PDT Staff Writer
As I have said in the past, my school years were not, how shall I say it? My favorite years. I am coming up on my fiftieth class reunion next year, and have no intention of attending, since I have never once did in all the years since I graduated. Why I am saying all of that is because I want you to know that I’m not completely cynical. I had great teen years, and one of my fondest memories is of the music of the mid to late fifties through the sixties.
Now, I have found myself transported back to my “growing up” years with the 50th anniversary Beach Boys album - “That’s Why God Made the Radio.”
I’m going to admit that I get older every day, and as I do, I get more separated from today’s music. It’s not that it’s so bad. It’s that I don’t understand it. But now, most of the original Beach Boys have gotten together for a 50th anniversary tour, and accompanying that tour is a brand new album with all new songs.
I think it is the best “total album,” since “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles.” There is a central theme to the album. It is about people of my age reflecting back on our rock and roll years.
Two of the original Beach Boys, brothers Dennis and Carl Wilson, have passed away, leaving only brother Brian Wilson. He has teamed up with original members, cousin Mike Love and Bruce Johnston, as well as David Marks, who only appears on their first album, and the man who replaced him and has remained with the group all the years since, Al Jardine.
The really ironic part of my fascination for the Beach Boys is that I was not a fan the first time around. I sort of felt like it was mindless surfing and hot rod music, two subjects that did not interest me. But as I grew older and began to appreciate the genius of Brian Wilson, I found I couldn’t get enough of that sound. Some of the greatest writers and producers in the record industry marvel at “Good Vibrations.” At one point there are six parts all being sung at the same time. It is representative of the mind and musical ear of Brian Wilson.
In recent years, people such as actor John Stamos have become a part of the band and have added a special touch. But it is inevitable that all of their music reverts back to the harmony of the Four Freshmen, a group they admired, and basically copied. By the way, Google the Four Freshmen doing “Little Surfer Girl,” some time. It’s a mutual admiration society.
But back to “That’s Why God Made the Radio.” It takes you on a trip back to the sixties through the eyes of those who have grown older, but still have a soul for the sounds of the beach. The title song is amazing. I love the words and the melody. Get this - “Feel the music in the air. Find a song to take us there. It’s paradise when I, lift up my antenna (pronounced antenni), receiving your signal like a prayer, like a prayer.” The trip back begins with “Isn’t it Time,” and ends with “Summer’s Gone.” In between is a trip down memory lane that people my age will enjoy taking again and again.
I would recommend “That’s Why God Made the Radio,” but only if you have a few minutes to take a trip back, put on your baggies and cruise around in your woody. Great sounds never go out of style, and the Beach Boys are living proof.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at email@example.com