Wouldn’t it be Nice…if we could Play Together?

For Beach Boys fans everywhere the original band’s reformation for a 50th anniversary reunion world tour was literally music to the ears; its sell-out status testimony to the fact that the music never dies.

But seemingly the love does.

The ironically named Mike Love, original band member and the custodian of the Beach Boys brand name, has decided that he has had enough of touring with the rest of the original band and is going it alone with some session musicians under the Beach Boys moniker.

The lights had hardly gone down on the band’s final concert at Los Angeles’ Grammy Museum before Love broke the news. And the fact that he chose to do it in a media interview rather than in an intimate gathering together of his boyhood band members probably says everything about Love not really feeling the love very much.


Timing being all, his announcement followed hot on the heels of Brian Wilson’s own interview in which he talked about how much he’d enjoyed being back with the band and how he could foresee making another album with them. To use Wilson’s own words as reported in the LA Times he’s now very “bummed out”.  Something of an understatement given that Wilson was the musical genius behind the Beach Boys and is Mike Love’s cousin.

So, if the Beach Boys is represented by only one person from the original line-up is it really still the Beach Boys or just a pastiche of the Beach Boys? Or some other band entirely?

That is a bit simplistic but you get the point: dilution, distortion, replication, just tiny particles remaining (by way of the loathsome Love) of the original chemistry and alchemy that made the Beach Boys the legendary band it once was.

Does the art of the band’s musical output therefore now become a different product?

The same idea could be turned on the work of plenty of artists. Take Jeff Koons as a good example. Who is the real artist in his art production factory? Can he rightly claim ownership to his own name anymore or the price-tags and provenance of his work? Or is a collective experience and output necessarily recognised in a collective name and a sharing of the profits? A direct reversal of the Beach Boys’ current scenario.

Getting In Over My Head
Getting In Over My Head

Peter Blake’s album cover artwork for Brian Wilson’s album Gettin In Over My Head seems appositely named in light of the recent shenanigans around the Beach Boys’ reformation, the question of identity and the chopping up of the whole to make a new version of the original.

To my mind the only Beach Boys line up with credibility and authenticity is the one formed of the original members of the 1960s. Ditto in art. Despite the thousands of Peter Blake copyists and collagers, there’s also only one sweet original whose signature style makes the difference between art and something else entirely.

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