|Capitol / Brother|
"That's Why God Made The Radio" by The Beach Boys
By Andrew W. Griffin
Red Dirt Report, editor
Posted: August 2, 2012
CD REVIEW: The Beach Boys - That’s Why God Made The Radio (Capitol/Brother) 2012
Back in 1988, I was extremely excited when The Beach Boys released their smash single “Kokomo.” I had already been a fan of their 60’s-era canon and to have brand new song from this classic American band was a thrill for me. They still had it, I thought to myself at the time.
But despite an album or two of new material in the intervening years, The Beach Boys weren’t making much of a dent in the cultural fabric. And, let’s be honest, “Kokomo” hasn’t aged well over the past 24 years. Plus, we all want Brian Wilson on board, don't we?
Until this year. That’s when the surviving members of the Beach Boys – founded 50 years ago this year – decided to record an album together – an album of completely new material. That means we not only got Al Jardine, Mike Love and Bruce Johnston, but troubled genius Brian Wilson and early member David Marks. And, the album is produced by Brian Wilson with Mike Love acting as executive producer. Hmm. It would have been interesting to see how that duo got along in the production booth.
Sure, they’ve had numerous problems (read my 2011 review of Jon Stebbins’ The Beach Boys FAQ for more on that) but they have amazingly set aside their difference and actually did what the Rolling Stones failed to do this anniversary year (they were founded in 1962 as well) – record a new record and go out on tour!
I don’t know about you, but hearing those amazing harmonies gives me chills. It’s beautiful, dreamy and a reminder of a time that has long since past. Cruisin’, going to the beach and hanging out. Sure, that still happens today, but the Beach Boys always made it sound so appealing.
And that is why the title track (which comes after a beautiful opener “Think About the Days”) really grabs you. Of all the songs on this album,. “That’s Why God Made The Radio” is the one that makes you really want to roll the windows down and take in the warm summer air. Sure, the guys are betting on baby-boomer nostalgia, but this Gen Xer certainly appreciates what they are doing here.
Brian Wilson and Mike Love both helped co-write “Isn’t It Time,” which features the guys – and David Marks on guitar after all these years – performing a song that has a live feel a’la their 1965 release Beach Boys’ Party! but one that has a slightly bittersweet feel of a couple reminiscing about times gone by.
Other songs – “The Private Life of Bill and Sue,” “Shelter,” for instance – don’t quite have the energy one would expect from 70-something guys in Hawaiian shirts.
But then Mike Love comes along with a self-penned track like “Daybreak Over the Ocean.” It has an easygoing vibe, nice harmonies, and captures that classic Beach Boys sound. A success!
But “Beaches in Mind” and “Strange World” drag things down a bit. Brian Wilson, being the creative genius he is, comes and saves things with “From There to Back Again.” Again, it’s a reflective song but has a beautiful arrangement and is utterly enhanced with those trademark harmonies. One of the best Brian Wilson tracks I’ve heard in some time – and I loved last year’s release of The SMiLE Sessions.
No, there’s no disco reimaginings or songs about the blissful pleasures of Transcendental Meditation on this album. They stick to what they know best – summer, surf, cruisin’ and love – and Mike Love.
That’s Why God Made The Radio is a mixed bag in sections but overall its a musical triumph for a band that gave us both the peaks of 1966's Pet Sounds and the valleys of the late 70’s turkey L.A. (Light Album). Here’s to hoping they can get together one more time before they put away the surfboards for good.
Copyright 2012 Red Dirt Report