lost in the shuffle.

A friend recently asked me what I thought were some rare underrated albums that either were missed when they came out, or just not brought up when naming some of that artist’s better works. So here are some of my most Underrated Albums that you may want to check out. I also list a few of the songs that are underrated each album.

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1.“Wild Hope”- Mandy Moore (2007).  When Moore started her singing career in 1999, she was lumped into the Teen Pop genre with Britney Spears and the Boy Bands. Moore went on to a successful acting career, with movies like “The Princess Diaries,” “A Walk To Remember” and currently in NBC’s “This Is Us.”

After coming off a great covers album (which you should check out as well entitled “Coverage”), Moore switched labels and released “Wild Hope” in 2007, filled with a female singer-songwriter feel to the songs. The songs were co-written by Moore while spending time in Woodstock, New York, and the songs have the coffee shop vibe to them. I was always a fan of Moore’s work, and this album proved a maturity from the Pop music (which was evident in the covers album as well). I loved the CD so much I had the original release and the Target Release with extra tracks.  The songs “Extraordinary,” and “Looking Forward to Looking Back” were played on one of my former workplace’s store radio station.  If Moore decides to go back to music, I hope she’d go back to this route, instead of the disappointing album she put out after this album. This is where Moore shines the most on her albums. There’s not a bad song on this release.

Songs: “Slummin in Paradise,” “Looking Forward to Looking Back,” “Ladies Choice,” “Could’ve Been Watching You,” “Gardenia.”

  1. “The Beach Boys” –The Beach Boys (1985). If you have read this blog for a while, you’ll see this album mentioned many times, being my favorite Beach Boys album. Critics say this album had too much drum machines and samplings in the songs, but it was the mid 1980s-everyone was doing it. This was the first album after the death of drummer Dennis Wilson, so the band was coming off of a tragedy. The album had a Top 30 Hit on the U.S. Charts, “Getcha Back,” and had, in my opinion, some great songs on it. This album became the groove that set the band into the “Kokomo” era, which became a smash hit for them. This album seems to be overlooked, even when Mike Love and Brian Wilson mention it in their books. This album, especially the song “Getcha Back” was a big part of my junior high years, and when I hear the song, it reminds me of my youth. The album has guests like Ringo Starr, Stevie Wonder, and Gary Moore on the tracks.

Songs: “Getcha Back,” “It’s Getting Late,” “Crack At Your Love,” “She Believes in Love Again,” California Calling.”

3.”An Innocent Man” –Billy Joel (1983).  It’s hard to believe such a smash album is not mentioned when speaking of an artist’s work, but this album seems to be when talking about Billy Joel’s works. The album was the very first cassette I ever bought (again-childhood memories), and had hits like “Tell Her About It,” “Uptown Girl,” and “The Longest Time.” The album lost to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” at the Grammy Awards. Joel’s tribute to the 1950’s and 1960’s Music had some great songs that some don’t think of. Every track was great and no filler.

Songs: “Careless Talk,” “ Leave A Tender Moment Alone,” “This Night,” “Keeping The Faith.”

  1. “Danger Danger”-Danger Danger (1989). This band was in the Glam Metal era which reminded me more of Warrant. When every record label was signing bands that had a blonde-haired lead singer that could sing mostly ballads, this band got lost in the mix. Some say that there are too much keyboards on the record, but it (to me) was no more or less than some of the other bands. The video “Naughty Naughty” was featured on MTV when it was released, and I remember rushing out to get the cassette the day it came out. I loved the comic book cover on the album as well. Wrestling fans will remember the song “Rock America” being used in Smoky Mountain Wrestling, being the theme for a short while of Chris Jericho and Lance Storm’s The Thrillseekers tag team. The band is still putting out music, and singer Ted Poley has several solo releases as well.  This was a good glam album that was missed by many.

Songs: “Don’t Walk Away,” “One Step From Paradise,” “Feels Like Love,” “Saturday Nite.”

  1. “Henry Lee Summer”- Henry Lee Summer (1988). Summer had a hit with the song “I Wish I Had A Girl” that was played constantly when it came out in my area (the single hit #20 on the U.S. Charts, and #1 on The Mainstream Rock Charts). The first major album of Summer (he released two albums before this one) had a mix of Blues and Rock and catchy hooks to the songs. He charted higher on the Mainstream Rock Charts than on the U.S. Singles, but still had some great songs, which his next album had the song “Hey Baby” (Which hit #18 on U.S. Charts).  Summer worked with many acts before his solo career, but this album is his best work, which almost every track was great. The ballad “Darlin’ Danielle Don’t” was in rotation at our school dances when it came out.

