By David Beard
Released on June 17, the new Sounds Of Summer collections feature 80 newly remastered tracks and twenty-four new mixes.
Since I’ve been enjoying the original 30-song 2003 release for almost twenty years [that hardly seems fathomable] every year at this time, I was tempted to skip the original release, but I decided to ‘stick it out’ for the sake of taking it ‘all’ in because the music is timeless.
When listening to the (expanded) eighty-song collection, you need to be ready to experience a lot of emotions and moods. Fun, brooding, deep, and rich – it’s all here. There’s so much to digest. I mean, how many groups can put 80 songs on a collection that some faction of their 60-year-legacy-built fanbase will identify with? Sinatra? Elvis? The Beatles broke up in 1970 … There are a lot of legacy music groups, but nothing stands like this music.
The Beach Boys remain America’s greatest musical art form. They’re what Lenny Bruce and Andy Warhol were to their respective artforms – defining. They are a band of their time, but they took the radio airwaves over and changed music forever. It happened because Brian Wilson inherently found the right pocket of emotion and transferred his love for music into something tangible. He married his soul with his muse and being in a group of alpha males who loved, lived, and breathed California sunshine, it soon became a tapestry as deep and rich as the very fabric of America. With his cousin Mike Love, brothers Dennis and Carl Wilson, neighbor David Marks, high school, and college buddy Al Jardine, and the uber-talented Bruce Johnston, Brian defined a culture and an era.
Capturing the essence of teenage romance and heartache, the lure of young adulthood, life at the beach, etc., this music defined an era. As anyone with the original Sounds Of Summer release knows, by the time disc one is finished your musical palette has been beautifully fulfilled.
The rest of this music, as you might imagine, is a journey all its own. From the streaming/download aspect, it’s a bit like binging your favorite series, so there’s a sense of ease as it relates to ‘sitting back and listening.’ For me, I prefer to get up out of my chair to flip the LP over or change the CD. I’m old school. Thanks to 2021’s Feel Flows sets, the team of Ume/Capitol and Iconic seem to be ‘all in’ on The Beach Boys. So, on one hand I feel like sayin’ ‘it’s about time,’ and on the other, it’s a sense of deep satisfaction seeing the group represented on such a grand scale. It’s fitting and welcomed. These newly released expanded/deluxe packages are (in a word) COOL.
Now, for the unsuspecting fan that might only be familiar with the greatest hits that are often performed in concert, you’re in store for quite a ride. Equally, or hopefully, those that favor music from the early 1970s will enjoy this expansive deep dive. The full eighty-song listening experience is a bit like going to see a very, very long Beach Boys concert. Granted, hearing “Pom Pom Play Girl” following “Cotton Fields,’ and preceding the SMiLE version of “Wind Chimes” sounds odd (at first) but there’s something ‘cool and slick’ about it. It works. It’s both beautiful and strange at the same time. The next song? “I Went To Sleep,” and then “Farmer’s Daughter.” Then, almost like a bolt of sonic lightning, “Let Us Go On This Way” leaps out of the speakers. I love the song, but the transition’s so jolting … it’s the one place on this deluxe release that feels clunky, but where else are you going to sequence this recording? The shift in song selection sequencing feels a bit like shifting gears in your car. In some cases, it’s smooth and stunning.
Sitting here and having just listened to the aforementioned songs followed by “You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone,” “Marcella,” “Aren’t You Glad,” “Baby Blue,” “It’s About Time,” “Do You Like Worms,” and “Surf’s Up” … it’s clear that The Beach Boys remain a musical force. It’s all on display here, including a rich Dennis Wilson ‘sampler.’
Dennis didn’t really come into his own until the late 1960s, so his star didn’t shine as brightly as older brother Brian’s did during the earlier chart-topping days. Nonetheless, Dennis recorded some of the most memorable and meaningful songs between 1968-1979. This set includes the welcomed “Forever,” as well as “Baby Blue,” “It’s About Time,” “San Miguel,” “All I Want To Do” (20/20 version), “Little Bird,” and the evocative “(Wouldn’t It Be Nice To) Live Again.” The inclusion of these recordings is – in every sense – a home run.
I was also pleasantly surprised to hear Mike’s “Everyone’s In Love With You” wedged beautifully between “The Warmth Of The Sun” and “All This Is That.” It’s worth noting that “Everyone’s In Love With You” is about Maharishi, so the setup to “All This Is That” – a song about the practice of Transcendental Meditation [TM] is perfect. And (I’m smiling while I write this) it’s so satisfying to hear Carl’s voice throughout and have “Time To Get Alone” dip into “Where I Belong.” It’s a great moment.
This collection also includes contributions from Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar, who would go on to become actual members of The Beach Boys in the early 1970s. More on their contributions will appear later this year on the Sail On, Sailor sets.
Fittingly, the set closes with “Friends,” Mike & Brian performing “Devoted To You,” the wistful “Can’t Wait Too Long,” and “California Feelin’.” It is the perfect way to bring this collection to its resting close.
For me (a New York native), The Beach Boys are a bit like the NY Yankees … If Brian’s Babe Ruth (he wanted to be Micky Mantle), then Mike’s Joe DiMaggio, Dennis is Billy Martin, Al is Roger Maris, Carl is Whitey Ford, Bruce is Lou Gehrig, etc. If you know baseball you know every one of those names. Most people do. The Beach Boys are uniquely the same because they hold that musical distinction of prominence in American music culture. The word legacy only touches the surface, and with the new Sounds Of Summer 6-LP and 3-CD sets, you just get enough of a taste to understand how incredible The Beach Boys really are.
The liner notes by Howie Edelson provide a solid overview of The Beach Boys’ vast musical reach and staying power, and the set was aptly assembled by Alan Boyd and Mark Linett, but the real underlying premise is the love of music. And that is all you need.
Order the 6-LP set with LITHOS HERE
Order the regular 6-LP set HERE
Order the 3-CD set HERE
Order the 2-LP with LITHO HERE
Order the regular 2-LP set HERE
Order the Target exclusive 2-LP set with bonus LP slipmat HERE
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