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Wild Honey (album)

For other uses, see Wild Honey (disambiguation).
"Let the Wind Blow" redirects here. For the Indian film, see Hava Aney Dey.
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Wild Honey
File:Wild honey beach boys.jpg
Studio album by The Beach Boys
Released December 18, 1967 (1967-12-18)
Recorded September 26–November 15, 1967
Studio Wally Heider Studios and Brian Wilson's home studio, California
Genre Soul, pop, R&B, lo-fi
Length 23:58
Label Capitol
Producer The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys chronology

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Singles from Wild Honey
  1. "Wild Honey"
    Released: October 23, 1967 (1967-10-23)
  2. "Darlin'"
    Released: December 18, 1967 (1967-12-18)

Wild Honey is the thirteenth studio album by American rock band the Beach Boys, released on December 18, 1967.[1] The album contrasts with many Beach Boys LPs that came before it with its R&B and soul music aesthetic. Its name is a double entendre suggesting both edible honey and "honey" as a term of endearment; also the namesake of the album's lead single,[2] which became a minor hit with only a short chart stay. Its follow-up "Darlin'" reached the US Top 20. The album itself reached number 24 in the US and number seven in the UK.

The album's sessions begun immediately after the abandonment of Lei'd in Hawaii, a failed live album; and the release of Smiley Smile, their previous studio album. Self-produced by the band, Wild Honey was the second consecutive Beach Boys album since Surfin' U.S.A. (1963) not to give sole production credit to Brian Wilson, who had gradually abdicated the band's musical leadership following the difficult sessions for the aborted Smile LP. The track "Here Comes the Night" was later redone by the group as a disco single in the late 1970s and was a minor hit.[citation needed]

Background

Main article: Lei'd in Hawaii

The Wild Honey sessions were preceded by an attempt at recording a live-in-the-studio album, Lei'd in Hawaii. When conflicts arose, the idea was dropped in favor of a new studio album.[3] The Wilsons' cousin Steve Korthoff and friend Arnie Geller later wrote the album's original liner notes: "Honey, of the wild variety, on a shelf in Brian’s kitchen, was not only an aide to all of the Beach Boys’ health but the source of inspiration for the record, Wild Honey ... We think this is a great album. We love to listen to it. We might just be biased because we work for the Beach Boys. Please see what you think."[4]

Music and style

"Darlin'" was originally written in 1964 but left unrecorded by the Beach Boys until Wild Honey. Accompanied by piano, bass, tambourine, strings, and horns, Carl Wilson sings lead vocals.[5]

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According to Steven Gaines, Wild Honey is "considered by many" to be a soul album.[6] Jason Fine, writing in The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), called it "a rougher album of California soul".[7] Edwin Faust of Stylus Magazine wrote that it is "sometimes referred to as the Beach Boys’ 'soul album'" and that its music focuses "simply on catchy hooks, snappy melodies and a straight-up boogie-woogie feel".[8] In The Rough Guide to Rock (1996), Nig Hodgkins called Wild Honey the Beach Boys' "party album ... with a mixture of pop, soul and R&B."[9] Lenny Kaye, writing for eMusic, felt that its "R&B leanings" may be attributed to Mike Love and Carl Wilson's vocal roles on the album.[10] David Leaf said that "this Beach Boys soul album was in part a response to critics' claims that the group consisted of ball-less choir boys."[11] According to writer Byron Preiss, Carl Wilson "came into prominence singing leads and working on production", and the focus of the project was "something thoroughly unexpected: a Beach Boys' soul album. The group had turned around, getting closer to their R&B roots."[12] Brian Chidester of Paste magazine called it one "in a series of lo-fi albums" by the Beach Boys.[13]

Music theorist Daniel Harrison described Wild Honey as a self-conscious attempt by the Beach Boys to "regroup as a rock 'n' roll band and to reject the mantle of recording-studio auteurs that Brian had made them wear. Without Brian’s drive, of course, they could no longer be those auteurs, hence Wild Honey."[14] He goes on to say that the album contained simple songs which lacked the "enigmatic weirdness" and "virtuosic mesmerizers" present in Smiley Smile, but featured the same production approach and similar core instrumental combo of organ, honky-tonk piano, and electronic bass.[15]

Daniel Harrison called "Let the Wind Blow" "the most arresting and compositionally assured song on the album, and it echoes the formal and harmonic technique of 'God Only Knows'."[16]

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Carl Wilson stated: "Wild Honey was music for Brian to cool out by."[4] Recorded mostly at Brian's home studio, Wild Honey differs in many ways from previous Beach Boys albums. It contains very little group singing compared to previous albums, and mainly features Brian singing at his piano.[4] The recording sessions lasted only several weeks, compared to the several months required for "Good Vibrations".[4] "Let the Wind Blow" was the first composition recorded by the group that is in 3/4 time from beginning to end.[17] "How She Boogaloeed It" was the first original Beach Boys song (excluding instrumentals and cover versions) not to feature contributions from Brian.[4] Brian is credited as composer or co-composer for only 9 of 13 tracks, compared to Smiley Smile in which he held a songwriting credit for every track.[15]

