Beach Boys L.A. (Light Album) their last great album?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Country Rocker, May 26, 2023.

  1. Country Rocker

    Country Rocker Forum Resident Thread Starter


    So I've been listening a lot lately to the Beach Boys albums I own released after the rightly acclaimed 'Holland'.

    It's popular consensus that apart from 1977's 'Love You', the Beach Boys albums released from 1976 onwards are mediocre or culturally irrelevant. Although that could be argued very well for album such as 'MIU' or 'Keeping the Summer Alive', I really don't think that applies to the 'Light Album'.

    Yes, it's got that 10 minute disco reworking of 'Here Comes the Night', which no doubt had dragged the reputation of the album down massively. But there are several tracks that are very worthy additions to the Beach Boys catalogue. Especially the two Dennis Wilson contributions flown in from other sessions Dennis had been working on.

    The album kick starts really well with Brian's 'Good Timin', followed by the equally commercial (and top 10 hit single in the UK) 'Lady Lynda'. Carl Wilson's contributions are also strong, with Dennis providing a gutsy vocal to 'Love Surrounds Me' and 'Angel Come Home', and providing two other fine songs with 'Goin South' and 'Full Sail'.

    I even like Mike Love's 'Sumahama'.

    I think this album is ready for a reevaluation. What say you?
  2. ShockOfDaylight

    ShockOfDaylight Forum Resident

    Detroit, MI
    LA Light is pretty underrated. The disco mix of HCTN, like it or hate it, has a weird placing on the album that kind of makes it the centerpiece of the album.

    I feel it would have been better to release the disco mix as a bonus 12” with the rest of the album, similar to Mt Vernon with Holland. This way, both the album and the 10 minute single could be heard on their own merits. The digital/CD version could have added the song at the end as a bonus track.
  3. Ryan Lux

    Ryan Lux Senior Member

    Toronto, ON, CA
    It’s a good record but very much needing energy. It’s a shame that, with hindsight, all those Dennis songs could’ve been used. His two songs are highlights.
  4. tug_of_war

    tug_of_war Unable to tolerate bass solos

    I really like some of the tracks on "Light Album" but as a whole I don't think it's great. Imo, their last true great album was "Love You".
  5. downer mydnyte

    downer mydnyte Forum Resident

    That's Why God Made The Radio is as good. Neither are "great".

    I'd say Surf's Up
  6. Mr-Beagle

    Mr-Beagle Ah, but the song carries on, so holy

    I've always thought that LA is a good album and I rate it above anything the Beach Boys released after Holland. Perhaps the 11 minute HCTN could've been replaced by a 3 minute single version, and something like Our Team included to fill the gap?
  7. Surprised this isn’t a @S. P. Honeybunch thread :D

    I wouldn’t say it’s a great album but I’ve got a new appreciation for it, MIU and Keepin’ The Summer Alive.
  8. beccabear67

    beccabear67 Musical omnivore.

    Victoria, Canada
    Always good to look up something that may've been overlooked, so will go forth and investigate! :thumbsup:
    Fred1 and Country Rocker like this.
  9. willy

    willy hooga hagga hooga

    Top notch "all-golden" tracks IMHO......

    Good Timin'
    Baby Blue
    Lady Lynda
    Full Sail

  10. Bill Diercks

    Bill Diercks Forum Resident

    I don't think it's a great album, but it has some good moments. In my own opinion, Here Comes The Night is no more embarrassing than Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?
  11. zbarbera

    zbarbera A stereo's a stereo. Art is forever!

    I agree with the sentiment that it is underrated and unreasonable trashed. But, it is not great. It's an enjoyable listen and sounds like the late 70s. People dismiss it because they expect some sort of experimental Brian Wilson concoction. But it was '79 and they were at heart a pop band and it shows.
    FramboGND, Shawn and Bill Diercks like this.
  12. lou

    lou Fast 'n Bulbous

    Here Comes the Night should have been one of the three abbreviated versions, and the long version reserved for a 12 " single release. Then they could have added another Dennis song and Al's early version of Santa Ana winds which is superior to the final track on Keepin the Summer Alive. I agree it's underrated but Carl's songs, with the exception of Angel Come Home, are pretty bland.
    Ludger, Ryan Lux and Shawn like this.
  13. Pawnmower

    Pawnmower Senior Member

    Dearborn, MI
    Luckily for them, their last album is their last great album.
  14. bRETT

    bRETT Senior Member

    Boston MA
    Not a fan of the album at all (and I'm a massive Beach Boys fan). Good Timin' and Angel Come Home are the only keepers for me. Lady Lynda is nice enough but the Bach thing always seemed a bit cheesy to me. Even if you abbreviate Here Comes the Night, you still get an inferior remake of the WH version.

