Thursday, December 16, 2010



In an Endless Summer Quarterly exclusive, Alan Boyd, director of the documentary Endless Harmony: The Beach Boys Story, provided ESQ with the news of the premiere of The Beatles First American Concert Closed Circuit Broadcast Featuring The Beach Boys and Lesley Gore.  The film also includes the original Roger Christian introduction of The Beach Boys and Gore.

DJ Roger Christian introducing The Beach Boys
The film will make its debut at 7:30pm at The American Cinematheque Egyptian Theater, 6712 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, CA 90028 on February 11, 2011.

The phenomenon known as “Beatlemania” arrived on American shores from Great Britain when the Beatles landed at New York’s Kennedy airport for their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, February 9th, 1964.  On February 11th, the group performed their first American concert at the Coliseum in Washington, D.C.  This historic event was videotaped for a national closed circuit theatre audience, and packaged with pre-taped live sets by the Beach Boys and Lesley Gore for a 90-minute big screen spectacular.

This historic presentation, straight from the original broadcast master two-inch quad videotapes, has been unseen in its entirety since March 1964. Host Domenic Priore (author of Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock ’n’ Roll’s Last Stand in Hollywood) will be joined by rock ’n’ roll visual archivist Ron Furmanek and Boyd in bringing this unique program back to the big screen again after 47 years, the way it was intended to be.

The performance captured at this event is the longest set that would ever be filmed of the Beatles in concert, and easily transmits far more raw energy and attitude than would be present at later Shea Stadium, Australia, Japan or Germany tapings.  John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr all seem to be on stun from the attention and thrill of taking America by storm and becoming the entertainment phenomenon of the century.  The recently-discovered master video tapes of this performance are a vast improvement over the fuzzy kinescopes that were a favorite of the underground movie house circuit during the ’70s; in those, the encore of “Twist and Shout” was cut off at the middle, and, the closing rave-up “Long Tall Sally” has not been screened anywhere since 1964.  The entire performance is presented here in stunning, first-generation picture quality.

The Beatles
The Beach Boys and Lesley Gore
The Beach Boys and Lesley Gore segments were videotaped at the NBC Television Studios in Burbank, California (the same studio that later hosted Elvis Presley’s ’68 Comeback Special, Laugh-In and the Johnny Carson shows).  The sound quality on these segments is a perfect reproduction, and showcases The Beach Boys (Brian Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Carl Wilson, Al Jardine and Mike Love) in their performance prime.

This will be the first time the ENTIRE production has been seen in full since the two days it was screened as a nationwide closed-circuit theater event (the same system more commonly used for live sporting events).  Nowhere will you be able to see The Beatles in a more riveting, rock-solid performance, with the audio and video quality clear as a bell, blasting through theater speakers on The Egyptian Theater's giant screen. Our test screenings left us bedazzled, feeling as though we had just seen The Beatles in person... it’s that good.

Hosts Domenic Priore, Ron Furmanek and Alan Boyd will be joined by special guests TBA.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Rockin’ The Mistletoe — Various Artists

Review By David M. Beard

When November and December roll around we reach for our favorite holiday music CD.  Usually it’s a collection by one group or a compilation collecting the very best the season has to offer.  Rockin’ The Mistletoe does the latter in fine order, but its challenge is that it is a collection of relative unknown recordings and recording artists.  For this reviewer it is always a welcome surprise when a new release captures the nuances of the season and this compilation draws the listener in fine yuletide fashion.

Brian Wilson’s lyrical collaborator Scott Bennett continues to impress on his own and his “Getting Ready For Christmas” is reason enough to pick up this collection with its McCartneyesque rolling piano. Stockholm Strings’ Van Dyke Parksian “Christmas Song For My Darling” plucks along perfectly; James Carter Cathcart’s “Christmas Morning” is the very thing that Christmas dreams are made of; Rob Bonfilglio’s “Warm, Lovin' Christmastime” is engaging and Taylor Mills’ “New Year’s Eve” is stunning.

Rockin’ The Mistletoe’s strongest attribute is that the variety of music captures all the quirkiness, sentimentality, love, hope and joy that the holiday season encompasses.  Pick it up today!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wilson Phillips — Exclusive interview with Carnie Wilson

Christmas In Harmony
Sony Masterworks

With the release of Wilson Phillips’ Christmas in Harmony CD Carnie Wilson, Wendy Wilson and Chynna Phillips have returned to their original pop form. Carnie Wilson took time out of her busy schedule to discuss the new release.
David Beard: What inspired this release?
Carnie Wilson: Christmas in Harmony came about when Sony Masterworks called us wanting a Christmas CD.  The three of us were actually talking about recording a Christmas CD at my home for this year anyway.  Funny it worked out like that.  It's great have a major label behind us!!  We're grateful.

