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BACK TO THE BEACH

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Other aspects of the Beach Boys' career haven't been a barrel of laughs, either. Dennis Wilson, the band's drummer, as well as the only one of the original members who actually surfed, drowned in 1983, the same year that then-Secretary of the Interior James Watt banned the group from performing at a Fourth of July celebration in Washington, D.C., because he alleged that they constituted a "bad influence" (the group was invited to participate at the concert the following year). And in spite of the out-of-the-blue success of "Kokomo" in 1988, the Beach Boys are no longer under contract for new recordings with a major label. The band released its 1992 album Summer in Paradise on its own Brother Records imprint and is still working the disc two years later; a reworked version of the Drifters classic "Under the Boardwalk" has just been shipped to radio as a single. Other songs on the album include Sly and the Family Stone's "Hot Fun in the Summertime" and "Forever," on which the Boys (Mike, Carl, Bruce and Al) join forces with, believe it or not, John Stamos, the star of the situation comedy Full House.

"We set out to do an album that would be easily assimilable by Beach Boys fans, new and old," Love says. "But we also wanted to do something that was more topical and relevant. The lyrics to the title song, `Summer in Paradise,' were inspired by our trip to the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and reflect our concern about the environment. It charted some new territory for the Beach Boys, since most of our songs haven't been particularly aware socially and environmentally.

"I think it's important that we go off and do some songs that address our feelings and the needs of the times rather than just forever repeating songs that are great but maybe don't have any particular meaning or relevance when weighed against today's realities. The Beach Boys can do it, so long as the desire is there--and I think it is, but I don't think it's been focused. It would be nice to resolve these things that are going on with Brian and get back closer to the original team. I think if Brian's situation was slightly altered, we could do new music together that we could be proud of rather than just parodying ourselves."

All of that will have to wait at least until the court case ends. In the meantime, the remaining Beach Boys are on the road again, pushing the box set (which already has sold more than 500,000 copies) and Summer in Paradise. And while major record labels presently are keeping their distance, other corporations recognize the band's appeal: The group is participating in a join-the-Beach-Boys-on-stage promotion sponsored by the makers of Fleischmann's margarine. As for Love, he is attempting to keep the lives of the Beach Boys--past, present and future--in some kind of perspective.

"There have been tragedies, but there have been great things, too," he says. "We do over a hundred concerts a year, we've made a lot of money, we've gone to a lot of great places, we've won a lot of accolades, met interesting people. But as great as the Beach Boys' musical legacy and history is, it's not the most important thing in the world. After all, the Beach Boys aren't boys anymore."

KOOL Koncert '94, with the Beach Boys, the Mamas and the Papas, Jan and Dean, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. 5:15 p.m. Saturday, June 11, Mile High Stadium, $12/$7, 290-

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts