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