Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Status Quo With The Beach Boys 'Fun Fun Fun'

Chart Peak: 24


Quo's cover of the Beach Boys 60s classic 'Fun Fun Fun' actually features the legendary Amerian outfit on Backing vocals... It entered the chart at No. 24 in 25th February 1996.
It's an inevitable consequence of the Now! albums starting as late in pop history as 1983 that there are several acts who appear in the series long after their best work is behind them. And here we get two for the price of one; it's unlikely to be widely disputed that Status Quo perfected their heads-down no-nonsense mindless boogie at some point in the 1970s, even if you don't prefer the earlier psuedo-psychedelic sound. And as for the Beach Boys, well, there are many who consider them the greatest American act of the rock era and who feel that Pet Sounds is the best album ever. The good news is that the five surviving members of the line-up who made that album seem to have been involved here: Brian and Carl Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston, with what I believe were Brian Wilson's first UK performances for fifteen years. The bad news is that, well, they're backing singers for Status Quo on one song. But the Quo certainly got their money's worth for the airfares, as a quick scan of YouTube finds them on a whole slew of ITV programmes, including little-remembered game show Talking Telephone Numbers. When Emma Forbes jokes about them threatening to sue in the intro, it's not a reference to the any lawsuits between the various Beach Boys (not even to the then-recently-settled one about the authorship of this very song) but to the Quo's notorious attempt to sue Radio 1 for not playlisting this track. They've subsequently claimed that this was a publicity stunt instigated by their management, and some people might even believe them, but the whole notion seems even more absurd now than it did at the time.

The elder Wilson (and Jardine) had returned to California before some of the other appearance, including this one on GMTV, which is fortunate as the thought of Brian Wilson being interviewed by Eamonn Holmes is really too horrible to think about. But that clip is notable for its reference to a listener unused to the amount of pre-release publicity records were starting to get in those days, presumably because the potential market for this record would not be regular singles buyers in the mid-1990s. Or Radio 1 listeners.

It's unlikely that you'll be unfamiliar with the original of this song, but in all honesty I needed to hear it after researching all the clips of this new version. Here's a genuine live version from 1964 as a bonus. You might not know that it was never a hit in the UK, though it was the title track of a successful EP; it was certainly a well-known number at the time, as I recall my Mum recounting that she'd enjoyed hearing the song (as a very young person, I hasten to add) despite having no idea what a "T-Bird" was. Predictably enough, Status Quo interpret the song in their usual mode of the time, simplistic but not actually all that rocky somehow. Mike Love sings a new verse not in the original, presumably in order to pad the song out to a more conventional length for the modern era. Needless to say, it's not actually any good, and doesn't even offer the same sort of stupid fun as the other Beach Boys collaboration to wind up on a Now! album, 'Wipeout' with the Fat Boys. It's a bit of a sad end to their UK singles chart career, and indeed to the oeuvre of Carl Wilson, who died less than two years later, fifteen years ago next month in fact. I had to listen to Holland while I was writing most of this to make myself feel better.

Status Quo also appear on: Now 4, 8, 14, 18, 53
The Beach Boys also appear on: Now 10 (with the Fat Boys)
Available on: The Platinum Collection

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