Songs: “Darlin’ Danielle Don’t,” “Hands On The Radio,” “I Wish I Had A Girl.”

  1. “Hard At Play”- Huey Lewis and The News (1991). After the string of hits with the albums “Sports” and “Fore,” Huey Lewis and The News was racking up chart singles, but this album started a little decline for the band, even though it went Gold and had 2 singles, the album is not mentioned by many, which is a shame because it is just as great as their other work. The bands 6th Album had the singles “Couple Days Off” (#11) and “It Hit Me Like A Hammer” (#21). This album is full of good ballads and up tempo Pop songs, just like one expects from the band. There are only 1-2 songs that aren’t my favorite. A few of the songs were played live when I saw them after this tour. I remember wearing out my VHS tape when I recorded the band on The Tonight Show performing “He Don’t Know” from this album, which is still one of my favorite songs on ANY of their albums.

Songs: “He Don’t Know,” “That’s Not Me,” “We Should Be Making Love,” “Best of Me,” “Don’t Look Back.”

  1. “A Thousand Memories”- Rhett Akins (1995). In the mid 1990s, Country Music was booming, thanks to people like Clint Black and Garth Brooks. I remember watching the TV Channel TNN, also known as The Nashville Network at the time (before going to Spike TV), and Rhett Akins was on the video shows with his song “That Ain’t My Truck,” which I fell in love with the song and the songs on this cassette, which I wore out walking through my college campus with my Walkman. I saw him live open for Reba McIntyre and Tracy Bird, and thought he was going to be a big thing (he even came through the crowd singing the first song, which at the time was rare in Country Music). Akins had a #1 hit on his next album (“Don’t Get Me Started”), but every song on this album was a great debut, including Alabama’s “Katy Brought My Guitar Back Today.” He now writes for acts like Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton, Chris Young, and Brantley Gilbert, and his song is in the business (Thomas Rhett). I really liked Akins as a songwriter and singer on this album.

Songs: “That Ain’t My Truck,” “Katy Brought My Guitar Back Today,” “A Thousand Memories,” “She Said Yes.”

  1. “My Own Best Enemy”- Richard Marx (2004). After his first three albums, some people stopped listening to Richard Marx and I don’t know why. He is still putting out some great music (I mentioned him when discussing rare Christmas Songs on this page). As much as I like his first three Albums, this one may be my favorite. The release had a darker edge to it, but still has the Pop feel (much like his song “Hazard” years before). One of the two singles, “Ready To Fly,” hit #22 on the Adult Contemporary Charts. Even though many of the songs are darker, there are still some positive lyrics on some of the songs, like “Someone Special” (Which was originally on the 2000 “Days in Avalon” CD) This is the album to study for commercial style songs about loneliness.

Songs: “The Other Side,” “Ready To Fly,” “Someone Special,” “When You’re Gone.”

  1. “Lonesome Wins Again”- Stacy Dean Campbell (1992). Another album that got lost in the Country Music boom of the 1990s is this one. This album is a more traditional, rockabilly feel to it, which may have been why, but it is still great. Dean’s singles off the album hit the mid 50s on the Country Charts, and is now a writer/director for music videos and TV Shows. I remember watching his concert promoting this album on TNN, and loved playing the cassette. Full of acoustic ballads and mid tempo songs, this album is great to just kick back with and relax, especially if you like Country. This album has a Rick Nelson feel to it.

Songs: “That Blue Again,” “That Ain’t No Mountain,” “Poor Man’s Rose.”

A few more albums that I would suggest (there are so many) are:

1.”United World Rebellon” -Skid Row (EPs 2013, 2014)

  1. “Erase The Slate”- Dokken (1999)

3.”Just Getting Started”- Loverboy (2007)

4.”Find Your Own Way Home”- REO Speedwagon (2007)

5.“Can’t Slow Down”- Foreigner (2009)

6.“Trixter”- Trixter (1990)

Maybe you will dig deeper into these albums if you are bored with the same stuff that is out there in your collection.

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Book Review: Showing Some Love for Good Vibrations.

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“For those who believe Brian walks on water, I will always be the antichrist.”

