If you’ve been waiting for the Beach Boys to hit rock bottom, the suspense is over. After a brief artistic comeback in the mid-Seventies, the formerly worthwhile group jettisoned any ideas of doing anything new or remotely controversial (unless you count singer Mike Love’s financial contributions to the PMRC and George Bush) and chose instead to coast on its past glories. Every summer the Beach Boys tour and offer performances of their most obvious hits; every summer they sound more tired and musically bankrupt.
Still Cruisin’ pairs seven recent recordings (four of which have already been released, including “Kokomo”) with three unassailable Beach Boys classics from the Sixties that are included under the dubious proposition that they have appeared in recent films. It’s doubtful, however, that anyone will listen to “California Girls” and relive memories of Soul Man.
The three oldies pad the record to the point where it is nearly listenable. But “Kokomo,” which became a freak hit after it was included in Cocktail, sets the pattern for the new, passion-free songs. The nadir is the title track, a cynical rewrite of “Kokomo,” proving that the middle-aged Beach Boys will do anything for a hit. (Don’t they make enough money flogging their old hits?) Brian Wilson’s sole new contribution, “In My Car,” is the only one of the newies that won’t hurt much if you listen to it more than once. Still Cruisin’ is stillborn.
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