DB: What are your favorite Christmas memories?
CW: My favorite Christmas memories have always been the same thing: the classic Christmas songs by The Beach Boys, The Carpenters, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Barbara Streisand and the feeling that all those songs evoke during the holidays.  I love the families getting together and opening presents and eating the amazing food!!!!!  Now, with our children in our lives... Christmas is at a WHOLE NEW LEVEL OF LOVE AND APPRECIATION!!!!!

DB: What do you hope the listener feels form this new release?
CW: I hope the listener feels great and can sing along as they listen to our renditions.  I hope they listen to it year after year and decorate a tree, cook some food, sit with loved ones and just appreciate being alive and together.  It's like a gift to them!!

DB: What is the highlight on the new Christmas album for you? 
CW: I really love every song and each one has a special meaning to me, but the highlight of our CD would have to be my Dad's [Brian Wilson] song “Our Prayer” and my husband's [Rob Bonfiglio] song “Warm Lovin' Christmastime.” [*Note: Bonfiglio performs his renditiontrack also appears on SideB Music’s new holiday compilation Rockin’ The Mistletoe.]  “Our Prayer” is bone chilling and probably the most beautiful vocal piece I have ever heard in my life.  I have listened to it since I was a little girl.  It truly takes my breath away.  Dad told me he thought it was "better than the Beach Boys". I laughed and said, “No Dad, it's  just OUR version.”  He then told me that Bach inspired him to write that. I almost wet my pants!!!! I am his daughter, but I am a fan too. He blows my mind.  Rob's song is my favorite mix on the record.  Catchy, spirited and just has a great feeling.  He's so talented.  I'm so happy we recorded it!!!

DB: Whose decision was it to record "Our Prayer" for this collection?
CW: The funny thing is I can't remember if it was Wendy's or my idea to record Our Prayer! I didn't have the faintest idea of how we were gonna tackle those parts (other than Dad doing it with us). Dad was on the road when we were in the studio  and I asked  my husband Rob to figure out the parts and help give us direction. He studied it for literally 10 minutes in his studio and put scratch vocals of the entire song. He then made a click track for the specific changing of tempos himself and guided us in the studio, giving us our parts. It was the single most challenging thing I have ever had to sing. The vocals were so intricate, and I had to sing the BASS notes. I must say I am very proud of myself. I don't know how I got that low... angels were there with me. Maybe Carl. XOXO

DB: What can fans anticipate from Wilson Phillips in 2011?
CW: Wendy, Chynna and I are committed to recording more records forever!!! We are touring as well. It's just a balancing act for us all between our 9 children!!!!! More to Come in 2011.... definitely touring dates in the USA and possibly overseas. Our next CD?  Well.... we might be starting a new album with our magnificent producer Glen Ballard in January.  We got the bug with him BIG TIME after reuniting for this Christmas CD!!!!

DB: Are there any guest vocal appearances on this collection?
CW: There are no guest vocal appearances on this CD.... just the three of us.  Maybe the next one!!!  Thank you to our fans, for always listening and buying our records. We do it for you!!!!!

The collection is also available digitally via iTunes and

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Malibooz — Queens' English

By David M. Beard

The new 14-track collection Queens’ English encompasses all the variety of 1960s British Pop with an array of guest stars to sweeten the listening experience. Joining the group are Spencer Davis, Chad (Stuart) & Jeremy (Clyde), David Carr (The Fortunes, The Ventures), Tony Hicks (The Hollies), The Quarrymen, Richard Moore (The Troggs), Mark Griffiths (The Shadows), Nokie Edwards (The Ventures), Ian Whitcomb and Andrew Loog Oldham.

All told, the hybrid of influential sounds here range from The Byrds, Elvis Costello, Tom Petty, Paul McCartney, The Beatles, Boyce & Hart, The Archies and The Clash.

Standout tracks include: “Hey Love,” “London Underground” (sounding like a stepchild to Paul McCartney’s  “Don’t Let It Bring You Down”), “It’s A Bit of Awright,” the Beatles-like “Bitter Grey” (a “Strawberry Fields”/“Penny Lane”/“Flying” mash-up), “Dit Dididit,” “Do” and the melodic “Good Tonight” that fill out the collection with pure pop enjoyment.

The closing track, a surf instrumental titled, “Venture Into the Shadows,” is a nod to The Ventures’ Nokie Edwards and The Shadows’ Mark Griffiths, who share the guitar spotlight on the recording. Queens’ English is a strong tribute to the ’60s British Invasion, and yet another notch in The Malibooz’ eclectic musical belt.

Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin

By David M. Beard

There was 2004’s majestic Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE, then 2008’s colorful That Lucky Old Sun – both evocative collections in Wilson’s catalogue. Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin is an album that is something else altogether; in touching Gershwin’s venerable catalogue, Wilson has taken his own unique approach to composing and has actually made Gershwin his own. The result? Wilson’s career-defining best.  

