Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Beach Boys capsules: Bootlegs, part 4 of 4 (The Brother Years)

Now at last we come to the point when the Beach Boys' ability to select the best material they had worked up for annual release in LP format began to waver terribly. In outtakes from 1967 to 1980 -- some of which eventually found release on packages like Hawthorne, CA and Made in California -- you'll find many examples of vaulted material stronger than what made the cut of the band's official releases. Brother and Capitol have promised several times to dip into this wealth of treasures but we've only ever received marginal bits at a time. In this final bootleg post we'll try to touch on the best "lost" music from the Beach Boys' waning years as a creative force.

The Beach Boys: Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 19: Wild Honey (bootleg 1967) [2CD] [r]
Between Smiley Smile and Wild Honey there were the Lei'd in Hawaii rehearsals and a good bit of experimentation in Brian Wilson's home studio. Much of the latter is captured on this generous set's first disc, which is comprised of numerous overdubbed takes of "Cool, Cool Water," a track derived from Smile that would be worked on further and finally released a few years later, and "Can't Wait Too Long," a hypnotic, mantra-like piece that, despite a vocal track that's charmingly incomplete (a breathtaking lead from Carl on the final section notwithstanding), would stand for many years as one of the best unissued Beach Boys cuts, though it made it to the twofer bonus cuts in 1990; the only "official" song to which it can really be compared is probably the impressive, zoned-out "All This Is That" from So Tough. Finally, when the band ultimately settles on a "white soul" approach to the new record, we get a lot of session material related to the Stevie Wonder cover "I Was Made to Love Her," which sparkles in stereo with the elements separated. Similar dissections of other cuts from Wild Honey round out the second disc and are equally interesting; "Here Comes the Night" is analyzed to within an inch of its life, which is a handy example of how layered and elaboate Brian Wilson's later productions still were despite outward appearances and scaled-down instrumentation. "A Thing or Two," "Darlin'" and "Wild Honey" are also represented, casting the muddy sound quality on the finished album in a negative light; unlike every other mono-only Beach Boys album, Wild Honey has never had a complete stereo mix prepared, and it's the one that could actually really benefit from such treatment. [2017 note: This is no longer true with Capitol's release of the compilation 1967 - Sunshine Tomorrow, and as I predicted, Wild Honey is the best of the revisionist stereo BB albums apart from Pet Sounds.] Because the next and final Sea of Tunes set is something of a letdown and because this captures the twilight of Brian's days as the Beach Boys' primary creative force, this one represents a good swansong for the series and can be seen as the capper on an incredibly involved examination of a remarkable run of music.

The Beach Boys: Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 20: Friends etc. (bootleg 1968-69) [2CD]
The end of the Unsurpassed Masters series unfortunately doesn't reveal much about the sessions for the Beach Boys' second-best '60s album Friends, as it's strictly represented (albeit at length) by the title track and lead single. The rest of this disjointed collection gathers up late '60s odds and ends. Sessions for "Do It Again" reveal how close that song came to being unforgivably awful. "I Can Hear Music" offers an opportunity to witness Carl's budding skills as a producer, and you can tell he'd been paying attention for all those years; in this respect and this respect alone, this set is a logical conclusion to the series since it records the passing of the torch, so to speak, but apart from some rehearsal and overdub material from "Time to Get Alone" and "Break Away" and an errant presentation of "Sherry, She Needs Me," this peters out with yet another example of one of rock's most vocally evocative groups' bizarre attraction to terrible outside singers ("A Day in the Life of a Tree," "Teeter Totter Love," Gary Usher, Dick Reynolds, etc.) in the form of a comedy duo called the Pickle Brothers, whose pair of cuts here have nothing to do with anything and aren't funny; what is funny is Steve Kalinich's psychotic poetry reading "America, I Know You," but that's not supposed to be funny and seems to be a sort of covert fuck-you to the Beach Boys by Brian after he was shut out of several opportunities to follow his own creative direction. From 1968 onward, Brian's best work would strictly be that which had no commercial aspiration at all, and this would cause a permanent rift with the rest of the band. It was also during this period that Murry sold the publishing rights to Brian's songs, and that Brian was sent to some sort of invasive therapy during a bout of depression that apparently changed him permanently and turned him into the Brian Wilson we know now as opposed to the sprightlier man who made so many terrific records and had such great command of the studio in the '60s. Up to now, even when Brian wasn't fully in control he was always a breathtaking creative force. But things were changing in the Beach Boys' world, and with the transition from the '60s to the '70s and from Capitol to Reprise, nothing would ever be quite the same.

The Beach Boys: All This Is That (bootleg 1967-80)
After Sea of Tunes wrapped up its Beach Boys series, the label emerged again eventually with a sort of approximation of the much-hyped and never completed or issued "Brother Rarities" collection, which had been projected to gather rare and unreleased Beach Boys music from the '70s and '80s. This is more of a hodgepodge unfortunately, built a bit like one of Capitol's weird catch-all discs of strange variations (a vocals-only "Cotton Fields," a stereo mix of "Country Air," the backing track of "Had to Phone Ya," that sort of thing). And the last half, which runs from 15 Big Ones onward, will quickly try the patience of most anyone who doesn't have an unhealthy fixation on this group. An incomplete take of "Slip on Through" and a totally different version of "All This Is That" offer some insight into the creation of those songs, but the only real listening pleasure comes from a pair of heretofore (and officially still) unavailable So Tough-Holland era songs. "It's a New Day" was written by Dennis and sung by Blondie Chaplin, and is in keeping with Dennis' early '70s work like "Sound of Free." It's quite good, but "Hard Time" -- a Ricky/Blondie cut along the lines of "Here She Comes" and "We Got Love" but much more frenetic, similar to their Abbey Road-inspired hard power pop in the Flame -- is in my opinion the best song still sitting in the Beach Boys' vault. It's possible you have to like the Fataar-Chaplin material as much as I do to really dig it, but I can say that it's probably the best song they wrote for the band, and also that when I very illegally snuck it into my sets as a bar DJ, multiple people queried me about it (and it was fun to see how incredulous they were when I told them the artist, less fun to tell them it was not available to buy). My preferred setting for these two songs is the fan-made expanded albums (see below) but this bootleg deserves some attention because it brought those tracks to our ears in the first place, however unethically.

The Beach Boys: Landlocked (bootleg 1969-71) [c]
Thanks to a number of legitimate sources alleging its existence, it was believed for a number of years that the Beach Boys recorded an album called Landlocked, submitted it for release by Reprise and had it rejected. It seems that the story was conflated with the rejections of early versions of Sunflower and Holland as well as a proposed catch-all "last Capitol album" consisting of finished odds and ends, abandoned in favor of delivering Live in London. What we know as Landlocked is really just a sort of working reel for what would turn into Surf's Up. All of its listenable music has been issued elsewhere, and these days the thing is just a curio.

The Beach Boys & the Flame: The Beach Boys Meet the Flame (bootleg 1970)
The Beach Boys: Do It Again (bootleg 1971) [r]
A pair of interesting live shows from the Beach Boys' best period as a concert attraction. The former was recorded on November 6, 1970 during the band's legendary homecoming residency at the Whisky-a-Go-Go; this was the third show of the week (the first without Brian, alas) and the South African band the Flame (which included future Beach Boys Ricky Fataar and Blondie Chaplin) opened and closed the show; their fine set is included on the disc. Unfortunately the recording quality is rather dire, but both bands seem to be in strong form. Do It Again captures the group at a similar level of enthusiasm on the following May 11 in Syracuse, NY, sans Dennis Wilson (away promoting Two-Lane Blacktop, the Monte Hellman film in which he costarred with James Taylor), with a good taste of the band's endearingly odd setlists from this period: "Vegetables," "Cool, Cool Water," a hybrid of "Riot in Cell Block #9" and its unholy stepchild "Student Demonstration Time," plus an irony-overload cover of Merle Haggard's square anthem "Okie from Muskogee." To state the (probably) obvious: despite Mike Love's unbearable banter, the Beach Boys were a damn good live band in their prime.

As mentioned elsewhere, I'm interested in any Beach Boys live boots from 1969 to 1973 that aren't already available in full on Youtube, if anyone feels like being generous.

The Beach Boys: Sunflower: Bonus Tracks (bootleg 1969-70) [r]
This and the other bonus "expanded" editions below of the '70-'80 Brother Records albums were compiled for the late, lamented Warnakey's Beach Boys Blog back around 2009. Prior to this Purple Chick-caliber task of consolidation, you had to gather up all sorts of disorganized bootlegs to put together a comprehensive collection of the unissued material from the post-Capitol years. Warnakey gathered the rarities and non-album tracks together in the best quality he could find and offered them as MP3 downloads intended to be applied as "bonus tracks" to the corresponding albums. Although these compilations are now difficult to find, it does give us an easy way to tackle the later obscurities. In a deviation from the format elsewhere in these reviews, I'll be providing quick notes on the individual tracks.

1) San Miguel - officially released on Ten Years of Harmony and Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of the Beach Boys
2) Celebrate the News - officially released as b-side to "Break Away"
3) Loop de Loop [early mix] - a version of the song without the finishing touches added by Al for Endless Harmony
4) Break Away - officially released as a single
5) Rock 'n' Roll Woman - a solid live cover (from the spring of 1969) of Buffalo Springfield's song
6) Slip on Through [alternate track] - this instrumental take on the song is a wonderful listen
7) I'm Going Your Way - a soulful, propulsive unreleased Dennis Wilson track
8) Cotton Fields [stereo single version] - officially released as a single
9) Walkin' - a Brian song from the Friends era that its composer grew frustrated with in the middle of recording the vocal; it's not bad, but definitely in the lower tier of material from the period
10) Games Two Can Play - officially released on Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of the Beach Boys
11) Soulful Old Man Sunshine [edit] - not actually an edit, this is a faster mix of the song than the one released on Endless Harmony; apparently it's the version initially assembled by Dennis Dragon in 1969, revised and probably speed-corrected by Mark Linett with a Carl Wilson scratch vocal for the '93 box. Carl vetoed its inclusion then because he didn't like his vocal.
12) Add Some Music [alternate lyrics] - these lyrics are even dopier than those on the released song
13) Back Home [1970 version] - officially released on Made in California, this is very different from both the 1963 and (released) 1976 versions; rhythmically the same but with completely different, somewhat less childlike lyrics; a fine performance, though so are the other two
14) I Just Got My pay - officially released on Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of the Beach Boys
15) Carnival [aka Over the Waves] - a rather distressingly ominous Beach Boys take on "Sobre las Olas" that sounds like it could find a home on the Night of the Living Dead soundtrack
16) Our Sweet Love [track & backing vocals] - just what it implies, different from a vocals and strings mix on Made in California; nice to hear once but that's about it

The Beach Boys: Surf's Up: Bonus Tracks (bootleg 1970-71)
A lot of commonly available material here, but it's nice to have it gathered in one logical place -- and it's hard not to notice how much of it is superior to what actually made it to Surf's Up.

1) 4th of July - officially released on Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of the Beach Boys
2) Barbara - officially released on Endless Harmony
3) Big Sur [1970 version] - one of Mike's very best compositions, in its original 4/4 incarnation before being repurposed for Holland; both versions are quite beautiful
4) H.E.L.P. Is on the Way - officially released on Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of the Beach Boys
5) Sound of Free - A-side of Dennis Wilson & Rumbo single, officially released under the Beach Boys name on Made in California
6) Lady - the (even better) b-side of "Sound of Free," officially released under the Beach Boys name on Summer Love Songs and Made in California
7) Seasons in the Sun - Terry Jacks produced this Beach Boys recording of the dreadful Rod McKuen-Jacques Brel composition, then recorded it himself and made it a huge smash when they decided thankfully not to move forward with it
8) My Solution - one of the most unique unissued Beach Boys songs, a demented Flaming Lips-like Halloween narrative about a reanimated dog, or something; hilarious, scary and nearly indescribable
9) It's a New Day - magnificent Dennis song sung by Blondie Chaplin
10) Searchin' - the Beach Boys onstage with the Grateful Dead; everyone sounds stoned and off-key
11) Okie from Muskogee - Merle Haggard's tongue-in-cheek anthem was a live favorite for the Beach Boys in the early '70s; god knows why, but they do a decent job with it
12) Your Song - Bruce singing an Elton John song on stage; monstrously unappealing
13) Til I Die [alternate mix] - officially released on Endless Harmony

The Beach Boys: Holland: Bonus Tracks (bootleg 1972-74) [r]
Superb, essential complement to the studio record, with several of the best unreleased songs in the Beach Boys' vault (and a few of the best sort-of-released ones), plus at least one of the most fascinatingly horrible things they ever attempted.

