The Beach Boys

Carl and the Passions: So Tough

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With the addition of drummer Ricky Fataar and guitarist Blondie Chaplin to the lineup, the Beach Boys entered a period of surprisingly earthy arrangements, obviously based on what they'd been hearing on cooler outlets like FM radio and AOR. Kicking off with the rough Carl Wilson rocker "You Need a Mess of Help to Stand Alone," Carl and the Passions - So Tough cycles through all manner of roots-based rock; Fataar and Chaplin lead the band through a bluesy number ("Here She Comes") and a country song complete with steel guitar ("Hold On Dear Brother"), while Mike Love exercises his spiritual side on the gospel-inspired "He Came Down." The songwriting was neither as solid as 1970's Sunflower nor as idiosyncratic as 1971's Surf's Up though, and the few fans left from the '60s were undoubtedly turned off -- if not by the weak songs, then certainly by the muddy sound. Still, there are a few moments of beauty: Brian's "Marcella" is a mid-tempo gem, and side two ends with three excellent ballads, "All This Is That," "Make It Good," and "Cuddle Up" (the latter two featuring heart-wrenching performances by Dennis). [Carl and the Passions - So Tough was made available in 2000 as half of the two-fer compilation Carl and the Passions - So Tough/Holland.]

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