In addition to his role in the band as a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, Paul Von Mertens assisted Wilson with song selection as well as arrangements and orchestrations. When I asked Mertens about the album, he submitted, “Many of these songs are so familiar that they’ve been played beyond the point of boredom. They’ve been played into the ground and sort of lost their spark. I’ll give you one example: ‘Summertime’; almost nobody sings the melody correctly the way it was originally written. They take away some of the interesting chromaticism that’s in the melody that Gershwin wrote and turn it into a Blues song. What Brian did was – with almost all these songs – return faithfully to the original melody, which is kind of a big deal because a lot of people have been singing and playing these songs incorrectly and the casual (loungy) versions of these songs have become the norm. Hearing the songs done correctly is kind of a revelation. I know that it sounds like good music done well. It’s Brian and Gershwin done with a lot of care.”

The attention to detail in the arrangements of “Summertime,” “Our Love Is Here To Stay” and “I Loves You Porgy” (sung from the original female perspective), and the wonderfully unexpected adaptations of “’S Wonderful,” “I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’,” “I Got Rhythm” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” make Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin a brilliant assemblage of fully realized songs that are as good as anything available in music today. When asked about his reimagining of “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” Brian said, “Well, ‘Little Deuce Coupe’ was like (begins scat singing) – I took it from ‘Little Deuce Coupe.’  I wanted it to have that ‘Little Deuce Coupe’ kind of Beach Boy feeling.”

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the song selection is the full realization of two previously incomplete Gershwin recordings, “The Like in I Love You” and “Nothing But Love.” The Gershwin Estate had someone take all this music that was in written form and record very basic piano performances of the songs, so Brian listened to solo piano recordings that were just realizations of the chords and melody of the fragments. Band member Scott Bennett returned to the role of lyricist (That Lucky Old Sun) on the two songs, but the two tracks came together very differently. Mertens explains, “For ‘The Like in I Love You’ I used a piano improvisation that I recorded while Brian was noodling around after soundcheck on the piano. I was kind of following him around while we were on tour with his knowledge and permission, because he liked to play piano after dinner (and before the gig) up on the stage. I said, ‘Would it be okay if I just record some of the stuff that you do, and if you have any Gershwinny [sic] ideas we’ll take ’em down?’ Brian said, ‘Okay.’ That vocal intro is something that he was playing on the piano and I transcribed it and suggested that it might make a good intro for this Gershwin song that he chose; it was in the key of E-flat. I wrote a chart for the Gershwin song with just the chord changes, the band recorded a basic rhythm track and then Brian sang a new melody for it. We tracked the parts that Brian liked and then he created a new melody for it.”

“Nothing But Love” was also from a piano rendition, but went through a different process. Mertens expains, “That was one of the songs that Brian had selected based on the solo piano version of it. Darian (Sahanaja) recorded a waltz-time version instrumental demo of that song and had Brian listen to it and we recorded it. Brian created a new melody in Darian’s waltz-time version of it and somehow it was just not making it and Brian started to feel strongly that the fact that it was a waltz was getting in the way for him. He said, ‘I don’t do waltzes… It’s not workin’.’ We had a lovely song so we decided to: 1) lower the key, and take it down a step; 2) If it’s hard to sing in three let’s just rock it. ‘Nothing But Love’ was really the only song that didn’t come to life almost instantly. It wasn’t until we did it as a rock song that suddenly everyone’s eyes lit up and we were like… ‘Okay, this is gonna work!’”

Of the 14-track album Wilson says, “If you take it one by one, each song has a different personality and a different texture and different rhythm, and different sound. And each lead, how you have to handle the lead, the way you really feel it – and the way you think George would have liked to have heard it… I squared it away until it sounded like Brian Wilson and Gershwin together.”

Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin brings together the sounds of The Beach Boys, George and Ira Gershwin, Jazz, R&B – all the great music that came out of Tin Pan Alley.  This collection is for the fan, but it’s also for the uninitiated. There is something for everyone to appreciate… including Brian Wilson.  For under the “Special Thanks” in the album’s liner notes Wilson wrote: To George and Ira Gershwin for creating music that inspired a young boy from Hawthorne, California to follow a dream. It's one thing to touch something. Brian has a firm grasp of his dream.

Micky Dolenz — King For A Day

By David M.Beard

Today, Micky Dolenz’s name is synonymous with The Monkees, the pre-fab four who brought us unforgettable songs like “(Theme From) The Monkees,” “Last Train to Clarksville,” “I’m A Believer,” “I’m Not Your Stepping Stone,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” “Porpoise Song” (Theme From “Head”) and “That Was Then, This Is Now.”  Micky Dolenz is a part of The Monkees’ extended consciousness.

