Tuesday, January 8, 2013

40 Year Itch : The Dream of Amsterdamee

After more than ten years of celebrating Southern California, living in Southern California, recording in Southern California and going crazy in Southern California, The Beach Boys ( even Brian Wilson!) gathered their wives, kids, technicians and hangers on and moved to the Netherlands for an expensive but apparently productive year.

From Creem Magazine
The result is Holland, released January 8, 1973, the band's last studio album for more than three years. You can take the Boys out of California but apparently you can't take California out of the Boys. The centerpiece of Holland is a three song California trilogy highlighted by Al Jardine's cowpokey if not slightly redundant "California Saga: California" which became a Top 40 hit in the UK.

There's much better stuff on Holland. Carl Wilson's "The Trader" shows his terrific contributions on 1971's Surf's Up ("Feel Flows", "Long Promised Road") were no fluke. The highlights both come from Brian Wilson and friends. "Funky Pretty" is the deep cut. Listen closely. Five of the seven band members ( Carl, Mike, Al and the new South African members Blondie Chaplin, Ricky Fataar ) contribute lead vocals as synthesizers swoop and wail in the background. Genius at work!

When the Boys returned from the Netherlands with Holland, Dave Bursyn at Reprise Records rejected the album because he didn't hear a single. It was Bursyn who got Brian Wilson in a room with his Smile collaborator Van Dyke Parks. Together, with a great deal of credit apparently belonging to Parks, they finished an old Wilson song called "Sail On Sailor". Drummer Dennis got the first crack at lead vocals. He did one take and then left the studio to go surfing. Carl tried to sing the song and, while it was a passable effort, he felt Blondie's straight -forward voice best suited the song. Released as a single in 1973 "Sail On Sailor" only managed to reach #79 on the pop charts. In 1975, a re-release of "Sail On Sailor":fared better, reaching #49.

Holland would be followed up in 1973 with a live album. Chaplin and Fataar would leave. The Beach Boys became popular live acts but they wouldn't produce another studio album until the disappointing 15 Big Ones in 1976. To fill in the gaps, record buyers loaded up on those two amazing compilation albums, Endless Summer and Spirit of America.

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