L.A. (Light Album)

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L.A. (Light Album)
LALightCover.jpg
Studio album by The Beach Boys
Released March 19, 1979
Recorded April 1974 - January 1979
Genre Rock, pop rock, disco
Length 41:33
Label Brother/Caribou/CBS
Producer Bruce Johnston, The Beach Boys, James William Guercio
The Beach Boys chronology
M.I.U. Album
(1978)M.I.U. Album1978
L.A. (Light Album)
(1979)
Keepin' the Summer Alive
(1980)Keepin' the Summer Alive1980
Singles from L.A. (Light Album)
  1. "Here Comes the Night"
    Released: February 19, 1979
  2. "Good Timin'"
    Released: April 16, 1979
  3. "Lady Lynda"
    Released: June 1979
  4. "Sumahama"
    Released: September 1979

L.A. (Light Album) is the 23rd studio album by the Beach Boys, released on March 19, 1979. Produced by Bruce Johnston, James William Guercio and the band itself, the album was the Beach Boys' first on CBS Records, and the first to feature contributions from Johnston since his departure from the band in 1972. Johnston was brought in when it became clear that the ailing Brian Wilson was in no fit state to produce the album, and he has remained in the band ever since.

L.A. (Light Album) reached No. 100 in the US during a chart stay of 13 weeks, and No. 32 in the UK.

Background and recording[edit]

Despite a new $8 million contract with CBS Records calling for Brian Wilson to write and produce 75% of the songs on each new album, his contributions to L.A. (Light Album) are minimal. His presence on the album as a vocalist has only been confirmed on one song, "Angel Come Home", though he probably played piano on the single "Good Timin'" which was co-written by him with brother Carl, but the origins of the recording go back to five years earlier. His arrangement of the traditional song "Shortenin' Bread" was also older, although the recording was more recent. The vocals for both songs were recorded without Brian. "Good Timin'" hit #40 in the US.

The first song attempted for L.A. (Light Album) was entitled "California Feelin'". It would remain unreleased until 2013 for the compilation Made in California.[1] Both "Baby Blue" and "Love Surrounds Me" were originally recorded for Dennis Wilson's never-released second solo album, Bambu. These would be the last Dennis Wilson songs released before his death in 1983. Another Dennis song titled "Constant Companion" was mixed for the album but was dropped from the final track listing.

L.A. (Light Album) spawned a top-ten hit in the UK with Al Jardine's Bach-inspired "Lady Lynda", written for his wife, and later rerecorded as "Lady Liberty" after their divorce. Jardine recently[when?] revealed that Dennis Wilson made an uncredited contribution to the song's lush string arrangement.[citation needed] Mike Love's Japanese-flavored "Sumahama" was also a UK single chart entry later in 1979.

Possibly the album's most controversial moment[according to whom?] was an eleven-minute disco recasting of Wild Honey's "Here Comes the Night" that caused considerable consternation among fans. The song was only played live during a few dates at New York City's Radio City Music Hall in March 1979 before being dropped from the live set due to adverse audience reaction. Nevertheless, an abridged 4:34 version made the charts in the US as the lead single, peaking at #44.

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2/5 stars[2]
Blender 2/5 stars[3]
Robert Christgau C+[4]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 3/5 stars[5]
MusicHound woof![6]
Rolling Stone (unfavorable)[7]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 1/5 stars[8]

Although Brother Records was still in operation during the time of the albums' release, the band's manager, former Chicago producer James William Guercio, had his own label, Caribou Records, distribute the album in conjunction with Brother. L.A. (Light Album) peaked at #100 in the US, and #32 in the UK.[citation needed] Upon its release, Rolling Stone critic Dave Marsh stated that, "The Beach Boys have not made great rock music since Wild Honey [and haven't] made competent pop music since Holland;" he concluded that the album "is worse than awful. It is irrelevant."[7]

Retrospectively, Richard Williams of Uncut referred to the track 'Angel Come Home' as 'the most beautifully textured and exquisitely pain-racked white soul music ever made',[9] while music historian Jeff Tamarkin - who penned liner notes for the 2000 CD reissue - said of the album: "There is undeniable brilliance here if one dares to look."[10] Allmusic reviewer John Bush wrote "The Beach Boys ended the decade by releasing the worst album of their career," describing the album as "yet another oddball attempt to push the Beach Boys into the contemporary mainstream despite their many songwriting and production flaws."[2]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Lead Vocals Length
1. "Good Timin'" Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson C. Wilson 2:12
2. "Lady Lynda" Johann Sebastian Bach; arranged by Al Jardine and Ron Altbach Jardine 3:58
3. "Full Sail" C. Wilson, Geoffrey Cushing-Murray C. Wilson 2:56
4. "Angel Come Home" C. Wilson, Cushing-Murray Dennis Wilson 3:39
5. "Love Surrounds Me" D. Wilson, Cushing-Murray D. Wilson 3:41
6. "Sumahama" Mike Love Love 4:30
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Lead Vocals Length
1. "Here Comes the Night" B. Wilson, Love C. Wilson/Jardine 10:51
2. "Baby Blue" D. Wilson, Gregg Jakobson, Karen Lamm C. Wilson/D. Wilson 3:25
3. "Goin' South" C. Wilson, Cushing-Murray C. Wilson 3:16
4. "Shortenin' Bread" Traditional; arranged by B. Wilson C. Wilson/D. Wilson 2:49