Mike Love claimed that he wrote the lyrics of the lead track "Wild Honey" from the perspective of Stevie Wonder singing it.[2] Author Andrew Hickey noted melodic similarities between "Country Air" and the Crystals' "Da Doo Ron Ron".[18] "Darlin'" was one of the album's more developed productions, and was reworked from an earlier Brian Wilson/Mike Love composition entitled "Thinkin' 'Bout You Baby".[4] Leaf named "I'd Love Just Once to See You" a precursor to the writing style that Brian would later explore in the next studio album Friends.[4] Hickey believes that the song had no significant writing contributions from Mike Love, calling it "as obvious an example of a Brian Wilson solo composition as I've ever heard. This is the first in a series of slice-of-life songs that would become a minor thread running through the next few years of Brian's work."[19]

The closing track, "Mama Says", is a chant that originated from an unreleased incarnation of the composition "Vegetables".[20] It was the first of tracks with thematic links to Smile used to close a later Beach Boys album.[4] Outtakes from the Wild Honey sessions include "Can't Wait Too Long",[4] "Cool, Cool Water" and covers of the Box Tops hit "The Letter" and Burt Bacharach's "My Little Red Book".[21]

Cover artwork

The colorful image on the front of the album sleeve is a small section of an elaborate stained-glass window that adorned Brian and Marilyn Wilson's house in Bel Air. Although the Wilson family no longer owns that property, the window itself was removed when they moved out and is currently[when?] to be found in Marilyn Wilson-Rutherford's present house.[original research?]

Reception

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Source Rating

Wild Honey became the Beach Boys' lowest-selling album at that point and remained on the charts for only 15 weeks.[4] It was similarly received as Smiley Smile had by contemporary music critics, who viewed it as another inconsequential record from the band.[11] The album also alienated others whose expectations had been raised by Smile. According to writer Paul Williams, Wild Honey was "a work of joy ... new and fresh and raw and beautiful", but "we expected more (from Brian) than we would expect from any other composer alive, because the tracks we'd heard from Smile were just that good. Smiley Smile was … a confusion … and Wild Honey is just another Beach Boys record."[4] Rolling Stone magazine wrote at the time that the Beach Boys have regained their better judgement after the "disaster" of Smiley Smile, although their use of "pre-existing ideas and idioms" on Wild Honey is less satisfactory and original than their earlier work: "It's kind of amusing that the Beach Boys are suddenly re-discovering rhythm and blues five years after the Beatles and Stones had brought it all back home".[26] In his column for Esquire, Robert Christgau wrote that the album "epitomizes Brian Wilson", including the song "I'd Love Just Once to See You", which "expresses perfectly his quiet, thoughtful, sentimental artistic personality."[27]

In a 1976 retrospective guide to 1967 for The Village Voice, Christgau felt Wild Honey is "so slight" but "perfect and full of pleasure". He argued that, "almost without a bad second", the album conveys "the troubled innocence of the Beach Boys through a time of attractive but perilous psychedelic sturm und drang. Its method is whimsy, candor, and carefully modulated amateurishness, all of which comes through as humor."[25] In 1978, he ranked Wild Honey number 10 on his list of the best rock albums.[28] Record producer Tony Visconti listed it as one of his 13 favorite albums and said that "I still refer to this record as a benchmark in the same way that I do Revolver."[29] In 2012, Rolling Stone ranked Wild Honey at number two on its "Coolest Summer Albums of All Time" list, praising its "hedonistic rock & roll spirit", "humor" and "pensive depth".[30]

In a negative review, Pitchfork Media's Spencer Owen said only "one or two" songs succeed and the majority of Wild Honey is "not pretty" because of its R&B vein as "interpreted by white surfer boys", including "a Stevie Wonder cover sung with as much faux-soul as Carl Wilson could have possibly mustered."[24] In his review for AllMusic, Richie Unterberger wrote that, apart from "Darlin'", "Here Comes the Night", and the title track, most of Wild Honey was "inessential". He found the music "often quite pleasant, for the great harmonies if nothing else, but the material and arrangements were quite simply thinner than they had been for a long time."[22]

Reissues and stereo mixes

In 1990 Capitol Records reissued Wild Honey on a Beach Boys double CD with Smiley Smile and bonus tracks including an alternate version of "Heroes and Villains" that contains the 'cantina section', two incomplete versions of "Good Vibrations", "You're Welcome", "Their Hearts Were Full of Spring", and "Can't Wait Too Long". This printing of the CD also included in-depth liner notes by David Leaf, as well as previously unreleased Smile session photos by Jasper Dailey.

Wild Honey was the last Beach Boys LP to be released in both mono and duophonic. It held no true stereo mix at the time of its release. As of 2013, the album has only been officially available in monophonic sound, although some tracks have appeared in remixed stereo within compilation albums. In 2001 a stereo mix of "Let the Wind Blow" was released on Hawthorne CA; "Darlin" and "Wild Honey" made their stereo debut on Fifty Big Ones in 2012 and "Country Air" on Made in California in 2013.