For this new collection, Dolenz has left behind his pop-comedic sensibilities in favor of the stylized crooner approach that breathes new life into songwriter Carole King’s colorful catalogue.  King For A Day gathers together a handful of Micky’s favorite songs as written by King. While this is a “cover album,” Dolenz approaches the tracks with a confident swagger reminiscent of Frank Sinatra and Johnny Mathis.  His voice is as potent as ever and the production touches from Brian Wilson musical director Jeff Foskett and engineer extraordinaire Gary Griffin bring Micky’s vocals front and center… right where they belong. 

King For A Day features lush harmonies, organic production and an overall earthiness; it also corrects previous misgivings about Micky’s pipes and paves the way for future releases of this ilk.

The Monkees HEAD (Deluxe Edition) (Rhino Handmade)

By David M. Beard

Perhaps one of the most evolutionary soundtrack/rock albums of its time, The Monkees’ “Head” – released December 1, 1968 – shunned all previously embraced TV series bubblegum sensibilities with shades of social commentary and tongue-in-cheek deprecation. Fueled by the film’s staggered storyline – scripted by Bob Rafelson and Jack Nicholson with input from Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, Mike Nesmith and Davy Jones – “Head” starred The Monkees in over six different settings and environments. The bond that kept it all together was their music.

Tork had begun to show his merit beyond the pre-premised value of Monkeed-dom during the Headquarters sessions in 1967, and furthered his vernacular during the sessions of The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees where his contributions originated. Next to Nesmith’s vamping “Circle Sky,” Peter’s “Can You Dig It” and “Do I Have To Do This All Over Again” are tracks that illuminate the “Head” listening experience and virtually bring the actual film to life in their accompanying footage. As defining as Tork’s contributions are, the touchstone recordings remain the ethereal “Porpoise Song,” a Gerry Goffin/Carole King offering, and “As We Go Along;” the latter written by Carole King/Toni Stern.

As with Rhino Handmade’s “The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees,” “Head” is a quintessential three-disc box set that comes encased in the original Mylar concept art (so you can see your “head/face” when looking at the album cover). The set retails for $59.98, includes 20 previously unreleased tracks, outtakes and rarities; a live set from the Valley Music Hall in Salt Lake City, UT, a rare radio 1968 interview with Davy Jones and a collectible bonus 7” of the instrumental versions of  “Porpoise Song” and “As We Go Along.”

Available exclusively at Rhino Handmade

Carl Wilson — Youngblood

Review by David M. Beard

While there are few defining solo musical efforts from the members of The Beach Boys, Carl Wilson, the youngest sibling to older brothers Brian and Dennis, did mange to briefly capture lightning in a bottle on this 1983 release.  Faced with the lack of creative flexibility within the group dynamic, Wilson left the band after 1980’s Keepin’ The Summer Alive album to pursue personal music interests.

His first self-titled effort, released in 1981, was a meager eight-track submission with the lovely “Heaven” becoming the memorable hallmark. Youngblood was a far more focused event under the production of Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (Steely Dan and Doobie Brothers fame).  While neither album changed Carl’s status in the music world, they did bring his bluesy and impassioned singing style as well as his rhythm & blues sensibilities to the forefront.  Youngblood also demonstrated that Wilson was itching to compose guitar-led compositions.

 “What More Can I Say?,” “Rockin’ All Over The World” and “Young Blood” are prime examples of Carl finding his inner “honky-tonk.”  There are also tracks of deep substance here; the Billy Hinsche (Dino, Desi & Billy) penned “One More Night Alone” and the toe-tapping “What You Do to Me” remain the collection’s strongest recordings.

The liner notes, written by Hinsche, provide a compelling backstory and song-by-song analysis that sheds light on just about every facet of the period and the recordings.

While this album is not as dark and brooding as Dennis’ Pacific Ocean Blue and Bambu albums, or as esthetically evolved as 2004’s Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE, Youngblood is a vivid reminder of why The Beach Boys relied so heavily on the voice of the youngest Wilson, and why they have never been as good since Carl passed away in February of 1998.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Beach Boys: The Essential Interviews (by John Luerssen)

Review by Phil Miglioratti

30 interviews. 5 decades. 3 continents. 334 pages!
Essential is right. These are the interviews we either couldn't find or didn't know existed back in the stone age of 45rpm singles.  No website message boards or blogs for music fans when most of these interviews were published. Magazine racks stocked Tiger Beat ("Dennis, what's your favorite color") but no Melody Maker or NME (New Musical Express from London). John Luerssen has done Beach Boys fans a huge favor by assembling 30 interviews, most or many certainly new to even the most persistent Beach Boys fan.

