By Jim Fusco:
Okay, request time here at The Laptop Sessions! This one’s going out to Peter (aka thebeachboys on YouTube).
This is one of my favorites and I thought no one else really ever paid any attention to it. “Somewhere Near Japan”, written by Mike Love and Terry Melcher, is one of the only saving graces on the 1988 EP/album “Still Cruisin”. Actually, I like the album a lot, but it’s not really a full album. There are a few old Beach Boys songs tacked onto the end of the album because they were “featured” in movies out at the time. And, you can pretty much throw away the Fat Boys’ version of “Wipeout” which featured Brian Wilson singing the backing vocals. It’s nice to hear Brian in there, but honestly, why did that song end up on a Beach Boys album anyway? You’ve also got “Kokomo”. Love it or hate it, it’s one of the biggest songs they ever did. So, the album had some notoriety behind it. Songs like “Still Cruisin'” are just fun songs to me, and the Beach Boys even played that song during their 2012 tour! Personally, I really like the songs “Make It Big” and “Island Girl”, especially because they feature Carl Wilson and Al Jardine, respectively.
Carl Wilson, Al Jardine, Mike Love, and Bruce Johnston are all featured on lead at some point on “Somewhere Near Japan” (ala “Add Some Music” from the Beach Boys’ 1970 classic album, Sunflower) and I think that always added to my enjoyment of the song. I’ll admit it- when Terry Melcher and Mike Love wanted to write a good song, they really hit it on the nose. Think of the classic song “Gethca Back” from the Beach Boys 1985 album. Even a couple years after the Still Cruisin’ album on 1992’s “Summer In Paradise”, Melcher and Love wrote a few great songs. Now THAT is an album that doesn’t get any respect. I think songs like “Island Fever”, “Lahaina Aloha”, and “Strange Things Happen” are really great songs.
Tonight’s acoustic cover song music video is one of those “let’s hear how it sounds stripped-down” versions. The late-80s production might have turned some people off to this Beach Boys song, but I think the song stands up great on it own! So, these 80s/90s Beach Boys songs may have cheesy lyrics now and again (and that 1992 drum machine is pretty bad). But, that’s one of the reasons why I record cover song videos here on the music blog. I’d like to think that I’m pretty good at spotting a good song, even if it’s hidden underneath terrible production and synth instruments. And, with that ability, I strip all of that stuff away to give you an acoustic-guitar-driven version. I hope these videos open people to songs they otherwise wouldn’t listen to.
I hope you enjoy tonight’s cover video, and keep those requests coming! I’m doing a new music video every two days this year. If you request something, please be patient, but we’re always here to please at The Laptop Sessions acoustic cover songs music video blog!