Adult/Child

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Adult Child
Nocover.svg
Studio album unreleased by The Beach Boys
Recorded October 20, 1969 (1969-10-20)–June 27, 1977 (1977-06-27)
Studio Brian Wilson's home studio, Los Angeles and Brother Studios, Santa Monica, CA
Genre Rock, pop, big band
Length 30:25
Label Brother/Reprise (rejected)
Producer Brian Wilson
The Beach Boys recording chronology
Love You
(1977)
Adult Child
(1977)
M.I.U. Album
(1978)

Adult Child (sometimes typeset as Adult/Child) is an unreleased studio album by American rock band the Beach Boys, intended to follow the group's 1977 Love You. Like Love You, it is virtually a Brian Wilson solo project with other group members serving mainly as additional vocalists. After it was rejected by Reprise Records, the band released the 1978 M.I.U. Album in its place with an almost entirely revamped song list. A few projected tracks for Adult Child were eventually released on later albums and compilations. Currently, the album is available only as a bootleg recording.

Stylus Magazine tersely summarizes the work: "Brian’s Sinatra album. Vegas big band arrangements, brassy cover tunes, a few songs written with the hopes that the Chairman himself might sing them. The label heard it and probably rejected it before track 2 began."[1] Despite its status as an esoteric non-release within the Beach Boys catalog, the album has developed a mild cult following among fans and musicians.[2]

Background[edit]

Early on, the album was to be composed entirely of outtakes recorded during 1976 sessions for 15 Big Ones and Love You partnered with material that originates as far back as 1965.[nb 1] After the April 1977 release of Love You, The Beach Boys fell into dispute over the direction of the band, and were close to breaking up. Intended as a follow-up to Love You, sessions and mixing for a new album entitled Adult Child were completed by the Beach Boys with Brian Wilson acting as producer.

Similarly with "Good Time" on Love You, a few Adult Child tracks were outtakes sourced from earlier Beach Boys albums.[nb 2] Sessions for the album were kickstarted on January 19, 1977, only five days after the assembly for Love You was completed. Concurrently, Dennis Wilson worked on his solo album Pacific Ocean Blue which would not see a release until later in September.[7] According to the band's manager Stan Love—also the younger brother of the Beach Boys' Mike Love—when Mike heard the rough demo recordings of Adult Child replete with big band swing arrangements, he turned to Brian and asked: "What the fuck are you doing?"[8] While projected for release in autumn 1977, the album was rejected by Reprise Records for not being commercially viable.

Music and lyrics[edit]

Brian composes, writes, and sings most of Adult Child with occasionally brothers/bandmates Carl and Dennis swapping lead vocals.[1] Exceptionally, Brian included the group's cover versions of "Deep Purple", "On Broadway", and the traditional folk standard "Shortenin' Bread", the last of which he had been obsessed with for several years.[1] Dick Reynolds was commissioned for the arrangement of four tracks.[9] Previously in 1964, Reynolds arranged strings for The Beach Boys' Christmas Album,[10] and for Brian's idols the Four Freshmen[8] and Frank Sinatra.

The album's lyrics mostly reflect the minutiae of Brian's life during the 1970s. Some songs center around physical fitness, eating healthy,[1] and ecology, while "Lines" is simply about waiting in line for a movie.[2] Describing "Hey Little Tomboy", a leftover from Love You, Brian said, "It's about a little girl who is sort of a rough neck, and this guy convinces her to become a pretty girl, and sure enough she slowly turns into a pretty—she starts shaving her legs and wearing short sticks—puts lipstick on and makeup. So she's a little tomboy. … We're very happy with it."[11] Biographer Peter Ames Carlin wrote that "[the song] reveled uncomfortably in an adolescent girl who is putting away her skateboard and baseball mitt in order to get hot and heavy with the swain portrayed by Mike. … [it] may be the most unsettling moment in the entire recorded history of the Beach Boys."[12]

Release[edit]

The album has been released through numerous bootlegs, but is officially unavailable.[1] "Hey Little Tomboy" appears in a slightly revised form on M.I.U. Album. "Shortenin' Bread", a traditional folk song which Brian was reportedly obsessed with, was revised and placed on L.A. (Light Album) (1979). "It's Over Now" and "Still I Dream of It" were released on the group's box set Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of The Beach Boys (1993). An alternate piano demo of "Still I Dream of It" was included on Brian Wilson's solo album I Just Wasn't Made for These Times (1995).[9]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Stylus Magazine (B)[1]

Musicologist Philip Lambert believes, "All of the songs from this collection are solid efforts, but 'Still I Dream of It' and 'It's Over Now' are particularly inspired and rank right up there with Brian's best work," calling them "gut-wrenching ballads about romance and heartbreak."[9] Scram—a fanzine devoted to esoteric works—said: "There are so-called Beach Boys fans who say anybody who applaud Love You and this album is being ironic. I say fuck those tight-arsed naysayers! Both of those albums showcase a truly original mix of humor and sadness. The original numbers always dance just a step away from the cliche, dealing with simple lyrical themes that make you wonder why they had never been explored before."[2] Stylus Magazine included the album in a list entitled "'Long Time Gone' – The Classic Rock Lost Album Archetypes" among other Beach Boys' non-releases such as Smile, Landlocked, and Bambu as a "A Lost Album Category Unto Themselves". The journal wrote:

