Best Live Beach Boys (Home Taping Is Killing Music)

This is now deleted from rapidshare, as I promised it would be.

One thing I’m going to keep doing on here on occasion, despite the fact that no-one cares, is voicing my love for the music of the Beach Boys. As the band are coming up to their fiftieth anniversary, various ideas are being floated of how they should celebrate this (Mike Love wants to do an album of remakes of their old songs, featuring people like Justin Timberlake. I suspect the other surviving members would rather die.) but one thing I think should happen is a live compilation, covering their career.

Unfortunately, over the years, the Beach Boys have got a reputation as nothing but a nostalgia band, ploughing through the hits soullessly, praying that the inevitable release of death will come swiftly and prevent them ever having to sing Barbara Ann again. And that’s not an unreasonable reputation, actually.

But it’s slightly unfair in that the Beach Boys have at times been a fucking *fantastic* live band. But unfortunately, at their peak, in the early 70s, when they were performing extraordinary material and doing so astonishingly well, the audiences didn’t care. Listening to recordings from that time, you can hear Mike Love *scream* at the audience to shut up before Dennis sings Forever or Carl does Only With You. You hear audiences shouting “Barbara Ann” in the middle of solos, and Carl saying after songs “Now we’re going to do a song from our Surf’s Up album… but we’re not because YOU WON’T LISTEN!”

And face it, if you were a musician and you had a choice of two setlists – setlist a) your psychedelic song with jazz flute solo, your R&B number, your song about transcendental meditation, a pseudo-Wagnerian love song and one about the way white people have treated Native Americans, or setlist b) a load of songs about cars and girls with three or four chords – and you knew that if you played setlist a you’d have a couple of hundred people in the audience getting drunk and shouting at you, and if you played setlist b you’d have tens of thousands of people dancing and singing along, you’d probably choose setlist b too.

But even so, we’ve had several attempts over the years by the band to redress this balance. As late as 1977 they were still getting jazz flautist Charles Lloyd in to do gigs with them, in 1993 they did an extra ‘rarities’ set in the middle of their set, Brian Wilson between about 1998 and 2004 played tons of obscurities in his sets before eventually settling down to a more hit-oriented show, and in 2004 and 2008 the band that currently calls itself ‘the Beach Boys’ did (astonishingly good) 50-song sets in the UK including some of their best and least-known songs (the setlist in 2004 contained songs so little-known that someone I know who knows some of the band members got a call after one gig by Mike Love, astonished that someone in the audience knew all the words. That someone was me…)

But even though there have been five official Beach Boys live albums released, they don’t really represent this experimental or interesting side – they conform to the band’s standard surfin’ oldies style to a greater or lesser extent (with a partial exception for 1974’s wonderful In Concert).

So what I’d like to see is a double-CD set, spanning the band’s career, of some of the great music they’ve done live. No new Barbara Ann or Surfin’ USA versions, just something to show what a fantastic band they could be.

I’ve put something like that together here, from the best of the forty or so shows I’ve got. None of these recordings have been released legally, to my knowledge, but even so if anyone who believes they have a copyright interest in that material gets in touch with me I will gladly remove it. I will remove it after a week anyway.

It’s from various different sources ( audience recordings and soundboards), different generation copies, and different encodings (mostly MP3, but some FLAC). I’ve tried to make it flow more or less like a proper concert.

If you download it, let me know what you think.

1 Brian Wilson/Til I Die – Brian Wilson live 2001
2 Surf’s Up – Munich 1972
3 Sail On Sailor – Manchester Apollo 2008 (John Cowsill lead)
4 Cool, Cool Water – Munich 1972
5 Forever – Manchester Apollo 2008
6 God Only Knows – London 1968
7 Here Today – Manchester Apollo 2008
8 All This Is That – Nassau Coliseum 1974 (FLAC)
9 Marcella – Carnegie Hall 1972
10 Funky Pretty – Tampa 1974
11 Wonderful – Paramount New York 1993 (FLAC)
12 Heroes & Villains – Carnegie Hall 1972
13 Don’t Worry Baby – Carnegie Hall 1972
14 Wake The World – London 1968
15 Kiss Me Baby – Glasgow 2004
16 Airplane – Central Park, NY, 1977
17 Let Him Run Wild – Manchester Apollo 2008 (Scott Totten lead)
18 You Still Believe In Me – Paramount, NY, 1993
19 It’s About Time – Princeton University 1971
20 Good Vibrations – Syracuse NY 1971
21 Break Away – Prague, 1968
22 Only With You – Chicago 1972
23 In My Room – 1964
24 Please Let Me Wonder – Brian Wilson live 2001
25 Darlin’ – Carnegie Hall 1972
26 Feel Flows – Central Park, 1977
27 Trader – Tampa 1974
28 Looking At Tomorrow – Princeton University 1971
29 Caroline No – Princeton University 1971
30 Long Promised Road – Tampa 1974
31 Wild Honey – Washington, DC 1967
32 Let The Wind Blow – Munich 1972
33 Cuddle Up – Boston Commons 1972

