GREATEST HITS

NOTE: There have been more compilations of Beach Boys "hits" than original albums.  While many of these have been thoughtless, slipshod efforts by record companies to make money off the band's deep catalog, there have been recent efforts to "clean up" the superfluous best-of's and present definitive collections.  For the casual fan, these albums may be all that's necessary, or they may provide starting points for the curious.   My overall opinion?  They still haven't got it right.  These reviews are solely my own opinion.


The Beach Boys Greatest Hits 50 Big Ones
Capitol Records [2CD];
Released October 9, 2012

Disc 1
1. California Girls [Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)]
2. Do It Again [20/20]
3. Surfin' Safari [Surfin' Safari]
4. Catch a Wave [Surfer Girl]
5. Little Honda [All Summer Long]
6. Surfin' U.S.A. [Surfin’ USA]
7. Surfer Girl [Surfer Girl]
8. Don't Worry Baby [Shut Down, Vol. 2]
9. Little Deuce Coupe [Surfer Girl]
10. Shut Down [Surfin' USA]
11. I Get Around [All Summer Long]
12. The Warmth of the Sun [Shut Down, Vol. 2]
13. Please Let Me Wonder [The Beach Boys Today!]
14. Wendy [All Summer Long]
15. Getcha Back [The Beach Boys]
16. The Little Girl I Once Knew [non-LP single, 1965]
17. When I Grow Up (To Be a Man) [The Beach Boys Today!]
18. It's OK [15 Big Ones]
19. Dance, Dance, Dance [The Beach Boys Today!]
20. Do You Wanna Dance [The Beach Boys Today!]
21. Rock And Roll Music [15 Big Ones]
22. Barbara Ann [Beach Boys Party!]
23. All Summer Long [All Summer Long]
24. Help Me, Rhonda [Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)]
25. Fun, Fun, Fun [Shut Down, Vol. 2]

Disc 2
1. Kokomo [‘Cocktail’ Motion Picture Soundtrack]
2. You’re So Good To Me [Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)]
3. Wild Honey [Wild Honey]
4. Darlin' [Wild Honey]
5. In My Room [Surfer Girl]
6. All This Is That [Carl and the Passions “So Tough”]
7. This Whole World [Sunflower]
8. Add Some Music To Your Day [Sunflower]
9. Cotton Fields [non-LP single, 1970]
10. I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times [Pet Sounds]
11. Sail on, Sailor [Holland]
12. Surf's Up [Surf's Up]
13. Friends [Friends]
14. Heroes and Villains [Smiley Smile]
15. I Can Hear Music [20/20]
16. Good Timin' [L.A. (Light Album)]
17. California Saga (On My Way to Sunny Californ-I-A) [Holland]
18. Isn't It Time (single version) [That’s Why God Made The Radio]
19. Kiss Me, Baby [The Beach Boys Today!]
20. That's Why God Made The Radio [That’s Why God Made The Radio]
21. Forever [Sunflower]
22. God Only Knows [Pet Sounds]
23. Sloop John B [Pet Sounds]
24. Wouldn't It Be Nice [Pet Sounds]
25. Good Vibrations [Smiley Smile]

REVIEW:  Anybody who has read this site over the years knows that I'm not a fan of the boatloads of Greatest Hits packages which have been dumped onto the market over the decades.  Most of them have little respect for the artists' catalog, haphazardly tossing random tracks together and calling EVERYTHING their greatest, whether it really was or not.  I mean, they've thrown everything on from "Frosty the Snowman" to "Louie Louie" for cryin' out loud. But with this new release, Capitol Records and The Beach Boys seem to really be trying to cover all the bases within the confines of a two-CD set.  It's still front-loaded, career-wise, but that WAS the Beach Boys' most successful era, and not every album is represented (Love You and MIU Album are conspicuously absent), but it's a fat, satisfying overview of the band's output, with tracks included that have gained in prominence over the years, including "All This Is That" "Forever" "Wild Honey" "I Can Hear Music" "This Whole World" and "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" finally rubbing shoulders with their more jaded progenitors.  Another nice nod is the inclusion of two tracks from their surprise reunion album That's Why God Made The Radio, with the title track and "Isn't It Time" making the cut. The big draw for long-time fans is the inclusion of a "single" version of "Isn't It Time" which adds more harmonies and other studio tricks in a effort to make an already fine track more "saleable" - whatever that means.  I personally prefer the original album track over the tricked-out version included here, but whatever floats your boat.  The sequencing is all over the map, but I suspect that these days, fewer and fewer physical copies of these songs are being sold, with more fans, both young and old making their own Beach Boys Greatest Hits compilations for their digital playback devices. Available in a couple of different formats, including a single-disc, and double-disc boxed edition, this set should be the final word in Greatest Hits for the Beach Boys (that is, until they come out with yet another album.)