Live performances

Seven of the 11 songs on the album have been performed live by The Beach Boys or Brian Wilson. Only "Darlin'" has become a semi-regular concert staple since the album's release.[31] Other songs from the album that have been played live include "Aren't You Glad", "Country Air", "How She Boogalooed It",[31] and "Let the Wind Blow". It was also played several times during the early 70's and released on the album The Beach Boys In Concert. "I'd Love Just Once to See You" was performed for the first time ever by Brian Wilson in 2007.[32]

Track listing

All songs written and composed by Brian Wilson/Mike Love, except where noted. 
Side one
No. TitleLead Vocals Length
1. "Wild Honey"  Carl Wilson 2:37
2. "Aren't You Glad"  Mike Love/Brian Wilson/C. Wilson 2:16
3. "I Was Made to Love Her" (Cosby/Moy/Hardaway/Wonder)C. Wilson 2:05
4. "Country Air"  Group 2:20
5. "A Thing or Two"  Love/C. Wilson/B. Wilson 2:40
Side two
No. TitleLead Vocals Length
1. "Darlin'"  C. Wilson 2:12
2. "I'd Love Just Once to See You"  B. Wilson 1:48
3. "Here Comes the Night"  B. Wilson 2:41
4. "Let the Wind Blow"  Love/B. Wilson/C. Wilson 2:19
5. "How She Boogalooed It" (Love/Johnston/Jardine/C. Wilson)C. Wilson 1:56
6. "Mama Says"  Group 1:05

Personnel

Sourced from 1990 liner notes by David Leaf.[4]

The Beach Boys
Production staff

Charts

Chart (1968) Peak
position
UK Albums Chart[33] 7
US Billboard 200[34] 24

References

  1. ^ Badman 2005, p. 208.
  2. ^ a b Sharp, Ken (September 18, 1992). "Love Among The Ruins". Goldmine. p. 19. 
  3. ^ Doe, Andrew Grayham. "Unreleased Albums". Bellagio 10452. Endless Summer Quarterly. Retrieved July 13, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Leaf, David (1990). Smiley Smile/Wild Honey (CD Liner). The Beach Boys. Capitol Records. 
  5. ^ Badman 2004, p. 203.
  6. ^ Gaines 1986, p. 183.
  7. ^ a b Fine, Jason (2004). "The Beach Boys". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 46, 48. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 
  8. ^ Faust, Edwin (September 1, 2003). "The Beach Boys – Smiley Smile/Wild Honey – On Second Thought". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  9. ^ Hodgkins, Nig et al. (1996). Buckley, Jonathan, ed. Rock: The Rough Guide. Rough Guides. p. 69. ISBN 1858282012. 
  10. ^ a b Kaye, Lenny (September 18, 2012). "Beach Boys, Wild Honey (2001 – Remaster)". eMusic. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b Leaf 1985, p. 125.
  12. ^ Preiss 1979, p. 87.
  13. ^ Chidester, Brian (March 7, 2014). "Busy Doin' Somethin': Uncovering Brian Wilson's Lost Bedroom Tapes". Paste. Retrieved December 11, 2014. 
  14. ^ Harrison 1997, pp. 49–50.
  15. ^ a b Harrison 1997, p. 51.
  16. ^ Harrison 1997, pp. 50–51.
  17. ^ Hickey 2011, p. 143.
  18. ^ Hickey 2011, p. 141.
  19. ^ Hickey 2011, p. 142.
  20. ^ Hickey 2011, p. 145.
  21. ^ Planer, Lindsay. "Unsurpassed Masters, Vol. 19 (1967)". Allmusic. allmusic.com. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  22. ^ a b [[[:Template:Allmusic]] Allmusic review]
  23. ^ "Smiley Smile / Wild Honey". Blender (New York). April 2001. 
  24. ^ a b Owen, Spencer (March 29, 2001). "The Beach Boys: Smiley Smile/Wild Honey". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  25. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (December 20, 1976). "Christgau's Consumer Guide to 1967". The Village Voice (New York). p. 69. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Wild Honey". Rolling Stone (New York). February 24, 1968. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  27. ^ Christgau, Robert (June 1968). "Columns". Esquire. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  28. ^ Gambaccini, Paul (1978). Rock Critic's Choice: The Top 200 Albums. United States: Omnibus. pp. 83–84. Retrieved October 30, 2012. 
  29. ^ Julian Marszalek (October 31, 2012). "Tony Visconti On Wild Honey". The Quietus. Retrieved November 1, 2012. 
  30. ^ Sheffield, Rob (July 18, 2012). "The 10 Coolest Summer Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  31. ^ a b "The Beach Boys Tour Statistics". setlist.fm. Retrieved 28 October 2013. 
  32. ^ "Brian Wilson I'd Love Just Once To See You Kenwood London". youtube.com. Retrieved 28 October 2013. 
  33. ^ "Beach Boys". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  34. ^ "Wild Honey – The Beach Boys : Awards". Allmusic. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 

External links