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Wild Honey is the thirteenth studio album by American rock band the Beach Boys, released on December 18, 1967, by Capitol Records. Self-produced by the band, Wild Honey was the second consecutive Beach Boys album since Surfin' U.S.A. not to give sole production credit to Brian Wilson, who had gradually abdicated the band's musical leadership following the difficult sessions for the aborted Smile LP. Despite this, the album is said[by whom?] to be primarily a Brian production.

The colorful image on the front of the album sleeve is a small section of an elaborate stained-glass window that adorned Brian and Marilyn Wilson's house in Bel Air. Although the Wilson family no longer owns that property, the window itself was removed when they moved out and is currently to be found in Marilyn Wilson-Rutherford's present house.


 [hide*1 Background


The name "Wild Honey" derives from the album's lead single which was a double entendre suggesting both edible honey and "honey" as a term of endearment.[2] It became a minor hit with only a short chart stay. Its follow-up "Darlin'", reached the US Top 20, while the album itself reached number 24 in the United States and number seven in the United Kingdom. The track "Here Comes the Night" was later redone as a disco song in the late 1970s and was a minor hit. "How She Boogalooed It", co-written by Al Jardine, Mike Love, Bruce Johnston and Carl Wilson, reached number ten on the Swedish charts[citation needed] and was the first Beach Boys non-instrumental original not to be written or co-written by Brian Wilson.

The closing track, "Mama Says", is a chant that originated from an unreleased incarnation of the composition "Vegetables". It was the first of tracks with thematic links to Smile used to close a later Beach Boys album.[3] Outtakes from the album's sessions include "Can't Wait Too Long", "Cool, Cool Water" and covers of the Box Tops hit "The Letter" and Burt Bacharach's "My Little Red Book".[4]


According to Steven GainesWild Honey is "considered by many" to be a soul album.[5] Jason Fine, writing in The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), called it "a rougher album of California soul".[6] Edwin Faust of Stylus Magazine wrote that it is "sometimes referred to as the Beach Boys’ 'soul album'" and that its music focuses "simply on catchy hooks, snappy melodies and a straight-up boogie-woogiefeel".[7] In The Rough Guide to Rock (1996), Nig Hodgkins called Wild Honey the Beach Boys' "party album ... with a mixture of pop, soul and R&B."[8] Lenny Kaye, writing for eMusic, felt that its "R&B leanings" may be attributed to Mike Love and Carl Wilson's vocal roles on the album.[9] David Leaf said that "this Beach Boys soul album was in part a response to critics' claims that the group consisted of ball-less choir boys."[10] According to writer Byron Preiss, Carl Wilson "came into prominence singing leads and working on production", and the focus of the project was "something thoroughly unexpected: a Beach Boys' soul album. The group had turned around, getting closer to their R&B roots."[11]


Professional ratings
Retrospective reviews
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic [12]
Blender [13]
eMusic [9]
Pitchfork Media 3.5/10[14]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide [6]
The Village Voice A+[15]

Wild Honey was not a chart success and was similarly received as Smiley Smile by contemporary music critics, who viewed it as another inconsequential album from the band.[10] Rolling Stone magazine felt that the Beach Boys have regained their better judgement after the "disaster" of Smiley Smile, although their use of "pre-existing ideas and idioms" on Wild Honey is less satisfactory and original than their earlier work: "It's kind of amusing that the Beach Boys are suddenly re-discovering rhythm and blues five years after the Beatles and Stones had brought it all back home".[16] In his column for Esquire, music criticRobert Christgau wrote that the album "epitomizes Brian Wilson", including the song "I'd Love Just Once to See You", which "expresses perfectly his quiet, thoughtful, sentimental artistic personality."[17]

In a 1976 retrospective guide to 1967 for The Village Voice, Christgau wrote that the album is "so slight" but "perfect and full of pleasure". He felt that, "almost without a bad second", it conveys "the troubled innocence of the Beach Boys through a time of attractive but perilous psychedelic sturm und drang. Its method is whimsy, candor, and carefully modulated amateurishness, all of which comes through as humor."[15] In 1978, he ranked Wild Honey number 10 on his list of the best rock albums.[18] Record producer Tony Visconti listed the album as one of his 13 favorite albums and said that "I still refer to this record as a benchmark in the same way that I do Revolver."[19] In 2012, Rolling Stone ranked Wild Honey at number two on its "Coolest Summer Albums of All Time" list, praising its "hedonistic rock & roll spirit", "humor" and "pensive depth".[20]

In a negative review, Pitchfork Media's Spencer Owen said that only "one or two" songs succeed and the majority of the album is "not pretty" because of its R&B vein as "interpreted by white surfer boys", including "a Stevie Wonder cover sung with as much faux-soul as Carl Wilson could have possibly mustered."[14] In his review for AllmusicRichie Unterberger wrote that, apart from "Darlin'", "Here Comes the Night", and the title track, most of Wild Honey was "inessential". He found the music "often quite pleasant, for the great harmonies if nothing else, but the material and arrangements were quite simply thinner than they had been for a long time."[12]

Reissues and stereo mixes[edit][]

In 1990 Capitol Records reissued Wild Honey on a Beach Boys double CD with Smiley Smile and bonus tracks including an alternate version of "Heroes and Villains" that contains the 'cantina section', two incomplete versions of "Good Vibrations", "You're Welcome", "Their Hearts Were Full of Spring", and "Can't Wait Too Long". This printing of the CD also included in-depth liner notes by David Leaf, as well as previously unreleased Smile session photos by Jasper Dailey.

Wild Honey was the last Beach Boys LP to be released in both mono and duophonic. It held no true stereo mix at the time of its release. As of 2013, the album has only been officially available in monophonic sound, although some tracks have appeared in remixed stereo within compilation albums. In 2001 a stereo mix of "Let the Wind Blow" was released on Hawthorne CA; "Darlin" and "Wild Honey" made their stereo debut on Fifty Big Ones in 2012 and "Country Air" on Made in California in 2013.

Live performances[edit][]

Seven of the 11 songs on the album have been performed live by The Beach Boys or Brian Wilson. Only "Darlin'" has become a semi-regular concert staple since the album's release.[21] Other songs from the album that have been played live include "Aren't You Glad", "Country Air", "How She Boogalooed It",[21] and "Let the Wind Blow". "I'd Love Just Once to See You" was performed for the first time ever by Brian Wilson in 2007.[22] It was also played several times during the early 70's and released on the album In Concert.

Track listing[edit][]

All songs written and composed by Brian Wilson/Mike Love, except where noted. 

Side one
No. Title Lead Vocals Length
1. "Wild Honey"   Carl Wilson 2:37
2. "Aren't You Glad"   Mike Love/Brian Wilson/C. Wilson 2:16
3. "I Was Made to Love Her(Cosby/Moy/Hardaway/Wonder) C. Wilson 2:05
4. "Country Air"   Group 2:20
5. "A Thing or Two"   Love/C. Wilson/B. Wilson 2:40
Side two
No. Title Lead Vocals Length
1. "Darlin'"   C. Wilson 2:12
2. "I'd Love Just Once to See You"   B. Wilson 1:48
3. "Here Comes the Night"   B. Wilson 2:41
4. "Let the Wind Blow"   Love/B. Wilson/C. Wilson 2:19
5. "How She Boogalooed It" (Love/Johnston/Jardine/C. Wilson) C. Wilson 1:56
6. "Mama Says"   Group 1:05


The Beach Boys
Additional personnel


Chart (1968) Peak


UK Albums Chart[23] 7
US Billboard 200[24] 24