"If 'legend' means 'an unreleased masterwork from the genius who brought us Pet Sounds' then no. But for Brian fanatics, Adult Child is a must-hear, even if it does chronicle the decline of what was arguably pop’s greatest talent … nearly every song reflects the sorry state in which the elder-Wilson found himself by the late-Seventies: a drug-addled, paranoid shut-in, weighing in at a none-too-svelte 300 lbs. As morbidly awful as that proposition sounds, however, Wilson’s melodic sense, arranging skills and humor had not yet totally abandoned him by 1977 — even if his choirboy voice, ravaged by a four-pack-a-day cigarette habit, had."[1]

In 2000, a cover of "Lines' was recorded by Duglas T. Stewart of indie pop band BMX Bandits for the various artists tribute album Caroline Now!.[13] BMX Bandits recorded a version of "Hey Little Tomboy" with Pearlfishers.[14] "Still I Dream of It" has been covered by Ed Harcourt, Jimmy Nail, and Carice van Houten.

Track listing[edit]

Adult Child was mixed and assembled in the following sequence on June 27, 1977, but it is reported that "Shortenin' Bread" and "It's Over Now" may have been dropped five days later:[3][7] "It's Trying to Say" is also known as "Baseball's On".[7] For bootlegs, some editions include additional recordings made by the group between the 1960s and 1980s.[1]

All songs written and composed by Brian Wilson, except where noted. 

Side one
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Life is for the Living"   Carl Wilson and Brian Wilson 1:52
2. "Hey Little Tomboy"   Mike Love, B. Wilson, and C. Wilson 2:20
3. "Deep Purple" (Peter Derose and Mitchell Parish) B. Wilson 2:24
4. "H.E.L.P. Is on the Way"   Love 2:30
5. "It's Over Now"   C. Wilson and Marilyn Wilson 2:50
6. "Everybody Wants to Live"   C. Wilson 3:10
Side two
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Shortenin' Bread" (trad. arr. B. Wilson) C. Wilson with B. Wilson 2:48
2. "Lines"   B. Wilson and C. Wilson 1:44
3. "On Broadway" (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller) Al Jardine 3:11
4. "Games Two Can Play"   B. Wilson 2:01
5. "It's Trying to Say"   Dennis Wilson 2:10
6. "Still I Dream of It"   B. Wilson 3:26

Personnel[edit]

The Beach Boys
Additional musicians and production staff

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ A track list destined for an album provisionally entitled New Album included: "My Diane", "Marilyn Rovell", "Hey Little Tomboy", "Ruby Baby", "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'", "Sherry She Needs Me", "Come Go with Me", "Mony Mony", "On Broadway", "Sea Cruise", "H.E.L.P. Is on the Way", "Games Two Can Play", and "When Girls Get Together".[3]
  2. ^ "Games Two Can Play" and "H.E.L.P. Is on the Way" recordings originate from August–October 1969 Sunflower sessions.[4] "Shortenin' Bread" recording originates from March–November 1973.[5] "Hey Little Tomboy" and "On Broadway" recordings originate from March–October 1976 15 Big Ones/Love You sessions.[6]
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "The Stylus Magazine Non-Definitive Guide: The Lost Album". Stylus Magazine. September 2, 2003. Retrieved 13 July 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Cooper & Smay 2004.
  3. ^ a b Doe, Andrew Grayham. "Unreleased Albums". Endless Summer Quarterly. Retrieved July 13, 2014. 
  4. ^ Doe, Andrew Grayham. "GIGS69". Endless Summer Quarterly. Retrieved July 13, 2014. 
  5. ^ Doe, Andrew Grayham. "GIGS73". Endless Summer Quarterly. Retrieved July 13, 2014. 
  6. ^ Doe, Andrew Grayham. "GIGS76". Endless Summer Quarterly. Retrieved July 13, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c Doe, Andrew Grayham. "GIGS77". Endless Summer Quarterly. Retrieved July 13, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Carlin 2006, p. 223.
  9. ^ a b c d Lambert 2007, p. 314.
  10. ^ Williamson, Smyth & Webb 2008, p. 64.
  11. ^ "INTERVIEW WITH BRIAN WILSON OF THE BEACH BOYS IN EARLY 1980'S". Global Image Works. 1976. Retrieved July 18, 2014. 
  12. ^ a b Carlin 2006, p. 226.
  13. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Caroline Now : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  14. ^ Schnee, Steve "Spaz". "BMX Bandits On the Radio (1986-1996)". AllMusic. Retrieved July 18, 2014. 
Sources