Beach Boys members:
Mike Love
Carl Wilson (1961 – 1998)
Al Jardine (1961-62, 1963-1998)
Brian Wilson (1961-64, 1967, 1970, 1977-1983 as touring member)
Dennis Wilson (1961-1983)
Bruce Johnston (1965-1971, 1979-)
David Marks (1962-64, 1997-99, 2008)
Blondie Chaplin (1971-74)
Ricky Fataar (1971-74)

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23 Responses to Best Live Beach Boys (Home Taping Is Killing Music)

  1. xian says:

    Very exciting! You made me realize how few live BBs shows I have. Other then the official ones, it’s just Nassau ’74. Thanks again for this…

    C30 C60 C90 GO.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      The ones you *NEED*:
      Carnegie Hall 1972 – that’s a soundboard with fantastic sound and a setlist mostly in the early 70s
      Paramount Theatre 1993 – the box set tour. The hits are OK, but the acoustic rarities set (All This Is That, Vagetables, Caroline No, Take A Load Off Your Feet , Wonderful and more) is wonderful. Even better though is the rehearsal which is on the same boot. Carl, Al, Bruce and Matt Jardine (no Mike) running through the rare songs with the backing band.
      Any British 2004/2008 show. Glasgow and Newcastle 2004 are available as soundboards, but Manchester 2008 is a better performance (thanks to John Cowsill on drums and Dave Marks being there) though not as well recorded. (I may be biased because I was at that one).
      Princeton 1971: Not a great recording, but essentially the whole Surf’s Up album played live, including the *ASTONISHING* proto-trip-hop Lookin’ At Tomorrow I’ve included here (seriously – Tilt called it Sweet Jardine’s Badass Song).

      The 1977 and 78 shows are interesting too, because they’re a weird mix – they’re gravitating towards the oldies shows, but they’ve *also* got Brian back with his ‘low and manly’ voice, and they’re doing stuff off Love You, and stuff that *would* be on LA, and Celebration tracks, and Trader and All This Is That, and getting Jan & Dean in to guest… it’s like a collision between three different bands.

      I know of a site where you can obtain all of these shows if you’re willing to take the time to get them all (most of them appear to be the same versions that were shared on a now-mostly-inactive mailing list that I’m sure you must have been on). I won’t link it here because it’s a public blog and I don’t want to draw attention to it, but email me if you want the link. (NB that offer only applies to Xian and people I’ve known a similar length of time.)

  2. xian says:

    Done emailed. Dunno if you saw my tweet, but “Please Let Me Wonder” is actually “Forever” in the zip. I’m loving your song choices, too, by the way.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      Damn. Oh well, Forever is a good song too…
      What do you think of that version of Lookin’ At Tomorrow?

      • xian says:

        Really interesting – minimalist, especially for the BBs. I like their jazz turns. I keep wanting it to go bossa nova.

  3. Matt says:

    THANK YOU for this! i have always dabbled in Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys but their output post-Pet Sounds has remained a bit impenetrable to me. This is a great way to approach it.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      No problem! Glad to help. Would you be interested in a quick Buyers’ Guide To The Beach Boys post? I could knock one up in about half an hour…

  4. burkesworks says:

    Much appreciated, especially the kind of stuff Carl was doing with the once-and-future Rutle during the Carl And The Passions/Holland era.

  5. colin smith says:

    “One thing I’m going to keep doing on here on occasion, despite the fact that no-one cares, is voicing my love for the music of the Beach Boys.”

    Well, I thoroughly enjoyed the above piece, Andrew, will be chasing down the shows I’ve not heard, and really would appreciate a buyers guide, particularly concerning the period after “Here Comes The Night”, where me and the boys went our seperate ways. Even for the period when I feel I’ve something of a grounding in their work, it’d be fascinating to read where you stand.

    The above was great fun. Thank you.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      Ah, well unfortunately, if you don’t count the solo work, the buyer’s guide for the Beach Boys post LA (Light Album) comes down to one word – “don’t”. There were five Beach Boys albums after that:

      Keepin’ The Summer Alive – utterly joyless attempt at revisiting past glories, with no redeeming features.
      The Beach Boys (’85) – utterly joyless attempt at revisiting past glories, with production by Steve “the bloke who produced Culture Club” Levine. Includes a Culture Club cover, where Carl actually impersonates Boy George. Actually has two good songs on it.
      Still Cruisin’ – utterly joyless attempt at cashing in on the success of Kokomo, with production by Terry “co-writer of Kokomo” Melcher. Features Wipe Out (featuring The Fat Boys) and has three old hits stuck on there to pad the album out.
      Summer In Paradise – worse than joyless, this started as a Mike Love solo album and is worse than you can imagine. Contains the lyric “Well I’ll take you to the movies, but I’m no fool/First I’ll get you on the beach or in a swimming pool/Doing unto others is the golden rule/But doin’ it with you would be so very cool”.
      Stars & Stripes Vol 1 – Joyless remakes of old classics, featuring New Country stars on lead vocals. There are actually three excellent tracks on here – WIllie Nelson’s sublime Warmth Of The Sun, Junior Brown’s rockabilly 409 and Timothy Schmidt doing Caroline, No with strings by Jimmy Webb. The rest of it though is among the worst music ever committed to tape.

