Boys No More: Are the Beach Boys Rebooted or Merely Rebranded?
Nobody wants to deflate expectations or deprive Beach Boys fans of reason for celebration. And yet, the announcement late last year that the band had decided to reunite seems to warrant a cautionary note. After all, two of the original key players -- brothers Dennis and Carl Wilson -- are no longer around, and there's no denying how essential their contributions were to the band's keynote harmonies and instrumental efforts.That makes this reunion more a hodgepodge, one that features musicians who participated in the band's tangled trajectory at different times rather than the original band reborn. Mike Love, Al Jardine, and Brian Wilson are the core of this new revival, even though Jardine's consistency can also be questioned. He left twice, first during the band's initial incarnation (only to reappear once the hits started coming) and then permanently quit in 1998, following the death of Carl Wilson. Although he can't be considered a constant, his 2010 album, Postcard From California , effectively replicates the Beach Boys sound.Brian, the Beach Boys' original mastermind, quit touring with the band in the mid-'60s, the victim of anxiety and paranoia. There was the famous incident in December 1964 when the band was on a plane about to embark for a tour when Brian literally had a breakdown and had to be removed. Glen Campbell was eventually brought in as his substitute.
For well over a decade, Brian stayed off the road, hiding at home while playing his piano in a sandbox, plotting new masterpieces like Pet Sounds and the aborted Smile album before drifting away from the band until his much-heralded return in 1976.
Yet even after several tours that lasted into the early '80s, Brian's relationship with the band wasn't entirely repaired. By the latter part of the decade, he was completely disenfranchised from the band and embarking on a solo career. In the '90s, he reemerged, playing Pet Sounds in concert and revisiting Smile, all with the help of an L.A. band called the Wondermints, which was so adept at re-creating the original arrangements and the Beach Boys harmonies that the idea of a reunion seemed somewhat moot.
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