It has been more than 55 years since The Beach Boys released “Surfin’,” the first of many hit singles for the California band in the early 1960s. In 1966, The Beach Boys became one of the first bands to release a concept album, breaking away from the singles market with Pet Sounds. While The Beach Boys would continue to have hit songs in the 1970s and 1980s — “Kokomo” and a collaboration with The Fat Boys on “Wipe Out” being two examples — the group slowly evolved into being a nostalgia act that you expected to see “play the hits” at fairs and amphitheaters.
While Brian Wilson has been active as both a touring and recording artist over the past few decades, Beach Boys frontman Mike Love’s only solo album before 2017 was 1981’s Looking Back With Love. 36 years later comes a proper follow-up, the double-album known as Unleash The Love. Featuring 25 tracks over the course of two discs, Unleash The Love is a mix of new material and Beach Boys re-records. Beyond playing from long-time Love sidemen like guitarists Jeffrey Foskett and Scott Totten and drummer John Cowsill, Unleash The Love includes guest appearances from AJR, John Stamos, Sugar Ray‘s Mark McGrath, and saxophonist Dave Koz; former bandmate Carl Wilson also makes a posthumous appearance.
Disc one is entirely made up of originals by Love, while disc two is where all of the Beach Boys re-records are. The originals range from the jangly, harmony-driven pop-rock that a long-time Beach Boys fan would expect — as heard on “All The Love In Paris” and “Getcha Back” — to more spirituals tracks, like the meditation-inspired “Cool Head, Warm Heart” and the George Harrison tribute “Pisces Brothers.” The song selection on the second disc can be a bit of a head-scratcher, since it includes a few of the biggest Beach Boys hits, yet is neither a “greatest hits or a “best of”; “Do It Again” and “Brian’s Back” are not likely to be two of the songs that the majority of fans are going to yell out for a Beach Boys concert.
While the song selection on disc two is questionable — even though Love and band do a great job with the majority of the re-records — Unleash The Love does come across as the most adventurous thing that Mike Love has worked on in a long, long time. At the very least, with Unleash, Love shows that he is capable of making interesting artistic decisions, rather than just “playing the hits.” As Love has been playing songs from Unleash The Love in recent live performances, do yourself a favor and check out his band as they tour North America this winter.
Unleash The Love Track Listing:
01. All The Love In Paris (feat. Dave Koz)
02. Getcha Back (feat. John Stamos)
03. Daybreak Over The Ocean
04. I Don’t Want To Know
05. Too Cruel
06. Crescent Moon
07. Cool Head, Warm Heart
08. Pisces Brothers
09. Unleash The Love
10. Ram Raj
11. 10,000 Years Ago (feat. John Stamos)
12. Only One Earth
13. Make Love Not War
01. California Girls
02. Do It Again (feat. Mark McGrath & John Stamos)
03. Help Me Rhonda
04. I Get Around
05. Warmth Of The Sun (feat. Ambha Love)
06. Brian’s Back
07. Kiss Me Baby
08. Darlin’ (feat. AJR)
09. Wild Honey (feat. John Cowsill)
10. Wouldn’t It Be Nice
11. Good Vibrations
12. Fun Fun Fun
Release Date: November 17, 2017
Record Label: BMG
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