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.