That is the simplest way to state the feeling that listening to the
early Beach Boys' recordings produces in the ears. Capitol
Records has just released an amazing 16 disc collection of Beach Boys'
U.S. singles, all packaged in miniature versions of their original
which is pretty cool on its own, but what really makes
this collection even more exciting are the bonus tracks on each disc.
Each disc features the original A-side and the B-side, most of them
in mono, and features extra material that includes live tracks, stereo
mixes and alternate takes. This is a Beach Boys' fan's dream come
From the first disc, which features "Surfin' Safari" on
the A and "409" on the B, this is a priceless collection.
The sound quality is amazing for magnetic tapes that are nearly 50
years old. The tapes have obviously been well preserved (no doubt
owing in some respect to the keen madness of Brian Wilson) and the
clarity and pure tone of the recordings is superb. The remasterings
really enhance the clarity of the recordings and very nicely showcase
the vocal harmonies, as well as the sheer musicality of the band,
even at this young age. Listening to the way the band changes throughout
the first four years of their existence is really amazing, and revisiting
these tracks makes it obvious that the glory of Pet Sounds
was in the making early. The chance to hear the mono and the stereo
mixes of "Surfin' USA" side by side is spectacular, showing
just how much the industry was changed by the advent of stereo, and
that the Beatles weren't the only band to use the new technology
to enhance their sound.
All the great early tracks are here
with its angsty teenage car mentality to the incredible (especially
in retrospect) "California Girls." "Help Me, Rhonda"
sounds even better than ever before, with the Glen Campbell
guitar part shimmery and complex, and the Chuck Berry-esque
guitars of the incredible "Fun, Fun, Fun" stand out crisply
against their scrubbing backing rhythms and fantastic vocal harmonies.
The early love songs shine like never before, from "Surfer Girl"
to "Why Do Fools Fall In Love?" Even the campy singles like
"Little Saint Nick" and "The Man With All The Toys"
are wonderful in this remastered state, and the B-Side "Blue
Christmas" is wonderful. The 16th disc is a bonus single and
includes a couple tracks released here for the first time, including
the original mono mix of "All Dressed Up For School" and
"I'm So Young." Also included is a really cool alternate
mix of "Help Me, Rhonda" that is superb.
Perhaps most importantly, in this day where Americans seem
to struggle to have anything that they can hold on to and associate
themselves with, the pure simplicity and joy of the Beach Boys'
songs is a welcome break. The simple joys of singing about cars,
surfing, girls, dancing, and how your school is better than
others brings to mind an era of American history that is sorely
missed by those who have known that happiness. If the kids would
listen to this instead of all that screaming and emo nonsense,
we might have a little better planet and more hope for the future.
These songs each hold a piece of historical significance, and
this package presents them in a way that is simply amazing,
and kind of important at a time when the music industry seems
to be turning a bit back to the singles' market over the album.
Try this music on your kids
you might be surprised.
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