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Music Review: The Beach Boys – Still Cruisin’

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An odd thing happened to the Beach Boys on the way to oblivion. They recorded the song “Kokomo” for the Cocktail movie soundtrack. “Kokomo” was released as a single and promptly became the number one song in the country. The Beach Boys set a record for the longest time between number one hits: 22 years. The Beach Boys had been without a recording contract, so without the success of “Kokomo,” the Still Cruisin’ album probably would not have been made.

Terry Melcher is listed as the producer for the album. This title may be genuine, but Melcher mostly assembled the album from bits and spare parts. Thus it comes across as jumbled and disconnected, yet a few of the parts are fine when viewed as single entities.

“Kokomo” features nice harmonies and a breezy melody. It is a song that just flows smoothly past the ear. Oddly, I find it no better than a number of Beach Boys songs from the past 15 years. What “Kokomo” had going for it was mass exposure from a popular movie. While the song may not have been spectacular, I feel that the Beach Boys deserved this one.

The real gem on the album was “Somewhere Near Japan.” This song was actually recorded specifically for the album. The song has an oriental feel and an excellent Bruce Johnston vocal. Traditional Beach Boys harmonies underlie the mix. “Somewhere Near Japan” was one of the more creative tracks for the Beach Boys since their Pet Sounds era.

“Island Girl” features the voice of Al Jardine and has a nice little reggae feel. The title song, “Still Cruisin,” was taken from the movie Lethal Weapon 2. The song is average but not offensive. “Make It Big” is a simple song taken from another movie: Troop Beverly Hills. While it features some strong overdubbed harmonies, it is quickly relegated to the average song pile.

The real clunker is “Wipe Out” by The Fat Boys with vocal backing harmonies by the Beach Boys. The lesson here is that surf music and rap do not match, ever. This is a lesson that the future would prove Mike Love had not learned. The passage of years has only served to make this terrible song less appreciated — if that is possible.

The classic Beach Boys songs “California Girls,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” and “I Get Around” were added to fill out the album. They had all been used in recent movies and so were an easy way to finish the album without much time or effort. They remain classic, but… been there, heard that.

Still Cruisin’ is an album that is not exactly terrible, but is forgettable and certainly not essential. Today it remains out of print. It probably is not worth seeking out unless you are a Beach Boys fanatic or just very curious.

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About David Bowling

  • http://sdquarterly.com/ Phillip Winn

    I actually kind of like “Wipe Out,” but I was already a fan of the Fat Boys. To each his own, I guess, and I do agree overall.

  • Rick

    On “Somewhere Near Japan” it is Mike Love singing the most part of the lead vocal with Carl, Bruce and Al are singing a sentence here and there.

    The real highlight of the SC album is IMHO Brian Wilson’s composition “In My Car” with Brian, Carl and Al sharing the lead vocal – great complex harmonies (with Brian himself singing the falsetto notes!) and a cool catchy melody. A great car song!
    The album version of “Make It Big” is a different (worse IMHO) one than the original “Troop Beverly Hills” soundtrack version. Latter one can be found at Youtube.