The Beach Boys – Love You
CD Album, remastered, 1991
Caribou Records/Brother Records
Recorded at the height of the “Brian is Back” publicity campaign when Brian was clearly not back at all. But what is amazing is that he could write, record, and perform this album. Love You came out in 1977, and at the time Brian Wilson was fat, demented, and sort of forced out of his self-retirement by his band mates/management to work on this album. The record before Love You was another odd album that was forced upon the band due that it was their 15th Anniversary. By law anything with a zero or a 5 at the end of that number, you must acknowledge it.
What is sad, now looking back, is that Brian Wilson was a very ill man, and he was sort of forced to get back to work, which may or may not been good for his mental health. But saying that we have 14 really odd Beach Boys songs. Not great songs, but songs of genius. It amazes me how an album like this can get made. There must be a 'genius' button inside Brian's system, that automatically goes on.
The album's sound has a flatness, and even though its in stereo, the aesthetic is very much mono. On one level most of these songs are not good, but somehow filtered through the Beach Boys sound, and the eccentric lyrical aspect of the tunes, makes this a wonderful curious piece of work. Songs like “Airplane” and “Johnny Carson” captures a moment or is more likely a meditation on its subject matter. It sounds stupid, but its really smart. The one masterpiece song is “Honkin' Down The Highway,” which has a beautiful melody. Al Jardine's lead vocals is perfect and it conveys a pictorial narrative in my head that is 1950's Broadway musical. Brian sings lead in lot of songs here, and his voice his gruff, as well as Dennis Wilson. But their roughness adds charm, especially when it is combined with the perfection of the other voices in the mix.
The Beach Boys' Love You may not be their best album, but I think it's a work that many loves dearly. And I really really like it.