Tuesday at the Mahaiwe, a taste of 'Honey' from The Beach Boys

GREAT BARRINGTON — For Beach Boys' singer/songwriter Mike Love, the 1967 Beach Boys album "Wild Honey" was a welcome direction for the band at the time.

"We looked at 'Wild Honey' as more of an R&B record," he said in a recent phone interview. "We'd released 'Smiley Smile' a few months earlier. We wanted to get back to being more self-contained."

The Beach Boys, which includes Love and another long-time member Bruce Johnston, in the band, will be playing the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center on Tuesday. The tour is billed as The "Wild Honey" tour, as that album was released 50 years ago in December.

"Wild Honey" came in the wake of "Smiley Smile," an idiosyncratic effort by the band that was, at the time, essentially in place of the much-anticipated "Smile." The result was under-whelming.

With that album struggling commercially, the band went back to what Love described as its R&B roots. This meant generating songs written and performed by only members of the group, although, Love said, there was one exception.

"We covered Stevie Wonder's 'I Was Made To Love Her,'" said Love. "A very soulful song that I thought fit us perfectly."

The result, "Wild Honey," presented a more rootsy sound. The production included the use of a detuned, boogie-woogie piano, which Brian Wilson reportedly loved to play. Wilson said in a 1978 interview that the odd tuning made the piano sound more like a "12-string guitar."

Love and Brian Wilson wrote nine of the 11 tracks on "Wild Honey," including the single, "Darlin' ," which peaked at No. 7 on the UK charts. Ironically, according to many reports, Brian was set to give the song to Three Dog Night, until Love implored him to keep the song for their own band.

"['Wild Honey'] was more of an effort to get back to Brian and Mike writing songs and the band playing them," said Love. "I loved the songs. I thought they were all great tracks."

Many of the tracks on that disc will be featured at the Mahaiwe, said Love. But, he added, the band believes the acoustics and intimacy of the Mahaiwe will foster songs not often heard in larger, open spaces.

"Those larger facilities like Tanglewood and SPAC, they're great," said Love. "But what we've found when we play smaller places like the Mahaiwe is that we can try more subtle things."

These include a capella songs, for which the band is well-known, said Love. In addition, the band can perform songs like "In My Room" and "The Warmth of the Sun" using different arrangements.

"As the years have gone by, we find that these theaters are our favorite places to play," he said.

Reach staff writer Derek Gentile at 413-629-4621


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