The Beach Boys 50: Limited Edition 50th Anniversary Retrospective 'ZinePak
Capitol Records 5 099962 449922 [CD];
Released May 1, 2012

This commemorative 50th Anniversary Beach Boys release includes an 11-song CD, a collectible 72-page magazine and three exclusive postcards. The magazine includes dozens of rare photographs from the band's career and exclusive new interviews with Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Bruce Johnston, Al Jardine, and David Marks. The postcards can only be found in this limited edition package.

1. Do It Again - Exclusive 2012 Version
2. California Girls
3. Wouldn't It Be Nice
4. Surfer Girl
5. Good Vibrations
6. Help Me, Rhonda
7. I Get Around
8. Fun, Fun, Fun
9. Kokomo
10. Surfin' USA
11. Be True To Your School

REVIEW:  And so, let the shilling begin.  Capitol Records obviously can't let anything as momentous as The Beach Boys 50th Anniversary go by without pairing with retail behemoth Wal*Mart in offering this exclusive 'ZinePak that offers up a whole lotta same ol', same ol' with a caveat to old-timers in the form of one "new" track (the "why-bother" retread of "Do It Again"). Wrapping a meager eleven-track retrospective CD into a booklet filled with rose-tinted homilies from the surviving Beach Boys, (whoo - and don't forget the POSTCARDS) - there's nothing here to get excited about folks - the "Do It Again" remake is slick and mechanically stamped-out, with the only surprise being the ending, which becomes a free-form jam with the back-up musicians.  The booklet is filled with background information about the band, well-worn stories behind each song, a short time-line bringing things into the present, and short bits of latter-day interviews with each band member.  The photographs are all ones that have been used innumerable times before, and gee - why didn't they include Bruce Johnston's remake of "Disney Girls" that he claimed he's finally "gotten right?"  I guess Capitol figures the fans would rather purchase the same ten tracks over and over (and over and over) again.  Sigh...


The Very Best of the Beach Boys: Fun, Fun, Fun
EMI Special Markets (available at Bed, Bath & Beyond) [CD];
Released 2011

1. Surfin Safari
2. I Get Around
3. California Girls
4. Surfin' USA
5. Fun, Fun, Fun
6. Help Me, Rhonda
7. Barbara Ann
8. Sloop John B
9. Good Vibrations
10. Wouldn't It Be Nice
11. Darlin'
12. Sail On Sailor
13. Heroes and Villains
14. California Saga
15. Kokomo

REVIEW:  Ya know, I was hoping against hope that this year would be the year when Capitol Records wouldn't feel the need to cheapen The Beach Boys legacy with yet another compilation album; a summer season when Capitol would be free to let the supposed 40-year-late release of Smile stand on its own, and shine - unlike, say, when they undercut 1966's Pet Sounds by releasing Best of the Beach Boys.  But you can't expect a leopard to change its spots, and so, despite the tent-pole rumored Smile album on the schedule for early fall, Capitol Records (through their sludge-label EMI  Special Markets) has once again decided to hash together a quickie album for that suburban super-store Bed, Bath & Beyond, all in the name of making yet another quick buck.  The result?  Meh. 15 tracks, 43 minutes of Beach Boys gold - making a run from 1962-1988 - a quick and painless (well, ALMOST painless - what's the dreary "California Saga" doing here?) trip through the Beach Boys oeuvre. A targeted shopper release - something which I'm sure will itch at the pocketbooks of soccer moms who want some summer tunes to go along with their bed sheets and towels.  Sigh...