1) [Holland radio promo spot] - interesting chance to hear how Reprise promoted the Beach Boys during their lite-funk/prog-ish period
2) We Got Love - actually released on early presses of the album, the Ricky/Blondie-led song left off in favor of "Sail on, Sailor" but included on In Concert; that version is stronger, but this one is worth hearing
3) Carry Me Home - chilling Dennis number, among his most mournful and mature ballads; probably the most beloved song the Beach Boys haven't yet released, vetoed from inclusion on the boxed set, likely because of its grim lyrical content
4) Out in the Country - serviceable Al Jardine song (though he has no recollection of writing it), with a nice minimal production
5) Hard Time - as noted in the writeup of All This Is That, probably my favorite still-unissued Beach Boys, a genuinely gripping and fresh-sounding rocker from Blondie and Rickie's corner
6) Shortenin' Bread - Brian Wilson was somewhat obsessed with this nursery rhyme in the '70s; Iggy Pop recalled being freaked out beyond repair by a Brian-led extended party singalong of it that stretched into the maniacal. This version is better than the one on L.A. (Light Album exclusively by virtue of Carl performing the lead, but the "WTF" factor remains
7) River Song - several years ahead of Dennis' solo album Pacific Ocean Blue, here's its most famous track in incomplete form, meant at the time as a Beach Boys song, meant for the unissued Caribou album (as were the next two cuts on this collection); it did eventually see release on a Beach Boys compilation, Ten Years of Harmony, but in the POB version
8) Good Timin' - the original, somewhat skeletal and brief 1974 take is quite a bit better -- and less audibly synthesized -- than the L.A. (Light Album) single
9) Battle Hymn of the Republic - it's long been rumored that Brian insisted on covering this because he knew it would make Mike, trying desperately to keep up with the rhythm track, sound like a knucklehead; if so, the track is a complete success
10) Rollin' Up to Heaven - accounts differ on the origin date for this X-rated "Ding Dang" variant, but it's unreleasable by default and mostly just annoying

The Beach Boys: 15 Big Ones: Bonus Tracks (bootleg 1975-78) [c]
Most of the outtakes from this album are additional oldies in the style of those that made the cut; at one point it was floated as a double album that would consist of a whole LP's worth covers, then one of just originals. These Brian productions have the same issues of sterility and laziness that mark the familiar tunes. Not to be too pointed about this but good lord, this is some bad music; Brian himself was bored to death by these sessions.

1) Sea Cruise - officially released on Ten Years of Harmony, now out of print
2) Shake, Rattle and Roll - actually not a bad version, with a good Al Jardine lead
3) Michael, Row the Boat Ashore - uh...
4) Honkin' Down the Highway [early version] - this sounds like a demo with a guide vocal
5) Don't Worry Baby [California Music] - the hilariously terrible "revised" version of the song with partially rewritten lyrics by Bruce's sideline project California Music, which involved Brian for a time; this was released as a single in 1975
6) On Broadway - godawful Drifters cover forecasts the band's equally terrible 1992 version of "Under the Boardwalk"
7) Running Bear - see "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore"
8) Mony Mony - also terrible
9) Short Skirts - yeah, still terrible
10) Come Go with Me [version 1] - I slightly prefer this to the MIU Version that later became a minor hit; it was accidentally released on Caribou's 1990 CDs of both MIU and Ten Years of Harmony but is otherwise unavailable
11) Carl's Song - a primitive instrumental attempt at what became "Angel Come Home," one of Carl's best later songs
12) Ten Years Harmony [California Music] - this is "Endless Harmony," only scaled down a bit; released as a single in 1975
13) Brian's Back [early version] - even worse than the final version
14) (Carl interview)/Rock & Roll Music [alternate mix] - this much livelier alternate mix of the lead single from 15 Big Ones finally saw release in better quality on the Made in California box

