Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Beach Boys 7: Wild Honey

Having seen their credibility plummet in the wake of commercial failure and professional stagnation, the Beach Boys gathered forces and stopped trying to be hip. From here on their albums would be self-produced and performed, incorporating contributions from every band member, always with the hope that Brian would pitch in with some slab of genius. Each would have one or two decent songs, but usually never more than that, and often surrounded by just plain dull music.
Wild Honey was predominantly composed by Brian with Mike Love, and was a valiant attempt to make a simple rock ‘n roll album. It was a nice try, but still sounds very cramped. At least there are more drums.
The title track is a cacophony of keyboards, while Carl shouts the lyrics overhead. (He uses the same approach on the otherwise straight cover of Stevie Wonder’s “I Was Made To Love Her”.) “Aren’t You Glad” and “Country Air” seem to cover the same musical ground, while “A Thing Or Two” (inexplicably described in the liner notes as “jazzy”) is just forced.
The best song is “Darlin’”, a decent hit song for once, despite Carl’s trouble hitting some of the high notes. The first instance of Brian writing a song describing his activities in real time comes in “I’d Love Just Once To See You”, with a musical arrangement that deserves better lyrics, even with the joke ending. “Here Comes The Night” is not the Them classic, but is catchy at least. “Let The Wind Blow” seems to have developed from various discarded Smile ideas, but the Leslie effect on the piano is already becoming tiresome. “How She Boogalooed It” brings back the feeling of their first albums, and two minutes later, “Mama Says” revives the tag from “Vegetables”.
A cult of Beach Boys fanatics will praise Wild Honey for its simple greatness, but that overlooks how insubstantial it is. One of the CD bonus tracks, a compilation of various attempts at a track called “Can’t Wait Too Long”, shows just how close yet out of grasp their potential had gone from them.

The Beach Boys Wild Honey (1967)—
1990 CD reissue: same as 1967, plus Smiley Smile album and 6 extra tracks

2 comments:

  1. I don't think I'm a Beach Boys fanatic and yet I really like this album. Country Air and Let the Wind Blow are simple and great. Carl's singing on Wild Honey the song make the impossible idea possible: Beach Boys making quality R and B. It's short and has some filler, but the high points would stand out on any album.

    I really enjoy your work, by the way.

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  2. Thank you! Please keep checking back!

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