All posts filed under: Reviews

ARSC Journal Book Review

Reviewed by Robert Iannapollo Association for Recorded Sound Collections Journal, p. 307-309, Vol. 46, No. 2 Fall 2015 Becoming the Beach Boys, 1961-1963. By James B, Murphy. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2015. 422pp, including multiple appendices, extensive footnotes, photos, bibliography and index. ISBN= 978-0-7864-7365-69  Knowing I was quite the Beach Boys maven, my editor presented me with Becoming the Beach Boys, 1961-1963 by James B. Murphy for review. He wondered what a veterinarian could add to the vast Beach Boys bibliography, as did I. Quite a bit, as it turns out. The years from the band’s formation in 1961 until the initial banner year of 1963 (the year of three top 10 hits, with their “B” sides also scoring well), has been covered in most bios in a cursory manner at best. Yet it was a very important time for the group in getting their act together (so to speak). The story is a confusing jumble of memories, facts, recording session credits, and concerts. Having occurred over 50 years ago, it gets murkier with every passing …

beachboys.com Book Review

Review by beachboys.com Becoming the Beach Boys, 1961-1963 By James B. Murphy McFarland Publishing, 436p. Published June 8, 2015 REVIEW:  Author James B. Murphy has done a brave, and difficult thing in writing what, is essentially a densely-packed microcosmic look at the formative forces that created “The Beach Boys”.  Echoing Timothy White’s similarly dense, but wider-ranging The Nearest Faraway Place, which traced The Beach Boys within the scope of California history and mythos, Becoming The Beach Boys 1961-1963 takes a much narrower view, examining social, economic, cultural and familial tidal forces which helped shape the band’s work ethic, musical approach, and ambition.  What’s truly impressive about this book is how much detail Dr. Murphy has included – everything from interviews and newly-discovered documents trace how an essentially untrained group of musicians, raw and undeveloped, wrote, played and sang their way from a local hit single on an independent label, into a nationally-recognized phenomenon, all within the space of just a few months.  He delves into recording label practices of the time, which allowed for young …

Endless Summer Quarterly Book Review

Review by Ian Rusten Fall 2015 Edition, Issue 111, Volume 28, Number Four Let me just start by saying that this is a fantastic book and a must read for any true fans of the Beach Boys!  James Murphy, a veterinarian by trade and a lifelong Beach Boys fan, decided to investigate the crucial early years of the Beach Boys and has uncovered a wealth of detail that escaped past chroniclers of their career, including myself. Murphy has interviewed a wide range of important people from the Beach Boys’ past that, as far as I can recall, have never been interviewed before.  He managed to track down Brian’s first serious girlfriend Judy Bowles, Shindig host Jimmy O’Neill (who hired the Beach Boys to play at his club Pandora’s Box in 1962) and the president of the Beach Boys fan club Jodi Gable, just to name a few. Becoming the Beach Boys delves deeply into the family history of the group, revealing a ton of new (or seldom discussed) information.  Past authors have concentrated solely on …

The Recoup Book Review

REVIEW BY JOSEPH KYLE on SEPTEMBER 14, 2015 • ( 0 ) The Recoup Becoming The Beach Boys, 1961-1963 James B. Murphy McFarland The Beach Boys had finished playing a concert. Though the splash they made on the West Coast was just starting to ripple through to the rest of America, the boys were busily playing every show they could get. Back at their hotel room, they awaited their post-show per diem, expecting their usual fifty dollars. To their amazement, their promoter brought in a large trash bag and poured it out on the bed. It was nearly three thousand dollars in cash. The five young men stared wide-eyed and silently; had they really just earned all this money? Were they really popular enough to have made all that cash? Yes, indeed they were. This story is but one of the many interesting, compelling, and, frankly, unknown stories from the nascent days of “America’s Band” that can be found in the in-depth and quite essential biography, Becoming The Beach Boys. Though the band’s earliest music has …

Library Journal Book Review

Murphy, James B. Becoming the Beach Boys, 1961-1963. McFarland. 2015. 422p. photos. notes.  bibliog. index. ISBN 9780786473656. pap. $39.95; ebk. ISBN 9781476618531. MUSIC On the heels of the Brian Wilson biopic film Love and Mercy, this meticulously  researched and presented title gives readers a “boots-on-the-ground” look at how the  Beach Boys, one of the most influential groups in the history of popular music, got  its start and is the definitive book on the humble beginnings of the band. Describing  from their first moments as the Pendletones up till the end of their “surf” years in  1963, the book details how the band formed and offers original interviews and primary  source documents, creating a history that flows through the pages, making the title  an easy read for those interested in these little tidbits. It’s almost as if those  beautiful Beach Boys harmonies-intricately arranged, soaring, and pleasing to the  listener-are invoked in the book’s layout. VERDICT A must-read for Beach Boys fans  and popular music historians. These readers will love the depth of research, but  casual fans …

AXS Entertainment Book Review

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. …

Psychobabble Book Review, June 29, 2015

Review: ‘Becoming the Beach Boys, 1961-1963’ by Mike Segretto Composing the book you’ve always wanted to read is probably one of the better reasons to start a writing project, but not everyone has the ability to do the job right. I’m ashamed to admit I chuckled when I saw that the sole credit in James B Murphy’s author bio on the back of Becoming the Beach Boys, 1961-1963 was “veterinarian.” I shut up when I started reading his book. Murphy is a very good writer, and the book he always wanted to read was definitely worth writing. The main goal of Becoming the Beach Boys is to examine the band’s earliest years to clear up the multitudinous misconceptions about that era. Murphy’s research is almost absurdly thorough. He lets no detail go un-checked. Brian Wilson claimed it was raining when The Beach Boys recorded “Surfer Girl”, so Murphy checked the local weather records to confirm that memory. The author goes to tremendous lengths to find out how the group’s long-lost first recordings were found and …