10 Great Songs
Capitol Records 093435 [CD];
January 12, 2010

CLICK HERE to listen to clips
1. Wouldn't It Be Nice
2. Surfin' U.S.A.
3. California Girls
4. Surfer Girl
5. Good Vibrations
6. Help Me, Rhonda
7. I Get Around
8. God Only Knows
9. Fun, Fun, Fun
10. Little Deuce Coupe

REVIEW: You know, people keep talking about progress - how each generation is progressing in all aspects over the one before - and so many people who think this way look down their noses at previous generations and sneer at how "backward" and "unenlightened" their parents and grandparents were - but in my honest view - society is rapidly digressing, de-evolving; and as proof, I present to you the latest compilation to come out of Capitol Records - The Beach Boys: 10 Great Songs.  Note, that this compilation has exactly two fewer tracks than the Beach Boys first greatest hits album from 1966 - (apparently because The Beach Boys don't deserve more on a  hits album) but hey, ten is a nice, round number - and the people want nice round numbers; and note that "Little Deuce Coupe" is the tenth track here, rubbing shoulders with "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and "Good Vibrations" and "God Only Knows" - no argument that those three tracks are "great" but "Little Deuce Coupe?" uhhhh... - and wasn't "Surfin' U.S.A." ripped off from a Chuck Berry song?  Well - I guess great minds think alike, but to my mind - this compilation is actually worse than most than have come before - it's needless, it's meager, it's repetitive, and it's wasteful - like so much of the progress that's being trumpeted today. And didn't Capitol Records once promise to "clean up" the Beach Boys' morass of 'best of' albums that were littering the marketplace and simply release thoughtful, valuable compilations? Exhibit A - this disc.  Ah - broken promises - now that's progress... (sigh...)


Christmas Harmonies
Capitol Records 85261 [CD];
August 25, 2009


Christmas Harmonies
1. Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town 2:21
2. Frosty The Snowman 1:55
3. White Christmas 2:31
4. Little Saint Nick 1:59
5. Christmas Day 1:52
6. I'll Be Home For Christmas 2:45
7. Santa's Beard 2:00
8. Child Of Winter (Christmas Song)/Here Comes Santa Claus (Medley) 2:46
9. Merry Christmas, Baby 2:27
10. Blue Christmas 3:12
11. Melekalikimaka 2:35
12. (I Saw Santa) Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree 2:24    
13. The Man With All The Toys 1:30
14. We Three Kings Of Orient Are 4:05
15. Auld Lang Syne (Alternate Take) 1:21

REVIEW:  Another compilation, this one coming for the 2009 Christmas season, is a mix of the Beach Boys first Christmas album (nine tracks) and their second, unreleased album (four tracks) along with a previously-released alternate take of "Auld Lang Syne" (missing Dennis's spoken message).  Nothing here to entice old-timers, since everything has been out before, but for more recent fans, well - not much to entice them either, since I would recommend the out-of-print, but still easily found The Ultimate Christmas Collection which is still widely available both in CD and download forms.  It contains all of these tracks and much more, making it the more worthy collection.  In fact, it bothers me that Capitol, which did such a fine job with that collection, has allowed it to go out of print, and then puts out this more anemic compilation in its place.  Nuts to you, Capitol!



