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The Beach Boys | Hawthorne, CA (Capitol)
Life, or at least Capitol Records, has been pretty good to BBs fans old and new over recent yeas and I frequently exhaust my lexicon of superlatives on just about all of the offerings. The unreleased bonus tracks, rarities etc have been of such a high standard that we expected so much of this release.'s okay. OK at least if you programme in the real new cuts and accept that there is one album's worth of sun-kissed treasure spread over two discs. Within the fifty-seven tracks there are no less than eighteen talk tracks - introductions and opinions - which are surely a once-only listen, five a capella mixes - fine I guess for anoraks - and half a dozen stereo remixes just not different enough to matter. The live cuts are well chosen, especially a very slow concert rehearsal of Good Vibrations and a take-no-prisoners '65 bash at Shut Down which cooks. More variable are the backing tracks: Sail On Sailor sans vocals is still uplifting and beautiful with lots of exciting guitar parts you don't normally hear; Dennis' Be With Me an orchestral vision to impress Herbert Von K. Some early BBs backing has, to me, always resembled typewriter keys being played in rhythm. That may have been intentional. Maybe too much twang and jangle could clash with trebly vocals. I would suggest that there may have been better selections for inclusion than Fun, Fun, Fun and Surfin' USA which do tend to exemplify my contention. To most Beach Boys fans the slight disappointment is that this is still not the rarities collection alluded to by several BBs aficionados and scenesters over the last ten years. Give it another ten. Lonely Days is a pleasant enough new song but a Dennis tune only heard by Brian a few months ago, A Time To Live In Dreams, is a sweet and subtle delicacy a la Friends and 20/20 at their soft psychedelic best. There's also more Good Vibrations sections that you'll just want to swoon over and groove to and there's another weird but clever version of Old Man River that only the BBs could create. Fifteen or so new BBs tunes of huge merit will always be lapped up even if they sit in a field of dubious odds and sods.

Stephen Ridley
CWAS #8 - Summer 2001