Friday, 21 July 2017

Wednesday night's set lists

At The Habit, York: -

Ron Elderly: -
Just My Imagination
The River

Da Elderly: -
You've Got A Friend
I Don't Want To Talk About It

The Elderly Brothers: -
The Price Of Love
All My Loving
I'm Into Something Good
I'll Get You
Mailman Bring Me No More Blues

Another fun night at The Habit open mic with plenty of players and a constant turnover of punters, the last hour being extremely busy. Regular players entertained us with superb renditions of seldom-heard tunes: Deb with Christine McVie's Songbird and Dave with CSN's Marrakesh Express. A young chap pitched up with a ukulele and brought the house down with his 2-song set: a medley of Scottish fiddle tunes and an amazing Honey Pie (from The Beatles White Album). The Elderly Brothers dug out a couple of tunes which we haven't played for a while by The Beatles and Herman's Hermits. An unplugged session followed for the final hour with several punters joining in. As always, a most enjoyable night.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

The Station East, Gateshead - Tuesday night's set list

At the Station East, Gateshead: -

I'm Just a Loser
Into The Light
Love Song
In The Morning Light
Is It Only The Moonlight?

A new venue and a new open mic night. In the back room of the bar the acoustics are, well, boomy to say the least, but everyone coped admirably. The majority of players were, I think, from The Sage music school and some fine skills were on show. There was even a saxophonist who accompanied one or two of the players. At about 10:15 some of the 'lads' from the Cumberland Arms arrived and an unplugged jam session ensued. A fun night!!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Martin Landau RIP

Image result for martin landau
A great actor who grew into his gravitas: Martin Landau remembered
After making his mark on TV, the actor came into his own in his later years, with remarkable performances in Ed Wood and Crimes and Misdemeanors

Peter Bradshaw
The Guardian
Monday 17 July 2017

Martin Landau was the handsome, intelligent, reflective actor who was respected for first-class work in the theatre, and for his consistency and professionalism in films and TV in the 60s and 70s. But he gloriously came into his own in movies in his later years. Landau grew into his gravitas, and also into bittersweet human comedy and tragedy, in ways that were unavailable to him as a younger man. Landau was destined to be the career-opposite to his friend and contemporary from the early, hungry days in New York – James Dean. Maybe he would have ended his days regarded as hardly more than a safe pair of acting hands, were it not for three directors who saw in him that extraordinary inner power and maturity: Francis Ford Coppola, Tim Burton and Woody Allen.

Landau made his first real impression in his early 30s as James Mason’s unsmiling heavy in Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest. His good looks were uningratiating: saturnine and severe. But it was in television that he was first to make his mark. He was Rollin Hand in TV’s Mission: Impossible, a charismatic and slightly enigmatic member of the team. And later he became a much-loved presence in Lew Grade’s cult sci-fi TV drama of the 1970s, with its now quaint millennial title – Space: 1999. Landau was Commander John Koenig, and just as in Mission: Impossible, he starred with his wife, Barbara Bain. As ever, the key to his performance was the absolute seriousness he brought to it – particularly in that piercing, commanding gaze.

Coppola inaugurated the Martin Landau golden age in the late 80s by casting him in a widely admired film that underperformed at the box office: Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988), the story of Preston Tucker, the automobile design visionary, played by Jeff Bridges, who was squeezed out by corporate sharp practice. Landau plays Abe Karatz, the financial backer who fears his own shady past will destroy both Tucker and Karatz himself. It’s a small role that earned Landau his first Oscar nomination for best supporting actor. Landau is agonised, self-questioning and vulnerable, at once a kind of damaged father figure to Tucker and yet also perhaps someone who lets him down, like an errant son.

Landau actually landed his Oscar for his glorious performance on the third nomination as the washed-up horror icon Béla Lugosi in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood (1994), playing opposite the unearthly young beauty of Johnny Depp as the notorious B-movie director Wood, the fanboy who was the only person willing to employ the eccentric, cantankerous old star. Landau was utterly superb, perhaps drawing on his own experience of knuckling down to the silliness that was Space: 1999 – affectionately as that show is still remembered, along with Landau in it.