Summer Love Songs
Capitol Records 44964 [CD];
Released May 19, 2009
Summer Love Songs
1. Don't Worry, Baby [new stereo mix from newly recovered analog multi-track master]
2. Why Do Fools Fall In Love [new stereo mix from newly recovered analog multi-track master]
3. Wouldn't It Be Nice
4. God Only Knows
5. Surfer Girl
6. California Girls
7. Please Let Me Wonder
8. In The Parkin' Lot
9. Your Summer Dream
10. Kiss Me, Baby
11. Hushabye [new stereo mix]
12. I'm So Young [new stereo mix]
13. Good To My Baby [new stereo mix]
14. Fallin' In Love [previously unreleased track, written and recorded by Dennis Wilson]
15. Time To Get Alone [new stereo mix]
16. Our Sweet Love
17. Help Me, Rhonda
18. Keep An Eye On Summer
19. Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)
20. Girls On The Beach

REVIEW:  Another year, another Greatest Hits/Compilation album from Capitol Records.  For those fans who've been keeping track, there's a pattern that's emerged in how these albums are put together: first, wait for a major holiday or season; second, try and choose a theme that will allow the label to put on the same hits that went on the last compilation; throw on a few new stereo mixes to entice collectors; and finally, include at least one "vault" release that ostensibly hasn't been released before.  Mix it all together somewhat haphazardly and viola!  You too can put together a Beach Boys hits package!  Cynicism aside, this isn't a bad collection, although for an album that's ostensibly supposed to be more romantic than previous packages, the Beach Boys deliver some jolting moments.  Feel like getting in the mood?  Make sure you skip over jarring rockers like "Why Do Fools Fall In Love" or "Help Me Rhonda" and program "God Only Knows," "Kiss Me Baby," or (especially) "Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)".  And I'm not sure exactly what kind of woman is going to feel flattered by hearing the misogynistic grocery list of "California Girls" or "Girls On The Beach" - or, for that matter, want to hear the teen-age fantasies of prepubescent boys in "In The Parkin' Lot".  On the plus side, the producers admit that Pet Sounds was far and away the Beach Boys most romantic, yearning album they ever recorded, and include three tracks from it.  The inclusion of the heavily bootlegged "Fallin' In Love" (aka "Lady") recorded by Dennis Wilson and Daryl Dragon and released in England, is OK, but it's far from the strongest track Dennis cut during this period.  I can't even recommend this as a purchase for first time Beach Boys fans, since so many great singles aren't here - it's another so-so-release that should sell buckets-full during the summer season.

Platinum Collection (Sounds of Summer Edition)
EMI Australia [CD];
Released June 17, 2008

Click here to listen
Disc: 1
1. I Get Around
2. Don't Worry Baby
3. Surfin' USA
4. In My Room
5. Little Deuce Coupe
6. Surfer Girl
7. Fun, Fun, Fun
8. When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)
9. Girls on the Beach
10. All Summer Long
11. Wendy
12. Dance, Dance, Dance
13. Be True to Your School
14. The Warmth of the Sun
15. Little Honda
16. Surfin'
17. Surfin' Safari
18. Do You Wanna Dance?
19. Please Let Me Wonder
20. Then I Kissed Her
Disc: 2
1. Good Vibrations
2. California Girls
3. Sloop John B
4. Barbara Ann
5. God Only Knows
6. Wouldn't It Be Nice
7. You Still Believe in Me
8. The Little Girl I Once Knew
9. Caroline No
10. You're So Good to Me
11. Girl Don't Tell Me
12. Help Me, Rhonda [Single Version]
13. Heroes and Villains
14. Wild Honey
15. Darlin'
16. Friends
17. Bluebirds Over the Mountain
18. Breakaway
19. Beach Boys Medley

Disc: 3
1. Do It Again
2. Cottonfields (The Cotton Song)
3. I Can Hear Music
4. Tears in the Morning
5. Sail on Sailor
6. Disney Girls (1957)
7. Long Promised Road
8. Forever
9. Surf's Up
10. 'Til I Die
11. Marcella
12. Student Demonstration Time
13. Lady Lynda
14. California Saga/Californian
15. Sumahama
16. Rock 'N' Roll Music
17. Here Comes the Night
18. Kokomo
19. Wipe Out
20. California Dreaming
21. Fun, Fun, Fun

