Review by James L. Neibaur
August 23, 2015
There are many groups who have achieved classic status in the history of rock and roll, but only a few are truly iconic. The Beach Boys are one of those few. In James B. Murphy’s new book, the group’s early trajectory is traced and examined, pointing out how their ideas, essentially the ideas of Brian Wilson, evolved into what eventually defined them as a unit. There are several books that try to understand the creative process of The Beach Boys once they achieved hit status with their first record. But Murphy’s book offers the most in-depth look at what transpired beforehand. Three brothers, a cousin, and a friend, with passion and spirit, but no musical training, managed to learn to play rented instruments, learn to sing, cut a record for an indie label, watch it climb the charts, and then sign with a major company. Their initial songs helped create the fun loving sunshine, surfing, and fast car mythology of California life in the post-Elvis, pre-Beatles 1960s. Murphy offers fascinating details about the creation of each song. Early ones like “409” were written by Brian Wilson and a songwriting friend named Gary Usher (Mike Love later sued to get credit for the line “she’s real fine my 409”). There are also new revelations about Brian’s tumultuous relationship with his father, his creative process during this early period, and how he felt about certain songs. Of course The Beach Boys would score after 1963 with such classics as “I Get Around,” “Don’t Worry Baby,” the amazing “Good Vibrations,” and the quintessential album “Pet Sounds.” But the period that Murphy examines offers the most detailed look at their history and creative development than can be found elsewhere. For libraries, research centers, musicians, songwriters, and casual fans of the group, “Becoming the Beach Boys” is an absolute must.Link to article: http://www.examiner.com/review/book-review-becoming-the-beach-boys-1961-1963If you’re interested in purchasing the book, visit Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and McFarland Books.
James L. Neibaur author bio: http://www.examiner.com/film-in-milwaukee/james-l-neibaur