Brian Wilson, Brian Wilson, Sire 1-25669, 1988
It’s a good sign that you’re in too deep with your therapist when he makes himself your co-collabarator and Executive Producer. I’m not aware of Dr. Eugene Landy’s musical background, but here he is splitting royalties with his most famous client.
If you happened to catch the Brian Wilson bio-pic Love And Mercy, you saw a bit of how Dr. Landy came to control Brian’s life. While Landy did help Brian control his addictions and get physically fit, he also did nothing to help Wilson’s mental illness and used mind control to keep Brian under his “care”. Naming himself as a songwriter and producer though is not what a proper doctor would ever do. When the Wilson family finally got Brian free from Landy in 1991, his name was removed from subsequent re-issues.
Reviews are mixed on the record. Some people love it, but a lot of people don’t…hence the $2 price tag. It didn’t sell well, and even had competition on the charts from The Beach Boys in the form a their #1 hit Kokomo. But count me as one of the fans of this album. It’s wonderful to hear Wilson on his only 80s release, and the songs have a lot of Pet Sounds qualities about them.
Cost: $2, $268 Remaining
The Beach Boys, Surfin’ Safari, Capitol DT-1808, 1962
How they managed to pull this off, I still don’t know. Sure, they were a phenomenally talented teen vocal group, but The Beach Boys took what is basically a novelty tune and turned it into a legendary 55 year career. I suppose if they lived a little farther away from Hollywood, California and its plethora of record companies it might not have happened, but all Murray Wilson had to do to get his boys’ group signed to a major label was find a Capitol producer and pester him into signing “his” group to release a single, Surfin’ Safari, that sold well enough for Capitol to take a chance on this album.
The group name, while cheesy and hard to sell once the surfing craze ended, was at least appropriate here. They were selling a surfing record, and they were boys. There’s an explanation of what surfing is, which was something The Beatles and The Rolling Stones never though to have on their records, and they really were boys. David Marks was just 14 and Carl was 15 when they played on this record.
It’s also pretty impressive that most of the songs were penned by the group too, something very rare in the fall of 1962. Sure, they’re not quite up to the level of their later work, but it was clear from this start that this group was going to be big. These records are often available in great shape for not much money, and now that I have all of them, it’s time for you to get out there and go surfin with me.
Cost: $4, $370 Remaining
The Hollyridge Strings, Play The Beach Boys Song Book-Volume 2, Capitol ST-2749, 1967
As we learned back in December, The Hollyridge Strings were a Capitol Records studio orchestra that filled downtime at the studio by recording orchestral arrangements of other Capitol artists. The mostly re-recorded music by The Beatles, but “they” also issued cover albums by The Four Seasons, Elvis Presley, Nat King Cole, and yes, The Beach Boys.
Unlike the other artists, I suspect that Brian Wilson was thrilled to hear these orchestral versions of his creations. The same people that assisted him on his productions were the people behind The Hollyridge Strings, so it would be nice (!) to even sit in on the sessions for this album. This album is more interesting that the first Beach Boys Volume because five of the 12 selections come from the recently released Pet Sounds. It also includes California Girls, with its famous intro that Brian called his favorite composition.
Now, eagle eyed readers will look at this record and spot something…the record label says this is a Hollyridge Strings record, but the title is “The Beatles Songbook-Vol.5”. I was a little sad to see that, even though I don’t have Volume 5 of The Beatles songbook. But the record does indeed play The Beach Boys lineup from the cover. This, my friends, is whats called a label error, where the factory applied the wrong label to the record. They are very rare and often sell for twice what a correctly manufactured record would. That means this $1 purchase could be worth as much as $2!
Cost: $1, $386 Remaining
The Beach Boys, Holland, Brothers/Reprise MS-2118, 1973
I love 70s Beach Boys albums. They’re wonderfully crafted and really strange at the same time. Holland is one of the best of the bunch. The group actually moved to a homemade studio in Baambrugge, Netherlands, a move that most of the band described as “awful”. Brian Wilson didn’t make the trip, and was still on the downward slope of a long decent into mental illness.
Fans of the classic lineup of the band won’t be very familiar of this group of musicians. Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar became full fledged Beach Boys for about four years, ending soon after this album came out. The “hit” of this album, Sail On Sailor is actually sung by Chaplain, which may explain why it’s so hard to place the voice from any other Beach Boys single.
Speaking of singles, Holland came with a “bonus” 7″EP that plays at 33 1/3 RPM. From a nasty tell all biography of the band, I learned that The Beach Boys’ contract with Warner Brothers/Reprise stated that a certain percentage of each album had to be written by Brian Wilson. As his condition worsened though, the band found themselves at odds with their leader. When the band heard Brian’s contribution Mount Vernon & Fariway (A Fairy Tale) they were aghast. It’s really hard to get through and not at all like the rest of the album. Contractually obligated to release something from Brian, and with only this to release, the band came up with this idea to include the music on a separate record. Look in any used 45 store under “Beach Boys” and you’ll find this bonus record.
Cost: $3, $396 Remaining
The Beach Boys, Surfing’ USA, Capitol T-1890, 1963
The eternal city is a great place to find a classic record from a group that was perceived as a fad. Surfing’ USA was a huge hit for The Beach Boys, the follow up album to Surfing’ Safari, but Capitol Records was treating the group as a fad who’s popularity would soon end. My evidence? The stock photo of an anonymous surfer is on the front cover, instead of a smiling picture of the happy group.
Capitol didn’t really bother too much with the back cover either, using an outtake from the Surfing’ Safari cover photo shoot, along with some random studio shots. Mainstay Al Jardine wasn’t yet prepared to leave dental school for something so foolish as recording for Capitol Records, so The Wilson brother’s neighbor, 14 year old David Marks is still in the group as rhythm guitarist.
This copy of the record, still in it’s original shrink wrap came with me on my recent tour of Europe. I was interested in seeing if there was a market for selling fairly easy to find records in places where they aren’t very easy to find. So much so that I couldn’t find a record store in Italy to offer it to. Anyway, having a near mint condition of one of my favorite group’s best early records is a good thing.
Cost: $3, $656 Remaining