Martin Landau utterly nailed the Lugosi voice, the uncompromising central European growl, although his rendering was far fruitier and raspier than the real thing. His lightly made up and prosthetised face really did resemble a vampire’s in daylight, and his sudden explosions of rage and amour-propre were an absolute joy. Comedy had never been Landau’s strong suit, but this was a masterly comic performance. And that piercing gaze was deployed to wonderful effect in Ed Wood, like a steampunk laser gun.

But it was his second Oscar nomination, for his deadly serious performance in Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors in 1989, that was his moment of real greatness. Landau plays a successful ophthalmologist, Judah Rosenthal, who has been having a longstanding affair with a blowsy flight attendant, Dolores Paley, played by Anjelica Huston – an affair that is going sour. Dolores threatens to destroy his marriage and his career and Judah contemplates a desperate, murderous act. For me, Judah’s criminal plunge, and Martin Landau’s performance, are the more unforgettable because they do not appear in a conventional thriller or noir, but because they are in a Woody Allen movie, in a story overtly juxtaposed with the more absurdly comic tale that occupies the film’s other half – a film-maker forced to earn a living by celebrating someone he loathes.

Landau’s cold-sweat despair at what he has done, his gaze into the abyss, his Dostoyevskian agony: it is all compelling. I will never forget my own real horror in seeing this film when it first came out – having naturally expected nothing more than laughs, and despite having sat through hundreds of fictional murders in genre pictures. Landau’s performance made it chillingly real.

Landau was a great actor who boosted the IQ and the substance of every movie he appeared in. Watching Ed Wood and Crimes and Misdemeanors again is a great way to remember him.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Philip Larkin: New Eyes Each Year - exhibition at the University of Hull

Image result for philip larkin young
Philip Larkin exhibition in Hull offers fresh insights into poet's life
Hundreds of personal items gathered for city of culture show that does not shy away from darker sides of his personality

Hannah Ellis-Petersen
The Guardian
Tuesday 4 July 2017

Philip Larkin is many things to many people; to some a bleakly beautiful poet with a razor-sharp wit, to others a womanising misogynist whose casual racism is unforgivable.

It is into this morally complex minefield that a new exhibition, held in Hull’s Brynmor Jones library where he was famously the librarian, has waded, offering a new perspective on Larkin, one of the city’s most treasured cultural figures.

The exhibition, opened as part of Hull city of culture 2017, has gathered together hundreds of personal items from Larkin’s life, from his book collection to his clothes, ornaments from his office and home, unseen photographs, notes and doodles and objects belonging to his many lovers, to piece together a new and fascinating picture of the poet’s life.

Most of the objects were originally in Larkin’s home and have never been seen in public before. It is an exhibition that does not shy away from the complex, darker sides of Larkin’s personality. On display is the small figurine of Hitler, given to the poet by his Nazi-sympathiser father who once took Larkin to a Nuremberg Rally.

Also on display are the empty spines of the diaries that Larkin ordered to be shredded after he died, which are commonly thought to have contained mostly pornography.

The women in his life, particularly Monica Jones, Maeve Brennan and Betty Mackereth, feature prominently in the show as well, directly addressing the often despicable way that Larkin treated them – how he struggled with intimacy his whole life – but also how biographers and historians have often dismissed them simply as “mystic muses”, rather than acknowledging the active roles they often played as his editors.

“The challenge is always to not judge, and present the story in a way with lots of perspectives and hooks so people can make their own minds up,” said exhibition curator Anna Farthing. “I’ve had lots of different reactions to him as I’ve started to get to know him, from complete respect to being appalled.”

Larkin’s own library of books from his home is on display, and Farthing emphasised how fascinating it had been to look through the books, all of which were filled with scribbles and newspaper cuttings, pressed flowers and dedications, and she described each as a “casket in its own right”.

They also prove revealing. A copy of his novel Jill, given to Jones who was his longtime lover, is inscribed at the front: “To Monica, with love and thanks for helping make it decent, ie literate.”

Farthing pointed out the significance of these words. “There is so much about the women in Larkin’s life being his muse – well, they were human beings in their own right,” she said. “Yet here you can see she wasn’t his muse, she was his editor. All the evidence suggests he sends her drafts of his work, he’s constantly asking for her opinion. In her copy of The Whitsun Weddings, he writes a dedication in the front of it for her and inside the book there’s a draft of a poem, which has Tippex all over it. So what we are seeing here is working documents that they shared.”

