This smartly produced, intelligently written documentary strikes a satisfying balance between thoughtful analysis, personal history, and sheer musical pleasure for a portrait of the seminal California pop band that will pr... more »ove equally compelling to both knowledgeable fans and casual listeners. In the audiovisual equivalent of a loaves-and-fishes miracle, The Beach Boys: Endless Harmony weaves 45 of the group's songs through extended interview segments with all the original members, key musicians involved in their career-defining recordings, and astute peers and industry observers. Evocative period footage, including archival film and early, no-budget promotional videos, only add to the impact, but the real achievement is the clarity and candor of this authorized project, which might easily have lapsed into callow myth-making and media spin control given the involvement of the surviving Beach Boys and their record label, Capitol, which is releasing both the documentary and a companion hits compilation. Instead, these archetypal Southern Californians, who transmuted their experiences growing up in suburban Hawthorne into a potent teen iconography orbiting surfing, cars, and girls, tackle the underlying personal and cultural upheavals beneath their discography. The central, dysfunctional drama of the Wilson family--brothers Brian, Dennis, and Carl, the group's nucleus, and their manager-father, Murry--is addressed early on, and underlined with harrowing excerpts from session tapes capturing the hard-driving, abusive style of Wilson père. Composer and acknowledged group leader Brian Wilson, who long ago became a poster boy for "troubled genius," pop division, is likewise depicted without evasion or apology, as are the internal tensions between Wilson and other members including Wilson cousin Mike Love; it's a testament to the filmmakers' acuity and skill that Love depicts himself as a force of "positivity... and 'upbeatness'" that counterbalanced Brian's darker, more introverted style, then dismisses the elliptical poetry of Wilson's most artistically ambitious collaborations with Van Dyke Parks as lyrically opaque. Originally aired on VH-1, Endless Harmony works as an apotheosis of the cable channel's Behind the Music concept, elevating the concept substantially and covering an enormous terrain in 105 minutes. For the Beach Boys fan, this will be an essential companion to their enduring music. --Sam Sutherland« less
W. Langan | the end of the world to your town! | 03/07/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This documentary features interviews from Brian, Alan, Mike, Bruce, and some older footage of the late brothers Carl and Dennis (and Hal Blaine, David Marks, and Glenn Campbell all of whom were involved in the Beach Boys' circle). You really can't tell the whole story (1961-98) in just 2 hours, but still this is well documented. It includes some interesting insights from Elvis Costello (probably the best outside observances). One thing I wish they had mentioned (which they totally forgot) was the short-time membership of Ricky Fataar (who would later become a Rutle) and Blondie Chaplin (who sang lead on the Beach Boys' "Sail On Sailor"). It touches lightly on dubious characters like Van Dyke Parks (who did manage to contribute the surreal lyrics to "Heroes and Villians") and Eugene Landy (who helped Brian get well again but became codependent on Brian himself). But it's mostly about the music (Pet Sounds, Smile, Sunflower, Till I Die, Good Vibrations, Smile, and the surf and turf classics of 1961-65)! If you're a fan interested in their personal story, you'll like this documentary. I had to dock it 1 star because I think they talked too much about the Wilsons' infamous father Murray and Brian's health (Brian's Back indeed!). And while you're at it, check out the CD of the same name (full of rarities and gems you won't find on any of the original albums)!"
L Goodman-Malamuth | Washington, D.C. | 03/29/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Worth watching for the rich array of audio/video clips and stories from throughout the years. The soundtrack, too, offers some little-known gems such as Dennis Wilson's "Barbara."However, the group's interpersonal "harmony" was overstated from the beginning. In this video, the ever-grandstanding and odious Mike Love gets entirely too much time to thump himself on the back for his "positivity." Bear in mind that Mike Love was the band's principal mouthpiece for Capitol Records' desire that the Beach Boys not "f**k with the formula" by exploring the new dimensions, beyond summer and cars and girls, that Brian Wilson sought in "Pet Sounds" and the aborted "Smile" album, pressure that helped contribute to Brian's breakdown. Mike Love has been coasting on the Wilson brothers' collective genius for nearly forty years now... retire, Mike! (Wouldn't THAT be nice?)I would have liked to have seen more about Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar and other sidesmen who played an integral part in BB history."
The Story Of The Beach Boys In Their Own Words
Anthony Nasti | Staten Island, New York United States | 12/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After years of slipshod hits packages and 2 excellent boxed sets, Tje Beach Boys have finally sat down and talked two interviewers about their career an why they love what they do. It features interviews with all 6 Beach Boys (Brian included), as well as musical historians and their many associates.This dvd paints an intimate portrait of America's Band. Brian Wilson is espcially good here, never showing his personal problems and giving mini performances of songs at the piano. Each Beach Boy gets equal screen time. You even might shed a tear when you realize that this documentary was the last public tv appearance by Carl Wilson, who died of lung cancer just months later.The music is really good. The live performances are mostly just snippets, but also includes a heartwrenching montage of Carl performing "God Only Knows" and a Mike Love - driven "California Girls". Also featured are two Dennis Wilson ballads, "All Alone" and "Barbara". I would highly recommend this dvd. However, I suggest that if you are a casual Beach Boys fan, you should wait until a little later to get this dvd, because while it's comprehensive & insightful, you ought to get the albums first. Happy Holidays.Anthony Nasti"
Essential introduction to the world's greatest pop band.
darragh o'donoghue | 08/01/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If, like me, you are new to the mighty Beach Boys, than this is a pretty good introduction to the most (benevolently) influential group in rock history; although, being an official history, it is often more euphemistic than hard-hitting (an exception, the damning evidence of Murry Wilson's abusive managerial style, is already an established part of the myth; he obviously can't give his side of the story).Full of fantastic footage (live and studio), weird promos (I particularly relished the forest film with Mike Love wandering as a despised tramp) and archival interviews, the documentary traces the band's strange path from clean-cut all-Americans to bloated beardies; from harmonious California mythologisers to barmy psychedelic adventurists ('Good Vibrations' was apparently influenced by Brian's mother's dog); from draft-dodging hippies to friends of the Reagans. Celebrity cameos are kept to a merciful minimum, and the latterday interviews with surviving Beach Boys are incredibly revealing, especially those with Mike Love who, after all these years, sees the group's major work, 'Pet Sounds', 'Smile', 'Friends' et al, as a bit of an aberration. Dennis emerges as a bit of a silent hero, Carl as the band's sensible soul, and Brian...well, who can top 'the Mozart of rock and roll'? Plus hours and hours of endless harmony, the most exhilerating, most melancholy, most inventive, most yearning, most literally fantastic pop music you'll ever hear. (One complaint: the backroom goon who disses Phil Spector, aka the Shakespeare of pop)."
Nancy Shears | San Rafael, Ca. | 03/26/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This show really brought back memories. My only complaint was that there wasn't more emphasis on the concerts of the seventies. What a time to see the Beach Boys in person. Brian, Carl, Dennis, Allen, Bruce, and Mike were at a peak of perfection. I saw them on numerous occasions and and to date have never seen a comparable show. However, there was no mention of two temporary members of the band...Ricky Fataar and Blondie Chaplin. If anyone saw the Beach Boys in the seventies, you would remember these two musicians, especially Blondie. His rendition of "Sail on Sailor" and "Funky Pretty" were absolutely unbelievable. What an increddible experience. Other than that omission, the show was exceptional and I applaud the work. In closing I wish to thank the Beach Boys for their music. They keep a smile on your face.(Rich Shears)"