Looking Back With Love 5 ( 1981 ) Looking Back With Love / On and On and On / Runnin' Around the World / Over and Over / Rockin' the Man in the Boat / Calendar Girl / Be My Baby / One Good Reason / Teach Me Tonight / Paradise Found
Never released either digitally or on CD, this is the debut solo album by Beach Boys singer, and sometime frontman, Mike Love. His 2nd solo record came out released thirty-six years later, which might tell you something. Ten songs included here and Mike has exactly one song writing credit, a co-write with a fellow called Jim Struder. The album has a production credit of Curt Boettcher. Curt worked with The Beach Boys during the tail-end of the Seventies and plays Keyboards on ‘Looking Back With Love’.
This album, despite enduring a chronic lack of commercial success and being unavailable for years, isn’t as bad as legend would have you believe. The chief problem is a severe lack of imagination from all involved. I get it, the ‘looking back’ theme, presumably why we have an Abba song, a Neil Sedaka song and a cover of ‘Be My Baby’ by The Ronettes - produced by Brian Wilson from sessions dating back to July 1980 - Curt Boettcher receives the solo production credit. Just as well I would say, the sound is just too dry as it is for the other nine songs on the album. Most successful arguably is the title track, ‘Looking Back With Love’ itself. This song is nostalgic and has decent Beach Boys style harmonies.
Mike writes the lyrics on exactly one of these ten songs. This may have been a decision the producer made, it does seems strange that Mike himself doesn’t get to put his own stamp on the record. I wager that the record label, producer and who knows how many other people got involved ‘creatively’ to make an album that sounded like The Beach Boys. It would fool nobody into believing that Mike was the main creative talent in The Beach Boys, so why bother? ‘On and On and On’ copies the backing vocals from The Beach Boys ‘Do It Again’ - hence it is catchy enough, at least the chorus is catchy for this very reason.
The closing ‘Paradise Found’ is a highlight alongside the title track and ‘On and On and On’ - stripping down the sound a little and with decent harmonies. This ‘Looking Back With Love’ album has always received a rough ride from both Beach Boys fans and critics alike but really is bland and inoffensive rather than being actively bad - the concept doesn’t work well and bad choices made.