- US Release: January 8th 1973
- UK Release: January 1973
- Chart High: US #36; UK #20
- Sail On Sailor b/w Only With You
- California Saga: California b/w Funky Pretty
The newest Beach Boys album to be released is called Holland and it is released in the first days of January 1973. The album’s name is an ode to The Netherlands (also known as Holland), where the group did the recording, wanting to “get away from the whole scene, find a new scene and create in that new scene.”
Early in 1972, the group travels to Holland for the first time since the end of 1970, intending to vacation for a week. But this will turn into several months as they happily succumb to the county’s all-encompassing calm. They decide that The Netherlands – where the surf is never up – will be the base from which they will administer their forthcoming UK/European tour, and that the excursion will wind up in Holland where they will stay to record their next album. After many years of recording in California the group feels that they need a change of location.
The group mistakenly assume that they will be able to just book and use facilities on offer. Soon however they learn that the country’s few studios are already over-booked and that it is impossible to reserve enough time to record an LP. But they have come too far to turn back. Sick of the atmosphere and strain that California has brought them, they rashly decide to commission the creation of a studio based on the technology of the future in sleepy, rural Holland.
Pictured: Dennis Wilson, Al Jardine and Carl Wilson in Holland.
Jim Miller writes in Rolling Stone, May 1st 1973:
“Through it all, with rare lapses, The Beach Boys have clung, for better or worse, to their sound, a collective style that has shown a remarkable capacity for growth. Holland is a cohesive portrait of that style’s most recent evolutions. In acknowledgement of Brian Wilson’s still honored if slightly mythological status, even with the group, the album both opens and closes with a new Brian opus. As usual, each is informed by a singular sensibility that, currently, seems inclined toward a kind of chamber rock. Blondie Chaplin’s superb vocals on “Sail On Sailor” situates that song between recent Stevie Wonder and vintage Beach Boys, although the expansive harmonies and insistent triplets ultimately assert the group’s own rights.”
“Funky Pretty” is more on the guttural side of R&B. It mounts its grit in a swirl of harmonic complications, again underlining Blondie Chaplin’s more straightforward vocal dexterity. It makes for a beautiful track. Dennis Wilson’s intriguing, sluggish “Steamboat” comes replete with doowop embellishments and a wadding guitar solo, while “Only With You”, a track reminiscent of Dennis’ efforts on So Tough, is well-arranged and generally more successful than his previous ballads. Holland’s centerpiece is a trilogy titled “California Saga”, opened by Mike Love’s jaunty “Big Sur”, a mild ode to a wilderness phrased in a Beach Boy variant of Southern California’s country-folk idiom. Things get a little heavy with “The Beaks of Eagles”, which incorporates a rather ponderous recitation, which fits in with the saga’s overall movement, which is straight toward Al Jardine’s “California”…
Pictured: Dutch version of the “Sail On Sailor” single.
…”California” is a song that incarnates every historical facet of The Beach Boys in a rhapsodic fusion of “Cool, Cool Water” and “California Girls”. The opening group vocal is simply stunning, building into one of Mike Love’s familiar leads, while the instrumental tracks add an appropriately quaint dimension with banjo, pedal steel and harmonica following the loping bass figure. Carl Wilson’s “The Trader” also stands out among Holland’s songs. A neatly floating composition, it recalls Carl’s memorable contributions to Surf’s Up. “Leaving This Town”, which rounds out the album, is a subtly realized song by Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar that wholly transcends the eclecticism that marred their work on So Tough. Chaplin’s vocal is again outstanding, with it’s rich group harmonies, aching lead vocal and methodical moog synthesizer solo, it is another one of Holland’s several high points.”
“Included with Holland is a seven inch record by Brian Wilson, Mt. Vernon and Fairway. It seems an appropriate creation from such an imagination. Except from a brief appearance by Brian himself as the “Pied Piper”, the story is narrated by Jack Rieley, the group’s manager. It it’s recounting of an encounter with a glowing transistor radio playing divine rock, Brian’s whimsy perhaps strikes an autobiographical note. His occasional music on this record is quirky and inspired.”
“Like the finest Beach Boys’ work, Holland makes me consistently smile, as much as its occasionally unnerving simplicity of viewpoint as at its frequently ornate perfection. Although The Beach Boys may be an acquired taste, once the listener has granted them their stylistic predilections, their best albums become irresistible. Their music long ago transcended facile categorization, and now they play what might as well be described as Beach Boy music. Unlike last year’s disappointing So Tough, Holland offers that music at it’s most satisfying. It is a special album.”
Pictured: Various Holland promo materials.
