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Carl and the Passions - So Tough/Holland ()

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Capitol's 2000 two-fer reissue program of Beach Boys LPs continued apace with 1972's Carl and the Passions - So Tough and 1973's Holland, a pair of albums whose quality, style, and sound fit each other perfectly. After ten years of alternating sun-and-fun with doom-and-gloom, the Beach Boys were in obvious need of a musical recharge during the early '70s; the growing roots rock movement led by the Band and the Grateful Dead provided them with a new direction, and the group re-emerged by 1972 as an earthy, socially aware unit complete with long, scraggly hair (Mike Love's contributions coming from under his chin instead of on top of his head). Carl and the Passions - So Tough salutes American roots music with nods to blues-rock ("You Need a Mess of Help to Stand Alone," "Here She Comes") and gospel ("He Came Down"). Brian's lone contribution is the solid rocker "Marcella," and Dennis crystallizes his growing mastery of the ballad with the album-closers "Make It Good" and "Cuddle Up."One year later, little had changed -- this despite the relocation of the entire band (and their studio) to the Netherlands for a working holiday (or morale booster). "Steamboat" and "Leaving This Town" are generic mid-tempo rockers, and the Mike Love-Al Jardine collaborative suite known as "California Saga" is irretrievably cloying. Inconsistent contributors Brian and Dennis come through yet again, the former with a pair of comparatively good songs ("Sail On, Sailor," "The Trader") and the latter with another perfect ballad ("Only With You"). Though these two LPs don't suffer from the maudlin production and songwriting that would plague many of the Beach Boys' later albums, Carl and the Passions - So Tough and Holland were distinct disappointments (to fans and critics) after the heights of Sunflower and Surf's Up. [Kudos go to Capitol, who faced a bit of a quandary with the reissue of these albums: they would've fit perfectly on one CD, but compilers sacrificed a projected single-disc set by adding the rare "third" side of the Holland record -- a Brian Wilson fairy tale named Mt. Vernon and Fairway -- and offered the two-disc set with only a slight increase in price.] ~ John Bush, Rovi Hide synopsis

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