The first thing I think after finishing Mike Love’s excellent autobiography is that all us Beach Boys fanatics probably owe him a debt of gratitude and an apology. I have always seen Love as ‘the one who doesn’t get it’ in the band, I always thought that he disliked Pet Sounds (turns out he NAMED it) and was just after Brian’s money (turns out Brian and his father signed papers stopping Love being added to the credits of VERY famous songs, BEFORE Brian promised Mike that he would get it sorted, no problem.
It is also impressive hearing a 75 year old Love come up with new ideas for the band (he is officially the leader of the ‘live’ Beach Boys, though there are interesting tales of when Al Jardine put together a separate unsuccessful group, which is thrilling reading) at an age when some superstars are taking their foot off the gas, Love is setting up tours where the Beach Boys play two gigs a day, one in a major city and one in a nearby smaller town, where fans might not expect to see them.
It is brilliant to hear things about all of the albums, even the lesser known classics such as Sunflower and Holland and there are some great tales about Brian and his studio obsessions and some terrible stories about Brian’s time with the sinister Dr Levy.
You might expect most of the musical tales to focus on the genius of Pet Sounds (there is a great picture taken during the album cover shoot, with Brian, Mike and a monkey wearing a hat, which, well, obviously worth the price of admission alone!) but Love gives equal time to them all, we will have to pick up Brian’s book to get the full story on my fave Beach Boys masterpiece, but there is plenty else here to hold your interest.
The only sections of the book that did not really grab me are those when he goes on and on about his experiences with TM. “Maharashi said this, Maharashi said that, blah blah blah”, it is the same problem I always have with Beatles books, Beach Boys will always be worth more than religion to me and these sections were read quickly and without interest. BUT, the reward is an interesting chapter on Dennis Wilson and his friend Charles Manson, tales of Charlie living in Dennis’ house with the family and Dennis doing interviews about ‘the wizard’ and about living with 17 girls. Love it. Also it turns out that when Love had young children, Dennis left them with Susan Atkins to babysit. A new Beach Boys/Manson factoid that I never knew.
Overall, Mike Love’s Good Vibrations is a great telling of one of the most important tales in musical history and will send you straight to Spotify to get yourself reacquainted with Friends, 15 Big Ones, 20/20, hell, ALL of the great tunes from America’s best band. Fun, fun, fun! (sorry)