The Beach Boys. Three months ago I was carefully screening my bars. For a while I wasn't drinking anywhere if the juke box didn't have "Sail on Sailor." Never got past that song for the rest of the album, though. My connections with the Beach Boys are tenuous; really only a group of friends who, juiced, are wont to slobber through "ba-ba-ba-ba-barbara ann." I've always felt a little sorry for the Beach Boys, because it is their singular misfortune to represent rock at its nadir, the post-payola early sixties. I've also resented the fact that they managed to ride surf music, that most dubious of forms, to fame and fortune. They don't do that sort of thing any more. Brian Wilson can't hear well enough to sing, the whole band struggled with the Maharishi, there was even a time when Mike Love Had All the Answers. Not to mention those two South Africans. What they do is open to scrutiny. Nobody seems to like it. I haven't heard it. But the group's run the gamut from "Surf City" to "Marcella" to "Sail on Sailor," so I figure they must have something.
John McLaughlin/Carlos Santana. Somebody's trying to sell records here. The only thing these guys have in common is a spiritual master, and that don't assure good music. What I've heard features Mahavishnu, with Carlos struggling to stay in the studio. It's not bad, but it's not getting McLaughlin out what's going to become a spiritual rut; more of the same intense, spiralling music with distinctive Eastern flavoring. There's no point at all for a live version of the album, featuring a mishmash of two very good bands. Except greed. Besides, I liked Santana better when he was playing speed freak Latin pulsations.
The Allman Brothers. Sources say they were stunning at the Glen. It's for sure that they're as good as they were with Duane; the addition of Chuck Leavell on keyboards is genius. He doesn't actually replace Duane, but it's a nuance of direction, meaning the sound is fuller, as well as differentiated. They can do much more, onstage and in the studio. Their new album is a joy (look for a review on Tuesday), as well as a good sized stride away from their blues base. It's a cinch they shouldn't be missed.
The Beach Boys. Schaefer Stadium. Monday, August 20, 5:30 pm. Tickets are $5 and $6 at the gate. With Loggins and Messina.
McLaughlin Santana. Music Hall. Tuesday, August 28. 7 and 10 pm. Tickets are $4.50-$6.50