Sunday, 10 June 2018

The Beach Boys - Carl & The Passions - "So Tough" (1972)

Hold on dear brother....


Released May 1972

Recorded at the Beach Boys Studio, Los Angeles

Carl Wilson was now leading the proceedings, as "musical director", and, with Brian Wilson's contributions becoming less frequent and more erratic he hired Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar to join the line-up. The result was an experimental, in parts most enjoyable, but often overlooked album.


1. You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone
2. Here She Comes
3. He Come Down
4. Marcella
5. Hold On Dear Brother
6. Make It Good
7. All This Is That
8. Cuddle Up                                      

Elton John loves this underrated album from 1972 and its not hard to understand why. "You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone" has that upbeat, bluesy but driving rocky sound that Elton John loved throughout the 70s. Add to that some Beach boys harmony and you have something worth listening to.

"Here She Comes" has a truly thrilling bass, drums and jazzy Elton-style piano intro and a thumping jazz rock feel all through it. Vocalist Ricky Fataar’s voice is a bit weak though, to be honest. This track sounds an awful lot like The Band. "He Come Down" features many assorted Beach boys members on vocals (Carl, Mike Love, Al Jardine, as well as Blondie Chaplin) and the harmonies are predictably great in this, at times, gospelly rumination about religion, God and gurus and the like.

"Marcella" was probably the most “typical” Beach Boys track - summery, trademark harmonies, catchy hook, about a girl and so on. Just an uplifting song.

"Hold On Dear Brother" is a song that you could see would have appealed to Elton John - although it sounds like stuff he recorded himself in the two previous years, so who influenced who? "Make It Good" is a couple of minutes of vocal harmony "filler" that is a bit of a waste, but "All This Is That" is a wonderful return to quality. Beautiful ambience, marvellous vocals another great song of summer. It should deservedly be on any “best of” compilation.

Dennis Wilson’s vocal on the plaintive, somewhat over orchestrated "Cuddle Up" is an interesting end to the album. Something of an experimental track but certainly with its beautiful moments, especially the piano and strings, and when the harmonies come quietly in at the end it is quite spine tingling.

As with all Beach Boys' seventies and beyond product, it falls short when compared with a lot of their sixties work, but taken away from that context, it is not a bad album.


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