Last Man Standing: What Else Can Brian Wilson and Whatever Form of The Beach Boys Mike Love Is Willing to Stand in Front of Do to “Win” Their Long-Over Battle Against The Beatles?
I thought I was dreaming when I saw mention of this last week, but it seems Brian Wilson has been collaborating with Jeff Beck and will next tour with Beck and a band featuring original Beach Boys Al Jardine and David Marks (but not “The Beach Boys”).
Call me cynical, but the first thing I thought of when reading about this unlikely pairing is that Brian is, once more, aspiring to reigniting the musical legacy battle versus The Beatles that he and his bandmates last competed in through 1966. After that, the battle turned into a blowout, with The Beach Boys dropping back faster than the Kansas City Royals (of recent vintage) in June.
Call me befuddling, but here’s what I’m getting at: What has Jeff Beck ever had to do with The Beach Boys? Absolutely nothing. However, Beck did align himself with The Beatles’ camp in 1974, when he teamed with legendary Beatles producer George Martin to record the smash hit instrumental record Blow By Blow. On that album he displayed brilliant taste by recording an instrumental version of a Beatles’ song with perhaps their worst lyrics ever committed to vinyl, “She’s a Woman.”
Jeff Beck and The Beatles would forever be linked. Beck has been performing a version of “A Day in the Life” for years. You know that song, right? It’s the grand finale from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, the band’s runaway July tear in their once-vital battle versus The Beach Boys.
Brian Wilson and Mike Love have long displayed frustration with their inability to get back into the race with The Fab Four. Although it’s late September, in terms of this race, and The Beach Boys have been mathematically eliminated since early August, what else can Brian Wilson and whatever form of The Beach Boys Mike Love is willing to stand in front of do to “win” their long-over battle against The Beatles?
I’ll start this highly conceptual Last Man Standing with the following entry…after the jump!
Remember when Brian Wilson finally released his version of Smile after all these years. Releasing Smile back in 60’s might not have eliminated The Beach Boys from the pennant race after August. In baseball analogy this was the equivalent of sitting Miguel Cabrera in a divisional battle game because the team doctor drunkenly misinterpreted an x-ray revealing a hairline fracture on Miggy’s forearm.
Now if we could unearthing some long lost recording in the Sunflower/Surf’s Up era and release it with the help of Jay Z, Jack White and Justin Timberlake seems like we would be swinging for the bleachers.
Can’t be done (although the Brian and Jeff pairing is a brilliant move)
The Beatles did not try to live on past their expiration date.
The Beatles, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin got out when the “gettin’ was still good” (or they went to the great gig in the sky). Either way, they avoided the awkward 2nd decade (see The Stones, The Who, The Kinks, Clapton, Rod) where we see that the Emperor is wearing a jumpsuit and has turned into a parody of themselves. For some reason the 70’s were particularly cruel to the great 60’s bands, but not as much to the solo artists from these bands.
The Beach Boys did EVERYTHING in their power to stay popular in the 70’s and that meant every time the decision was between integrity and popularity, they chose popularity. They INVENTED the oldies show for cryin out loud. Fat, balding, middle aged men in polyester playing songs from the early 60’s – just a mess.
If the Beach Boys had released SMILE, then Surfs Up (as their Let It Be) and then broke up the next month, THEN they would have been able to chase The Beatles.
The Mike Love Band, Carl & The Passions, Brian Wilson’s Sandbox Band and Dennis Wilson’s Pacific Blue Band could have done their thing through the 70’s and 80’s and kept The Beach Boys for things like Live Aid. Or retire the name and build up some desire from their fans.
Beach Boysmania, that’s something the Beach Boys could try. They should have paid the Wondermints to be their tribute band and stayed in the background, pretending they didn’t even know they existed.
I recently picked up the Beach Boys’ TV special from 1976 that was part of the “Brian’s Back” campaign & was reissued on DVD. It was produced by Lorne Michaels & was the source for that famous sketch where Belushi & Ackroyd, as CA cops bust Brian from his bed for not surfing & force him to surf in his bathrobe. The rest of the show was pretty bizarre, w/Scenes of Dennis as a judge @ a Miss CA beauty pagent, a Human Fly riding on top of a 707 to the strains of “I Get Around” & concert scenes of Mike Love wearing Mickey Mouse gloves & a gold lame vest & Al Jardine wearing a big Uncle Sam hat. Very 70s in a bizarre way.
Speaking of the Wondermints, it’s been over 10 yrs. since they put out an album under their own name. It’s been great to have them back Brian & do Smile & all that, but I wonder why they haven’t done anything for themselves for so long? Did Brian suck their creativity like a vampire?
There is no doubt that Eric Clapton knows how to play the guitar. I mean, he knows which strings to pick, when to pick them, and where to put the fingers of his left hand. Mechanically, he is an exemplary machine. But by Christ he is a boring musician. I’m not sure how much input he had into the songs of Blind Faith, Cream, Mayall, Derek & the Doms, etc, but his mediocre output as a song creator is in stark contrast to his massive reputation.
I don’t know what Clapton is like as a bloke, I gave up reading music press and bios roughly 30 years ago. Jeff Beck, on the other hand, seems like a smashing bloke. Every time there is a “history of rock” type wankfest on television, Beck’s personality towers above the rest of the self-important knobs. He is even self-deprecating, a bit like Harry Vanda, if you know the guy from the Easybeats. Beck’s description of Keith Relf on one such show was worth the price of admission alone.
Harry Vanda’s smirk (and the gap in George Young’s teeth) should be in the RTH Hall of Fame.