As expected, we hear from Brian, Carl, Dennis, Mike, Alan, and Bruce as they give their POV through various stages and sagas of Beach Boys history. The bonus is how many times those Q&A sessions become as much commentary as conversation, more insight than mere information, often revealing intra-group relationships. Add to that eyewitness background only insiders like Derek Taylor, previously press agent to the Beatles, and Michael Vosse can provide. How about nearly 50 pages of in-real-time discussion on the demise of SMiLE by David Anderle (Brother Records) and Paul Williams (Crawdaddy magazine)? Beach Boys fans will recognize the names of Jules Siegle and Beach Boys book authors David Leaf and John Tobler – this collection is the next best thing to a Library of Congress archive documenting America’s band.
Come along on the Beachago tour … Give an ear as Bruce reveals some of the story behind the unfulfilled California Music episode and his thoughts about Glen Campbell’s "Guess I'm Dumb" … Find out what Tony Asher thinks about Murry Wilson … Hear from the Wrecking Crew’s Carol Kaye ("We admired what Brian was creating.") and Three Dog Night’s Danny Hutton ("He's just pure music.").

This book puts me backstage again (remembering those days when getting backstage did not require Top Secret clearance), in their LA office, and on the phone with Bruce during the SMiLE sessions. Don’t back down from this opportunity to experience Beach Boy history.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


For years Brian Wilson/Beach Boys fans have been exposed to mostly over-exaggerated and misdirected storylines filled with hyperbolae regarding Brian Wilson. More often than not documentaries have focused more on Brian’s shortcomings of drug abuse and mental illness as opposed to his amazing musical gifts and the way he altered the course of popular music forever. Brian Wilson Songwriter 1962 – 1969 brings into focus Wilson’s studio fortitude and compositional genius.

More importantly, the tightly edited chronology of Brian’s life is articulated with thorough firsthand accounts by David Marks, Bruce Johnston, Danny Hutton, Hal Blaine, Carole Kaye, Billy Hinsche and Fred Vail. The third-party interviewees – Domenic Priore, Peter Ames Carlin and Philip Lambert – perfectly balance history, opinion and musical composition.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this particular release is having David Marks tell of Brian’s early success and Bruce Johnston’s reflections on Brian’s career-defining work in 1966, which together create an aptly honed storyline. While this documentary doesn’t exactly reveal anything new, it does provide the viewer with a better understanding of a magical era when Brian Wilson reigned supreme.

This will make an important addition to any collection. 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Brian Wilson Songwriter 1962 -1969

Brian Wilson Songwriter 1962-1969 is a documentary film in which the rich tapestry of music written and produced by this brilliant 20th century composer is investigated and reviewed. With the main feature running at over three hours in length across two discs, the songs Brian wrote for and recorded with The Beach Boys during the 1960s are here re-assessed with insightful effectiveness.

Exclusive interviews with Bruce Johnston, David Marks, Beach Boys manager Fred Vail, producer Russ Titelman, Billy Hinsche and Danny Hutton and many others

Live and studio recordings of many Brian Wilson classics are also included.

Available November 23, 2010 — View the trailer here

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Let The Good Times In

Sunshine Pop Plays While Audiences Wait For Brian 
By Jeff Bleiel

A Sampling of the Tracks Played Prior To Brian Wilson’s Concerts
Glen Campbell: Guess I’m Dumb
Eric Carmen: My Girl
Dennis Diken With Bell Sound: Standing In That Line
Dino, Desi & Billy: Through Spray Colored Glasses
Dukes of Stratosphere: Pale and Precious
Mama Cass Elliot: It’s Getting Better
Mark Eric: California Home
Eternity’s Children: Mrs. Bluebird
The Explorers Club: Forever
First Class: Beach Baby
The Flame: Another Day Like Heaven
Lesley Gore: On A Day Like Today
Henry Gross: Springtime Mama
The Group: Baby Baby It’s You
Harpers Bizarre: Malibu U
The Kinks: Australia
Gary Lewis & The Playboys: Jill
Billy Nicholls: Would You Believe
Parade: Sunshine Girl
Partridge Family: Let The Good Times In
Chris Rainbow: Dear Brian
Raspberries: Cruisin’ Music
Sagittarius: My World Fell Down
Tradewinds: New York’s A Lonely Town
Wizzard: See My Baby Jive
Roy Wood: Why Does a Pretty Girl Sing Those Sad Songs
XTC: Humble Daisy
Weird Al Yankovic: Pancreas
Yellow Balloon: Yellow Balloon
Zombies: Care of Cell 44

Attendees of Brian Wilson’s concerts over the past several years have been treated to a winning selection of the Beach Boys greatest hits, as well as masterful performances of complete works such as Pet Sounds, Smile, and That Lucky Old Sun.  But the great music actually started long before Brian and the band took the stage. 

Fans who arrived at these concerts early received a real audio treat via the music that played over the house sound system prior to the show.  It has been an enticing selection of joyful pop music influenced by Brian Wilson.  Some of the songs are courtesy of familiar Brian Wilson disciples, but much of the music is relatively obscure, even to the most devoted Beach Boy loyalists.

