I always thought that this would be a pointless exercise, a bit like the awful Jeffferson Airplane comeback album from 1989, or Sinatra's Duets recordings from the early 1990s.
Thankfully not, as I found this to be a great album, bar Mike Love's sole soul-less composition. Of late, and I refer to previous albums from MIU onwards, The Beach Boys output has been throughly insipid, throughly uninspired, thoroughly awful. The best Beach Boy albums have been the solo recordings, i.e Carl's Youngblood, Dennis' Pacific Ocean Blue, and Brian's wonderful comeback as a functioning recording artist, from Brian Wilson (1988), I Just Wasn't Made for These Times (1995), Live At The Roxy, Smile, Lucky old Sun, etc.
The album does show that the Boys can revisit the close harmony material, a la Our Prayer, Brian's One For The Boys, on Think About The Days. It is also good that Brian's Wondermints backing musicians aid and abet the regular Beach Boys, i.e. Jeffrey Foskett and Darian Sahanaja, into creating an album that doesn't seem anachronistic, and this is apparent on the title track. I think this also harkens back to the vibe of Mount Vernon from Holland, but is, however, in a happier un-drugged state of mind.
Another old associate of Brian's appears as songwriter on most of the tracks, i.e. Joe Thomas - he produced 1998's solo album Imagination, which was a trifle over-done, but also contained great tracks, i.e Lay Down Burden. Isn't It Time is great, but Spring Vacation does over-egg the pudding somewhat with an unsubtle reference to Good Vibrations.
The Private Life of Bill & Sue shows that Brian is not afraid to write about a day to day scenario, a bit like McCartney on Another Day and Back Seat of My Car, or English Tea for that matter. Brian was good at it, too, on Busy Doing Nothing and Johnny Carson, and he returns to that scenario with aplomb. I am also wondering if Brian read the story of the insurance fraud scamster who fled in a canoe to Panama, faking his own death. If so, it may belie the assumption that Brian is a drug casualty being told what to do, and that he has a great ear for the news. That last verse, read by Skip Masters, does show an alert artist, with a Randy Newmanesque tongue in cheek sense of humour.
Shelter is a great track too, and shows just the right amount of yearning, with the infinitely sad lines of "Do you ever still think of me, and the way we used to be". Beaches In Mind, to me, is a little underwhelming, but the last four tracks on the album bring the album up to an amazing conclusion. If it be the last ever Beach Boys album, they leave us with love and more than a little mercy.
Now, if only Mick Jagger and Keith Richards would follow their example, and produce a final album of this quality. We can but hope !!