Album Title
The Beach Boys
Artist Icon M.I.U. Album (1978)
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First Released

Calendar Icon 1978


Genre Icon Rock


Mood Icon Relaxed


Style Icon Rock/Pop


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Record Label Release

Speed Icon Capitol Records

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Album Description
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M.I.U. Album is the twenty-second studio album by The Beach Boys, released on October 2, 1978 on Brother/Reprise. Recorded during a fraught time for the band, only Mike Love, Al Jardine, and Brian Wilson appear consistently throughout the album, with Carl and Dennis Wilson audible on only a few tracks. Produced by Al Jardine and songwriter Ron Altbach, the album's title stems from Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa, where the majority of the album was recorded.

Reflecting on the album in 1992, Mike Love noted, "It was too democratic. Everybody coming into it with their song, which is okay. It's like if you have an album and have a hit song on it, and it's very commercially viable. Doesn't it make sense to have another song that would also be commercially viable? And a third and a fourth."

After the release of Love You, The Beach Boys fell into dispute over the direction of the band, and were close to breaking up. Brian Wilson began regressing back into drug use and mental illness. Dennis was readying his debut solo album, Pacific Ocean Blue. Intended as a follow-up to Love You, sessions and mixing for a new album called Adult/Child were completed by The Beach Boys with Brian Wilson as producer. The album was subsequently rejected by Reprise Records for not being commercially viable, although some of its tracks would reappear on later releases.

Dennis was largely unavailable for the new project, of which he and brother Carl were not in favor. The idea, by staunch Transcendental Meditation follower Mike Love, was to record another new album—initially intended as a Christmas release—at the Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa, (hence the 'M.I.U.' title). Consequently, when it was time to record the album in September 1977, only Love, Jardine and the eldest Wilson showed up.

The original intention was for Brian Wilson to produce the album, but it soon became clear he was either unable or unwilling to function in that role. The production credit on the album was given to Al Jardine and songwriting partner Ron Altbach, with Brian billed as "executive producer", though the exact nature of this role was never clarified. The provisionally titled Merry Christmas from the Beach Boys was rejected by the record company, which demanded the band submit a regular studio album instead. New lyrics were overdubbed on to some of the original Christmas tracks the following spring, which, together with quickly penned new material, formed the basis of the M.I.U. Album, the band's last for Reprise Records before embarking on their CBS Records (now Sony Music) contract.

When asked about M.I.U. Album in the British press, Dennis Wilson said that he "[doesn't] believe in that album" and that it was "an embarrassment to [his] life. It should self-destruct.. I hope that the karma will fuck up Mike Love’s meditation forever." Music critic Nick Kent called the album "dreadful". He said that its "pitiful content" were ignored by critics.

Although the album peaked at only #151 in the US, and became their first since 1964 to miss the UK chart completely, "Come Go With Me" would become a top 20 hit in late 1981 when it was released as a single from the Ten Years of Harmony compilation.

The album received generally negative reviews. Upon its initial release, Rolling Stone stated, "M.I.U. Album seems contrived and artificial right from the start. The tracks strive to recapture the dreamy, adolescent innocence of the Beach Boys' earliest hits, and fail not so much because the concepts are dated but because the group can't infuse the new material with the same sense of grandeur that made the old songs such archetypal triumphs. [...] Throughout, the lackluster playing and singing has a melancholy edge, almost as if the Beach Boys are fully aware that they've outgrown this kind of teen fantasy, but can't think of anyplace else to go."

Paired with L.A. (Light Album), M.I.U. Album was reissued on CD in 2002. Upon the album's re-release, The A.V. Club stated, "M.I.U. is competent enough, but it's also the sound of a group buying into its own mythology, a retrograde salute to the pinstripes and sunshine image it had abandoned years before." AllMusic issued a more negative review, stating, "The mainstream late-'70s production techniques are predictable and frequently cloying. M.I.U. Album also included several of the worst Beach Boys songs ever to make it to vinyl. [...] Compared with what had come before, M.I.U. Album was a pathetic attempt at music making; compared with what was to come however, this was a highlight."
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