REVIEW:  If I were to choose a Beach Boys compilation for a friend who had never heard/listened to them, instead of a one-disc compilation like Sounds Of Summer, I would rather spring for something like the Platinum Collection, a three-disc set out of Australia, which packs sixty tracks, and a fantastic assortment of both hits and album cuts onto its running list, making it an extraordinarily deep look at The Beach Boys legacy.  Not only does it contain the biggest singles, from "Surfin'" to "Kokomo", it also features an amazing array of album cuts, like "Please Let Me Wonder," "You Still Believe In Me," "Caroline, No," "Wild Honey," "Bluebirds Over The Mountains," plus a plethora of cuts from the Beach Boys Warner Brothers albums, with tracks from Sunflower ("Tears In The Morning") Surf's Up ("Disney Girls (1957") Carl and the Passions: So Tough ("Marcella") and Holland ("Sail On Sailor") and any Beach Boys compilation that has Dennis's  "Forever" and Brian's "'Til I Die" on it is going to get high marks from me.  Not that all of the tracks are ones I would pick - the popular, though inconsequential "Beach Boys Medley" is included, plus Al's "Lady Lynda" and an odd re-recording of "Fun, Fun, Fun"  that closes out the album.  (Oh, and I just have to ask WHY was the disco version of "Here Comes The Night" included?  WHY???)  Also, the Beach Boys' collaboration with The Fat Boys' "Wipeout" is included for no discernible reason, other than perhaps it was a smash hit down under?  Despite those inclusions, if you were going to own only ONE Beach Boys collection, I would recommend something like this, which gives a much clearer picture of The Beach Boys legacy, than a one-disc distillation.



The Warmth of the Sun
Capitol Records 44964 [CD];
Released May 22, 2007



1. All Summer Long (new stereo remix)
2. Catch A Wave
3. Hawaii
4. Little Honda
5. 409
6. It's OK
7. You're So Good To Me (new stereo remix)
8. Then I Kissed Her (new stereo remix)
9. Kiss Me, Baby
10. Please Let Me Wonder (new stereo remix)
11. Let Him Run Wild (new stereo remix)
12. The Little Girl I Once Knew
13. Wendy (new stereo remix)
14. Disney Girls (1957)
15. Forever
16. Friends
17. Break Away
18. Why Do Fools Fall In Love
19. Surf's Up
20. Feel Flows (featured in the motion picture Almost Famous)
21. All This Is That
22. 'Til I Die
23. Sail On, Sailor (featured in the Oscar-winning motion picture The Departed)
24. Cool, Cool Water
25. Don't Go Near The Water
26. California Saga (On My Way To Sunny Californ-i-a)
27. California Dreamin'
28. The Warmth Of The Sun

REVIEW:  One of the more schizophrenic greatest hits releases out there, The Warmth of the Sun seems to be trying to be all things to all people: a few new stereo mixes for long-time fans (All Summer Long, You're So Good To Me, Then I Kissed Her, Please Let Me Wonder, Let Him Run Wild, and Wendy); crowd-pleasing hits for the general populace (Catch A Wave, Little Honda, 409, and the title track); several lesser-known tracks from the early 1970s (Disney Girls, Forever, Surf's Up); and even one latter-day "hit" (the cover of the Mamas and the Papas "California Dreamin'").  The band has even thrown in a couple of songs that have achieved a kind of 'indie' notoriety with the movie crowds (Feel Flows and Sail On, Sailor).  But while this might be the most diverse hits collection ever put out by the band, it's also a wildly uneven listening experience, with songs from clearly different eras rubbing shoulders with each other with no rhyme or reason - "It's OK" comes right after "409", while "Why Do Fools Fall In Love" (which has no business being here) is unaccountably sandwiched between "Break Away" and "Surf's Up".   And after a stunning set of early 70's and 80's tracks, why do they choose to end the disc with the early 60s sound of "Warmth of the Sun" (I mean, couldn't they have started the disc with the title track?  It feels jarring here.)  The new stereo mixes are indeed stunning, and individually the songs are gems, but thrown together in the committee-like fashion they have been here, the album feels like a pearl necklace that's been broken apart and strewn in the sand.  In these days of sliding CD sales, I predict that this album will probably benefit from the iPod crowd mixing and matching the songs the way they want, rather than choosing the slipshod sequencing of this disc.


