I - II - III - IV

NOTE:  Certain editors have undertaken the task of collecting the uncountable articles and news pieces on the Beach Boys that have been written for various magazines, newsletters and newspapers over the years.  These "time capsules" of public opinion are almost always interesting and informative.  Any of the titles listed below is a worthy addition to your personal library. These reviews are solely my own opinion.

Look!  Listen!  Vibrate!  SMILE!
Compiled by Domenic Priore, 1988, 1997; Small Press Distribution, 264 p.

(out of five)
Look! Listen!
                                              Vibrate! SMILE!David Leaf: "This incredible myth has grown up around SMILE. . . the first question is "Can the music live up to the legend?"  If the album had been finished and then shelved, and now we released it 25 years later, then you might get a fairer answer to your question.  Because it's incomplete, it's hard to know what it would have meant in 1966 or 1967. . . In life there are very few things that live up to your expectations." [pg. 257] 

A wonderful, eclectic collection of newspaper, magazine, and press clippings, surrounding the rise and fall of the holy grail of Beach-Boydom: "Smile."  Literally hundreds of actual articles, in more or less chronological order, with reporters snapping at the heels of Brian Wilson and the 'Boys as they prepared what was billed to be the greatest rock album ever, bigger than "Good Vibrations," and then documenting the crumbling reality, and eventual self-destruction of that project.  At first the book looks daunting. . . there is no connecting narrative, just page after page of photocopied articles, sometimes stacked one atop another, in no discernible order.  But when I took the time to actually go through and read every piece, it weaves a wonderful time capsule tapestry of the 1966-67 period.  There are also a couple of specially written articles, like the one above with David Leaf and Dominic Priore bantering back and forth about "Smile" that are interesting reading in their own right.  A must have book. 

How Deep Is The Ocean?
Paul Williams, 1997; Omnibus Press, 240 p.

How Deep Is The
                                              Ocean?". . . the thing that I used to get a great deal of personal fun out of, is when people would arbitrarily slough off or slam the Beach Boys as being wimp(s), or whatever they wanted to call 'em, they really had no idea of the incredible complex thing that is happening amongst a group of people.  You could do a trilogy just on the lives of the Beach Boys.  There is so much emotion, and drama, in that family, much more than I've ever seen in any other family, and everything directly affects Brian.  Brian is always conscious of those boys, continually conscious of them, as brothers and as human beings."  [pg. 69]

As the founding editor of "Crawdaddy" magazine, Paul Williams was in the forefront of what is now modern rock music analysis, and has been writing about the Beach Boys, and Brian particularly, since he and Brian met shortly after the release of "Pet Sounds" in 1966.    This book collects those initial impressions, along with previously published and unpublished reviews and musings, into this single volume.   Mr. Williams is an ardent fan, and as such, the reading can by gushy, one-sided, and over analytical.  But he also has the enviable ability to convey in words his heart-felt feelings about why the Beach Boys' music has remained a vital force in his life, and fans who read along will probably find themselves agreeing with his reasons.  Mr. Williams writes like Brian Wilson writes: more heart than head. . . which, as Beach Boys fans know, is not necessarily a bad thing.  An agreeable book.  

Back To The Beach: a Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys Reader
Edited by Kingsley Abbott, 1998; Helter Skelter Publishing, 254 p.

Back To The Beach"The press in the UK has always treated me with much respect and honor.  They always had the most interesting questions to ask.  The whole thing that goes on there--people wanting to know what we were up to--well, it touches my heart.  It really does.  English fans are the very best.  I don't know why!  When I visited a bunch of them at a London fan convention in 1988, they were shocked to see me and they were all really nice.  I have always felt overwhelming love from them.  England has been very good to me and the Boys. [from the foreword by Brian Wilson] 

A great collection of writings, some commissioned especially for this book, dealing mainly with the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson's post-"Smile" years, right up to to 1997.  There are interviews with Brian's mother, Audree Wilson (shortly before her death), Brian himself, Mike Love, reviews of the unreleased Andy Paley collaborations, and much, much more.  No wonder Brian claims to love the UK press, they write respectfully, without glossing over the band's imperfections and troubles.  Contributors include Timothy White, Domenic Priore, David Leaf, Stephen J. McParland, John Tobler, Peter Doggett, and many others.  Also included are brief, original reviews of many of the Beach Boys albums, as they appeared in the UK. 

