The Dallas Morning News Sunday, April 28, 1968
Beach Boys: Staying On Top
By marge Pettyjohn
Whether or not the audience was aware of it, Dallas got a show that was more than worth the money last Seturday night at the Beach Boys coocert, which also featured the Strawberry Alarm Clock, the Buffalo Springfield and Bobby Goldsboro, artists who were each capable of headlining their own shows.
"This is very unusual; in fact, I can't remember it ever happening before," commented Dick Duryea, travelling promoter with the show, referring to Mike Love's announcement that the Beach Boys would stay after the concert - for an autograph party.
An earlier show was staged in Fort Worth the same day. As soon as each act finished its segment, the group would hop in a prearranged limousine and head for Dallas to arrive in time for its act: here. None of the artists seemed to mind the tightly coordinated schedule. And as if two shows weren't enough, the midnight hours of that Saturday found them jammin' at their hotel. It's this sort of enthusiasm, drive and love of the work that has built the Beach Boys into the Gibraltar of American rock.
In a day when groups are overrated, underrated, drifting, floating, fracturing, adding, subtracting and making diverse personnel changes, the Beach Boys have remained intact, with a steady hand in the mainstream of rock.
This is something to be admired, but they don't view it as something out of the ordinary.
"We all like what we're doing musically," explained bearded Mike, Love. "Several of us like performing, some like writing. It's a unique chemistry but one that works."
Three are brothers - Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson. Mike is a cousin. Al Jardine, a close family friend, has known the others "since I can't remember when."
Big Brother Brian doesn't travel any more. And this is not by accident. The group sacrificed its presence on stage so that he could stay at home planning and writing more music. He decided that it was a case of touring and standing still musically, or staying at home and moving ahead with fresh harmonies, melodies and sounds.
In his place (and he frowns on the word "substitution") stands Bruce Johnston, a longtime friend of the group, like them a Californian, and bass player and singer for whom Brian has great respect.
Otherwise, the group is every inch, every smile and every foottap the same boyish unit that first entered a tiny studio in Hollywood in 1961 to make its first record.
"But," Mike is quick to correct, "the person who thinks 'Surfin' Safari' and 'Surfin' USA' were our biggest hits is wrong. 'Good Vibrations' has been our biggest hit.
"Whether or not it was psychedelic I don't know," he continued, "but it's certainly not a surfing sound. Although our music may be easy for people to label, it's not surfing music, just music. There are just words about surfing. You can't label notes."
He finally conceded. "We've been labelled as a surfing group. If that's the connotation applied with the Beach Boys then I guess that's our bag.
"But," he hastily pointed out, "musically speaking we're more advanced than the days when we first started making music."
Carl is quick to agree on this point. Though he is the youngest of the Wilson brothers, he'd be the likely candidate as the oldest. He's so calm, so upright that it's a little scary. In conversation, as in song, Carl possesses the ability to express emotions and sensations beautifully.
The changes that they've made in their sound, have been spontaneous, declares Carl, not in an attempt to justify things but rather to resolve speculations that continually crop up.
True, they had a nad six months around the time "Heroes and Villains" came out. "But everybody was having a hard time", he pointed out. "The drug thing had severe effects on everybody in the business."
Some critics labelled their WILD HONEY album an attempt to match the talents of Lennon-McCartney. Carl shook his head sadly and smiled rather resignedly.
"Music is like everything else," he said deliberately,
And everything Carl says is deliberate. He thinks before he speaks, never uses superflonous words and always means what he says.
"And everything is - period. Everything is here just to dig, to groove, not to analyze. The music, not the Iyrics, carries the most powerful vibrations."
If this is true, their new album, FRIENDS, goes beyond the point of achievement. We listened to the dub of the LP, and were awestruck at "Diamondhead," a cut that features a rolling surf, backed by only bongos and a steel guitar.
As far as WILD HONEY goes, "It was our R&B thing," says Carl.
PET SOUNDS is the album Carl would chose as their best. The production standards were very high," he emphasized.
And SMILEY SMILE?
"It's not as ambitious an album as 'Pet Sounds' was. Most of it was done at Brian's house, with his own equipment and in his studio, which he had built in a couple of days. We did part of it in his gym, part in the backyard . . . all over the place."
Though technically and musically it wouldn't raise any standards, Dennis says it's his favorite. "It's the most fun thing we ever did," he said seriously. "I listened to it in a jungle in Africa and it sounded great!"
In essence, the Beach Boys, who have withstood the tremors from all the manifold explosions in contemporary music, realize that to stay ahead they must think ahead.
So what do they stand for?
Progressive music presented in such a way that the vast majority of music lovers can feel a close identity with the simplicity of the Beach Boys.
And although audiences across the nation may experience a complete change in presentation, they will still be enjoying the company of old friends.
FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH: Coming up will be our exclusive interviews with the Buffalo Springfield and the Strawberry Alarm Clock.
READERS WRITE: "Who was the organist with the Blues Project and what has happened to the group?" - John Mehl, Dallas.
The Project's organist, Al Kooper, and rhythm guitarist Shve Katz broke away and formed their own group called Blood, Sweat and Tears, recording for Columbia. Danny Kalb has returned to New York. The remaining three members - Roy Blumenfeld and Andy Kublberg, from the original Project, and John Gregory of the New Blues Project - are planning to drop the name after fulfilling some commitments.