Monday, October 7, 2013
The Beach Boys - Landlocked
The Beach Boys – Landlocked
1. Loop De Loop
2. Susie Cincinnati
3. San Miguel
4. H.E.L.P. Is On The Way
5. Take A Load Off Your Feet
7. I Just Got My Pay
8. Good Time
9. Big Sur
10. Fallin’ In Love
11. When Girls Get Together
12. Lookin’ At Tomorrow (A Welfare Song)
13. Til I Die
The third of a four-part Beach Boys upload, this is a reconstruction of the unreleased 1970 Beach Boys album Landlocked, an early version of the 1971 album Surf’s Up. All of the tracks that have been officially released have been compiled from their best possible sources (spread over six different releases), and the remaining unreleased tracks were personally remastered from bootlegs for their best possible soundquality. All tracks were volume-adjusted with appropriate track leader to create a finished, cohesive album as a whole—the album that could have been Surf’s Up, as of late 1970.
Reconstructing any unreleased album from this period of The Beach Boys’ recording history is tricky. Landlocked (or at least the sequence of songs that have come to be associated with the title “Landlocked”) is actually one of three different unreleased Beach Boys albums from the 1969-1970 period; to understand Landlocked’s context we must examine her older twin sisters. Remember that what we think of as Landlocked is essentially a tape of nine Sunflower outtakes (of which only one would make the cut onto Surf’s Up) and four of the songs that The Beach Boys were then currently working on for the Surf’s Up album (only two of those would make the cut). Also of note that there has been a dispute over whether this album ever existed at all! Some say that not only was “Landlocked” never really a serious working title for the Surf’s Up album, but that this track sequence—which was indeed an early running order for the album that eventually became Surf’s Up—was never called Landlocked anyways. I will put this argument aside for my blog’s purposes; the working title of Landlocked and this specific tracklist has become linked—erroneously or not—over time. Besides, if Landlocked never really existed, it would truly be an album that never was!
Landlocked’s genesis essentially came out of the band’s flurry of studio activity in 1969 while making the Sunflower album. Between January and March The Beach Boys had recorded nine-or-so songs, just falling short of an album’s worth of material. Of these initial Sunflower sessions, Landlocked’s “San Miguel” and “Loop De Loop” were recorded. A second session in July and August yielded another four songs, with even more sessions resuming in October and continuing until January 1970. The result was nearly 30 songs, more than twice needed for an album! The first attempt to compile an album from these sessions, called Reverberation and meant to complete their contract to Capitol Records, was rejected for unknown reasons (this sequence contained the two aforementioned Landlocked tracks recorded during the initial Sunflower sessions as well as an instrumental “When Girls Get Together”). The Live In London album instead took Reverberations' place to fulfill their contract, and the band compiled a completely different sequence of tracks from the recording sessions as their first offering for Reprise Records. This second unreleased album Add Some Music contained the eventual Landlocked tracks “When Girls Get Together” (with vocals), “Susie Cincinnati”, “Fallin’ In Love”, “Carnival”, “I Just Got My Pay”, “Good Time”, and “Take A Load Off Your Feet” and was eventually rejected by Reprise for not having an immediately radio-friendly hit single. After a final recording session in July 1970, the strongest songs from the past year and a half of recording were resequenced into what we know as the Sunflower album, leaving all of the aforementioned tracks on the cutting room floor. But what are some labels’ trash are other bands’ treasure, as the Sunflower rejects became the seeds of The Beach Boys’ next project.
In August 1970, the band began recording their follow-up to Sunflower, tracking “Lookin’ For Tomorrow”, “Big Sur”, “Til I Die” and “H.E.L.P. Is On The Way”. By September, a tape was compiled of these four new songs as well as the aforementioned nine Sunflower outtakes and submitted to Reprise records (albeit with a Capitol Records letterhead!). While some claim that Landlocked was never actually an early title for Surf’s Up, documentation connects the title to this tape submitted to Reprise on this date. I am using this sequence for my Landlocked reconstruction as it was not only historically accurate to the rough sequences at the time, but it simply sounds great! Unfortunately, Reprise Records disagreed; they rejected the album and new Beach Boys manager Jack Rieley urged the band to restructure the album into a more commercial and “socially relevant” album. The entire Landlocked sequence bit the dust (save for “Lookin For Tomorrow” and “Til I Die”) with their replacements recorded between April and May 1971. Included was the newly-finished SMiLE outtake “Surf’s Up” which became the title track for the album’s release in August 1971. But what of Landlocked, the Surf’s Up that never was? Half the songs staggered out as b-sides and as exclusive tracks on anthology releases, with another handful appearing only on bootlegs. Two were even rerecorded for later releases (“Big Sur” and “When Girls Get Together”) and another found it’s way onto yet another unreleased Beach Boys album (“H.E.L.P. Is On The Way” on Adult/Child, which I will tackle shortly). Here we can re-essemble what The Beach Boys really had in mind to follow-up their Sunflower album before big-business pressures squeezed all of the fun out of being landlocked.
