M.I.U. Album

The Beach Boys

Reprise, 1978


REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


The Beach Boys of 1978 were definitely at a crossroads. Tensions within the group had led to various factions emerging from the discord, and there was a legitimate fear that the band would in fact dissolve. Some would argue that it might have been best for that very scenario to happen, but against the odds, The Beach Boys would press onward with M.I.U. Album. In a career of diminishing returns, this was the beginning of the final, inexorable end.

Dominated by Mike Love, Al Jardine, and Brain Wilson, M.I.U. was originally intended to be a Christmas album. Label executives, having been presented with the album, demanded the group go back and deliver a “normal” studio album. Instead of completely new songs, however, the band decided to record new vocals over some of the preexisting tracks. This marked the full extent of Carl and Dennis Wilson’s involvement in the recording process, having decided not to make the trek to the Maharishi Institute in Iowa. Such behavior makes it plainly obvious the band was not experiencing a wellspring of creativity.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Love You had its share of quirks, but the occasional glimmers made the record worth a listen. M.I.U. finds the Beach Boys unable to recreate similar conditions. Is there a professional sheen to the proceedings? Yes, The Beach Boys could never be accused of lacking in that on record. What one finds blasting forth from the speakers is a lifeless, empty album. It has no particular reason to exist, no compelling storyline behind it, and more importantly, nothing new.

The times when M.I.U. works “best” are when The Beach Boys’ formula manages to overcome the doldrums. “Come Go With Me” became a minor hit; say what you will, but the band could always cover a ‘50s standard with aplomb. “Wontcha Come Out Tonight” brings to mind how well the old partnership of Wilson/Love worked in the early days. Brian Wilson manages to sound sane and pulls off the youthful yearning of the song’s narrator perfectly.

There is little else of note to speak of with regards to M.I.U., though.Match Point Of Our Love” is flat-out embarrassing, analogizing the concept of love to – you guessed it – tennis. The French would undoubtedly find “Belles Of Paris” to be ridiculously absurd in its description of the city. As has been astutely noted elsewhere, “Kona Coast” essentially rips off the tune “Hawaii” from the early days of the band, stooping so low as to include the exact same harmonies. “Peggy Sue” is theoretically a cover of the Buddy Holly hit, but a little research reveals the track was originally one of the aforementioned Christmas recordings. Strike Three, gentlemen.

It was hard to imagine that things could get worse for The Beach Boys, but they did so. L.A. (Light Album) marginally improved upon M.I.U., but that is not intended as a compliment in any way. As far as some were concerned, The Beach Boys were completely irrelevant at this particular point in time. One thing is sure, the group didn’t do a damn thing to correct that mindset.

Rating: D+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 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 Reprise, and is used for informational purposes only.