From The Desk Of Camper Van Beethoven’s Jonathan Segel: The Beach Boys’ “Holland”

La Costa Perdida (429) kicks off Camper Van Beethoven’s 30th-anniversary year amidst an orchestrated (if deserving) surge in recognition for the group—everything from Paul Rudd donning a vintage Camper concert tee in the film This Is 40 to glowing quotes from members of R.E.M. and the Meat Puppets. The LP is CVB’s first album since 2004’s New Roman Times and was mostly recorded at multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Segel’s Oakland home studio a year prior to his move to Sweden. “The process was similar, perhaps, to the recording of Camper’s third album, in that we could experiment and had time to work on things,” says Segel. “The first two CVB albums were recorded in a weekend.” Segel will be guest editing all week. Read our brand new feature on the band.

Segel: When I was growing up, my brother and I decided to split up the artists whose records we collected so we wouldn’t have to duplicate things, so I got the Beatles (I started first) and he got the Beach Boys, etc. We were pretty diligent, and got lots of records throughout the 1970s. To be honest, I was never much into the early Beach Boys, and despite indie rock’s overwhelming obsession with Brian Wilson and every year some new band rediscovers Pet Sounds and needs to be the new Beach Boys in homage, I actually don’t think it’s all that great. I mean the lyrics are silly. The arrangements and recording are cool. But it’s not enough. I’m also not super into the old barbershop vocal arrangements.

Anyway, the Beach Boys did grow up (and then grew old) and along the way made it into the ’70s. Surf’s Up was a pretty bold statement by a surf band (indeed admitting that the surf scene was up.) But what got my attention was Holland. (Also attributed to Carl And The Passions, as the band was in the process of losing Brian Wilson.)

Holland was made in 1972, in Holland (hence the title) by Carl Wilson, Al Jardine and Mike Love, with new members Ricky Fataar and Blondie Chaplin from South African band the Flame. And the captain, Daryl Dragon, on keys! They included a weird schizoid story from Brian Wilson as a seven-inch with the package, but it’s fairly uncomfortable to listen to.

Holland, though made in Holland, is about California. Camper’s new CD, La Costa Perdida, is about California, in the same way. We were indeed inspired by this record—not in any sort of literal way; we certainly aren’t trying to sound like it (though we do pay a slight homage to the original band with the overwrought vocals by the Georgia kids the Peach Boys on our song “Northern California Girls,” which all hits the spot, reference wise, for me: people from somewhere else, recording somewhere else, singing about California.)

There are some near-psychedelic moments on Holland, but mostly it’s just pre-funky. I love their new mellow version of “Sail On, Sailor” and the incredible stoner vibe on “Steamboat.” The Big Sur trilogy, with spoken poems, was nearly as scary to me as a child as the Moody Blues’ “Knights In White Satin” (ooh, nightmare music!), but “Trader” and “Funky Pretty” seal the deal for me. “Trader” is a multi-part anti-imperialist jaunt, while “Funky Pretty” has the pre-Captain And Tenille-style keyboard stylings about ’70s astrological love. Amazing.

P.S. There was a weird prototype clear lucite guitar made by Fender that Carl Wilson used on this record, someone is selling it on eBay for $29k.

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