The tracks were selected by – and come from the impressive personal collection of – keyboardist Darian Sahanaja, who chose “songs that I’ve known over the years to be inspired by Brian’s music.”  The eclectic mix includes both massive Top 40 hits (1974’s “Beach Baby”) and tracks from albums which have probably sold less than 5,000 copies.  Some, but not all, of the songs are familiar to fans of the “sunshine pop” genre, but even collectors and pop geeks are likely to discover some eye-opening gems within this repertoire.

The Sahanaja-created mix CDs have been played prior to Brian’s shows for approximately the last five years.  Jeffrey Foskett explains that the idea actually came out of a bit of frustration with the pre-show music that had been featured on some earlier tours. “They were playing Steely Dan and stuff that had no purpose,” he says.  “And I said, ‘we’ve either got to play The Beatles or we’re got to play something else.’  We were playing Beatles songs for a while and it was pretty cool.  But then Darian said ‘Let me make a CD.’  He actually made three CDs, and they were great.”

Indeed, this collection of songs is likely to be appreciated by anyone who shares of love of Beach Boys/Brian Wilson music.

Friends and Family
The mix contains no Beach Boys tracks or Beach Boys solo efforts (or Jan & Dean songs, for that matter).  But some members of the extended Beach Boys family make an appearance.  Sahanaja calls “Guess I’m Dumb,” Glen Campbell’s 1965 single, “arguably the best Brian Wilson composition and production outside of the Beach Boys.”

“Another Day Like Heaven” comes from the Carl Wilson-produced 1970 Brother Records album by The Flame (featuring Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar in their pre-Beach Boys days).

“I love that track,” Sahanaja says.  “It sounds like Abbey Road Beatles, but produced by Carl Wilson.”

Sagittarius’ 1967 nugget “My World Fell Down” features Glen Campbell, Bruce Johnston, Gary Usher and Curt Boettcher.  And an obscure non-album single by Billy Hinsche’s hitmaking teen trio Dino, Desi & Billy, “Thru Spray Colored Glasses,” is a remarkable slice on sunshine pop, co-written by David Gates.

Sunshine Poppers
Some fondly-remembered 1960s hits which are indebted to Brian Wilson’s production style include The Tradewinds’ “New York’s A Lonely Town,” which Sahanaja considers “one of the best Brian Wilson-influenced records ever made.  Similarly, The Parade’s “Sunshine Girl” and Yellow Balloon’s “Yellow Balloon” both from 1967 are still regarded as one-hit-wonder sunshine pop classics.  Sahanaja also included non-hit songs by more successful 1960s acts, such as Gary Lewis & The Playboys’ “Jill” (“one of my all time favorite West Coast pop records,” he says) and Lesley Gore’s “On A Day Like Today” (produced by Wrecking Crew saxman Steve Douglas).

Though Brian Wilson’s influence on the music of The Partridge Family may be less obvious, the made-for-TV group’s harmony-drenched obscurity “Let The Good Times In” perfectly fits within the spirit and the purpose of Sahanaja’s collection.  Memories of this song, which was featured in the TV series’ pilot episode but never released on record, lingered with Sahanaja, and when it was finally released on a Partridge compilation CD in 2005, it soon thereafter made its way into the Brian Wilson pre-show mix.  

Across The Pond
Like Cleveland, Ohio’s Eric Carmen (also represented by two tracks) England’s Roy Wood is an unquestioned Brian Wilson disciple who has recorded a wide stylistic range of music.  Sahanaja calls Wood’s “Why Does A Pretty Girl Sing Those Sad Songs” “so Beach Boys.”  Another featured track is “See My Baby Jive” – by Wood’s band Wizzard – which was a number one hit in Britain in 1972.

Two British Invasion-era bands make appearances among the track selections.  The Zombies are near and dear to Sahanaja’s heart.  “Care of Cell 44” comes from the band’s landmark Odessey & Oracle album.  When the four surviving members of The Zombies reunited in 2008 to perform the album in its entirety in London, Sahanaja was among the band’s supporting musicians, playing keyboards and contributing background vocals.

More surprising is the inclusion of a track by the generally harder-edged Kinks.  “Australia” comes from their 1969 rock opera Arthur.

“Well, they’re doing their homage to the Beach Boys there,” Sahanaja explains.  “They’re singing about Australia, which to the British is almost like an alternative summer paradise.  It was Ray Davies’ style to be a bit sarcastic and ironic.”

Cult favorites XTC are represented by two tracks (including one from their alter-ego Dukes of Stratosphere).  Another standout production is “Dear Brian” by one-time Alan Parsons Project vocalist Chris Rainbow.

Weird Science
One of the most recent tributes to Brian Wilson has been largely overlooked by fans, probably because it comes from such a highly unlikely source – Weird Al Yankovic.  “Pancreas” was featured on Yankovic’s 2006 album Straight Outta Lynwood.

