http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/6a5092f5ec37c283572fad7fee4914caa7a7ce18.jpeg L.A. (Light Album)

The Beach Boys

L.A. (Light Album)

Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 0 0
May 31, 1979

The Beach Boys are easily the most overrated group in rock & roll history — which presents the reviewer with a problem: simply stating the facts invites an overreaction from the band's maundering cult who exaggerate the surf bums' importance. But the truth is that Brian Wilson was never a musical genius, though he executed some of the most crafty reworkings of Phil Spector's production style ever done and, for a few years, tapped into the heart line of teenage lifestyle; that the Beach Boys have not made great rock music since Wild Honey; that the Beach Boys have not made competent pop music since Holland.

Like the LPs that preceded it. L.A. (Light Album), the Beach Boys' CBS-distribution debut, offers hope to the faithful with a mix of the barely listenable and distant echoes of the good old days. Even the vaunted disco track, "Here Comes the Night," is not so much a sellout as it is simple padding.

The saving grace of L.A. (Light Album) is the coproduction team of Bruce Johnston and Jim Guercio. Johnston and Guercio operate from an atavistic memory of what the group sounded like when it was still half alive, and come up with a few songs worth hearing: "Good Timin'" has sufficient massed voices to evoke the days of hot-rod trivia, while "Sumahama" is kind of cute, though Mike Love has sung more flat notes by now than anyone else in rock history (a triumph in the face of considerable competition). Of the rest, only "Baby Blue" is as exotic and portentous as it would like to be. And "Baby Blue," like the Beach Boys themselves, is going nowhere.

Don't get me wrong. It would be easy to attack L.A. (Light Album) as an awful record, if only out of spite for being bored to death by the jabbering of the Beach Boys' champions. But this LP is worse than awful. It is irrelevant.

Album Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Bird on a Wire”

    Leonard Cohen | 1969

    While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

    More Song Stories entries »