Brian Wilson had genius, while Mike Love only had talent. That is the standard thing to say about the two dominant personalities of the Beach Boys. The tortured but indispensable Wilson wrote the irresistible tunes and created the richly textured arrangements. Love, the all-American Everyman, supplied skills of a more material kind. He had rangy good looks. He sang some but not all of the lead vocals; wrote some but not all of the best lyrics; became the touring band’s gawkily bopping front man after Brian, crippled by stage fright and mental illness, retired from performing to stay home and write songs.
Love, with some justification, thinks the conventional reading of Beach Boys history sells him short. It’s not that he minds Wilson being called a genius; indeed he’s ready to call him one himself. But he resents the notion that the remaining Boys were “Brian’s puppets,” or “nameless components in Brian’s music machine.” His new memoir is an attempt to set the record straight – to write his way out of the genius’s shadow. The book is called Good Vibrations, but I believe I picked up a few bad vibrations in it too. For an adept of Transcendental Meditation, Love sure knows how to nurse a grudge ... [read more]