The Beach Boys: That’s Why God Made the Radio

The Beach Boys
That’s Why God Made the Radio
(Capitol Records)

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Marking their 50th anniversary, the surviving members of The Beach Boys (songwriter/main architect Brian Wilson, vocalists Al Jardine, Mike Love and Bruce Johnston, plus original guitarist David Marks who hasn’t played with the band since 1963) have released That’s Why God Made the Radio.

“Think About the Days” is basically a harmony vocal workout unlike anything you’ve probably heard in the past three decades. It just could have been longer and maybe fell into a full song. The title track’s too corny to beat the nostalgia, but the chorus is fantastic, with a walking vocal part and low horns. “Isn’t It Time” and “Beaches in Mind” are good tracks, with soft grooves and sing-able choruses. “Daybreak Over the Ocean” is more or less a wavy Mike Love solo piece (and the only tune solely credited to him). “From There to Back Again” has full use of the boys’ fantastic lush mix of vocals, another truly impressive harmony piece.

“Pacific Coast Highway,” full of strings, restrained backing vocals and Wilson upfront (although another too-short tune) is a true masterpiece, as is the last song, “Summer’s Gone,” with its carnival sound backing and mournful pace.

Mostly That’s Why God Made the Radio is a Brian Wilson requiem (original band members Carl and Dennis Wilson are dead) with a little Mike Love upbeat splash thrown in. With a CD that basically ends with 69-year-old Wilson singing, “We live, then die/And dream about our yesterdays.” It’s no guess where his mind’s at these days.

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