Jun 202011

Happy birthday, Brian!

You know me when it comes to post-1966 Beach Boys: I’ve had it with any further examinations of Brian Wilson’s psyche, the possibilities left hanging in the unfinished SMiLE album, and the occasional decent tracks found on the albums following Pet Sounds. What I want to know is what exactly was going on in the band proper during the period captured for posterity in this 1969 Paris performance.

Has anyone ever sat down with one of the band members and asked them to look back specifically at this period? Not in broad terms of them hitting a commercial nadir, because that’s only a set-up for the triumphant return to the charts with Mike Love’s “concept album,” Endless Summer. Not even in terms of the band having reached its cultural nadir of irrelevance, because that would also be an easy set up for them to talk about how Endless Summer aided in healing a nation torn apart by Vietnam, Watergate, etc. No, what I want to know is if anyone simply asked Carl or Al what was going through their minds when they looked over at Mike. What discussions led to everyone wearing white while still allowing more than enough rope for a certain band member to hang himself in his own sense of personal style? What went through Carl’s mind the first time he caught a glimpse of his fat ass in those tight white slacks? What defined “success” for the band during that awkward stretch? I want thought bubbles atop these performances!

These performances of stomping hits from their past and stomping would-be hits of their then-present is pretty noble and poignant, if you ask me. Much more so than the detrius that’s more commonly put under the rock-nerd microscope and dipped into the critical wishing well of hidden riches. Maybe following my week in Paris and brushing up on my barely remembered French the narration accompanying the following 1970 Paris show will answer some of my questions…after the jump!


  19 Responses to “Please Explain: The Beach Boys Live in Paris, 1969”

  1. shawnkilroy

    i really like some of their music, and i LOVE their voices. I even like Dennis & Mike’s brand of insane disfunctionality. However, The Beach Boys are fuckin JIVE. To the bone. from their earliest surf bop tunes, through psychadelia, all the way to Kokomo, they are the most awkward group of nerds ever to have a long spanning carreer. in these Paris vids, it looks like they couldn’t tell if they wanted to be the Beatles or Glenn Campell, and that’s a sad place to be.

  2. The “Captain” is trying hard to copy Lennon during this period — the big ol’ beard, the TM. The bed interview in the second clip adds some validity to this theory — that may have been explored here before — of Love and as Lennon copycat.

    I will say that this version of the Beach Boys did produce one of my favorite live albums of all time. Beach Boys ’69 is a pretty damn good record — and turned me on as a teeny-bopper to Do It Again, which I had never heard before.

  3. misterioso

    Ah, oui, les garcons de la plage! Avec fromage! Ok, that’s all I’ve got. I will say that the performances are better if you listen without looking. I really have no idea what they were thinking here, but I never have any idea what they are thinking. I think this performance is after the Manson family murders. Maybe they’re thinking about them. That would make things more interesting, no?

  4. I don’t know that Love as Lennon has ever been explored before! You should write that up for a Main Stage thread. I like it! I’ll see that you have Back Office privileges, if you’re up to introducing the world to this excellent concept.

  5. Love as Lennon…Love as Manson? I’m ready to buy either one!

  6. I don’t know – I see it more as a Jesus look, except that as far as I know, the Son of God didn’t have a receding hairline.

  7. Except for Love’s walking-on-water duds, the Beach Boys are dressed exactly as semi-hip artists should have looked in 1969. It could be worse – it could be dashikis, Nehru jackets, or bare-chested with fringed vests like Roger Daltrey. As for the later clip. the Beach Boys have as much business attempting a blues number as the Moody Blues. Actually, I think the Moodies might have done a better job.

  8. BigSteve

    I like in the first clip where before Do It Again Mike Love tries to instruct the frogs on how to clap on the 2 and the 4 (not Euro style on the 1 and the 3). USA! USA!

    And not to defend the second clip, but Riot in Cell Block #9 is a ‘blues’ song written by two Jewish guys, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. It’s not like they’re singing a delta blues number, it was a pop/R&B hit. This song was the basis for the even more ridiculous Student Demonstration Time, which was on the Surf’s Up album.

  9. ladymisskirroyale

    I see their stage wear as reflecting their internal conundrum: Do we want to be square and appeal to the masses, or we California hipsters?

    I just want to know what color those neckerchiefs were. Please do not tell me they were wearing red, white and blue.

  10. My least favorite Beach Boys song is probably a tie between Student Demonstration Time and Johnny Carson.

  11. “Johnny Carson” is goofy and ridiculous in its badness, but “Student Demonstration Time” is just bad in its badness. I can’t stand to listen to that shit in any form.


  12. tonyola

    And of course “Student Demonstration Time” is a Mike Love song. Wonder if he had to have his arm twisted to give Leiber and Stoller credit?

  13. tonyola

    Actually, Europe is what defined “success” in the late ’60s and early ’70s for the Beach Boys. Even though they were all but invisible in the US after 1968 except for a couple minor hits, their albums still sold decently overseas and the concerts were highly anticipated and sold-out affairs. We could make a RTH topic about this: artists that were prophets-without-honor in their native countries but were big successes elsewhere.

  14. bostonhistorian

    Why does Mike Love feel the need to act out lyrics? I’ve seen several clips where he moves his hands to mimic the action described in the song. He also ultimately tells the audience to clap on the three and the four. I think his outfit is actually made from the mainsail of the Sloop John B.

    I’m more concerned about the IBM engineer on tambourine.

    I remember buying a copy of that Beach Boys live album–I must have been 10 years old or so, and the local Target had something like five cut-out albums for a dollar. I got Fonzie’s Favorites (don’t laugh–it had some fantastic tracks on it), a compilation with Surfin’ Bird, The Vogues “Five O’Clock World”, among other tracks, and this Beach Boys live album. Do It Again was the standout track.

  15. I know my first copy was a cut-out — 99% sure also purchased at Target. They did a nice version God Only Knows, too, but I really did love the whole thing at the time. I had never been to a rock concert, so I pretended to be at the show. Evidently a 2001 CD re-issue of Beach Boys ’69 AKA Live in London (paired with Beach Boys Concert) was cleaned-up a bit, sound-wise.

  16. I’ll be laughing over the mainsail of the Sloop John B comment for the next few days!

  17. misterioso

    Much the same could be said about David Hasselhoff in the late 80s. The similarities don’t end there, either–think about it.

  18. bostonhistorian

    I was going to go with a “cut of his jib” joke, but then realized he was too fat for a jib to fit.

  19. bostonhistorian

    Make that honor-without-profits, and you’re onto something…

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