Greatest Hits (Live At Knebworth)
Delta Music/Laserlight [CD];
Released July 11, 2006

Click here to listen to clips 1. California Girls
2. Sloop John B
3. Darlin’
4. God Only Knows
5. Do It Again
6. Cotton Fields / Heroes And Villians
7. Help Me Rhonda
8. I Get Around
9. Surfin’ USA
10. Good Vibrations
11. Fun, Fun, Fun

REVIEW:  Well, I have to give Laserlight credit for at least putting out a different kind of Greatest Hits album on the market, even if it is a deceptively-labeled, cheap-jack rip-off of a better album.  Taking ten songs from The Good Vibrations: Live at Knebworth 1980 album, this "greatest hits" compilation certainly sounds unlike other compilations, and, if you don't happen to have the Knebworth 1980 album, you might want to have a live album of a few of the Beach Boys best songs - never mind that the label exec's are trying desperately to slip this album into people's homes with deceptive marketing, using a 1962 photograph on the cover, and making the print for "live at Knebworth" smaller than the "Greatest Hits" label (the easier to fool unsuspecting buyers with).  Ah well, the Knebworth concert is certainly worth hearing, with the band sounding tight, the audience appreciative, and the tracklist a little more adventuresome than other ten-best-of's with "Darlin'," "Do It Again," and Cottonfields" making what must be their first-ever appearance on such a limited "best-of".  In addition to that, this album is CHEAP, which is probably how it sneaked its way into the chain retail locations it was undoubtedly marketed to.



Covered By The Beach Boys
Sterling Entertainment Group/EMI Music Special Markets 35212 [CD];
Released February 1, 2006


1. California Dreamin'
2. Do You Wanna Dance?
3. School Days (Ring Ring...)
4. Walk On By
5. Come Go With Me
6. Johnny B Goode(Live)
7. Palisades Park
8. Then I Kissed Her
9. The Wanderer(live)
10.Summertime Blues
11.The Letter
12.With A Little Help From My Friends

REVIEW:  Despite Capitol Records attempt in recent years to clean up all of the superfluous Beach Boys compilations which have littered the market, occasionally stuff still leaks out, and this CD, (which apparently is the result of a large pharmacutical chain greasing somebody's palm), is one of the more interesting finds.  For one thing, the track listing has a wide swath of cover songs which the Beach Boys recorded during their long career - everything from two tracks from 1964's Beach Boys Concert album to 1992's recording of "California Dreamin', as well as "Come Go With Me" from 1978's MIU Album, "School Days" from 1980's Keepin' the Summer Alive, and even "Summertime Blues" from the Beach Boys Capitol debut in 1962!  But even stranger are the inclusion of one unfinished blurb, "Walk On By" which was previously released as a bonus track on the Friends/20/20 two-fer CD, and the flabbergasting return of two tracks which haven't seen the official light of day since 1983's Rarities album!  "The Letter" and "With a Little Help From My Friends" surface here again, and if you want to get your hands on these two tracks, this is the only place to find them.  The album is very short, clocking in at less than 27 minutes long, and is fiendishly hard to find, popping up in CVS and Rite-Aid pharmacies, although some sellers, like Amazon.com are selling copies online as special orders.  One of the weirder compilations to come down the pike, this one is worth searching out for the rare tracks included, and the extremely odd tracklisting.