Add Some Music To Your Day: Analyzing and Enjoying the Music of The Beach Boys
Edited by Don Cunningham and Jeff Bleiel, 1999; Tiny Ripple Publishing, 200 p.

Add Some Music To
                                                Your Day"I recall that Brian once was asked whether he thought Phil Spector actually helped to write all his big hits in the early Sixties.  Brian's answer was insightful; he said that he always felt Spector had to write those songs for them to turn out the way they did . . . 
The same can be said for "Sloop John B," "Good Vibrations," "Let Him Run Wild" and songs throughout the Wilson canon.  Wilson wrote the melodies, the counter melodies, the third and fourth and fifth harmonic vocal parts, the bass part, the tambourine part, etc.  When you speak of Mozart creating the "Jupiter" symphony, you don't regard it as a few melodies.  Mozart wrote every part, for every instrument.  Why should we consider Brian Wilson's music differently?  ~Don Cunningham, pg. 81

Before there was the internet with it's vast opportunities for fan interaction via mailing lists, message boards, and chat rooms, fans who felt a need to talk about the Beach Boys and their music communicated through fan clubs and newsletters.  The "Add Some Music" fan journal, which ran from 1978 - 1984 was one of the most well regarded of the bunch, and this concise book shows why.  In the preface, Mr. Cunningham notes that these writings were mostly the result of youthful exuberance; striving to put into words the feelings Brian's music still evoked (most of the writings occurred during the Beach Boys "dry" period between 1980 and 1984) and there are some profound and interesting musings in this bunch; involved musical dissection, interviews, psycho-analytic studies, and thoughtful comparisons.  At the same time, there are also some chuckles, such as when Mr. Cunningham equates Charles Dickens's lambasted "Our Mutual Friend" with the similarly 'undervalued' "Hey Little Tomboy," predicting that one day the latter will be valued as a classic. (Still waiting for THAT day, Don!)  Comparitively, it's similar to the writings of Paul Williams above, with all its charms and faults. But there are many nice things in this collection, including written portraits of Dennis and Carl that still resonate, personal meetings with the members of the band that are documented, and  several unique black and white photo reproductions.  What is perhaps most illuminating is how much of what was discussed 20 years ago in ink-and-paper publications is still being rehashed today, in modern, speed-of-light forums.  A good read. 

SMiLE, Sun, Sand & Pet Sounds
Compiled by Stephen J. McParland, 1999; California Music, 108 p.

"What you have in your hands is a hundred odd pages of Beach Boys history, couched in terms that even the most acolyte among you will find interesting, entertaining and informative . . . this tome is a collection of the very best articles and stories contained within the two now-out-of-print magazines, BEST OF THE BEACH BOYS AUSTRALIA, Volumes 1 and 2, . . . making this for all intents and puposes, THE VERY BEST OF THE BEACH BOYS AUSTRALIA.  I for one agree, but then I am biased." ~ Stephen J. McParland, pg. v.

Some of the trickiest pieces of Beach Boys' writing I've had to track down have been those of Stephen J. McParland, who is based in Australia.  His numerous books about the Beach Boys, all of which are thorough, thoughtful, and uber-complete are also prohibitively priced due to international postage rates which effectively double the purchase price -- and to be frank, I'm just a poor shmuck.  But if you're looking for absorbing reading, passionate writing, and are just plain "barkers" about the Beach Boys, you really can't go wrong with these publications.  This one is a compilation piece, much like the above Add Some Music To Your Day, full of articles, reviews, comparisons, essays, interviews and ephemera all formatted in easy-to-read print, and flavored with a "down-under" perspective.  Here you'll find reviews of the Honey's "Capitol Collector's" CD, interviews with engineer Stephen Desper and producer Terry Melchner, several essays on "Smile," lists of bootlegs, lyrics, court battles, and much, much more.  A potpourri of short, readable pieces, this is a fine book to add to your Beach Boys collection.  I ordered mine online from the Helter Skelter Bookshop out of the UK, but you can also write directly to CMUSIC BOOKS, P.O. Box 106, North Strathfield 2137, New South Wales, Australia and ask for shipping costs and a catalog of other titles.  Tell 'em I sent you.