Jones’s lipstick, her dress and objects of hers that were in Larkin’s house are also on display as part of the show, as well as what Farthing described as one of the most “heartbreaking” finds: unused dress patterns for small children, suggesting that she may have held out hope that she would be able to get Larkin to commit to her fully and start a family.

The show also offers a rare insight into Larkin’s own tortured relationship with his appearance. He was fixated on it, and the show displays both his clothes – beige trousers, bright red shirts and thick black glasses – as well as the many pictures he took of himself. Larkin would weigh himself twice a day on two different sets of weighing scales, and the exhibition displays quotes revealing the depth of his self-loathing.

Farthing said it was one of the biggest revelations in her research. “People presume that men don’t care about their body image and it’s a side of Larkin’s character that has been neglected,” she said.

“And maybe it’s because I’m a woman that I can see it instantly in his own neuroses. You just have to read his words: ‘my trousers seem to have been made for a much bigger creature, probably an elephant’ or ‘I staggered away from the table dreading my next encounter with the scales’. Those are not the words we expect to hear from Larkin, yet he was a man who had a real struggle with his own image.”

Larkin’s love of jazz is widely known and the show has a backing soundtrack of jazz, both in a nod to this passion but also to give a slinky rhythm to the show.

“The thing about libraries is that all sorts of things happen in the stacks,” said Farthing. “So we want people to go into the small corners and the nooks and crannies of this exhibition and have an experience with another human – that sounds suggestive but what I mean is, have a little chat, ask questions. Larkin found all his lovers in libraries.”

For Farthing, the exhibition is about exploring a side of Larkin that goes against expectation. The theme throughout is pink, which was Larkin’s favourite colour, and it focuses in on the scribblings, the unpublished thoughts and scratched out writings that are never seen in his sparse, clean poems. At the end of the show, people are also invited to pen their own letter to Larkin, which will then be pinned on to the wall.

“I think what I have taken away most from putting on this exhibition is that it seems extraordinary that he produced the work because the poetry is so clean and clear and his life was such a mess,” said Farthing. “He’s clearly a narcissist with a borderline personality disorder, but to have achieved work that is so human and engaging and continually relevant, it seems that he did it despite his demons, not because of them.”

Friday, 14 July 2017

Dead Poets Society #45

Image result for miroslav holub

Casualty by Miroslav Holub

They bring us crushed fingers,
mend it, doctor.
They bring burnt-out eyes,
hounded owls of hearts,
they bring a hundred white bodies,
a hundred red bodies,
a hundred black bodies,
mend it, doctor,
on the dishes of ambulances they bring
the madness of blood,
the scream of flesh,
the silence of charring,
mend it, doctor.

And while we are suturing
inch after inch,
night after night,
nerve to nerve,
muscle to muscle,
eyes to sight,
they bring in
even longer daggers,
even more dangerous bombs,
even more glorious victories,


Thursday, 13 July 2017

Peter Bogdanovich - Saturday Morning Pictures (BBC)

Image result for peter bogdanovich and orson welles

Peter Bogdanovich's Saturday Morning Pictures 

Episode 1

The golden age of Hollywood, before the 1960s dawned.

American actor, author and film director Peter Bogdanovich shares his views of the movie industry in Hollywood, using his own archive of recordings. Featuring James Stewart, John Ford, Howard Hawks and Alfred Hitchcock in conversation and Cybill Shepherd reveals what it was like to have Orson Welles as a house guest.

You have 27 days left to listen:

Episode 2

The Last Picture Show placed Peter Bogdanovich in the vanguard of what was dubbed New Hollywood.

The director and historian looks at the changes in Hollywood since his arrival there in 1961 - from the rise of independent film makers to the influence of television.

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2007.
Producer Penny Vine
You have 28 days left to listen:

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Noir of the Week #6* - Nightfall (Jacques Tourneur, 1957)

Nightfall: Not so black and white

Frank Black
11 July 2017

Thanks to his work with Val Lewton in the 1950s and that late gem, Night of the Demon (1957), Jacques Tourneur will be forever associated with the horror genre, but a considered look at his career will see that this supreme stylist made films in many genres, including one of the greatest film noirs, Out of the Past (1947).

