Beach Boys, Wild Honey (2001 – Remaster)
Years of anticlimax burnished into a warm glow
The Beach Boys were suffering an identity crisis of no mean proportion, cancelling out of the Monterey Pop Festival in a year when Brian’s aspirations might have given them a new, hipper audience. This recording reasserts the primacy of the group, perhaps out of necessity since Brian seemed increasingly unable to provide leadership or even musical guidance.
Wild Honey does have its charms (“Darlin’” was originally tracked for a Wilson side project, his production of the future Three Dog Night, until Mike and Carl took the tapes in a huff and sang over them, which may account for the R&B leanings of the album) but it’s pervaded by a retro feel and a sense of song styling that, even in its back-to-basics, was a seeming step sideways; it showed the band in a holding pattern. Increasingly reclusive, alternately acquiescent and contrary, Brian Wilson shied away from his muse, preferring to find his personal Garden of Eden in “Country Air” and the winking punch-line of “I’d Love Just Once To See You…in the nude.”