on 10 January 2010
THE BEACH BOYS `Live at Knebworth 1980
Brother Records Cat No. EAGCD155
21 tracks of super songs from the time when the Boys decided they preferred to be a travelling juke box, playing their old songs to an audience who knew them as by osmosis.
And why not, when they are as `classic' as these? The CD comes as a deluxe package in a cardboard slipcase, with a repro poster of the gig, 21st June 1980, where they were the headliners. There are also copious liner notes and comments by the band on the songs played that night, giving the release all the flavour of an event.
The set is sold as the last time the classic line-up (the original 5 plus Bruce Johnston) appeared together. Much as the current Brian Wilson setup a cast of session musicians fills out the sound, which is notably rockier, more `contemporary' than of old.
One wonders what Brian is actually doing, but he is there, and gets to sing a couple of songs, not to mention being sung to as it is his birthday. Too the group sounds noticeably less fraught than on the between song comments on the 1973 `In Concert' album (which itself is a real gem), but Mike Love's intros verge on the supercilious.
But, the music, what about it? The songs are great, you know them all pretty much, and it would be a great party/driving record given the way it powers along.
It begins with `California Girls', described here thus, "...has there ever been a better intro to a hit record?" and who could disagree - you can imagine yourself standing at the edge of the western ocean, with your surfboard and your baggies.
`Sloop John B', `Darlin', `God Only Knows', `Good Vibrations', `Help Me Rhonda', et al, are all given the full treatment, style being traded for power, but at an outdoor concert projection is all.
It may cause a few people to go to the back catalogue, particularly now that it is available in such handsome form, but, overall, a good souvenir of the event, probably aimed more at fans than the casual listener.