And to think I thought that they don't make albums like this anymore....
I have to admit that the thought that it would be strange to hear THE BEACH BOYS singing about surf, music, love, cars and all the other stuff that goes with growing up in California. I mean, they were young when they started the band and it was OK back then... but c'mon, that was then and this is now! It's been 50 years since they guys first came together and it seemed kind of creepy for someone pushing 70 to sing about teenage love...
But that was until I heard That's Why God Made The Radio!
What I wasn't comprehending until I heard the album was that Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnson and David Marks aren't really literally singing about young love, they are singing about the FEELINGS of being young and in love. They are singing about the emotions that rule the mind, body and spirit when you are at an age when life is sweet. And for many of us, those feelings still ring true, no matter what age. I mean, who doesn't remember the golden years of our lives right before responsibility and adulthood robbed us of our hopes and dreams? It is those wonderful memories that rise to the surface as the listener experiences what is the best new Beach Boys studio album since the deliciously off-kilter music they released in the '70s. For the record, while I like the tune "Getcha Back" from '85, the self-titled album that song was pulled from was killed by '80s production. And furthermore, I'm still not quite sure about "Kokomo"... still on the fence about that one!
While the five members are augmented by session players and vocalists, this is definitely the work of Brian Wilson and his lifetime friends. From the glorious intro that spotlights the BB's signature harmonies, this is a special treat for fans, new and old. It is obvious that they try to recreate some of the sounds of their golden years, but they also sound fresh, vibrant and alive. Nobody sounds quite like the Beach Boys and believe me, there are some great artists out there who successfully re-create the style but they end up lacking the true spirit of the BB's California sound.
"That's Why God Made The Radio" speaks of an era when the radio brought people together, brought joy to the listener and spread the gospel of the power of music. It is a song that does just that. While the chorus' melody is faintly reminiscent of the them from "Midnight Cowboy", that doesn't stop it from reaching down inside you and stirring up emotions of a time in your life when the radio was your best friend when you were alone...
And the magic doesn't stop there!
"Isn't It Time", "Spring Vacation", "Shelter", "Beaches In Mind", "From There To Back Again", "Pacific Coast Highway" and "Summer's Gone" are amazing slices of Beach Boys pop filled with harmonies and hope. Only "The Private Life Of Bill And Sue" falls flat, but that's a minor complaint that I won't spend any more time talking about.
That's Why God Made The Radio is one of the best albums of the year and ensures that the Beach Boys' legacy is stronger than ever. By the time the sound of the waves close the album, there's a certain sadness that is washed away when you start the whole album again.
This is the sound of the California dream.... something that every generation can understand and relate to. And it will touch you right down to the core of your being. The album encapsulates the band's career while delivering a bittersweet joy that can only be felt by those with a heart and soul. God Bless The Beach Boys!