“It is in no way a parody; it is a genuine tribute,” Sahanaja says.  “I think it’s genius.  It’s musically beautiful and it lyrically captures Brian in his most sincere form.  Weird Al is singing about an internal organ in the tradition of ‘Solar System’ or ‘Airplane’.”

Whether it’s the discovery of a buried album track by a popular artist such as The Kinks or Eric Carmen, the re-discovery of a not-played-anymore Top 40 hit from yesteryear (Henry Gross’ “Springtime Mama”), or exposure to brand spanking new Beach Boys/Brian Wilson-influenced works (such as 2008/2009 albums by Dennis Diken or The Explorers Club), the music mix created by Darian Sahanaja has successfully served to whet the pre-show appetite of fans who have seen Brian Wilson’s recent concert tours.  For some concert goers, this may have been a somewhat subliminal or even overlooked experience.  But whether it was appreciated “in the moment” or not, anyone who seeks nourishment from the life-affirming music exemplified by The Beach Boys should take the time to seek out and soak in these tracks.      

© 2010 Endless Summer Quarterly
All rights reserved

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Al Jardine — A Postcard From California

Review by David M. Beard

Anyone can tell you that taking a road trip from Los Angeles to Big Sur on the California coastline is an experience full of majesty and beauty. The music of The Beach Boys — in its own unique way — represents that long stretch of road as much as it encompasses the sandy shores of Manhattan Beach, Venice Beach and beyond. Al Jardine's musical beginnings were in the homespun folk roots of The Kingston Trio. Like his high school band mate Brian Wilson, Al also enjoyed the doo-wop and harmony-based groups of the 1950s. The Beach Boys created a marriage of sound using The Four Freshmen, Chuck Berry, Kingston Trio, The Del Vikings… the list goes on.

After a brief stint away in 1962 (in pursuit of an education in Michigan), Jardine returned to The Beach Boys’ fold. Wilson drafted hit after hit with his boys, and Al, when his number was called, sang on the smash hit, "Help Me Rhonda!" The Beach Boys’ critically-acclaimed Holland album from 1973 featured the exotic "California Saga" suite ("Big Sur/The Beaks of Eagles/California"), which provided the listener with a walk through the eyes of a "Beach Boy environmentalist," someone who had and still has a very deep appreciation of wildlife and nature. Al's new album, A Postcard From California, is a 12-song collection that encompasses the amalgam of everything mentioned here.

Part of what creates the full Americana realization of this collection is a great array of guest stars that Jardine brought — in most cases — into the studio. The list includes David Marks (co-founding Beach Boy), Glen Campbell, David Crosby, Neil Young, Steve Miller, Gerry Beckley & Dewey Bunnell (America), actor Alec Baldwin and Flea (The Red Hot Chili Peppers). As eclectically impressive as this group is, the real highlight for Beach Boys fans is the long lost recording "Don't Fight the Sea," which Al initially recorded in the late 1970s with Carl Wilson and Bruce Johnston. As Jardine remembers it, "I could never get all the guys together. That’s why it never became a Beach Boys song. For some reason, after the initial recording with Bruce, Carl and myself it languished unfinished. I could never get Brian to perform on it until Dr. Landy gave his blessing in 1988. It languished it for another 10 years. In 1998 I added Carl on the bridge. Then ProTools came along. Thank God for ProTools. I approached Mike Love about recording a vocal (last year), and wanted to know if he wanted to put his heart and soul into it. He was totally agreeable to it. Thanks to Mike and Brian we’ve got all the fellows on a recording again, which is nice."

Whether it's the countrified title track about Al's family's migration and nomadic lifestyle, the sincere examination of the California coastline on "Looking Down the Coast," the fun and poignant lyrics of "Drivin'" ("BP, you're killin' me, man"), the Beach Boys’ Party album vibe on "Help Me Rhonda" with Steve Miller and Flea as guests (ala Dean Torrence on "Barbara Ann"), or the poetic shift of "Tidepool Interlude" as recited by Alec Baldwin, this is a song cycle that illustrates the culmination of Jardine's personal and musical life.

Yet, as wonderful as this collection feels, the standout recording for me is the pop-friendly "San Simeon," as sung by Al and Gerry Beckley with a quaint nod to "Don't Worry Baby." Matt and Adam Jardine carry the background vocals on this song — as well as throughout the album — with a fluent grace; it's Beach Boys beautiful. Makes sense considering these boys come from the gene pool.

While hard-core Beach Boys fans will be familiar with most of the material on this collection, Al brings new life and vigor to the well-known chestnuts, and completely recaptures his environmental sensibilities while providing the listener with an organic listening experience. As Jardine views it, "This album is more my Moody Blues concept album. It’s like a few years in the life of Al Jardine.”

