Made In California

Made in California

In 1985 The Beach Boys released a self-titled album with the single Getcha Back. I liked the song but I felt like it was out of touch with everything outside of adult contemporary radio. In my town, country and elevator music were the only commercially viable formats so Getcha Back almost sounded dangerous compared to a lot of the music I was exposed to. Kokomo became a number 1 hit a few years later and I tried to pretend the song didn’t exist. I didn’t mind the tune, but it became an ubiquitous ear worm and I had to destroy it before it destroyed my sanity. The Beach Boys were an enigma for many years since they were such a successful and influential band but other than the surfing singles and the two aforementioned songs I never considered them a rock band, so I ignored them. I tried to listen to Pet Sounds every time the album listed in the top 10 greatest pile somewhere but I just didn’t get it. Once again time and maturity opened my ears to what the Wilson family was doing both with Brian’s unusual compositions and the perfectly blended harmonies. The magic became clear to me on songs like Wouldn’t It Be Nice, The Warmth of the Sun and Catch A Wave. Pet Sounds, Smiley Smile, Today!, Sunflower, 20/20 & Surf’s Up all became essential records. The Boys other albums were frustrating but gems were on all of them such as Little Bird or The Trader which I think is one of their best and Brian isn’t even one of the writers. All three of the brothers had gifts, Brian stood out and deserved to but Dennis and Carl evolved into compelling musicians and songwriters after their big brother withdrew from reality for awhile. I have seen Brian Wilson 3 times as a solo act in three parts of the country and once with the Beach Boys on their 50th anniversary tour, so Brian is important to me, a personal hero. So when a collection like Made In California is released I always hope it is a good representation of his work and isn’t just a cash grab. The 50th anniversary generated a lot of products and Made in California is one of the bigger ticket items. I have listened to the whole set several times and I love it but I can’t decide if the value is in the package for just serious fans or could the set be great for someone who wants more than just the hits. I think the real value in Made in California is hidden like a lot of the music included on the set that most people have not heard before. My hope is that someday I can hand this to my son or daughter because they heard a great song by this band called The Beach Boys and they ask me if I have any of their music. I just might kids, I just might.


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