Personnel[edit]

The Beach Boys
  • Mike Love – lead, harmony and backing vocals, orchestral arrangements
  • Brian Wilson – harmony and backing vocals on "Angel Come Home", piano on "Good Timin'" and "Shortenin' Bread," Moog synthesizer on "Shortenin' Bread," harpsichord and keyboards on "Good Timin'"
  • Carl Wilson – lead, harmony and backing vocals, guitar
  • Al Jardine – lead, harmony and backing vocals, guitar
  • Dennis Wilson – lead, harmony and backing vocals, drums, percussion
  • Bruce Johnston – harmony and backing vocals, keyboards, vocal and orchestral arrangements, production
Additional musicians
  • Ed Carter – guitar, bass guitar
  • Carlos Munoz – piano
  • Bobby Figueroa – drums
  • Sterling Smith – harpsichord
  • Phil Shenale – synthesizer
  • Jim Guercio – bass guitar
  • Gary Mallaber – drums
  • Ritchie Zito – guitar
  • Mike Baird – drums
  • Joel Peskin – alto saxophone solo on "Here Comes The Night"
  • Jimmy Lyons – alto saxophone solos
  • Mike Meros – clavinet
  • Bob Esty – synthesizer
  • Wah Wah Watson – guitar
  • Joe Chemay – bass guitar
  • Steve Forman – percussion
  • Victor Feldman – percussion
  • Ron Altbach – keyboards
  • Lyle Ritz - upright bass on "Goin' South"
Recording personnel
  • Bruce Johnston – producer
  • The Beach Boys – producer
  • Jim Guercio – producer
  • Curt Becher – co-producer ("Here Comes the Night"), engineer
  • Bill Fletcher – engineer
  • Chuck Britz – engineer
  • Joel Moss – engineer
  • Earle Mankey – engineer
  • Tom Murphy – engineer
  • Chuck Leary – engineer
  • Greg Venable – engineer
  • Jeff Guercio – engineer
  • John Hanlon – engineer

Chart positions[edit]

Albums
Year Chart Position
1979 US Billboard 200 Albums Chart 100
1979 Dutch Album Chart 43[11]
1979 UK Top 40 Album Chart 32

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Beach Boys Producers Alan Boyd, Dennis Wolfe, Mark Linett Discuss 'Made in California' (Q&A)". Rock Cellar Magazine. September 4, 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Bush, John. "L.A. (Light Album) - The Beach Boys". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  3. ^ Wolk, Douglas (October 2004). "The Beach Boys M.I.U. Album/L.A. (Light Album) ". Blender. Archived from the original on June 30, 2006. Retrieved June 2, 2017. 
  4. ^ "Robert Christgau: CG: beach boys". Robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 10 January 2018. 
  5. ^ Larkin, Colin, ed. (2006). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th ed.). London: Oxford University Press. p. 479. ISBN 978-0-19-531373-4. 
  6. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 83. ISBN 1-57859-061-2. 
  7. ^ a b Marsh, Dave. "L.A. Light Album | Album Reviews | Rolling Stone". Rollingstone.com. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  8. ^ Brackett, Nathan; with Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). New York, NY: Fireside/Simon & Schuster. p. 46. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 
  9. ^ "The Beach Boys - Made In California - Uncut". Uncut.co.uk. Retrieved 10 January 2018. 
  10. ^ Tamarkin, Jeff (2000). M.I.U./L.A. Light Album (booklet). The Beach Boys. California: Capitol Records. 
  11. ^ "Dutch Charts - THE BEACH BOYS - L.A. (LIGHT ALBUM)". Dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 10 January 2018. 

Sources[edit]

  • M.I.U. Album/L.A. (Light Album) CD booklet notes, Jeff Tamarkin, 2000
  • The Nearest Faraway Place: Brian Wilson, The Beach Boys and the Southern California Experience, Timothy White, 1997, Pan, ISBN 978-0330349734
  • Wouldn't It Be Nice - My Own Story, Brian Wilson and Todd Gold, 1996, Bloomsbury Publishing, ISBN 978-0747531456
  • Top Pop Singles 1955-2001, Joel Whitburn, c. 2002
  • Top Pop Albums 1955-2001, Joel Whitburn, c. 2002
  • Smiley Smile Message Board - "The Definitive Vocal Credits Thread," posts by Beach Boys archivist Alan Boyd and others