God Only Knows: Are Mike Love and Brian Wilson Going Back to the Beach?

It's been thirty-seven years since Mike Love and Brian Wilson collaborated on the Beach Boys' first minor regional hit, "Surfin," released on the long-defunct Candix label. Now, Love says the two may reheat their decades-cold songwriting partnership for a new Beach Boys album.

"We've talked about it," says Love, 57. "But I'm not gonna bother him right now because he's busy doing all the things they make you do when you release a solo album." Wilson's third solo effort, Imagination, is due June 16 on Giant Records.

The first cousins penned two songs together in 1995, one for Baywatch. But that reunion didn't take, and the volatile duo have not collaborated extensively since the 1980 Beach Boys album, Keepin' the Summer Alive. Legal and personal differences, exacerbated by Wilson's involvement with controversial psychiatrist Eugene Landy, have been widely blamed.

"But we're real close now," Love says, adding that Wilson will "definitely" play with the Beach Boys on stage in the near future. (Exactly how near is unknown, although the band has a tour of Latin America penciled in for October through December.)

Love's revelation comes three months after the loss of founding Beach Boy Carl Wilson to lung cancer, and concurrent with the release of a new studio project from the veteran band. Love, Bruce Johnston, Al Jardine et al grace two songs on mariachi band Sol de Mexico's Acapulco Girls album, due May 19 on EMI Latin. (The title track is a Spanish-language retake of "California Girls." "Kokomo" is also driven south of the border for an overhaul.)

Setting the stage for a possible reunion, this past Saturday Wilson trotted Johnston out during a mini-concert at the Norris Theater in St. Charles, Ill. Footage shot there is planned for a Wilson documentary being compiled by John Beug. Love says he's confident that when such promotional activity for Imagination slows, Wilson will redirect his energy to the Beach Boys. "His mind will go to other things," he says. "He's a Gemini. His mind is always active."

For his part, Love says he enjoys Imagination and Brian's other solo work. "But I collaborated with him on the biggest hits the Beach Boys ever had, so I'm prejudiced. I think he'd be better off working with me -- purely materialistically, and I think conceptually, too. And possibly lyrically."

Beach Boys management consultant Michael Scafuto stresses that reunion plans are not solid. "It looks like it's going to happen," Scafuto says. "Brian and Mike get along very, very well, and Brian's never not been a Beach Boy. He didn't retire. He just decided not to tour. "But you can never tell what will happen," he says.

In fact, a spokesperson for Brian Wilson professed no knowledge of the matter.