Nightfall is a smart little crime drama, tightly-scripted by Stirling Silliphant and based on a novel by David Goodis, who wrote several nourish thrillers that were adapted into movies, including Down There, filmed by Francois Truffaut as Shoot the Piano Player (1960), Delmer Daves’ Dark Passage (1946) and The Burglar, directed by Paul Wendkos (1957).

Like Out of the Past, an event from the protagonist’s history comes to determine his life in the present and flashbacks play a key role; however, unlike Out of the Past’s one flashback section, the narrative in Nightfall is punctuated by a series of flashbacks that explain the origin of the events until past meets present in snowy Wyoming and the story is violently resolved.

Tourneur presents the audience with an enigma from the outset. A young man, Art Rayburn (Aldo Rey), who has taken the name Jim Vanning, wanders through a newsstand, checking out newspapers from across the United States. He asks for one from Evanston, Illinois, but it’s the only one they don’t have, symbolising that this is a man out of place. To underline this, when the lights flicker on, Vanning, shot from behind, reacts with a nervous jump, as if someone is after him. Who is this man and why does he act this way?

Leaving the brightness of the shop, he is filmed in long shot from across the street, bathed in classic Tourneur chiaroscuro, implying guilt or trouble - or perhaps someone about to emerge from the darkness of his past. He looks over his shoulder as if he fears he’s being followed – and it seems he is. Crossing into the shot is Ben Fraser (James Gregory), who we later discover is an insurance investigator, and he walks up to Vanning and makes small talk before catching a bus home.

The nature of the suspected crime isn’t revealed at first, but throughout the film, Fraser seems to doubt Vanning’s guilt, expressing this his wife, Laura (Jocelyn Brando), and on several occasions Tourneur uses editing to hint at a bond between them; for example, after Laura goes to make Fraser a drink, there’s a cut to coffee being poured at Vanning’s table.
The narrative emphasises the role of chance and coincidence, which play on Vanning’s paranoia. In a bar, he meets a young model, Marie (Anne Bancroft) and it seems like she’s hitting on him and wants the loan of some money to pay her bill; of course, in keeping with generic norms, they hit it off. Leaving the bar, he’s jumped by the two killers who’ve been tracking him and they order her to go away. It seems like the classic noir femme fatale set-up, but it becomes apparent that it wasn’t intentional: there was no set-up and she really did need the money to pay her for her drink. He pointedly tells her, “… you were unlucky enough to talk to me tonight.”

The foregrounding of coincidence continues throughout the film; indeed Vanning’s initial involvement with the killers is purely down to unconscious chance as revealed in one of the flashbacks set in the snow-covered wilds of Wyoming where a hunting trip with his friend, Doc Gurston (Frank Albertson), is interrupted by an accident when a car swerves off an icy road. Gurston and Vanning rush to help, but the crash victims turn out to be bank robbers, the subdued, almost eerily pleasant John (Brian Keith) and the borderline psychotic Red (Rudy Bond), prefiguring the kind of relationship between killers that feature in Quentin Tarantino's work. Gurston fixes John’s arm and then is shot by Red, who also shoots Vanning and leaves him for dead. He’s alive, of course, and on waking, he finds the robbers have taken Gurston’s bag instead of the one filled with cash. Vanning escapes, by now with John and Red in pursuit, and he leaves the bag hidden before running off and creating a new life for himself, all the time in the knowledge that he has gone from being the hunter to the prey.

Tourneur’s cinematographer was Burnett Guffey, an Oscar-winner for his work on Fred Zinneman’s From Here to Eterntity (1953) and, later, for Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde (1967), but also well-versed in noir over a series of films that included Nicholas Ray’s masterpiece, In a Lonely Place (1950). He makes stunning use of the stark, dazzling white landscape of the Wyoming hills juxtaposed with the moody blacks and greys of the scenes in the present, particularly during the sequence when the killers take Vanning to an oilfield at dusk to extract information. The claustrophobic and threatening environment of the constantly moving predatory derricks contrasts with the flashbacks of the clean, natural white open spaces of Wyoming, while the editing helps create tension for the audience, prolonging Vanning’s captivity. As the flashbacks reveal more, the stark whiteness becomes sullied with the presence of John and Red. Of course, Wyoming looks clean because of the snow, but it’s the snow that later hides the reason behind the killers’ pursuit of Vanning: the dirty money stolen in the bank-job.

