In 1988, Brian Wilson
released his eponymous first solo album. It wasn't perfect, but it was a very good album by a mature artist. It did nothing commercially. At the same time, the Beach Boys
, without Brian, released Kokomo
. It was a piece of shit
, but it was used in a Tom Cruise
film, so somehow it went to number one in the US and sold a million copies.
Because of this the band were given a one album deal with their old label (Capitol records) and quickly cobbled together this album, supposedly based around 'songs that have been in films'.
They used three old 60s tracks, their recent singles (mostly written by Mike Love and Terry Melcher and produced by Melcher), got a song left over from Brian's album and dubbed a few backing vocals on it, had Al Jardine write a song, and somehow managed to have their most successful album in more than 20 years, despite (or maybe because of) it having the artistic integrity of toilet-wall graffitti...
Still Cruisin', (from Lethal Weapon 2) is a relatively decent start to the album, with a decent Love lead vocal and a nice chorus vocal line by Carl Wilson. Hardly exceptional, but decent in the same mode as Love and Melcher's Getcha Back from the 85 album.
Somewhere Near Japan, a flop single from the album, is actually a marvellous track, written by Love, Melcher, John Philips of the Mamas And The Papas and Johnston. A story about Philips' daughter's bad honeymoon with her drug dealer, this has great vocals, especially by Jardine. At this point the album almost sounds as good as past Beach Boys albums.
Island Girl (I'm Gonna Make Her Mine) on the other hand is appaling. The last released new Beach Boys song on which Brian Wilson took an active part in the band, this is a terrible calypso song by Jardine, with lead vocals by Jardine, Carl Wilson and Love. There's a nice a capella intro by Brian and Carl Wilson and Jardine, but other than that this is worthless.
In My Car by Brian Wilson and, allegedly, Eugene Landy is a cast-off from Wilson's eponymous solo album, hastily overdubbed with chorus vocals by Carl Wilson and Jardine. One of the least interesting songs Wilson ever wrote, it's not helped by a terrible mix which buries the vocals in a wash of synths, and Wilson's out of tune falsetto in the middle eight.
Kokomo everyone knows, unfortunately. This mock-calypso, written by Love, Melcher, Philips and Scott Mackenzie, is one of the worst singles ever made. The fact that it sold a million copies is a sad reflection on the public's taste...
Wipe Out is a remake of the Surfaris classic, with the Fat Boys. Brian Wilson is actually the only Beach Boy to appear on this track, but the track was more or less pieced together on a sequencer by Andy Paley, who also provides many of the vocals. This was a top 10 hit in the UK...
Make It Big apparently features in the film 'Troop Beverly Hills' and sounds like it could have been a decent song, but is only half-written and aimless. Carl Wilson provides some decent vocals, but it goes nowhere...
I Get Around, Wouldn't It Be Nice and California Girls are the old classics everyone knows, put on the album because they'd been used in then-recent films. Every one of them is at least a hundred times better than anything else on this sad waste of a once-great band...
The album is currently available on Capitol records
Band line-up for the album - Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Al Jardine, Mike Love,Bruce Johnston (plus Dennis Wilson on the last three tracks)
Tracks produced by different people but the 80s tracks mostly Terry Melcher, the 60s tracks all Brian Wilson
Previous album - The Beach Boys '85
Next album - Summer In Paradise