The album is available now via iTunes download and http;// CD-R with packaging. Visit for song samples and promotional videos.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Summer 2010 edition of ESQ

The Summer 2010 edition of Endless Summer Quarterly

Available now!

Contents: The Beach Boys Television & Film Part II by Ian Rusten (with additional research by David M. Beard)

Complimentary CD with music from: Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, David Marks, Dean Torrence, Dennis Wilson, Carl Wilson and Jan Berry

CD includes:

Brian Wilson appears on four recordings

Al Jardine appears on three recordings

Carl Wilson on three recordings

David Marks appears on three recordings

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Beach Boys restored to T.A.M.I. Show

To view The Beach Boys restored to the T.A.M.I. Show

Jan & Dean — Carnival Of Sound

Jan & Dean
Carnival Of Sound
Rhino Handmade (RHM2 521476)
Grade: ★★★★★
David M. Beard

Jan Berry’s Carnival Of Sound — a collection of music he finished in 1968 (after his near-fatal automobile accident on April 12, 1966) — is astonishing. Miraculously Jan would reenter the studio April 19, 1967. More than 20 months later, Berry would complete the album, and it would remain shelved until now.

Strong production, great mixes, and, in some cases, the J&D-style banter we’re accustomed to hearing — are all a part of this release. The enclosed booklet includes extensive liner notes, track annotations and poignant images.

Waiting 40-plus years to experience Carnival Of Sound is more than worth it. This album will close a previously mythic chapter and invigorate Jan Berry’s musical legacy. If you’re not a Jan & Dean fan, don’t be fooled. This is psychedelic pop at it best. To top it all off, Dean Torrence designed the front and back covers.

The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees

The Monkees
The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees
Rhino Handmade (RHM2 522248) 3 CDs
Grade: ★★★★★
By David M. Beard

Encased in a booklet-styled box adorned with a beautiful 3-D lenticular cover and a full-color booklet complete with sessionography and rare images, it can easily be said that this newest installment from Rhino Handmade — The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees 3-CD boxed set – is their finest Monkees-related item to date.
The three CDs are comprised of: The complete stereo album with 15 additional Stereo mixes and rarities; the complete mono album with 18 bonus mixes and rarities; and a 31-track rarities CD.

Fortunately, this release provides us with a really balanced sense of where The Monkees, as a group, were heading. Mike Nesmith was mixing music and poetry, Davy Jones was writing with outside collaborators and Micky Dolenz was discovering the depth of his studio abilities. But for me, it’s the inclusion of Peter Tork’s material — “Tear The Top Right Off My Head,” “Come On In,” “Lady’s Baby,” “(I Prithee) Do Not Ask For Love,” “Merry Go Round,” “Seeger’s Theme” and ”Long Title: Do I have To Do This All Over Again” — that’s eye-opening.

Finally, we can experience this musical timeline with informed opinions — qualifying the needed background to realize that The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees is far more than a single album. It’s a collection of songs whose parts equal a much greater whole than we would have ever imagined. Where else can you get pop, folk, country, acoustic, electric, conscientious-objector thoughts and a melodic break of whimsy album all rolled into one? Right here,

Retailing for $58, this new set, with the inclusion of three discs worth of alternate vocals from each member on different songs, and in some cases different arrangements, is worth every cent. Remarkably, the most rewarding aspect of this collection is there’s another complete album here that’s never seen the light of day, and you can make it yourself.

Odd and peculiar, fun and quirky, The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees three-disc boxed set is an incredible study of four individuals and their collective sound — that’s something worth

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Mike & Dean — "Be True To Your Bud" promotional 45 giveaway!

From the editor.

Thanks to Gary Griffin, ESQ randomly chose some lucky subscribers to receive these instant collectibles:

Mike & Dean "Be true To Your Bud" promotional single

Mike & Dean Fall 1982 "Be True To Your School" tickets

Mike & Dean backstage pass

The winners will receive these items in the mail by the end of April.

The winners are:

Zach Bastien

Maureen Falco

Lewis Garrett

Marijn Von Hoorn

Richard McNeace

Timothy Smith

Danny Yoe

The following names were chosen to receive collectible tickets from the Mike & Dean Fall 1982 "Be True To Your School" concert series and were included with issues when they were mailed.

Christian Bremer

Anthony Gesualdi

John Gulmans

Shigeo Itaya

Ole Knudsen

French Salter

More collectibles are coming this year, so be sure to subscribe today!



SPRING EDITION (available now)

The Spring 2010 edition of ESQ features: the Mike & Dean period (1981-1983) - the section includes interviews with Mike Love, Dean Torrence, Gary Griffin and Jeff Foskett; interviews with documentarian Billy Hinsche and photographer Ed Roach provide added insight into the 1974 DVD on the Beach Boys; Al Jardine and Brian Wilson recording news; reviews of Jan & Dean's Carnival Of Sound, the T.A.M.I. Show, and much more!