It’s also in Wyoming that things finally come to a head. Escaping the city with Marie, Vanning takes a bus to locate the money, unaware that the diligent Fraser is only a few seats behind them. Finally, he approaches Vanning while he waits outside a church for Marie. The mise-en-scène positions Vanning as an outsider and with his back towards the camera, the shot echoing the earlier one where he flinches when the lights come on at the newsagents just before Fraser enters his life; the presence of the church, however, hints at confession and redemption. The scene is carried by Rey and Gregory’s easy-going, naturalistic style as Vanning opens up to Fraser and confirms the latter’s suspicion that he has been innocent all along.

After Red shot Doc Gurston, he forced Vanning to pick up the gun that killed him. By chance, Red fails to kill Vanning but his fingerprints were now on the rifle and – another coincidence - unbeknownst to the killers, Gurston’s wife had sent Vanning unrequited love letters, so he became a suspect for the murder as well as the robbery.

Coincidence rears its head again when Vanning, Fraser and Marie go to locate the money in the melting Wyoming snow. They approach a shack seemingly in the middle of nowhere and as Vanning walks around it, the angle of the camera reveals John and Red, the contrast in their manner engendering further anxiety, but they squabble and John’s low key approach is his downfall as Red shoots him dead in the same cold-hearted manner as he killed Gurston. Vanning launches himself towards John’s gun and a fight ensues on board a snow plough. While the will it/won’t it suspense of whether or not it will demolish the shack where Fraser and Marie are tied up conjures up the Perils of Pauline, real tension is created by Tourneur’s use of close-ups of Red and Vanning as they tussle in the plough’s cabin and when the former is pushed out, the use of the point of view shot as the blades come whirling closer to Red underlines his own stark brutality – and perhaps gave the Coen Brothers something to allude to when they made Fargo almost forty years later.

If you can ignore the awful theme tune crooned by Duke Ellington alumnus Al Hibbler, this is a rewarding late period noir, with an engaging, twisted plot, superbly handled by a master of mood and suspense and well-acted by a cast of fairly minor players.

* Okay, maybe more like once in a blue moon...

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Donald Fagen and The Nightflyers

Steely Dan's Donald Fagen Plots Tour With New Solo Band
Singer-songwriter books 25-date trek with the Nightflyers

Ryan Reed
Rolling Stone
24 April 2017

Steely Dan frontman Donald Fagen announced a tour with his newly formed solo band, the Nightflyers. The U.S. leg launches with a two-night stint, August 3rd and 4th, in Port Chester, New York and concludes September 16th in San Francisco, followed by a spot at the Yokohama Blue Note Jazz Fest in Japan.

Fagen will perform a mixture of material from Steely Dan and his solo catalog, along with some "swell surprises," Ultimate Classic Rock reports. Tickets go on sale April 28th.
Image result for donald fagen 2017
The five-piece Nightflyers, named after the singer-keyboardist's 1982 debut solo LP, The Nightfly, also features guitarist Connor Kennedy, drummer Lee Falco, bassist Brandon Morrison and keyboardist Will Bryant. The band warmed up for the tour with a series of gigs in small venues throughout New York's Hudson River Valley.

Fagen has released four solo LPs, including his most recent, 2012's Sunken Condos. While Steely Dan have remained active on the touring circuit – including a 2016 trek, "The Dan Who Knew Too Much,"with Steve Winwood – the band hasn't released a studio album since 2003's Everything Must Go.

The songwriter told Rolling Stone last year that "it's hard to say" whether Steely Dan will record another LP. "Now that reality is indistinguishable from, say, a wacky Kurt Vonnegut novel, it'd be a challenge to overcome the paradigm shift," he said. "Maybe some sad chorales?"

Donald Fagen and the Nightflyers 2017 Tour Dates

August 3-4 – Port Chester, NY @ Capitol Theatre
August 8 – Miami, FL @ The Fillmore at Gleason
August 9 – Clearwater, FL @ Ruth Eckerd Hall
August 11 – Orlando, FL @ Hard Rock Live
August 12 – Saint Augustine, FL @ Saint Augustine Amphitheatre
August 14 – Montgomery, AL @ Montgomery Performing Arts Center
August 16 – Atlanta, GA @ Atlanta Symphony Hall
August 17 – Wilmington, NC @ Cape Fear Stage
August 19 – Chattanooga, TN @ Tivoli Theatre
August 20 – Nashville, TN @ Schermerhorn Symphony Center
August 22 – Louisville, KY @ The Palace
August 23 – Cincinnati, OH @ Taft Theatre
August 25 – Northfield, OH @ Hard Rock Live
August 26 – New Buffalo, MI @ Four Winds Casino
August 28 – Indianapolis, IN @ Murat Theatre
August 29 – Milwaukee, WI @ Riverside Theater
August 31 – Salina, KS @ Stiefel Theatre
September 2 – Austin, TX @ ACL Live at Moody Theater
September 3 – San Antonio, TX @ Majestic Theatre
September 12 – Portland, OR @ Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
September 13 – Seattle, WA @ The Paramount
September 15 – Saratoga, CA @ Mountain Winery
September 16 – San Francisco, CA @ Masonic
September 23-24 – Yokohama, Japan @ Yokohama Blue Note Jazz Fest
September 29 - The Split Chimp, Newcastle - if only...

Friday, 7 July 2017

Dead Poets Society #44

Related image

Buick by Karl Shapiro

As a sloop with a sweep of immaculate wing on her delicate spine
And a keel as steel as a root that holds in the sea as she leans,
Leaning and laughing, my warm-hearted beauty, you ride, you ride,
You tack on the curves with parabola speed and a kiss of goodbye,
Like a thoroughbred sloop, my new high-spirited spirit, my kiss.

As my foot suggests that you leap in the air with your hips of a girl,
My finger that praises your wheel and announces your voices of song,
Flouncing your skirts, you blueness of joy, you flirt of politeness,
You leap, you intelligence, essence of wheelness with silvery nose,
And your platinum clocks of excitement stir like the hairs of a fern.

But how alien you are from the booming belts of your birth and the smoke
Where you turned on the stinging lathes of Detroit and Lansing at night
And shrieked at the torch in your secret parts and the amorous tests,
But now with your eyes that enter the future of roads you forget;
You are all instinct with your phosphorous glow and your streaking hair.

And now when we stop it is not as the bird from the shell that I leave
Or the leathery pilot who steps from his bird with a sneer of delight,
And not as the ignorant beast do you squat and watch me depart,
But with exquisite breathing you smile, with satisfaction of love,
And I touch you again as you tick in the silence and settle in sleep.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Last night's set lists

At The Habit, York: -

Ron Elderly: -
Dock Of The Bay
Dedicated Follower Of Fashion

Da Elderly: -
Once An Angel

The Elderly Brothers: -
Love Hurts
Then I Kissed Her
You Really Got A Hold On Me
Bye Bye Love

Despite a quiet start, the open mic night was well supported with players and quite soon the place was packed. Dave from Leeds entertained us with his own Macca-esq song and a wonderful Across The Universe. Deb performed a John Prine classic - Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness. Our own set was riddled with unexpected irony/humour: during the chorus of Love Hurts, a young chap entered stage left and immediately had a lass in tears (lost love? we didn't ask); then in the middle 8 of You Really Got A Hold On Me we totally lost it - the lyric was "tighter" but it was anything but tight!! Our host finished off the night with the support from a double bass and finger-style Spanish guitar. They conjured up a wonderful medley of Summertime/Georgia On My Mind. The fun continued and Ron & I were asked to carry on unplugged for the next hour - too many songs to recall.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

The Beach Boys - 1967 Sunshine Tomorrow - review

The Beach Boys - 1967 Sunshine Tomorrow (Capitol Records, 2017)

Frank Black
4 July 2017

There is a popular narrative that suggests that after the failure to complete Smile, commonly put down to drugs, the opposition of various band members (particularly Mike Love), and Brian Wilson’s mental state, Wilson virtually withdrew from music and bequeathed, if you like, all the production chores to brother Carl. What followed was Smiley Smile (the first sessions for the album taking place less than a month after the final Smile session), often dismissed as a watered down version of the real thing, and then Wild Honey, an R’n’B album so lean, so spare and so different to anything else the Beach Boys had done up to that time. The kind of album, in fact, that no-one would think they could pull off successfully – but they did and it remains a firm fan favourite.

Over the years, Smiley Smile has been somewhat rehabilitated and another positive step in that direction comes with the release of 1967 Sunshine Tomorrow, a two CD album, which allows a deeper listen and with more insight to build up a better picture of what was happening creatively with the band that year. This is not exactly the musical archaeology of the Smile Sessions box, so we don’t get take after take after take of the same work, but we do get snippets and complete songs, beautifully remixed. The Smiley Smile sessions are particularly instructive as it becomes clear that far from retreating, Brian Wilson was still creating music and sounds in an avant garde fashion or, as Mike Love described them, “underground” and “completely out of the mainstream”; in fact, it was completely out of the alternative stream too; it's not that it's not rock: it's all that and more. Listen to the take of Fall Breaks and Back to Winter, a song with allusions to Woody Woodpecker’s call and the bassline of Wilson’s own Mrs O’Leary’s Cow/Fire from Smile and hear a darkness absent from the released version (or at least buried in the mix) or the instrumental take of Little Pad with its experimental use of Hawaiian music.

Wild Honey was, as Carl Wilson said, music for Brian to cool down to, recorded at his home studio on Bellagio Road in Bel Air, largely using the band as opposed to the session musicians who played on Pet Soinds and Smile, and with lyrics by Mile Love – not only the first time he had provided so many lyrics since 1965’s Summer Days (and Summer Nights!!) but also the last time he would work with Wilson on so many songs for an album. When it was released, its production was credited to The Beach Boys, but it’s clear from this, especially the session chatter, that it was still Brian’s hand on the tiller, though as Al Jardine points out in the liner notes, he was bouncing production ideas off Carl and Brian is clear to credit Mike for his lyrics.

The clarity of this remixed stereo release (only Mama Says, for which the multi tracks couldn’t be located, is in mono) is stunning; instrumental or vocal parts that had once seemed muddy are suddenly sharp; parts that were once lost in the mix are now crystal clear and you suddenly realise that the simplicity of the album’s arrangements is superficial only. Listen to the Bacharach-style horns on Aren’t You Glad and the achingly beautiful imploring Let the Wind Blow. This is also the album that sees Carl develop as a vocalist moving into rockier waters with Darlin’, How She Boogalooed It and especially the title track.

As well as the completed album, there are various outtakes and session highlights, including the haunting Lonely Days, that, unfortunately, peters out too soon and an early version of Time to Get Alone that verges on the baroque.

And then we have the enigma of Lei’d in Hawaii, yet another unreleased album, recorded at shows and rehearsals in Honolulu in 1967 without Bruce Johnston (either on a fishing trip or avoiding excess substance abuse, depending on who you believe…) with a deliberately laid back feel that seems strange juxtaposed with the energy of Wild Honey. Nothing in Beach Boy land runs that smoothly, of course, and the tapes were thought to be unusable so the band, with Johnston back on board, recorded another set in a studio in California.

Some of these songs have appeared on bootlegs; some have turned up on previous archive releases; this time, however, we have the album, minus the overdubbed audience response that was to be added but plus extra takes and rounded out with some genuine live songs from the Hawaii concerts and from other shows during 1967.
Image result for the beach Boys HAWAII 1967
Rounding the set off, just before disc two closes with an a cappella version of Surfer Girl, we get a sublimely delicate Brian solo take of Surf’s Up – a song which wouldn’t be released (and not with Brian lead nor in this form) for another four years.

The whole project, sensitively mastered by Mark Linett and overseen by Alan Boyd, comes with an informative and stylish booklet with an essay by journalist, author and fan, Howie Edelson, and hopefully points the way forward for future archive releases, like sessions from Friends and the more democratically realised 20/20.