Carl & The Passions
- "So tough"

Carl & The Passions - "So Tough" Album

  • US Release: May 15th 1972
  • UK Release: May 15 1972
  • Chart High: US #50 UK #25
  • Singles: 
  • You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone b/w Cuddle Up
  • Marcella b/w Hold On Dear Brother


In mid May, The Beach Boys release Carl & The Passions – “So Tough”. The album is frequently considered a transitional album for the band, with the addition of Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar on guitar and drums respectively. Long-time member Bruce Johnston departs during it’s initial sessions.

In 1971 , Carl Wilson decided to spice up the structure of The Beach Boys by hiring third guitarist Blondie Chaplin, whose soulful singing brought a strong R&B element into the band’s sound. Drummer and singer-songwriter Ricky Fataar also joined at this time, as Dennis Wilson had suffered a debilitating hand accident. Both South Africans, Blondie and Ricky were discovered by Carl while playing in seminal South African band The Flames in London back in 1969. The album sees The Beach Boys entering a period of roots-based rock.

Not long after the sessions began, Bruce Johnston had a falling out with manager Jack Rieley and left the band. According to Johnston, he quit because he was unenthusiastic about Rieley’s suggestion that the group adopt a hard rock approach and felt that Brian Wilson’s lack of involvement after the release of Surf’s Up and lately had resulted in a declining artistic quality. Johnston has said that his only musical contribution on the released album is as a background vocalist on “Marcella”.

Pictured: The 1972 Beach Boys. Blondie Chaplin (Top Middle). Ricky Fataar (Bottom Left).

Jeremy Roberts writes in retrospect for Medium:         

“In listening to the album years later, “You Need a Mess of Help to Stand Alone,” written by Jack Rieley and Brian Wilson, is one of the best opening cuts on a Beach Boys album, period. Completely out of left field, a lot of folks back in the day probably didn’t think the Boys were capable of such a rocking, powerful song. “Here She Comes,” the first of two Chaplin/Fataar co-writes, is more groove-based and sounds nothing like the rest of the Beach Boys’ canon. Not necessarily a bad thing, depending on one’s expectations.”

 “Marcella” should have been a comeback single for the band, but once again, received no chart action. Another Brian/Rieley co-write with early participation from Tandyn Almer, the chugging pop rock ode to Brian’s former masseuse has a wonderful guitar solo by Carl and a mid-section breakdown sung by Love. “Hold On, Dear Brother” serves as the final Chaplin/Fataar composition, possibly a plea for Brian’s well-being. Featuring Chaplin’s soul-influenced vocal, it is yet another experimental sojourn, albeit this time with country rock overtones”.

“All This Is That” has a mesmerizing quality anchored by massive keyboard layers, bass, and the group’s ethereal vocal chants. Carl never sounded as angelic as when his voice reaches near soprano range on the fade. The remainder of side two gives way to grandiose ballads spearheaded by Dennis, co-written with Daryl Dragon. In modern times, the constantly on the move syndrome affecting many listeners may hamper their ability to digest “Make It Good” and “Cuddle Up” sufficiently. A string section accentuates the devastatingly aching mood, particularly on the latter.”

Pictured: 1972 German version of the “You Need A Mess of Help To Stand Alone” single.


Carl & The Passions Sessions
November 4-10 1971, Santa Monica, CA

Today’s session for vocals and instrumental tracking is the first carried out at the group’s new recording studio in Santa Monica, an impressive complex converted from an old cinema. It boasts state of the art equipment and beautiful stained glass windows. Working with engineer Steve Moffitt, Mike Love and Al Jardine work alone recording “All This Is That”, a song co written by Al, Mike, and Carl Wilson, based on a poem by Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken.

Further tracking sessions at the new studio continue intermittently until the  10th of this month as the group starts recording work on “Beatrice from Baltimore”, (later to become “Mess Of Help”), “Here She Comes” and “He Come Down”. Brian and Bruce are occasional visitors to the studio, but the bulk of the recording during thisperiod focuses on completing “One Arm Over My Shoulder”, an “ode to a masseuse” that soon becomes better known as “Marcella”.

Carl sings lead vocal, with Mike on the tag and Brian on backing vocal. The completed recording of 3:52 duration – featuring joint production from all band members – will eventually appear on Carl & The Passions -“So Tough” next year, along with the four other pieces completed around this time. After working on various vocal arrangements for “Marcella”, the group and manager Jack Rieley earmark the completed recording as a potential new single.    

Pictured: Dutch version of the “Marcella” Single

ON TOUR - Birmingham, UK
Thursday, May 18th, 1972

Record Mirror writes in this review:

“The Kinetic Circus [Venue] is a bit cold tonight here in Birmingham. Luckily The Beach Boys are in town, and starting the show with “Heroes and Villains” warmed the place up a bit. Though there is no actual leader of the group, Carl Wilson is certainly the hub around which the show revolves. And revolve they do. After each number there’s a unique Beach Boys shuffle, a a sort of musical chairs , and whoever has the bass guitar in their hands when the music starts, plays it.”

“Carl took most of the vocals in the first half of the show, while the rest of the group weaved a soft, gentle pattern of harmony around him. It’s a fascinating pattern to see in the making, everyone on stage playing a part in it, and it’s hard to tell what combination of voices is creating the harmonies at any one time. Al Jardine holds centre stage with guitar. Dennis Wilson, ex-drummer, now busy versatile front-man, looks fit, handsome and lively as he moves across stage from organ to electric piano.”

“Blondie Chaplin works hard. Ricky Fataar is heard on drums to great effect but not seen through stage chatter. Mike Love, red beard under a motoring cap, is cool, casual and competent. At the break it’s hard to tell whether The Beach Boys were being cool, too casual, or just slow. In the second set, it came strong. “Do You Wanna Dance”, “Sloop John B”, and “Do It Again” were familiar as nursery rhymes to a young audience. The last numbers, a mix of some new songs from Carl & The Passions and classics like “I Get Around” and “Good Vibrations”, once again left the audience hot and happy.” – Next Release

Pictured: Concert poster for a November 1972 show in Ohio.