Sounds Of Summer: The Very Best of The Beach Boys [IMPORT]
Toshiba EMI Japan [CD]; 
Released June 23, 2004

1. Good Vibrations
2. Sloop John B.
3. Don't Worry Baby (Single Version)
4. I Get Around
5. California Girls
6. Surfin' Usa
7. Surfer Girl
8. Hawaii
9. In My Room
10. Kiss Me, Baby
11. Please Let Me Wonder
12. Warmth Of The Sun
13. Fun Fun Fun
14. Help Me Rhonda (Single Version)
15. Shut Down
16. Be True To Your School
17. Dance, Dance, Dance
18. All Summer Long
19. When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)
20. Wouldn't It Be Nice
21. God Only Knows
22. Caroline, No
23. Heroes & Villains
24. I Can Hear Music
25. Darlin'
26. Do It Again
27. Getcha Back
28. Amusement Parks
29. California Calling

REVIEW: Having been a Beach Boys collector for years, I can see how record companies would try to capitalize on collector's greed by putting out the same songs over and over, only in different configurations, and with odd changes, solely intended to entice prospective buyers into thinking that they're shelling out their hard-earned cash on something "unique" or "collectible." Sometimes, however, the companies are simply trying to appeal to different markets, where different songs were hits - but for this Japanese version of The Sounds Of Summer collection, which was a huge hit in America, it's a little more difficult to judge what's going on in the compilers minds.  The track selection is nearly identical to both the U.S. and U.K. versions of the collection, but here the producers decided to included a couple of real head-scratchers at the end of the program, with "Amusement Parks U.S.A." and "California Calling" rounding out the generous disc.  The cynic in me has two explanations - the first, being the "collector's mentality" that I discuss above, and the second is that the U.S. Department of Tourism is insidiously hoping to brainwash more groups of Japanese tourists to Disneyland to spend more of their hard-earned yen; 'cause you can't convince me that either of those two songs were legitimate hits in Japan... but I'll let the reader decide.



The Very Best of The Beach Boys: Sounds Of Summer

Capitol Records [CD]; 
Released June, 2003

1. California Girls 2:46
2. I Get Around 2:14
3. Surfin' Safari 2:06
4. Surfin' U.S.A. 2:28
6. Surfer Girl 2:28
7. Don't Worry Baby 2:49
8. Little Deuce Coupe 1:41
9. Shut Down 1:50
10. Help Me, Rhonda 2:47
11. Be True To Your School 2:10
12. When I Grow Up (To Be A Man) 2:04
13. In My Room 2:14
14. God Only Knows 2:53
15. Sloop John B 2:59
16. Wouldn't It Be Nice 2:33
17. Getcha Back 3:01
18. Come Go With Me 2:07
19. Rock And Roll Music 2:30
20. Dance, Dance, Dance 2:03
21. Barbara Ann 2:13
22. Do You Wanna Dance? 2:20
23. Heroes And Villains 3:40
24. Good Timin' 2:14
25. Kokomo 3:38
26. Do It Again 2:21
27. Wild Honey 2:40
28. Darlin' 2:14
29. I Can Hear Music 2:39
30. Good Vibrations 3:37

REVIEW:  For a single-disc compilation, Sounds Of Summer can hardly be beat.  Although released almost exactly a year after the "Classics" disc below (NOBODY needs this many 'Greatest Hits' packages), I suspect that for casual fans, this CD will fill most people's cravings for The Beach Boys.  Patterned rather obviously after the runaway success of the Beatles "1" package, "Sounds of Summer" is the first Greatest Hits CD to pull together singles from the sixties, seventies and eighties.  Every major hit single, from "Surfin' Safari" through "Kokomo" is included in brilliant remastered sound, and although the mixed chronology of the track listing is a little confusing, it manages to be a fun listening experience, perfect for putting in the car stereo and driving around with the top down.  My only complaints are the usual ones: nothing from the brilliant-but-poor-selling albums Sunflower, Surf's Up, or Love You, and not even one track from the late-blooming Dennis Wilson (I especially miss the inclusion of "Forever.")  Instead we get the single versions of "Come Go With Me" and "Rock and Roll Music."  (Am I the only one here who hates these versions?)  But never mind that; I think this is the best single-disc value out there, with thirty tracks, and the songs sounding as pure and inspired as when they were first released. 