Side A of my Landlocked reconstruction—the silly side—begins with “Loop De Loop”, a song that Al Jardine had been tinkering on for some time, even up until it’s release in 1998 on the Endless Harmony soundtrack. But presented here is its original 1969 mix, remastered from a bootleg to match the EQ of the final version. “Loop De Loop” runs directly into the original single mix of the upbeat rocker “Susie Cincinnati”, taken from the 2000 compilation Greatest Hits Volume 3: The Brother Years. Note the modern remix found on the 2013 Made In California box set was not used here because the mixing did not match the aesthetics of the rest of the songs. The original mix of “San Miguel” follows, taken from the 1993 Good Vibrations box set. Also from that box is the transparent jingle “HELP Is On The Way” edited to match the original Landlocked version (as noted on the September 1970 tape box). The goofy yet adorable “Take A Load Off Your Feet” is culled from the most recent remaster of the Surf’s Up album and is followed by the dizzying unreleased “Carnival”, again reEQ’d to match the rest of my reconstruction. The side concludes with “I Just Got My Pay” from the God Vibrations box set.
Side B—the serious side—opens with my own remaster of the up-until-recently unreleased “Good Time”; the newly remixed version from Made In California again omitted here because it frankly sounded better than the rest of the songs, as well as a little light on backing vocals, in my opinion. Following is my own remaster of the unreleased original 1970 recording of “Big Sur”, particularly reEQd to un-muddy the mix and bring out the missing highs and lows. Next, the modern remix of Dennis's “Fallin’ In Love”, taken from the 2009 compilation Summer Love Songs, is re-edited to match the original 1969 version. After my own remaster of the unreleased original 1969 version of the equally brilliant (musically) and inane (lyrically) “When Girls Get Together” is “Lookin’ For Tomorrow”. This version is taken from Surf’s Up as the overly flanged version seemed to fit the neo-psychedelic vibe of the rest of the songs. Concluding Landlocked is my one instance of creative license, the longer Steve Desper mix of “Til I Die” found on the 1998 Endless Harmony Soundtrack. Although Landlocked would have actually included a version of similar length to what was released on Surf’s Up, I felt Desper’s longer version was more appropriate to end the album.
With the addition of a less-gruesome cover image to match the carnival-on-acid vibe of the album, our reconstruction is complete. But how does our resulting Landlocked compare to Surf’s Up and even Sunflower? For one thing, it is decidingly more psychedelic, goofier and more, well, fun. The tracks don’t seem to be concerned with commercial potential: just songs for their own sake. While Sunflower and much of Surf’s Up seem overly serious, Landlocked seems whimsical and certainly doesn’t take itself too seriously. We also have a sound more reminiscent of the SMiLE era, although lacking the poetics of Van Dyke Parks or any conceptual or sonic envelope pushing. But at the same time, one can surely see why Landlocked was never released: it was not the correct album for The Beach Boys in the early 70s. If Sunflower and Surf’s Up were the engines that drove the band for that decade, Landlocked was merely the dining car, filled with libations and merriment, but unable carry the weight of the whole train. But with that said, I’d much rather be having a drink than shoveling coal…
Endless Harmony Soundtrack (1998)
Good Vibrations: 30 Years of The Beach Boys (1993)
Greatest Hits Volume 3: The Brother Years (2000)
Landlocked: The Last Capitol Album (bootleg, 1994 Invasion Unlimited)
Summer Love Songs (2009)
Surf’s Up (2012 remaster)
flac --> wav --> editing in SONAR, Audacity & Goldwave --> flac encoding via TLH lv8
*md5, artwork and tracknotes included