The Beach Boys: The Essential Interviews
Compiled and edited by John D. Luerssen,
Published by Rifftastic, 334 p.;
Released November 15, 2009

Product Description

The Beach Boys: The Essential Interviews collects the most candid and informative interactions that "America's Band" ever had with the press. Beginning at the height of the band's popularity in 1966, this exciting title offers a unique look at the dynamics of the group, with collective interviews and one on one conversations with each of the band's principals - Brian Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Carl Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston - at various career intervals.Tracing The Beach Boys' forty-plus years in music, this 334 page tome was compiled by pop music journalist John D. Luerssen and offers direct perspective from The Beach Boys - the number one selling American band of all time - themselves. It's a must-read for any fan.

REVIEW:  A fantastic, eclectic collection of interviews spanning decades of The Beach Boys' careers - Essential Interviews, brought together by music journalist and editor John D. Luerssen, is a treasure trove of first-hand accounts by all the members of the Beach Boys, as well as those who surrounded them through their failures and successes.  What makes this book valuable is that the interviews are specific to their eras, and not "after-the-fact" reminiscences which tend to muddy the waters; Derek Taylor, David Amderle and Paul Williams discuss such matters as Brian's mental deterioration, first impressions of albums like Wild Honey and Smile; behind the scene dramas during the making of Carl & The Passions, and Holland; the roles that side men like Bruce Johnston and The Flame played, and odd little interviews like The Beach Boys first interviews in England, where the reporters clearly don't know what surfing and drag racing are. This book is filled with little time-capsule moments like that - inter-family and group tensions arising from the growing battles between Mike and Dennis; looks into each of the Beach Boys' personalities and passions; and the eventual break up of the band.  The book begins at the high-point of the Beach Boys' careers, in 1966 and covers such topics as the band's re-emergence in 1976, Dennis's love affair with Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac; and finishes up with an interview with Carl Wilson from 1981.  With all the press that has surrounded the Beach Boys over their careers, I imagine that several other books of this same stripe could be published - and I would welcome them all - this is a fun, fascinating look back.

The Beach Boys Archives, Vol. 1, 2, 3
By Torrence Berry, Edited by Gary Zenker
Published by White Lightning Publications, 202, 192, 194p.;
Released November 10, 2013 - January 4, 2014

REVIEW:  If you were a Beach Boys fan growing up in the Sixties and Seventies, long before the advent of the internet, your only source of fan information was TV and print media, and if you were a rabid fan, then you probably collected as much of this print media as you could lay your hot little hands on, scrap-booked it, and poured over the the pictures, articles and interviews over and over again.  Well, for this series of three books called "The Beach Boys Archives" you're basically  getting those scrapbooks which have been scanned and reproduced in stunning black and white for your own enjoyment.  What do you get?  Magazine articles, one-sheet ads promoting this or that single or album, newspaper clippings, fan magazines, charts that list where The Beach Boys charted during any given year (Beach Boys were the TOP SINGLES ARTIST in 1963!) and other odds and ends, arranged more or less in chronological order, with Volume 1 focusing on the early years of the band, but reaching up through 1976, Volume 2 starting a bit later, but still chronicling the band's peak years of the Sixties, and Volume 3 picking up around the band's resurgence in the mid-Seventies, (but still containing material from a decade earlier as well).  And there's no explanatory text to accompany the images, but that's no great loss, most of the images are self-explanatory, and there are plenty of magazine articles reproduced throughout each of the three books to provide plenty of nostalgia for fans.  Since most of the material included is promotional in nature, there's not a lot of depth here, but if you're curious about how the Beach Boys were sold in their up and down years, these three volumes provide an interesting look back.

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