Several years ago original Beach Boys Mike Love and Al Jardine engaged in a court battle over the use of the group’s name. I don’t know the particulars but Mike Love emerged the victor and currently tours as The Beach Boys.
I have had the misfortune of seeing this Mike Love incarnation in concert. The only other person remotely connected to the classic group was Bruce Johnston. It was a stilted and sterile affair as Love just plowed through their hits with some rambling comments along the way.
So what happened to Al Jardine? If this CD is any indication he is doing just fine thank you very much.
He is keeping the spirit of The Beach Boys alive through his new group which he calls Family & Friends. It consists of his sons, Adam and Matt, plus Brian Wilson’s two daughters, Carnie and Wendy. The backing band is top notch and features sax player deluxe Richie Cannata and guitarist Billy Hinsche.
Live In Las Vegas catches this aggregation in fine form. Their 26 song set is comprised entirely of Beach Boys material. I have to say they present the songs with energy and in the spirit which they were originally intended.
Al Jardine was an under rated vocalist with The Beach Boys. He is best remembered for his leads on “Cotton Fields,” the lesser-known “Lady Lynda,” and the huge number one hit “Help Me Rhonda.” His voice seems to have improved with age and when it combines with his sons and the Wilson sisters, the harmonies just soar and create an authentic Beach Boys atmosphere.
He also allows other members of the group to share the lead vocal duties. Carnie on “Darlin’” and Wendy on “Don’t Worry Baby” are particularly effective.
They present both well known and obscure songs. “Surfer Girl,” “Little Deuce Coupe,” “Good Vibrations,” “Fun Fun Fun,” “Surfin’ USA,” and “I Get Around” are instantly recognizable but such material as “Catch A Wave,” “Hawaii,” “Sail On Sailor,” and “Girl Don’t Tell Me” emerge from the mists of time to receive a good workout. “Barbara Ann” and “Come Go With Me” are perfect vehicles for their tight harmonies. They even manage to pull off “Heroes & Villains” and “Wild Honey.”
Live In Las Vegas by Al Jardine, Family & Friends is about as close to the original sound and spirit of The Beach Boys as you can get. If you are a fan this album is well worth tracking down.