Beach Boys Britain

From my nationally syndicated feed. . .

by Howie Edelson


Beach Boys fans are counting the minutes until Friday's (June 30th) release of the band's latest collection, called 1967: Sunshine Tomorrow. In addition to the first-ever stereo mix of the band's beloved 1967 Wild Honey album, 1967: Sunshine Tomorrow boasts countless outtakes and alternate tracks from both the Smiley Smile and Wild Honey album -- along with key rehearsals and live tracks from the aborted Lei'd In Hawaii project. Rounding out the set are select previously unreleased performances from the Beach Boys' Thanksgiving 1967 tour. The 1967 Smiley Smile recordings marked Brian Wilson's first work after the abandoned Smile album, with Wild Honey being the last Beach Boys album of the 1960's to showcase the legendary songwriting team of cousins Brian Wilson and frontman Mike Love. The album gets its name -- Sunshine Tomorrow -- from a line from Wild Honey's "Let The Wind Blow."

Grammy award-winning producers Alan Boyd and Mark Linett were once again behind the boards for the new collection, which is the creative followup to 2011's The 'Smile' Sessions box set. Boyd spoke about how the music created in 1967 for Smiley Smile and Wild Honey remains among the most honest of its era: "It's very modern sounding -- as a lot of people have pointed out -- because it does have a sort of homegrown, D.I.Y. aspect -- do it yourself aspect to it. It's a very organic record. There's nothing fake on it. There's very little processing -- there's some editing in some of the tracks because of the way Brian was still recording in fragments and piecing them together. But I think this album could really resonate with people who aren't really into the Beach Boys."

Although both the then-recent Pet Sounds and subsequent Smile sessions featured Brian Wilson teaming up with other lyricists, Mike Love explained to us why he and his cousin were always able to connect, lock in to a great idea, and run with it: "I mean, we were born in the same family, grew up together, loved the same music, learned Four Freshman arrangements, sang Everly Brothers in three and four-part harmony, did all the doo wop stuff you ever wanted to do -- so, we have so much in common musically -- and as cousins -- and compliment each other so well."

Die-hards got an early sneak-peak at one of Wilson/Love's hidden gems when the new stereo mix for Wild Honey's "hit-that-never-was" "Aren't You Glad" was posted online as a teaser for 1967: Sunshine Tomorrow. We asked Brian Wilson what he remembers about the fan favorite: "It was Bruce on piano. Mike said, 'Let's write a rhythm & blues kind of a song' -- I said, 'Okay, let's try it!' We did it, and it wasn't really rhythm & blues; it was inspired by rhythm & blues: 'Aren't you glad now darlin', there's you and me, me and you' -- y'know, like a rhythm & blues lyric -- a Motown lyric."

We asked Wilson about relocating the Beach Boys from Hollywood's top professional studios into his Bel Air home on Bellagio Road -- the band's musical headquarters for the next five years: "Well, I wanted to have a home environment trip, where we could record at my house, so we had an engineer build a studio in our den; convert it into a studio. We could function easier, because we were at home at our house. So, the guys knew the house and they knew the studio so they were able to play good."

Bruce Johnston has nothing but fond memories of the band settling in and recording Wild Honey at Brian Wilson's Bel Air mansion: "I enjoyed the album, because it was very chill, and it was fun, and Carl was very young and he was singing more -- he was singing in styles we hadn't heard. All this great stuff came up to the surface. And I honestly didn't remember playing the keyboard on 'Aren't You Glad,' 'cause I love that song. We have a live version of it from Beach Boys '69 that became Live In London. A great version."

Al Jardine particularly remembered Carl Wilson taking an active interest in the studio during the period that's covered on the 1967: Sunshine Tomorrow collection. He recalled how Brian and Carl had an almost sixth-sense while working together, and how Carl was on top of everything that Brian was laying down: "He was always very aware of the studio environment. He was a good studio cat. Brian would consult him on things as we grew musically. He trusted Carl and he could bounce things off him before the rest of us. And it was, kind of, a buffer. Carl played kind of that role, and Carl learned a lot from that."

The 1967: Sunshine Tomorrow collection features five tracks from the band's August 1967 Honolulu concerts with Brian Wilson, which were recorded in hopes of becoming the Beach Boys' second live album, but were ultimately deemed unusable at the time. West Coast music legend Billy Hinsche, renowned for his work as one third of Dino, Desi, & Billy and decades serving as a Beach Boys bandmate -- not to mention riding shotgun on solo tours by Carl Wilson, Al Jardine, and Brian Wilson, respectively -- opened those Hawaii shows with Dino, Desi, & Billy and recalled the scene back in '67: "They flew or shipped Brian's big old white Baldwin organ (laughs) over there to begin with, and to see it onstage was really something, because I remember seeing it at his house. I remember them (during rehearsals) gathering around going over parts, and Carl was playing a Hofner bass. I think they were opening with 'The Letter,' because Carl loved that song by the Box Tops. It was an island crowd -- there were more mature people in the audience. It's just that they were more mellow. It was an island, laid-back island audience."

Rock writer Howie Edelson, a longtime Brother Records consultant, was part of the production team for 1967: Sunshine Tomorrow, wrote the liner notes for the set -- and even named the album. He explained how in the face of growing adversity for the group, the Beach Boys remained unfazed as they created some of the most timeless music of the 1960's: "The thing that you need to realize when listening to this material, is that they are slowly entering their lowest ebb. They're not scoring hits -- they haven't had a major hit in nearly a year with 'Good Vibrations.' They have not made the jump to FM radio. They did not play Monterey Pop -- there are a lot of things that are going against the Beach Boys. Yet, when they're in the studio, they're completely focused and forward thinking. There is no second-guessing in trying to appeal to the market or kowtow to an audience they're trying to impress. It is the same vision that the Beatles had."

Due to overwhelming and unexpected demand, the 180-gram vinyl release of Wild Honey has been pushed back to July 21st.


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