Brian Wilson / The Beach Boys: Adult Child (bootleg 1976-77)
Unreleaseable, schlocky immersion into Brian Wilson's inner world as of 1976, with several songs boasting elaborate big band arrangements from Dick Reynolds, the same agent Brian had used under very different circumstances for Christmas Album. The best of those, "It's Over Now" and "Still I Dream of It," have since been released; the former in particular shows how incredibly adaptable Brian remained as a composer, effectively appropriating the composition and lyrical style of the crooners that were then influencing him. The version of Adult Child presented to Reprise and rejected was rounded out with a few older cuts ("H.E.L.P. Is on the Way," "On Broadway," "Games Two Can Play"), while the Beach Boys would subsequently revisit "Shortenin' Bread" and (shudder) "Hey Little Tomboy." That leaves five songs, two of which show Reynolds' involvement: "Deep Purple" is just the standard, and Brian's voice isn't really suited to it; "Life Is for the Living" is kind of great, a swinging music-hall extravaganza with Carl chiding you for sitting "around on your ass / smoking grass" before it devolves into a weird commentary on exercise. "Everybody Wants to Live" is an organ and synth-driven midtempo number that's fairly respectable, if too long; maybe they should have taken this all the way. Dennis sings "It's Trying to Say (Baseball)," a mild rocker that benefits from his ever-dependable enthusiasm. "Lines" is somewhat in the vein of Love You but not at all on its quality level. Generally Adult Child feels like a half-finished idea for an album, and not a bad one, but without enough material -- and with too much filler -- to make it really work.

Two Brian songs from this period should be quickly addressed here:
- "Marilyn Rovell" is a song written for Brian's then-wife, from the "oversharing" department, and it strikes me as vaguely sarcastic, knowing how stressful that marriage had become by the mid-'70s (though Marilyn from all available evidence is one hell of a champ), culminating in a disturbing cry of "look at that little child sing!"; some fans like this a lot, but I prefer "Let's Keep Our Hearts Together," a duet with Marilyn that's personal without seeming so self-absorbed
- "Lazy Lizzie" is a terrifying pedophile anthem along the lines of "Hey Little Tomboy" about stalking a schoolgirl; further evidence that Brian needed a filter lyrically (and a lot of therapy), though he and the band wisely kept his more salacious ideas off Love You

The Beach Boys: Alternate Love You (bootleg 1977)
Conveniently gathers most of the outtakes and potential supplements for Love You that have surfaced over the years. The alternate versions are mostly just different mixes (possibly the "rawer" versions Brian completed before Carl polished the record) or vocal takes, or sometimes are just missing finishing touches. I'll only comment on the tracks that require explanation.

1) Roller Skating Child [alternate take]
2) Mona [alternate take]
3) Honkin' Down the Highway [early] - same as the 15 Big Ones outtake above
4) Ding Dang [alternate take] - goes far beyond the fade on the released version
5) The Night Was So Young [alternate take] - instrumentation slightly different, also a different, incomplete vocal take; also has a very nice instrumental tag
6) Let's Put Our Hearts Together [alternate take #1]
7) I Wanna Pick You Up [alternate version]
8) Mona [demo] - Brian alone, singing and playing piano
9) I'll Bet He's Nice [demo] - ibid; we can debate Mike Love's merits as a human being till the end of time, but hearing his reaction to the bridge of this is inescapably moving
10) Let's Put Our Hearts Together [alternate take #2] - a beautiful piano-driven rendition, with Brian doing both parts of the duet; this might be a demo, but it isn't labeled as such
11) Airplane [demo] - Brian alone with a piano again; it sounds like this might be reproduced at the wrong speed
12) Love Is a Woman [demo] - same
13) Roller Skating Child [live 1977]
14) Honkin' Down the Highway [alternate take]
15) Airplane [live 1977]
16) Love Is a Woman [live 1977]
17) Ding Dang [TV special rehearsal]
18) Love Is a Woman [SNL version] - Brian alone; not great but not nearly as bad as it's reputed to be, and it certainly can't be accused of misrepresenting the nature of the concurrent album

