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.