Album Review : The Beach Boys – L.A. (Light Album)

 “We’ll grow closer together by being apart.”

LAFront

Rating : 8/10

Summary : Through a haze of conflicts, drugs and dramas, they somehow managed to gather their forces and come up with one last good album.

Complaint #1 : “Brian, the sole reason for buying Beach Boys albums, was a wreck at the time and his participation here is almost nonexistent”.
Well, it’s definitely true that he was a wreck. And he’s also definitely missed. But if the history of The Beach Boys (specifically the 68-73 years) has taught us something (besides not to do drugs), is that the band has always managed to fill up for Brian whenever he wasn’t there. In some cases, they benefited from it. Both Carl and Dennis took further what Brian taught them and became productive musicians in their own rights. And this album is one of the proofs of that statement.

Complaint #2 : “Here Comes The Night is disco crap and a failed attempt to regain commercial success.”
It is disco, and indeed, they were desperate enough to try this kinds of stuff in order to be popular again. But come on, that’s only one song. True, it’s a hell of a long one and the album would’ve definitely benefited from the single version of it, but do people actually listen to it? It’s not that bad and it’s certainly not unlistenable, as some later Beach Boys songs would prove themselves to be. There are some pretty neat harmonies and you certainly can’t deny its catchiness.

Complaint #3 : “The album doesn’t work together as a whole.”
Well that has its dose of truth, but what do you expect? Imagine Mike coming up to Carl in ’79 telling him “Hey cousin, let’s stop all this hate, and do an album together, as a band, like we used to, in ’73 or ’63. Call Brian and tell him to get out of his bedroom, lose some weight and quit drugs and Dennis to cut that solo albums crap”. Sounds good, but it wasn’t very likely. So if Carl wants to write his light pop songs, let him do it, as long as they’re good. Brian wants to cover an oldie? Sure, go ahead, as long as it’s catchy enough. Dennis is giving us two emotional ballads that were supposed to be on his solo album? Why not? Carl revises an unreleased song from ’74? Go ahead man, as long as it’s one of the most beautiful the band ever performed. My point is, they stopped working as a band quite a long time ago, so the only possible expectation are for the boys is to come up with their own compositions, and for them to be good enough for a Beach Boys album. They did and they were.

Complaint #4 : “Bruce Johnston produced it.”
But Bruce’s presence, as a producer, is almost not being felt at all. At least, not in the way it was on ‘Keepin’ The Summer Alive’. My take is, both Carl and Dennis produced their compositions themselves, but it’s only an honest guess. However the situation, most of the songs have a nice, natural sound with nothing like plastic keyboards or processed backing-vocals (except for ‘Here Comes The Night’, that is).

Complaint #5 : “Love You was the last great Beach Boys album, everything after it sucks.”
‘Love You’ was a great album indeed, but people usually dismiss ‘L.A (Light Album)’ for being stuck between ‘M.I.U’ and ‘Keepin’ The Summer Alive’, both which are far worse than it to my ears. To me, this album represents one last gasp of artistic approach from The Beach Boys. Maybe a disjointed and flawed one, but an approach nevertheless.

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3 replies

  1. Great insight on quality bands and their music, expressed in writing of intellectual refinement but with just enough of the laid back style that makes it easy and enjoyable to read. Congratulations to the reviewer, a most pleasant surprise.

    Like

  2. Nice review of LA (Light Album). It is one of my favorite Beach Boys albums, for many of the reasons you listed.

    Like

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