That's Why God Made The Radio
The Beach Boys
So the Beach Boys are back. Or at least, what’s left of them. Sadly, Carl and Dennis Wilson have passed on to that great rock n’ roll heaven in the sky. The sure bet, however, to a successful Beach Boys reunion has always relied on Brian Wilson’s participation. After a few false starts, it took the 50th anniversary of the group’s inception to make it all happen. Best of all, along with a tour, we get That’s Why God Made The Radio, the first new studio album from the Beach Boys in decades.
It wouldn’t be a proper Beach Boys record without cars, girls and the beach, and That's Why God Made The Radio visits and revisits those themes throughout. “Think About The Days,” a short, yet haunting prelude sets the pace before the title track washes in, mining all the necessary ingredients for a near-perfect Beach Boys song. The formula is effective on other catchy melodies like “Isn’t It Time” and “Beach In Mind.”
The ‘Boys,’ more like senior citizens these days (Mike Love is 71, Brian Wilson and Bruce Johnston turn 70 this June, Al Jardine joins the over-the-hill gang on September 3 and guitarist David Marks is the baby of the five at 64), get plenty of support from people like longtime associate Jeff Foskett (who can hit those high notes), as well as a team of musicians, songwriters and arrangers that include Joe Thomas and Darian Sahanaja. Together, with a crew of additional players and occasional surprise guests like Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, the Beach Boys stroll through the record’s 12 songs with precision and ease.
Harmless throwaways, such as “Spring Vacation” and “Daybreak Over The Ocean,” merely get in the way of bolder fare like “The Private Life Of Bill And Sue,” “Strange World,” the poignant “Pacific Coast Highway” and “Summer’s Gone,” the moving finale. To that end, That’s Why God Made The Radio may not be another Pet Sounds or Smile, but it’s far more satisfying than most other Beach Boys efforts from the last 40 years or so. For a group of old dudes barely on speaking terms for the last decade, you really couldn’t ask for more.
~ Shawn Perry