|In 1970, the Beach Boys were coming off their least commercially successful album to
date, Sunflower, which was their first album for Warner Bros. following their eight
year stint with Capitol. Warners had sunk quite a bit of money into the band, and
though the reviews for he album were deservedly the best since Pet Sounds, it only
sold to the faithful fans who were frightfully dwindling in numbers. The
powers-that-be wanted a change in those fortunes to attempt to recoup their
investment. Around this same time, the Beach Boys happened upon Jack Rieley, a
"journalist" with a supposedly impressive resume who wanted to help the Beach
Boys update their image for the 70's, making them more "relevant" and in the
process make them more palatable to a wider audience, thus making record label and band
happier and richer. He eventually became their manager, and set about accomplishing
The band by this time already begun to assemble what eventually became Landlocked,
using some tracks that had been in gestation since 1969 while still at Capitol.
Though a completed master was assembled in early 1971, it was decided by (some) Beach Boys
and Rieley to exhume a legendary uncompleted track from Smile, Brian and Van Dyke
Park's epic "Surf's Up", finish it and make it the centerpiece of the album,
which would then bear the song's name. Surf's Up would present a new,
"socially relevant" Beach Boys. At the same time, friction between the
Mike Love/Al Jardine/Bruce Johnston and Wilson factions of the band led any Dennis Wilson
compositions being dumped in favor of lesser material (Love's "Student Demonstration
Time", Brian and Jack Rieley's "A Day In The Life Of A Tree"), though some
extremely strong Carl Wilson songs ("Long Promised Road" and "Feel
Flows") were included. All in all, when released in August 1971, Surf's Up
was a far different, though not always better, record than Landlocked would have
Most of the songs on Landlocked did end up being released, though in
significantly different versions. However, the lead-off track, "Loop De
Loop", a collaboration between Brian Wilson and Al Jardine that spanned several
recording sessions between 1969 and 1970, was a "kitchen sink" production that
remains unreleased to this day (an attempt to put it on the 1993 Good Vibrations
box set was thwarted by Jardine). While the lyrics are trite at best, something that
is the case with almost all the songs on the album, the music and circus-like production
were wonderful, on a par with the best of the Beach Boys' mid-60's output. However,
when Landlocked became Surf's Up, this track was one of the fatalities as it
wasn't "hip" enough to come up to Rieley's standards, a fate that befell several
"Susie Cincinnati", a terrific Jardine rocker, had already appeared as the
B-side to the first Warners single "Add Some Music To Your Day" in a mono mix on
promo copies, and a stereo mix on commercial ones. The stereo mix was used as the
second track on Landlocked, but the track was again left off of Surf's Up.
It didn't make its album debut until 1976's 15 Big Ones, in a different stereo mix.
A fine Dennis Wilson effort, "San Miguel", was also unceremoniously dumped
from the lineup. It went unreleased until 1981, when it appeared on the Ten Years
Of Harmony compilation in a remixed version.
One of the latest songs to emanate from this era of the Beach Boys' career was
"H.E.L.P. Is On The Way", a Brian-composed dual tribute to an L.A. restaurant of
the same name, and his health food store, the Radiant Radish. It didn't make the
final cut for Surf's Up; however, this didn't keep the 'Boys from excavating it in
the future with an eye towards release (see Adult Child). The instrumental
track was used for another unreleased Beach Boys song, "Santa's Got An
Airplane", which was on another unreleased Beach Boys album, 1977's Merry
Christmas From The Beach Boys (which apparently came close to an official release in
the early '90's before being shelved again).
"Take A Load Off Your Feet" won't win any awards for depth, but it's a
harmless bit of Jardine-written fluff that fit in well with the mood of Landlocked.
It's arguable, however, whether or not it should have made it to Surf's Up
(in an inferior mix to the one that appears here), as it did in the place of superior
material that didn't.
The next two tracks were recorded for Add Some Music, the original title that
eventually became Sunflower; however, both were cut from the final lineup and used
for Landlocked. "Over The Waves" (or "Carnival", as it is
listed by some sources) is an instrumental theme that leads into Brian's "I Just Got
My Pay", which was unissued until the box set in '93. It was a track that had
its musical roots in another unreleased (until 1990) 1964 BB's song, "All Dressed Up
For School", and some of it later formed a basis for 1972's "Marcella".
