Holland is the nineteenth studio album by the American rock group The Beach Boys, released in January 1973. It was recorded in Baambrugge, Netherlands over the summer of 1972 using a reconstructed studio sent from California, and with two Brian Wilson tracks rush-recorded in Los Angeles and added to the album at the last minute.
Just as Carl and the Passions – "So Tough" was coming to print, The Beach Boys, at manager Jack Rieley's urging, decided to pack up and record their next album in the Netherlands. They felt the change of scenery would make for some inspirational sessions, and perhaps even snap former leader Brian Wilson out of his deep depression.
By mid-1972, a combination of Wilson's focus waning from the Beach Boys to other creative outlets teamed with a growing addiction to cocaine led to Brian producing less music for the band than ever before and so the Beach Boys were hoping to jump-start his creative juices. Although he did make the trip (after three separate attempts to get on the plane), Wilson contributed little to the album, concentrating his musical efforts on "Mount Vernon and Fairway", a ten-minute long "musical fairy tale" which was later included with the album as a bonus EP. With Carl Wilson in charge, the rest of the band had to carry the album, and the resulting effort, named Holland, was one of The Beach Boys' more respected 1970s releases.
Due to homesickness, Al Jardine and Mike Love conspired to create a three-part song cycle as an ode to California. Mike Love donated the country-laced "Big Sur" (written three years earlier and here presented in 3/4 waltz time), while Love and Al Jardine delivered the partially spoken-word of Robinson Jeffers' poem "Beaks of Eagles" and the shuffle-arranged "California", which features Brian on its first two lines. A remix of "California" was issued as the second single from the album and retitled "California Saga (On My Way To Sunny Californ-i-a)". Dennis, who was not given a lead vocal on Holland, offered up "Steamboat" and "Only with You". Carl included "The Trader": an anti-imperialist two-part epic that starts with a gleeful "Hi!" from his 3-year-old son, Jonah.
Upon the band's return from the Netherlands in the fall, Holland was rejected by Reprise Records for not having a potential hit single. It was decided to add an old unfinished Brian Wilson song, "Sail On, Sailor", which he had co-written with Ray Kennedy. After some re-working, Brian delivered what would become Holland's most famous track. "Sail On, Sailor" was one of two songs recorded at home (the other was Ricky Fataar's and Chaplin's soulful and moog-tinged "Leaving This Town") and added at the last minute to a re-sequenced and re-submitted Holland. One of the casualties of this tracklist reshuffling proved to be another Fataar/Chaplin tune, written with Mike Love, called "We Got Love", which would resurface later in 1973 in a live context.
Early test pressings of Holland, made in the US and in the UK feature the album in its original group-intended running order. Side one kicks off with "Steamboat", then the three-part Saga, followed by "We Got Love". The German distributor for Reprise records failed to implement the changed side-one line up correctly and mistakenly pressed 300-400 copies with the earlier running order. Early French and Canadian pressings of Holland still mention "We Got Love" on the sleeve, although the song is not on those albums.
Holland's bonus EP, entitled Mount Vernon and Fairway (A Fairy Tale), was based on the intersection where the Love family lived in Los Angeles, and was primarily composed by Brian Wilson. Wilson originally intended it to be the centerpiece of a new Beach Boys album, consisting of the tracks from the EP and "Funky Pretty". It was initially rejected by the other band members, which effectively caused Brian to quit the sessions until Carl decided to include it as a separate EP. However, by that point, Wilson had lost interest in both the project and the Beach Boys; reportedly for denying his artistic output towards the group. Wilson would not record with the Beach Boys again as a group until 1974 for the aborted Caribou sessions. While narrated by Jack Rieley (as it was mostly unfinished when Wilson effectively walked away from the project), the voice of the Pied Piper was supplied by Brian in a slightly grainier-sounding voice, exemplifying the effects of his considerable drug abuse at the time and forecasting his raspy vocals on the next Beach Boys album, 1976's 15 Big Ones.
The photograph on the front sleeve of the "Holland" album is an upside down image of the Kromme Waal, a canal that runs through the center of Amsterdam.
Released in January 1973, Holland received mostly encouraging reviews and helped The Beach Boys establish their critical standing further. It peaked at No. 36 in the US and No. 20 in the UK. At the end of the 1973, Rolling Stone named Holland as one of their picks for "album of the year". In 2000, Elvis Costello ranked the album as one of his favourite records of all time. Not all reaction to the album has been positive. Robert Christgau praised the production qualities of the album, but believed the album had strayed too far from what the Beach Boys did best, stating "I suppose that in time their tongue-tied travelogue of Big Sur may seem no more escapist than "Fun Fun Fun," but who'll ever believe it's equally simple, direct, or innocent?" Camper Van Beethoven have disclosed that when recording their album La Costa Perdida, Holland was enormous inspiration to them.
User Album Review
External Album Reviews