 

Those words by Mike Love of the Beach Boys have not rung more true to many fans of the band. In his book “Good Vibrations: My Life As A Beach Boy,” Love, along with James S. Hirsch, tells his side of the turbulent history of one of America’s greatest Rock and Roll Bands. Lawsuits, fighting, and tragedies have been the backbone of the band, and this 422 page book covers it all through the lead singer’s perspective.

Love starts the book with his early years of growing up, and the closeness of him and Brian Wilson, although their fathers were at odds. Love claims that Murry Wilson was always jealous over the fact that the Loves had more money than the Wilsons, which caused conflicts throughout the families (Mike and Brian are cousins).  The book walks through the start of the Beach Boys and how Murry became the manager of the band that started a dictatorship running the band, even charging the members a fine for cussing, showing late, or drinking. Love also discusses their early bad record deal with Capitol Records, where an album cost $3 at the time, and the artists received $.3 for each sale. Capitol got $1.80 for each album sold, plus deducted session time until it was paid off.

Even during the early years, the band had rotating members, although most people know the band as Love, Al Jardine, and the Wilson brothers (Carl, Brian, and Dennis). Al Jardine was never liked by Murry, according to Love (along with David Marks) because they were not family.

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Carl Wilson, Bruce Johnson, Brian Wilson, Love, and Al Jardine.

Love tells a story that when Brian played “Surfin U.S.A” to fellow artists Jan and Dean,  Jan recognized the melody as Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen” and wanted the song to record, saying that they were friends with Berry and could get permission to use the song. Wilson refused and gave Jan and Dean “Surf City,” which went to #1. Years later, Berry sued and won a lawsuit and got songwriting credits against Wilson.

Love states that he helped co-write several of the bands big hits and was never credited for the songs. Every time he asked Brian why he wasn’t credited, Brian claims that Murry “messed up” and would get it changed. Years went by, and it was never changed until Love sued (and won) Brian in court.

The book details the recording of the Beach Boys albums, including Brian’s strange methods, especially when he started doing drugs, along with some of the traveling stories throughout the years. Love talks about the rivalry with The Beatles, saying “The Beatles knew how to merchandise, not just with T-Shirts, stickers, and posters but with lampshades and lunch boxes and pinball machines. The Beach Boys? Uncle Murry made buttons that read ‘I know Brian’s Dad’” and “we lacked management.”

Love takes the reader through his various marriages, along with those from other band members, the media starting lies about his relationship with Brian, making him out to be the villain of the band. Love walks through the suing of Brian with the copyright issues, along with the slander lawsuit in Wilson’s autobiography, and the relationship of the band with Eugene Landy, who was brought in two times to help Brian Wilson’s health. He also talks about how his discovery of Transcendental Meditation influenced his life. He also walks the reader through the deaths of Dennis and Carl, and the relationship of the band and John Stamos.

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Brian Wilson, Love, Al Jardine, Carl and Dennis Wilson.

Love details how the contracts worked in the record company and how he ended up being able to own the name The Beach Boys, while there are different members in two different touring bands.

The book is an interesting read, especially for a fan of the band for years. Regardless of what personally people think of Mike Love (and whose side people are on between him and Brian Wilson), the reader has to give the author the benefit of the doubt, and Love’s book is honest. He states his opinions of what occurred through his eyes.

The topics dealing with the record companies and the contracts is a great section of the book, which any musician should read about how the business works. The parts about the most recent Beach Boys reunion tour for the 50th anniversary is also a great read, talking about how the tour ended up being a loss in the U.S. overall. He also talks about how getting together for the last Beach Boys album “That’s Why God Made The Radio” was not what Love thought he was getting into. I would’ve have like a little more insight on one of my favorite Beach Boys Albums , the 1985 “The Beach Boys,” but maybe there is not much to tell. It seemed to be just passed over, especially since it was the first album since the death of Dennis.

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The band during the 50th Anniversary Tour (Bruce Johnson, Al Jardine,Brian Wilson,Love, and David Marks).

The book overall is worth the read, especially since it is 400 pages long, which is rare for most books. Love has had a long career, which is why the book is so long. The book is not an “I wrote all these songs, and here’s why I hate Brian Wilson,” but talks about the one time closeness of Love and Brian, even during the lawsuits (At one point in the book he says, next to Brian, Carl Wilson was the most musical of the band).  Do not let whatever personal views of Love distract getting a chance to read the book. This book has quite a bit of business errors and cautions that artists may need to read.

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Love Mike and James S. Hirsch. “Good Vibrations: My Life As A Beach Boy.”

Blue Rider Press. 2016