Interesting news in the last few days is that not only has Blondie Chaplin been working on Brian’s new album in the studio, he will now join the Brian-Al-Dave/Jeff Beck tour on select dates.
As the year has progressed, fans have continued to speculate on what, if anything Brian intends by touring with Al and David, vis-à-vis Mike Love and the demise of the full reunion lineup. It hasn’t been a big leap to speculate if at least part of the intention, and certainly an interesting byproduct, of Brian adding Al and David to his tour has been to send some sort of message to Mike and his touring operation. What type of message has and continues to be up for debate. I for one tend to doubt Brian is truly moving towards attempting to wrestle back control of the “Beach Boys” name for touring purposes. But it’s not impossible that some sort of subtle message is intended with this touring lineup. Perhaps it’s a subtle way of showing up Mike (the whole “three Beach Boys in Brian’s band versus two Beach Boys in the actual band using the Beach Boys name” scenario) or implying that Brian *could* move to take the name back. Perhaps it’s intended as a motivator for Mike to get back to the reunion lineup. In any event, fan debate has been mixed as to what, if anything, is intended by Brian having Al and David on his tour, beyond of course simply wanting to put together an enticing show for fans with guys he likes playing with.
Adding Blondie Chaplin to the tour, even for only select dates, makes things even more interesting, and it makes it harder to brush off Brian’s touring plans as not having any sort of political aspect or subtext. It may well be that Brian is simply making more connections, or “reconnections”, with people for his new album. But it’s hard to ignore that at some shows on this tour, Brian’s “solo” tour will now have FOUR Beach Boys in attendance, literally doubling the two in Mike’s band. None of Chaplin, Marks, or Johnston are corporate members, nor is there apparently any longer anything written into the “Beach Boys” touring name license that requires X number of “official” Beach Boys in the band touring under that name. So adding Chaplin (or Marks for that matter) doesn’t give Brian any more legal advantage in terms of using the name. So if adding Chaplin has any inter-band political subtext, it would have to be a much more subtle one. It may be as simple as trying to shape the impending press for Brian’s tour in such a way that it becomes impossible for the press to ignore that Brian’s band will have twice as many Beach Boys at some shows than the band calling itself “The Beach Boys” presently.
Adding Chaplin will certainly please a lot of diehard fans, certainly especially those that romanticize that heyday of 1973. Frankly, having listened to the 1972/73 live recordings of the band on the “Made in California” set, the romanticizing and pining for that era of the band is warranted. Those live tracks kick ass.
Fans are already also speculating on how Chaplin will figure into the live shows. With Brian and Jeff Beck splitting sets, meaning shorter sets presumably than they would normally play on their own, there probably isn’t a ton of room to expand any of the sets. We can presumably assume Blondie will sing “Sail on Sailor.” Beyond that, who knows? Fans have been speculating on “Wild Honey” and “Funky Pretty” as two more obvious possibilities for Chaplin to add vocals to.
The weird combinations on display continue to fascinate me. Who would have thought even a few years ago that we’d be seeing David Marks and Blondie Chaplin touring alongside Brian Wilson and Al Jardine, with Jeff Beck to boot? Crazy!