When I agreed to write The Who FAQ for Backbeat Books I knew there would be one unfortunate side effect of the joyous occasion: I’d no longer be able to review the publisher’s books. This made me a little sad because I’ve enjoyed reading several of their titles in the past. Plus I love getting free stuff. Nevertheless, I figured it would be a conflict of interest or some other ethical issue to continue reviewing Backbeat’s titles after I started working for them, so I stopped requesting review copies.
Despite my resolution to be a good, ethical boy, I still received an unsolicited copy of a new Backbeat title called The Beach Boys in Concert. I assume this was either because Backbeat's publicist is not aware that I'm writing a book for Backbeat or it's a really subtle way of letting me know I've been fired. In any event, I read and enjoyed Ian Rusten and John Stebbins’s book, so I figured it would not be unethical to at least give it a little shout— not a “review”… that would be very naughty—but a shout, like when you shout at a fellow employee, “Good job!” I assume people with actual jobs do that sort of thing.
Rusten and Stebbins give a thorough view of 50 years of Beach Boys concerts, not just listing dates, venues, and when available, set lists, but providing a more colorful portrait of the shows with excerpts from period concert reviews and recollections from early Beach Boy David Marks, backing musician Daryl Dragon, fans in attendance, and others. I found the reviews particularly enlightening: I was surprised to see how early on the critics had grown tired of Mike Love’s jackass stage act (although at a performance on December 28, 1966, Love did manage one genuinely funny quip amidst a career of painful groaners). It’s a good summer read.
Get The Beach Boys in Concert at Amazon.com here: