Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Beach Boys 21: Sail On Sailor

Whether or not the Feel Flows compendium was a critical or commercial success, it was no real surprise that the archivists behind the Beach Boys legacy would follow it up. Named after the best song on both albums, Sail On Sailor: 1972 encompasses the sessions for that year’s Carl And The Passions – “So Tough” and the following year’s Holland. A two-disc version expands both albums with the usual assortment of outtakes, alternate mixes, and live tracks, but that’s a mere shadow of the six-disc version, which devotes two to a Carnegie Hall concert from November of that year.

The show begins with an introduction from manager Jack Rieley, pleading for the enthusiastic crowd not to shout out random requests; he doesn’t explain that doing so will only cause Mike Love to insult them, and he does. (He also takes the occasion of an instrument change to plug transcendental meditation; at another point he predicts that Smile would be out within a year. It wasn’t.) Their set at this point had only a smattering of oldies, with a focus on newer material, which frankly sound better on stage than on records. The new guys, Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar, were definitely key to why the band sounded so good in the studio and onstage at this juncture, and it’s to everyone’s credit that both are prominently depicted on the cover. A second drummer and bass player were also onstage; listen closely and you can hear Tennille singing alongside the Captain! Surfing songs, plus a surprising and driving crash through “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, bring the show to a close. (The two discs also provide another perspective to 1973’s The Beach Boys In Concert, which was culled from a variety of dates, but doesn’t excuse the inclusion of live performances from later decades elsewhere in the set.)

Relistening to the original albums shows that the boys didn’t have much left in the tank; Brian is all but inaudible on Carl And The Passions, and Holland is still audacious but a mess. Only a few previously unreleased songs are included among the assortment of isolated tracks—which are admittedly, pretty good. A couple from the new guys, including “We Got Love”, which had appeared on In Concert, bolster the Holland portion. An excerpt of a tape of Van Dyke Parks goading Brian into completing “Sail On Sailor” is frustrating but fascinating, just as two takes of the unknown “Out In The Country” have promise; three other Brian sketches are unfinished. Dennis, however, was just gearing up, with his “Carry Me Home” a haunting highlight.

The Beach Boys Sail On Sailor: 1972 (2022)—3


  1. I don't generally like whitewashing history, but in the case of the Carnegie Hall concert, I wish they would have edited out Mike Love's temper tantrum. It kind of ruins what is a really good concert and worthy addition to The Beach Boys In Concert. I'd also like to mention that I said to a respected friend that I think Holland is their best album (yes, even over Pet Sounds) and his jaw dropped to the floor. Oh well!

    1. That's a good point. One might think they were trying to stick it to Mike, but then you'd think he'd have to sign off on it, but THEN knowing him he's probably still waiting for an apology from those unruly audients (to use Robert Fripp's word).

  2. Also meant to say, I really dig your blog! Keep up the fine work.

  3. My favorite Beach Boys album is "Holland". Whether it's their "best" -- well, that's subjective.