March-JUNE 1972, SANTA MONICA, CA
Steve Moffitt is the engineer at the group’s Santa Monica studio during the sessions for the Carl & The Passions album. Moffitt gets a call from The Beach Boys while they are in Amsterdam asking him to design, and construct a new mixing desk, disassemble it, ship it to Holland and reassemble it there. He is given a deadline of June 1st. His first move is to contact all of the best makers of mixing consoles in New York and Los Angeles, requesting prices and specifications for standard models. The deadline is a problem: none of the manufacturers can promise delivery in less than 90 days. With no alternative, Moffitt decides to create a dream console from scratch. He will need help. His friend and physics genius Gordon Rudd is the only man whom Moffitt feels the project has a chance, but at first Rudd is understandably reluctant.
In the Holland booklet, Moffitt admits: “It was a ridiculous task to start with, with only two men working on it. But the manufacturers were proposing mixers twice the size with half of the functions. Most of the people who design consoles have never actually had to use them.” When Moffitt and Rudd complete their design, construction takes place in a 2,000-square foot warehouse located in the back of a movie theatre in Santa Monica. Once the job starts, assemblers work 24 hours a day in shifts to complete it. With his work finished in coordinating the console in the US, Moffitt flies to Amsterdam to supervise assembly. For four and a half weeks, Beach Boys equipment travels on ever single flight from Los Angeles to Amsterdam (of which there are four daily) and, to correct breakdowns, on every Amsterdam to Los Angeles flight (three daily). The gross weight of all the gear is an alarming 7,300 pounds. The specially made crates alone cost over $5,000 ($30,700 in 2019).
Pictured: Dutch copy of the “California/Funky Pretty” single
MAY 29-JUNE 2 1972, Baambrugge, Netherlands
Now in Holland, Beach Boys engineer Steve Moffitt finds an existing studio in a barn in Baambrugge, about ten miles south of Amsterdam, that sits among a collection of unprepossessing farm buildings, adjacent to a defunct greenhouse. The acoustics of the building are dreadful. But Moffitt thinks it can be successfully converted into the group’s new studio. He starts by having a new floor laid six inches above the old one so that cables can be run underneath. Sand is poured between the uprights to avoid sound resonating. Even the speakers are made containing specially imported Malibu sand, again to prevent resonance. Sound friendly angles are built into the ceilings, which are covered with spun glass. The fluorescent lighting already in the barn is quickly replaced with a multitude of study-buddy lamps stuck to the walls, covered with different colored gels and controlled by dimmer switches.
Although the components of the high tech studio have been tested back in the US, there has been no time to try out the system as a whole. It’s possible that parts may have been affected by the extreme cold in the plane’s freight bay. Steve Moffitt will recall in the Holland booklet, “We finally got it all hooked up in Holland….and nothing worked right! You learn in electronics to expect anything.” Moffitt and Gordon Rudd attend to the studio and begin working 18-hour troubleshooting shifts. Throughout this period as Holland is recorded, Moffitt regularly tends to the temperamental 4-track equipment , running it for four hours before recording begins each day, and for another two after taping has concluded. The hi-tech studio has a streamlined, multicolored mixing console supported on two pedestals with no cables visible. It glows futuristically in the dark. Once operational, the studio is the best ever seen in The Netherlands.
Pictured: The studio in Holland.
ON TOUR - Hollywood, Ca
Friday, April 20, 1973
This concert is highlighted by the return appearances of Brian Wilson and Bruce Johnston. Brian appears exceedingly briefly during the encore, his first stage moment with the group since 1971. He has been talked into appearing by his friend, Three Dog Night singer Danny Hutton.
Judith Sims writes in Rolling Stone:
“The Beach Boys recently decided to come back and live in Los Angeles after last year’s escapade in Holland, but this was the first concert in their home town in almost two years. As they came up on stage, it wasn’t the old recognizable group. For one thing, Bruce Johnston was missing and there were six new backing musicians on stage (Billy Hinsche, Carlos Munoz, Joe Pollard, Ed Carter, and Richard “Didymus” Washington). They started with a lightly uneasy “Help Me Rhonda”, but when they hit “Darlin”, it was a smooth joyous example of their professional talent.”
“Carl Wilson sang Brian’s solo on “Caroline No” and then they jumped back to present day with Blondie Chaplin singing lead on “Sail On Sailor” and “Leaving This Town” from their new album Holland. He sounded just like…..a Beach Boy. Another new song played was “Funky Pretty”, and an amazing rendition it was. Brian Wilson was there, he occasionally walked across the edge of the audience, looming larger than ever in a long dark coat, and though the audience kept calling out for him, he didn’t emerge.”
“They did four encores, “Surfer Girl”, “I Get Around”, “Fun Fun Fun” and a surprise “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”. Even former Beach Boy Bruce Johnston joined in, and then the group went off. The crowd kept up a steady, pounding encore call for nearly eight minutes and the group finally came back with “California Girls”, and in the last minute, Brian himself came out, shy and uneasy, and sang a few lines until they all left for the last time.”
Pictured: December 1st, 1973, Memphis TN show poster.