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Al JArdine

  • A Postcard From California

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    Al Jardine

    Related Artists - The Beach Boys, Brian Wilson, Dennis Wilson
    Related Genres - Modern & Classic Rock

    A Postcard From California 7 ( 2010 )
    A Postcard From California / California Feelin' / Looking Down The Coast / Don't Fight The Sea / Tide Pool Interlude / Campfire Scene / A California Saga / Help Me Rhonda / San Simeon / Drivin' / Honkin' Down The Highway / And I Always Will

    The first ever Al Jardine solo album arrives. He could have done one in the Seventies during Beach Boys downtime and there was plenty of opportunity for him in the Eighties or Nineties, but no, he's waited. Was it worth the wait? Well, if you enjoyed the recent Brian Wilson solo material, 'A Postcard From California' compares quite well. The production is less processed, allowing the harmonic blend to come through more naturally. Nowhere is this more apparent than during the stunning 'Don't Fight The Sea', which is closer to a bona-fide Beach Boys reunion that we could have expected. Why? Well, Al, Mike, Brian, Bruce and even Carl Wilson features. I don't know when Carl's vocal was recorded so can't date the origins of the song itself but it has to be at least twelve years old, as Carl sadly passed away in 1998. Anyway, having that special Beach Boys vocal blend back (Brian even sings falsetto) is just wonderful to hear and compares more than favourably with Brian's current backing band who come across accomplished but more akin to a band full of Bruce Johnstons. 'San Simeon' may have borrowed a harmony line here and there from 'Don't Worry Baby' and may not exactly have the heaviness of 'Pet Sounds' or 'Sunflower' etc, yet once again the harmonies are real, Beach Boys quality gorgeousness. Now, we could have done without another take on 'Help Me Rhonda' and versions of 'Honkin Down The Highway' and 'California Saga'. 'Honkin' sounds exactly the same vocally as it did in 1977 which is something I suppose and Neil Young pops up during 'California Saga' yet we did have reasonable expectations that Al would have managed to fill at least a whole album full of original self-penned tunes.

    The title track is very well arranged and produced with double-tracked vocals, alternate lead vocalists and a very sweet, well meaning nature. 'California Feeling' was written by Brian Wilson in 1974 and never properly released until now. It's got good lyrics and a very good vocal from Al Jardine, his new version of this tune having both beauty and restraint. In fact, it's amazing how well Jardine's voice stands up for a sixty-eight year old. He sounds more like thirty-eight, you now? 'Looking Down The Coast' borrows a melody line or two from Brian Wilson's 'Walking The Line' but does enough different to justify the new lyrics and Jardine writing credit. Another new song 'Drivin' sees Brian share vocals with Al, it's a little funky, a little bluesy. No masterpiece but nothing to be ashamed of, much like the album as a whole. Don't get me wrong, as a Beach Boys fan and Al Jardine fan, this album more than lives upto my expectations. As of the time of writing it's not getting much of a wide release so I doubt it's going to appeal to many outside of The Beach Boys fanbase but then again, The Beach Boys have sold millions of records. I hope Al decides to visit the UK soon so British fans not buying the album can hear this material too.

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    Readers Comments

    Greg R So Cal
    Maybe I expect too much, but Jardine's recent solo release is definitely underwhelming (at least judging by the snippets on iTunes, which I'd guess were picked to highlight the best parts of the assorted songs)."Don't Fight the Sea" comes closest to what I'd call an "updated" BB tune, and "Drivin'" has potential (though I really think it could be layered and fleshed-out a lot more, at least by today's musical standards).The rest of it I could really live without (it only confirms what I've said elsewhere about individual members of a great group not being as good separately as when they were together). And a lot of the songs are just re-hashes of BB originals, some better than others ("Rhonda" re-worked as a blues song? Give me a break, it loses most of the fun vibe of the original), etc. etc.All-in-all a decent effort, but it definitely pales in comparison to the original group and probably wouldn't get nearly as much attention if it weren't for the BB pedig! ree attached to it.

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    this page last updated 27/06/11

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