Carl And The Passions

The Beach Boys

Capitol, 1972

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


The lineup of The Beach Boys has never been sacrosanct. Over the course of their career, numerous musicians were hired and dismissed from the group, with some experiencing that process several times. However, the core of the group remained the Wilson brothers, as well as cousin Mike Love. Through their dedication and leadership, the group managed to push on while it declined. The only problem came with the realization that those specific members were fractured and antagonistic, preventing a unified effort from occurring.

The early1970’s saw the Carl Wilson-led era come to pass, and one could not claim changes were not made. To bring a hardened, soulful infusion to the band, Wilson hired Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar, backup guitarist and drummer, respectably. Carl And the Passions saw some interesting results enter in the picture from the new members, but the true benefits would not come until the record after.

Carl And The Passions’s main flaw comes from its lack of vision. It is quite apparent that Carl Wilson wanted to get in touch with the band’s rock and roll roots, hence the influx of new talent. The supporting material from the other members does not fall in line with that philosophy, however. Instead, the listener is treated to the spiritual ramblings of Love And Co., along with the growing pains of songwriter Dennis Wilson.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

One of the infuriating traits of the ‘70s version of The Beach Boys was their incessant need to propagate the practice of meditation. While that particular brand of self-healing is beyond reproach, the group never was able to accurately capture its essence without coming across as incredibly forced. “He Come Down” manages to somehow combine Christianity with Eastern religions. When George Harrison did the same with “My Sweet Lord,” it resulted in a timeless track of understanding and brotherhood. “He Come Down” is decidedly not “My Sweet Lord.”

Brian Wilson’s mental status was far from stable by this early point, but that did not prevent him from once again managing to deliver solid material. “You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone” begins with a Supertramp-esque keyboard intro before fusing bluegrass and pop into a compelling album opener. The Rolling Stones supposedly were the influence behind “Marcella,” and while that influence is difficult to identify, the tune itself is a mid-tempo gem, blissfully chugging along as the narrator serenades the woman of his dreams.

Fataar and Chaplin certainly do make the best of the time they were given for the record. The soulful/bluesy “Here She Comes” may be more similar to the radio hits of the day then to what one would traditionally expect from The Beach Boys, but to be quite frank, at this stage in their career, that is not necessarily a bad thing. The true standout comes with “Hold On Dear Brother,” an incredibly mournful slice of Americana that legitimately fits in with the likes of work from The Grateful Dead and The Band.

Holland would build upon the foundation of Carl And The Passions and subsequently became the last great Beach Boys release. This album may have been a disappointing follow-up to Surf’s Up, but the fact that Carl Wilson was ready to try something different showed that The Beach Boys were not yet resigned to a career of touring local fairs, singing those songs about the surf…

Rating: B-

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© 2009 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol, and is used for informational purposes only.