The Beach Boys: MIU Album: Bonus Tracks (bootleg 1977)
1) Our Team - officially released on Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of the Beach Boys
2) How's About a Little Bit of Your Sweet Lovin' - a Brian/Mike collaboration, simple and obnoxious, better than most of what's on MIU
3) Lady Lynda [1977 version] - somewhat less florid than the L.A. version, otherwise extremely similar; by the way, can we talk about how fucking weird the line "evolution is drawing us near" is?
4) Life Is for the Living - see Adult Child above
5) Everybody Wants to Live - see Adult Child above
6) It's Over Now - see Adult Child above; officially released on Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of the Beach Boys and with speed corrected on Made in California
7) Deep Purple - see Adult Child above
8) It's Trying to Say (Baseball) - see Adult Child above
9) Lines - see Adult Child above
10) Still I Dream of It - see Adult Child above; officially released on Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of the Beach Boys
11) New England Waltz - a Brian instrumental that is just what it sounds like; sounds like an Adult Child outtake but evidently isn't
12) California Feeling - one of many versions of this awful song, this one with vocals from violent prick Rocky Pamplin and Brian vocal proteges Spring
13) Airplane [live 7/30/77] - some snark against Reprise from Mike here about their failure to promote Love You, a nice show of solidarity
14) Go and Get That Girl - sounds like about a hundred early '80s power pop outfits, which in a way is impressive
15) Alone on Christmas Day - one of the many discarded medicore songs from the MIU/Christmas hybrid sessions; Mike rewrote and released this in 2015
16) Santa's on His Way - dumb Christmas vocals laid over the track for "H.E.L.P. Is on the Way"
17) I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus - a bunch of kids are on this; a revised version was officially released on Ultimate Christmas and the other discs that are just Ultimate Christmas with a different cover
18) Christmas Medley - a bunch of kids and Beach Boys singing Christmas songs as a choir for some reason

The Beach Boys: L.A.: Bonus Tracks (bootleg 1978-79)
1) It's a Beautiful Day - released on the Americathon soundtrack and on Made in California; at least they seem to be awake on it
2) California Feeling - this again, only slower; Carl sings lead this time
3) Santa Ana Winds [version 1] - Al's Keepin' the Summer Alive cut in a scrappier arrangement
4) Looking Down the Coast/Monterey - another tolerable Al song, this one about women's breasts I think?
5) Country Pie [live Feb 1978] - maybe the loosest Mike has ever been on stage, a Ron Altbach song written for Celebration
6) It Could Be Anything - written and sung by Carl, in the vein of his mostly very MOR work from these years
7) I'm Begging You Please - Brian's voice cracks on this demo but good grief, the man could write a song even in his most "off" years
8) A Little Somethin' - another Brian demo, this one childish and pointless in an "All Together Now" vein
9) Almost Summer [liev 9/3/78] - Brian seems to be playing with Celebration here, the only noteworthy aspect of this recording
10) Calendar Girl - lots of synths, sounds more like a 15 Big Ones discard but it's not
11) Skatetown USA - an Al/Mike cowrote that shows their perception of what direction the band should be taking; you wonder how this coexisted with stuff like "Baby Blue" even in theory
12) Why Didn't I Tell You? - actually from the Keepin' the Summer Alive outtake; a very weird Brian thing, basically "Goin' On" with incongrously psychotic drum fills
13) Angel Come Home [live May 1979] - this is actually splendid, and probably better -- certainly rawer -- than the album cut
14) Good Timin' [live May 1979] - Dennis sings lead here ("Carl chickened out")

