Wednesday

Beach Boys

Carl & The Passions - "So Tough!" - 1972

With nearly every one of their LPs throughout the decade being hailed as their "return to form" or "last great" album, it's very easy to dismiss a Beach Boys LP from the 1970s as an over-hyped dud. I know this, because I've done the very same thing, only discovering very recently that Carl & The Passions - "So Tough!" , while not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, is an album with a handful of extremely powerful songs, albeit one with an extremely lame title and cover art. Originally issued as a double LP with a reissued Pet Sounds (??), Carl & The Passions was the first album to feature the strong R&B influence of Blondie Chaplain, who was added to the band's rotating cast of lead vocalists, and helped to reinvigorate the Beach Boys both commercially and artistically throughout the decade. His contributions here are numerous, but his (and the album's) unquestionable high point is "Hold On Dear Brother", a magnificent pedal-steel doused country ballad with a gut-wrenching chorus and a thinly veiled plea to Brian Wilson, who was deep in the trenches of battling his own demons and contributes very little to this LP. The album's production is not quite as pristine as the band's other releases from this era, but the mixture of styles and incredibly strong contributions from all members makes this, if not one their most critically successful albums of the decade, certainly their most diplomatic. A fantastic LP.

7 comments:

side3 said...

I agree...a fantastic album. One of my favs...

JBL said...

Wow, JR--this is a great one. I was surprised to find that I liked this alot more than Holland, despite having read so much praise for that one & so much dismissal of "Carl etc etc..." (You probably already knew this, but "Carl & the Passions" was one of the names they originally considered for the group. Anyway, though the cover is truly the worst BB's album art outside "Keepin' the Summer Alive", it really has alot of gems on it. Thanks again.

By the way, have you heard "Love You"? I keep hearing that one mentioned as "the last great Beach Boys album..."

All the best
JBL

JR HeatWarp said...

Hey JBL,

Very pleased to hear a glowing review of Carl & The Passions! It just goes to show how criminally underrated the Beach Boys 70s stuff continues to be.

I do have "Love You" in my collection, but since my copy is only 96K (sub-par quality for a posting) and frankly, I'm not totally bowled over by it, I've refrained from doing a full-blown post of it here. So here it is, unoficially (ha ha): megaupload.com/?d=LZ4GL8K5

As always, thanks for visiting!

Anonymous said...

History isn't kind to the Beach Boys after 1967. I've avoided "Carl And The Passions" for such a long time. Thanks for offering this album.

Rockin' Rich said...

The "dear brother" in question wasn't, as is easy to assume, Brian, but a guy named Brother Fataar who was the bassist in The Flame (with Blondie and Ricki).

JR HeatWarp said...

Nice clarification Rich! I was a little curious about that myself, since Blondie sang this one, but I just assumed it was about Brian. The more you know...as they say.

Rockin' Rich said...

What would be really cool would be to find the original version of "We Got Love," which was deleted at the last minute from Holland in favor of "Sail On Sailor." I've heard live versions (I think one was on the Concert album) and lo-fi dubs of the (studio) original, which was apparently mistakenly released on lp in Germany at the time...