7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Beach Boys FAQ: All That's Left to Know about America's Band (Faq Series) (Paperback)Most, if not all, books about the Beach Boys have tended to be very factually inaccurate, with the result that the band's history is awash with myths that 'everyone knows' to be true.
Stebbins' book, on the other hand, is absolutely rigorous - he is one of the best Beach Boys researchers out there, and has consulted the best of the others (notably citing Andrew Doe's Bellagio website) to ensure he's not repeating myths. I've only noticed one minor error in the book (he says that Brian Wilson's intention to complete Smile was announced in May 2003, when in fact it was first announced by Jeff Foskett at a small show in *March* 2003). It's organised into a series of small essays, so if you want to know all the facts about, say, the band's changing membership, or who sang lead on what track, it's easy to find.
Where the book goes into opinion and critical analysis, it's on less steady ground (can Stebbins *really* believe that 'heavy' psychedelic guitar would have improved gentle, gorgeous albums like Friends or Wild Honey?) and he sometimes strays into cliche (saying that Van Dyke Parks' lyrics were 'alliterative' and 'stream-of-consciousness' when they were neither to any greater extent than any other lyricist for the band) but half the fun of that kind of thing is finding something to disagree with, and Stebbins is just as likely to be dead-on accurate.
The one star knocked off is for Stebbins' somewhat clunky prose style, and his annoying habit of slipping in lines from lyrics wherever possible, whether or not they're appropriate - the book could have done with a quick polish for style - but this is undoubtedly the definitive factual work on the band.