      I’ll do a proper Buyers’ Guide thing today though, because I’m sure there’s stuff you won’t know about but will like…

      • Tilt Araiza says:

        > Keepin’ The Summer Alive – utterly joyless attempt at revisiting past glories, with no redeeming features. <

        No love for Santa Ana Winds?

        • Andrew Hickey says:

          True, but I actually prefer the earlier version (“On my porch/thinkin’ bout the torch”). That’s a pretty good track, though, and Some Of Your Love is listenable, but those are the only points where the album reaches even mediocrity.

          It’s difficult doing that kind of thing, because I find *something* to like in all the albums – I can quite happily listen to the 85 album, for example, for Getcha Back, Where I Belong, She Believes In Love Again, Crack At Your Love, California Calling and Male Ego. But the only ones of those that I’d recommend to anyone else are Getcha Back and Where I Belong, and even those are flawed.

  6. Colin Smith says:

    Thank you, Andrew. That’s really appreciated. I suppose that I had a hope there’d be a few little gems buried away where only a gentleman and a scholar such as yourself might find them.

    But:- the very idea of Willie Nelson doing The Warmth Of The Sun is so fine that I’m worried listening to it could never be as splendid as the idea itself.

    And of course I’d love to read that guide whenever it may appear.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      Not in the group’s work, I’m afraid. There’s the odd *pleasant* track, but very little worth listening to at all. Brian and Dennis’ solo work (and, oddly, Al’s) is mostly worth a listen though.

      And Willie Nelson doing Warmth Of The Sun is as good as it sounds. You can probably find it on Youtube from the accompanying documentary (which is much better than the album), along with Mike Love trying to teach Willie Nelson phrasing…

  7. Colin Smith says:

    “… Mike Love trying to teach Willie Nelson phrasing …”

    That’s really good of Mike, isn’t it? Maybe he could help Willie sing “Crazy” or “Funny How Time Slips Away” better too ….

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      He’d stick a few ‘bom bom dit dits’ in and sue for co-writing credit…
      It’s funny watching that clip, seeing how patient Willie is prepared to be…

  8. Rob Schwertley says:

    Thank you so much for posting, some great stuff, for sure. Lucky me I just found this and downloaded last night. I think I have all these shows with the exception of Manchester Apollo 2008. I love the 2 2004 shows (that you have some material from) but would love to hear move of the ’08 show.

    Thanks again.

  9. Geoff Howe says:

    Yo, Andy! I loved your blog post here. Shoot me an e-mail…I’d love to uh…”confirmation” of that rapidshare file being deleted. ;)


  10. John Ballew says:


    I just ran across your article. I have felt the exact same way for years and continually dream up fantasy set lists they could have played live. I really hope somebody will do as you suggest. They really were a tremendous live band in the early and mid 70’s and on those nights where the audience was with them, songs like “Surf’s Up” and “The Trader” were absolutely sublime. Sorry I missed your posted recordings. I didn’t know about the existence of live recordings of many of these songs. So much of what I have heard from bootlegs is poorly mixed so the vocals are not at all balanced. When they had Steve Despar doing sound, it was incredible. I saw Brian’s shows at the Roxy in 2001 and it is such a shame that the band couldn’t have put a comparable set list together and played it at some appropriate venues (not in a stadium after a baseball game) before Carl died.

    It’s nice to run across somebody like you who is as big a fan as I have always been despite the band’s inherent shortcomings (as in Mike Love) and continuous internal dramas. Thanks again for your blog.

  11. Serkan says:

    very fantastic song list

  12. Brian says:

    Hello, Oh, to have seen this three years ago! I came across this when searching for a good source for the Carnegie Hall ’72 show, which I once had and have no idea of its present whereabouts. I would love to track that show down–as well as your mix!
    I go through a Beach Boys craze about once every two years (for the last 20 years) and I’m currently in the midst of probably the most serious case–after all, I’m searching for bootlegs. I recently found great copies of Detroit ’66, and the November ’67 shows (love those).
    Finally, it annoyed me that of the two Hawaii ’67 shows, the second one was a half step higher in pitch–so I ran it through Audacity to correct it.
    Anyway, just pledging my devotion in hopes that it results in some leads…thanks!

  13. Larry S. says:

    I thought there were four official live albums: “Concert”, “Live in London”, “In Concert”, and the Knebworth CD. I know, it’s only four years later…

  14. Andrew Hickey says:

    There was also a live album called Songs From Here & Back, released only through Hallmark stores for one month in (IIRC) 2005.
    Of course now there’s also the double CD of the reunion show…

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