Carl and the Passions – "So Tough" is the eighteenth studio album by American rock band The Beach Boys, released on May 15, 1972. Initial pressings of the album included Pet Sounds as a bonus record. The album is frequently considered a transitional album for the band, with the addition of Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar on guitar and drums, respectively, and long-time member Bruce Johnston departing during its initial sessions.
It's been speculated that Carl and the Passions – "So Tough" was either scheduled to be released, or re-released, as a single album. A Warner/Reprise catalogue number, MS 2090, had been assigned to this single disc release, but nothing came of it. The album was released as a standalone album in Europe on Reprise Records.
The title of the album was a reference to an early band Carl Wilson had been in as a teenager. It was also the first album released under a new deal with Warner Bros. that allowed the company to distribute all future Beach Boys product in foreign as well as domestic markets.
In 1971, Carl Wilson, who served as the group's de facto musical director at this time, decided to spice up the structure of The Beach Boys by hiring third guitarist Blondie Chaplin, whose soulful singing brought a strong R&B element into the band's sound. Drummer and singer-songwriter Ricky Fataar also joined at this time, as Dennis Wilson had suffered a debilitating hand accident. Both South Africans, Blondie and Ricky were discovered while playing in seminal South African band The Flame, by Carl, in London, circa 1969. The album sees The Beach Boys entering a period of roots-based rock.
Not long after the sessions began, Bruce Johnston had a falling out with manager Jack Rieley and left the band. Conflicting reports state that Johnston either quit or was fired. According to Johnston, he quit because he was unenthusiastic about Rieley's suggestion that the group adopt a hard rock approach and felt that Brian Wilson's prolonged lack of involvement had resulted in declining artistic quality. However, Rieley claims he fired Johnston, both to prevent him from voting in the group's democratic processes and because of the supposed disrespect and contempt Johnston was showing Brian Wilson at the time. Johnston's main writing contribution, an early version of "Endless Harmony" entitled "Ten Years of Harmony", was re-recorded and eventually released in 1980 on Keepin' the Summer Alive. Johnston has said that his only musical contribution on the released album is as a background vocalist on "Marcella".
Brian Wilson sporadically contributed to the album's sessions, distracted by the production and promotion of the debut album of American Spring titled Spring. The extent of his contributions for Carl and the Passions - "So Tough" were his collaboration on the writing of three songs and the recording of both vocal and instrumental tracks. Two songs were written and sung by Fataar and Chaplin. Dennis Wilson also contributed two songs which he wrote with Daryl Dragon, hinting towards the sound of his solo debut album, Pacific Ocean Blue. Other songwriting contributions came from Jack Rieley (two co-credits), Alan Jardine (two co-credits), Mike Love (two co-credits), Tandyn Almer (one co-credit) and Carl Wilson (one co-credit).
The LP was mixed for Quadraphonic reproduction (also compatible for Stereo). It was to be played back by using the long extinct Dynaco or EV Stereo-4 decoders. The recording (LP or CD) can be played back in Quad by most of today's audio-video receivers. The surround sound information can be extracted using the Dolby Pro Logic setting. The Surf's Up LP and some of the songs on the Sunflower LP were also mixed with this process.