Al Jardine was a founding member of The Beach Boys. During 1961, brothers Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, and Jardine came together to create one of the legendary groups of American music. He briefly left the group during 1962 but returned a year later. He then remained a constant member until 1998 when he left the touring group upon Carl Wilson’s death. He remains one of the owners of The Beach Boys name.
He is best remembered as the rhythm guitarist and for being an important part of the group’s harmonies but he also provided a number of lead vocals. “Cottonfields,” “Susie Cincinnati,” “Peggy Sue,” “Lady Lynda,” “Come Go With Me,” and the number one hit “Help Me Rhonda” all featured his lead.
He has now returned with his first full-length studio album, A Postcard From California. I have in my possession a four-track advance EP and if the material contained here is any indication, he has created an album very close to the spirit and sound of The Beach Boys.
“Don’t Fight The Sea” began decades ago when Jardine and Mike Love were planning an album around an ecology theme. The original track featured Carl, Bruce Johnston, and Al providing background vocals. Years later Brian contributed his falsetto. Recently Mike Love added his baritone to the harmonies. Jardine finished the 30-year journey by layering in vocals by his son Matt and friend Scott Matthews. It all adds up to classic Beach Boys harmonies and the realization of just how good they were when at their best. It is also a nostalgic treat to hear Carl Wilson again. The track remains true to its original intent as it expresses a number of environmental concerns.
He returns to The Beach Boys’ 1973 Holland for an updating of his “California Saga/California” which has been re-titled simply “A California Saga.” The opening piano solo is the same as the keyboards used in “California Girls.” On this restructured version he shares lead vocals with Neil Young with some background vocals by David Crosby and Stephen Stills. The track retains its west coast appeal and proves Jardine’s voice is in fine form.
“Tidepool Interlude” was taken from a poem by John Kalinich and is recited here by Alec Baldwin. I assume it is some type of connector piece on the album.
The final track is the short “Campfire Scene” which has the feel of “Cabinessence.”
This four-track EP is hopefully indicative of the quality and spirit of the complete release. The full album is now available online and should be worth a listen.