In August of 1967, the Beach Boys were reeling from a sudden and
complete shift in their popularity in the United States. Just under one year
earlier, they had the number one single in the country with "Good Vibrations",
while at the same time, Brian Wilson had been in the midst of recording the follow-up to Pet
Sounds, the Smile LP, with the two-part "Heroes And Villains" 45
as its centerpiece. Unfortunately, due to oft-documented problems both mentally and
musically, by the late summer of 1967, Brian and the Beach Boys lost their momentum.
They cancelled an important date at the Monterey Pop Festival, Smile went
uncompleted, the bastardized "Heroes And Villains" 45 was issued and was not
close to the success that "Good Vibrations" had been, and the "bunt instead
of a grand slam" Smiley Smile album was to be issued in early September to
relatively little chart action.
In light of all this activity, business realities were creeping in.
The Beach Boys still owed Capitol Records more albums through their newly activated
Brother Records imprint, and to plug the gap, a live album was discussed. The logic
behind this move was actually fairly sound. Interestingly, to date the Beach Boys
has only enjoyed one #1 album in the U.S., 1964's Beach Boys Concert, A
year later, the "live in the studio" Beach Boys Party had been a
massive success. Therefore, while working on Smile, Brian had actually gone
along with the Boys the previous October to record concerts in Michigan, the tapes of
which proved too rough for public consumption (though they can be heard on Vigotone's Mike
Love Not War). It was decided instead to record and film two shows on August
25th and 26th in a slightly more welcoming climate, Honolulu, Hawaii, for a project
wittily entitled Lei'd In Hawaii.
However, one important difference between these Hawaii performances and
the earlier Michigan shows was the return to the stage of Brian Wilson, taking the place
of his stand-in, Bruce Johnston. While this sounds tantalizing, the truth of the
matter is that Brian ended up being a major reason these tapes went unused! Brian
and the boys had not spent much time rehearsing, and his insistence on staying put behind
his massive Wurlitzer organ for the most part during the performance led Carl and Al
having to split up bass guitar duties. The only problem with this was that neither
one was particularly used to playing said instrument, and the concert from the 25th that
is featured here on Aloha From Hawaii (And Hollywood) shows off these
limitations, both instrumentally and vocally. While one tune from this show,
"Heroes And Villains", has been featured on Capitol's Concert / Live In
London twofer as a bonus track, and a clip of "God Only Knows" was used in
the 1998 Endless Harmony documentary, this is the first time that the concert has
been issued in its entirety, in glorious mono, just the way Brian dubbed it down in early
During this rough mixing process, it became patently obvious that the
show was not going to be able to be issued in this form without a considerable amount of
doctoring. However, for reasons still unexplained, instead of simply overdubbing
over the existing tracks, the Boys (with Bruce back in tow) reconvened in Hollywood on
September 11th at Wally Heider Recording and recorded "live in the studio"
versions of the tracks that were to appear on the album. Whether they were going to
attempt a "fake" live album by overdubbing crowd noise or to do another Party-styled
release is unknown, but the resulting recordings were certainly better than any of the
Hawaii attempts! In the end, it was obviously thought best to let it be, as it were,
and the entire Lei'd In Hawaii project was abandoned directly after these
"rehearsal" sessions in favor of a new studio album, Wild Honey, the
recordings for which took place from September through October at both Heider's and
Brian's home studio.
The first time any of these tapes was utilized in an official capacity
was when "The Letter" appeared on 1983's Beach Boys Rarities LP, while
other bits and pieces have shown up on both official and unofficial releases. Over
the years, it has been assumed that these rehearsal sessions took place before the concert
at the Honolulu International Center, but once recording details surfaced in the late
1990's, the truth became known that these were truly "after the fact"
recordings. Here, compiled for the first time, are all the available tapes from
this September 11, 1967 recording date.
The Beach Boys would go on to record many, many more of their concerts
over the next 15 years, with two actually seeing commercial release in 1970 (Live In
London, recorded in 1968) and 1973 (In Concert, taped in 1972 and 1973), but
neither would have the amount of time expended on them that the unissued Lei'd In
Hawaii enjoyed. While there may be better recordings available, Aloha From
Hawaii (And Hollywood) is a truly unique opportunity to hear how the five original
Beach Boys sounded in 1967 performing many of their best-known songs in the midst of much
internal and external strife. On a good day, there was still no better vocal group
to be heard in the US of A.