A track that didn't see release until seven years after the fact is Brian and Al's
"Good Time", which showed up on '77's The Beach Boys Love You in a
considerably different form. This is another track that suffers from unfortunate
lyrics, but in this case the tune in its saving grace, with a very catchy hook.
"Big Sur" is a decent Mike Love song (yes, they do exist!) that in a
completely redone (in 3/4 waltz time) version was a part of the "California
Saga" on 1973's Holland album. This version has a slight edge over the
released take in its relatively simple production compared to the later take.
As mentioned earlier, Dennis Wilson was conspicuous by his absence on Surf's Up,
but one of his finest songs made it onto Landlocked. "Lady", aka
"Fallin' In Love". This track was released in Europe as a single under the
name "Dennis Wilson and Rumbo" (Rumbo being the future Captain of "...
& Tennille" fame Daryl Dragon, who was in the Beach Boys' touring band at the
time) in a mono mix that later appeared with its flipside, "Sound Of Free", on a
semi-legit 1980 Australian Capitol collection Beach Boys / Brian Wilson Rarities
(not to be confused with the 1983 US Rarities compilation). It appears in
Another not-so-hot tune was Brian's "When Girls Get Together". This
tribute to a favorite early Beach Boys' subject paled in comparison to almost any other
like-minded tune, with lyrics that are among the most banal of any BB's song, released or
otherwise. Ten years after its recording, it actually made it onto an official
release, 1980's Keepin' The Summer Alive. Why it did, and another, far
superior track also exhumed at the same time for possible inclusion on KTSA
("Can't Wait Too Long"/"Been Away Too Long" from '67-'68) didn't is
yet another question that has baffled the ages...
"Lookin' At Tomorrow", a socially-minded Al Jardine tune, appeared on Surf's
Up in an overly-phased version that clouded much of its simple production. It's
sans phasing here.
What was easily the best song on either Landlocked or Surf's Up was
arguably Brian Wilson's last brilliant composition, "'Till I Die". It's
unclear which version of the song was intended for Landlocked, or where exactly it
was to be placed in the track lineup, and several other previous versions of this album
haven't cleared up the confusion. (In fact, according to Brad Elliot's discography Surf's
Up, it wasn't even on one of the finished album masters!) So, for our
purposes, the 7 1/2 minute version that appears here, though not intended for release in
this form, is the one. And, it's placed at the end of the track lineup, as it should
be. It's basically the whole song played through three times, with an instrumental
version sandwiched between two full vocal versions. It's also extremely beautiful,
and it's a crime that this version hasn't seen the light of day commercially.
However... we got it here!
Acting as a transitional piece between the two albums presented here is a bonus song,
the percussion-only tracks from Sunflower's "It's About Time", a Dennis
and Al tune. Listen for the familiar (to people who have listened to too many BB's
session tapes from the mid-60's) voice of the legendary Hal Blaine counting it off!
In 1976, Brian Wilson was undergoing a creative renaissance, though one that was
somewhat forced by the record company and the Beach Boys themselves, who both knew that
the Beach Boys without Brian were a less interesting commodity to all concerned.
Whatever the case may be, the period between early 1976 and mid-1977 was the last time
that Brian had a hands-on approach with production as he had ten years before.
Whether the results were as impressive is another matter. At any rate, after the
release of 15 Big Ones in July 1976, there were three albums that were being worked
on simultaneously either as Beach Boys projects or possible Brian solo efforts: New
Album (which was a hodgepodge of newly recorded and older unreleased material, much of
which hasn't seen the light of day), Brian Loves You (becoming The Beach Boys
Love You in 1977 at certain people's urging), and Adult Child, which for the
most part has never officially been released after being rejected by Warners in late '77.
As the album's title attests, this has some of Brian's most mature work
("Still I Dream Of It", "It's Over Now"), and his most infantile
("Hey Little Tomboy"), but it's definitely worthwhile and should have seen the
light of day versus the album that took its place on record store shelves in 1978, MIU
"Life Is For The Living", with Carl and Brian trading off vocally, is the
first of several songs on the album to feature orchestration arranged by Dick Reynolds,
who did the same job on the 1964 Beach Boys' Christmas Album. It's
unfortunate that the lyrics are so inept, following the inexplicable "health"
theme that Brian seems to explore occasionally, with generally embarrassing results (Don't
sit around on your ass, smokin' grass, that stuff went out a long time ago", indeed).
The jazzy, Sinatra-esque arrangement of a decent Brian melody works very well,
"Hey Little Tomboy", as mentioned, is a less impressive work that ironically
in one of the songs from AC that did make it out, in a slightly altered version on
the MIU Album. Another case where the lyrics do no justice to an okay tune;
at least when it was released, it was minus the "let's shave your legs for the first
time" spoken bit during the instrumental break!
"Deep Purple" is an effective remake of the 1963 Nino Tempo / April Stevens
hit, putting Reynolds' orchestration to good use. Brian's voice, as on most of the songs
he sang lead on during this period, is rough, yet works (as it didn't always) within the
context of the song.
"H.E.L.P. ..." is a remix of the Landlocked version. Sadly, it
didn't make much of a difference to the quality of the song; let's face it, any song that
has the word "enemas" in its lyrics is pretty much beyond H.E.L.P. Why
Brian pulled this out seven years later instead of any of a mountain of superior
unreleased songs is another question begging explanation (See "When Girls Get
Together"). This mix of "H.E.L.P. ..." was finally released (for
better or worse) on 1993's Good Vibrations box, with an additional few seconds at
the end where Brian gets in a full "Radiant Radish" plug, complete with address!
Carl Wilson and Brian's then-wife Marilyn duet on "It's Over Now", a song
that did eventually make it out on the 1993 box set. This is one of Brian's best
songs of the 70's, an honest lyric matched with a melancholy tune and a great Reynolds'
arrangement. It certainly deserved official release long before it finally was.
In I Just Wasn't Made For These Times, Don Was' 1995 film about Brian, Brian's
daughter Carnie recalls a mid-70's Brian stumbling out of his bedroom, proclaiming that
he's going to write a song about cigarettes. The repository for this concept was
"Everybody Wants To Live", whose opening lyric uses this inspired idea!
Despite that, however, it is one of the best, most cohesive songs on AC; it's one
of those rarities, a "funky" Brian tune sung by Carl.
Why Brian felt such an affinity for the ages-old children's tune "Shortnin'
Bread" is completely beyond our comprehension, but there are several different
renditions of this recorded between 1977 and 1980 languishing in the Beach Boys' vault.
There are stories of fabled rock musicians making pilgrimages to Brian's house to
hear the latest works from "the master" during this time, only to have Brian
lead them in endless singalongs of "Shortnin' Bread"! A version was
released commercially on the anemic 1979 L.A. Album, but this one's an alternate
"Lines" is a piano-based Brain and Carl-sung track that is certainly
pleasant, if not brilliant, and is otherwise unreleased.
Brian recorded many oldies during this period, most of them in line for the 15 Big
Ones LP, which featured oldies rather heavily. Leiber and Stoller's "On
Broadway", with Al's only lead vocal on the album, is one of them. It's a
serviceable, if unremarkable rendition.
"Games Two Can Play" dates back to 1970 (it was originally shortlisted for Add
Some Music / Sunflower), and is a breezy little Carl-sung ditty that eventually
saw release on the Good Vibrations box.
"It's Trying To Say" (aka "Baseball") is a Dennis-sung tune that
falls into the "Lines" category, innocuous, far from ground-breaking and
unreleased, but a good bit better than many of the other items that actually did see issue
on official Beach Boys albums later on!
The album comes to a close with "Still Dream Of It", which along with
"It's Over Now" is the highlight of AC. Brian's "smoky"
vocal adds an endearing quality to the track. A demo for this song from 1976 (from
an inferior quality source) was on the I Just Wasn't Made... soundtrack, but the
finished version finally made it out on the Good Vibrations box.