    To my mind the much-maligned Keepin' the Summer Alive has more solid tracks on it, and the 1985 album is better than either (though still not really there).
    somnar, kyouki, Rockerbox and 2 others like this.
  15. lou

    lou Fast 'n Bulbous

    I do like Carl's vocal on Here Comes the Night better than Brian's on Wild Honey.
    zebop and S. P. Honeybunch like this.
  16. Etienne Hanratty

    Etienne Hanratty Forum Resident

    It’s solid, and Baby Blue is one of their best songs. If I were to make a best of 1978-1980, I wouldn’t be taking too many tracks from MIU or KTSA, that’s for sure (1).

    (1) My Diane, Goin’ On
  17. Ryan Lux

    Ryan Lux Senior Member

    Toronto, ON, CA
    Surely Baby Blue is a late career highlight, no?
  18. oldsurferdude

    oldsurferdude Forum Resident

    detroit, mi. 48150
    I'm fairly close to you on your list except for the dreadful "Sumahama".
    willy likes this.
  19. zbarbera

    zbarbera A stereo's a stereo. Art is forever!

    But don't you know, The Hook brings you back :)
    ARK likes this.
  20. tmwlng

    tmwlng Forum Resident

    Good Timin', Baby Blue, Love Surrounds Me, Angel Come Home, Full Sail and Goin' South are all solid, valid songs imo. Particularly the two latter showcase some of Carl Wilson's finest vocals. Had he wanted to (I know he made two solo records but nevertheless) he could have taken a successful solo AOR route akin to Ned Doheny, Bobby Caldwell etc. perhaps, in his own fashion of course.

    Shortenin' Bread is goofy fun, and I always had a soft spot for Sumahama, both the lyrics as well as the backing track which is just gorgeous sounding. Lady Lynda is an OK single; never dug it too much. The disco mix of Here Comes the Night - this has been mentioned earlier - should have been a bonus 12". I always thought it created a rift in an otherwise well-gelling album. It's a Beautiful Day was a single in 1979. Why this wasn't a bigger hit I simply do not understand, it's an insanely catchy single and it has all the good qualities of the Beach Boys. Perhaps in an alternate universe this was the leading track off the album; as an album opener it could have been explosive.

    I love both M.I.U. & L.A. almost on equal terms. L.A. (Light Album) deserves much more appreciation imo.
  21. bRETT

    bRETT Senior Member

    Boston MA
    Yeah, throw that one in too if only for the great singing. You've got to be into those long and slow Dennis things though.
  22. FunkFather

    FunkFather Forum Resident

    Decent album, but Sunflower was their last great album.

    That's Why God Made the Radio is imo their best album since Sunflower. Though Dennis's Pacific Ocean Blue and Brian's 1988 and That Lucky Old Sun albums are all great and are better than Radio and any other Beach Boys album as released since Sunflower.
  23. musicfan37

    musicfan37 Senior Member

    I think Keepin’ the Summer Alive gets a bum wrap. It contains some great songs. I thoroughly enjoy it.
  24. SmallDarkCloud

    SmallDarkCloud Forum Resident

    I love the disco "Here Comes the Night" (arranged by Curt Boettcher of Sagittarius). I won't apologize. Dennis' three contributions as a songwriter are great, as well, especially "Baby Blue." That is half of a good LP right there. The rest... not so much. I still consider it the last good (or at least interesting) Beach Boys record, though. If the band (and/or Mike) had encouraged Dennis to include some of the songs from this solo record on this one instead, it could have been great.

    It's telling that Dennis' three songs are contemporary-sounding (for 1979) and not rehashing past styles of the Beach Boys (like most of the rest).
    Last edited: May 26, 2023
  25. Mr-Beagle

    Mr-Beagle Ah, but the song carries on, so holy

    The only thing that spoils BB85 for me are the two 'guest' tracks.
    Boom Operator likes this.

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