Tuesday, June 2, 2015


Too obvious, huh? Well, yes and no, especially when the whole vast lexicon of Beach Boys songs that reference water, waves and Waikiki Beach is out there, so why this one? (Waikiki Beach? OK, made that up, but I bet there is one, maybe in the lyric of "Surfin' USA"? Answer: No!). Let me explain, at this time period, early 70s, this was when I suddenly re-got the Beach Boys. No longer lame dudes in candy stripe shirts, this was now a bona-fide band of beats, beards aplenty, sort of Charles Manson meets Paul Revere & the Raiders. Yup, sure the Manson reference is tasteless, but Dennis (R.I.P.) was part of that whole sad and sorry tale. The above image is taken from the very excellent 'Rock Dreams', by artist Guy Peellaert and writer Nik Cohn. Cohn, a longterm fan and "critical friend" of the band and their ouput, aptly contrasts their then world-weariness with the, by now, lost youthful innocence of before. (Lord only knows of what he makes of the currently still touring travesty helmed by Mike Love, but that's another story....)

Anyhow, this is about me and the music. Between 1970 and 1975 I was at what you might call high school, gauche and gawky, trying to find my way in the bitterly divisive cliques of music aficionados. I had decided I was not a full blown heavy rocker: this was the era of Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and the like. Quite keen on E.L.P and, less so, Yes, I felt I needed something a bit different. Luckily one of my chums was the son of a diplomat, spending school holidays in exotic climes, a.k.a. the US of A. He drew my attention to the likes of the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield and I was hooked. He also had a copy of the Beach Boys Live from 1973. The gatefold sleeve was enough for me, the band looking more like the Dead than the Dead: I just loved the way the cleancut popstars could have decayed so wonderfully. Hell, there were even a couple of black guys in the line-up. Of course, the music was still there, new songs mingling with all the classics, all the more exotic to hear those pristine harmonies emanating from these grizzled mouths. My own backward foraging led me to Holland, the LP not the country, although that was where they cut it. Still my favourite, above Pet Sounds, above Surf's Up. From the funky tropes of "The Trader" and "Leaving this Town," to the mystical triad of "Californian Saga," this hit all my spots. (Maybe not "Funky Pretty," in hindsight.) My titular track, is the 3rd part of "Californian Saga," and is a simultaneous flashback to 60s Beach Boys, with echoes of "California Girls," yet umphed into the 70s by a rather more muscular beat and quirky instrumentation. No surprise that it became a big hit, as a single, in the UK, though I bet the publicity showed more of the band then, as was, rather than their shaggy doppelgangers. Love it, love it, love it. Still do.

Buy the song
Buy Holland or Live
Buy Rock Dreams

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