The Beach Boys: Keepin' the Summer Alive: Bonus Tracks (bootleg 1979-83) [NO]
1) Little Girl - very incomplete cover; only the first couple of lines of the vocal are on it
2) Da Doo Ron Ron - pretty lame version of the Crystals' song (changing "Bill" to "Jill," natch) from Brian's very short-lived return to the production booth in advance of KTSA
3) Oh Darlin' [Brian vocal] - interesting to hear once, though this song is so turgid
4) Goin' to the Beach - just a backing track
5) Merry Minuet [live 7/4/80] - this should be buried someplace where it can never be found
6) Be My Baby - as should this; Mike singing this is a crime against the universe
7) River Deep Mountain High - this at least has the benefit of being very weird
8) Why Don't They Let Us Fall in Love? - Brian's undying Spector obsession here manifests at least in a cover that's slightly more suited to the Beach Boys than the above, but what's the point?
9) My Solution [1980 version] - a shitty synthesizer-based revision of the Halloween 1970 gem, with no vocals
10) Shortenin' Bread [alternate version] - this again, after Brian had already managed to get a version of the damn thing on an album
11) Stevie - the sole redeeming studio cut on this boot, Brian's infectious 1981 valentine to Stevie Nicks; it's too bad about the horns
12) Walkin' on Water - frivolous possible improvisation, but wouldn't it be funny if this was part of The Elements Suite?
13) I Thank You [live April 1981] - surprisingly credible, raucous version of the Sam & Dave song; why didn't Carl tap into his voice's soulful reserves more?
14) Back in the USSR [live 7/4/81] - a weird choice for one of the 4th of July shows; also note that Mike finds another excuse to bring up hanging around with the Beatles in Rishikesh
15) Runaway [live 1981] - Al does a good job on this but it's a very sterile arrangement
16) Rockin' All Over the World [live 11/26/82] - "generic" is the only word
17) California Dreamin' [first version] - sold with a cassette you could buy exclusively at Radio Shack, later overdubbed for the single; blasphemous I know, but I actually slightly prefer this to the arid high school glee club style of the Mamas and the Papas, though I still wouldn't call it good
18) The Boogie's Back in Town - a Brian song that was performed live exactly once; the best part is Brian's spoken introduction

Brian Wilson / Dennis Wilson: The Cocaine Sessions (bootleg 1981)
I'm including this here, tasteless name and all, because it involves the two most musically gifted Beach Boys; unfortunately, this is clearly just about the lowest ebb of both their lives. Basically: tape rolls while the brothers noodle around on organ and piano; there are eight "tracks," only some of which are really songs per se. There are fragments of something worthwhile in "Oh Lord," but it's nearly seven minutes of plodding misery. That said, the driving "City Blues" is very good, eventually revised and released by Brian solo, as was an untitled piano fragment that turned into "This Isn't Love," performed live but unrecorded. "You've Been" is a bit of a Buddy Holly burlesque, ditto "I Feel So Fine" for the Chords' "Sh-Boom." There's also a minute of Brian vamping on the "Heroes and Villains" chorus. All this might attract people seeking audio documents of people on the brink of train-wreck psychological despondency, and it's indeed rather creepy and troubling, but it's also duller than you'd think, not unlike some of Brian's solo piano recordings from the mid-'70s. Those who are big enough fans to be used to sifting through garbage might like it, though! But these two were capable of such greatness, and this is a sad documentary of mutual enabling.

The Beach Boys: [latter-day odds and ends] (bootleg 1984-91) [NO]
I put this together myself back in the Napster / Kazaa era. None of it is any good, but I was a completist and couldn't justify paying $35 for Summer in Paradise unless I had absolutely everything. The disc includes the following uncollected Beach Boys tidbits -- b-sides and soundtrack contributions, mostly -- from the post-Dennis years:

1) Chasing the Sky - one of the slim handful of fairly good post-1979 Beach Boys songs, this one for the Up the Creek soundtrack
2) East Meets West - a collaboration with the Four Seasons, presumably resolving the old "Surfers Rule" rivalry, though I think you might have to actually dig the Four Seasons to appreciate it
3) Happy Endings - my choice for the absolute worst, most embarrassing, most totally wrongheaded and stupid Beach Boys song ever released, and tainting the great Little Richard in the process (as if being on the b-side of "Kokomo" wasn't enough); an unlistenable Diane Warren-like '80s ballad about the eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaster bunny
4) Lady Liberty - "Lady Lynda," rewritten with new lyrics about the Statue of Liberty, because of either patriotism or divorce
5) Problem Child - like "Make It Big," a latter-day BBs song for a movie made slightly palatable via Carl Wilson
6) Crocodile Rock - one of the few Elton John songs I don't mind (yes, I'm showing my deficiencies here), but a totally superfluous cover
7) Kokomo [Spanish] - probably better than the original; also, Brian's on it!

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