Also available for a limited time is a CD/DVD combination called "The Sights and Sounds Of Summer" which includes the above disc with a companion DVD including 10 videos:

From The TAMI Show
1. Surfin' USA
2. I Get Around
3. Surfer Girl
4. Dance, Dance, Dance

5. Little Deuce Coupe from The Lost Concert
6. Sloop John B promo video from '66
7. Pet Sounds -promo film from '66
8. God Only Knows - live montage 67-68
9. Good Vibrations from Ed Sullivan '68
10. Do It Again from Ed Sullivan '68


The Very Best Of The Beach Boys  

Capitol Records [CD]; 
Released February, 2003

 
1. Good Vibrations
2. California Girls
3. I Get Around
4. Wouldn't It Be Nice
5. Surfin' Safari
6. Fun Fun Fun
7. Surfin' Usa
8. Help Me Rhonda
9. Don't Worry Baby
10. When I Grow Up
11. Little Deuce Coupe
12. Dance Dance Dance
13. Little Honda
14. Do You Wanna Dance
15. Surfer Girl
16. Then I Kissed Her
17. God Only Knows (Original Mono Version)
18. Caroline No
19. Sloop John B
20. Barbara Ann
21. Heroes And Villains
22. Do It Again
23. Darlin'
24. Wild Honey
25. Break Away
26. Rock And Roll Music
27. I Can Hear Music
28. Cotton Fields (The Cotton Song)
29. Lady Lynda
30. Kokomo    

REVIEW:  A European version of the disc above, with some notable variations in track lineup to match the tastes of UK audiences, this very respectable 30-cut CD stuffs on most of the hits that you know and love, including "Good Vibrations," "California Girls," "I Get Around," "Wouldn't It Be Nice," "Surfin' Safari," "Fun, Fun, Fun," "Surfin' USA," "Help Me Rhonda," "Don't Worry, Baby," and much more - in fact, the first twenty cuts are so similar to what you might find here in the States, that anyone could purchase a similar compilation.  The final ten tracks are more unusual, with "Wild Honey," "Darlin'," "I Can Hear Music," "Cotton Fields (The Cotton Song)," "Lady Lynda," and finally "Kokomo" rounding out the disc.  Al Jardine's compositions always had more success overseas than here, thus, their inclusion here is noteworthy.  (You can also find some of these tracks on the bonus disc of the European version of the Good Vibrations box set).  For collectors and UK fans, The Very Best Of The Beach Boys is an easy choice for those who want all the big hits.


The Beach Boys Classics: Selected By Brian Wilson 
EMI/Capitol Records [CD];  
Released June, 2002
 

classics 1. Surfer Girl 2:29
2. The Warmth Of The Sun 2:54
3. I Get Around 2:15
4. Don't Worry Baby 2:50
5. In My Room 2:13
6. California Girls 2:47
7. God Only Knows 2:53
8. Caroline, No 2:19
9. Good Vibrations 3:39
10. Wonderful 2:24
11. Heroes And Villains 3:40
12. Surf's Up 4:14
13. Busy Doin' Nothin' 3:06
14. We're Together Again 1:47
15. Time To Get Alone 2:39
16. This Whole World 1:57
17. Marcella 3:53
18. Sail On, Sailor 3:19
19. 'Til I Die 2:42
20. California Feelin' 2:48

REVIEW:  While I'm not one to begrudge Brian Wilson from shouldering the credit for the greatest songs the Beach Boys ever recorded, I am a little irked at this package.  It seems to be at its heart just another recycling of overly-familiar hits, with just enough quirkiness to remind us that yes, Brian Wilson selected these songs.  The focus seems to be on the more melancholy side of the scale, with ballads outweighing the more uptempo numbers: "Surfer Girl," "The Warmth Of The Sun," "In My Room," "God Only Knows," "Caroline No," "Wonderful," "Surf's Up," and "'Til I Die" all give this package a reflective mood that is missed on most "hits" compilations.  At the same time, Brian shows his fondness for some of his biggest hits: "Good Vibrations," "I Get Around," "California Girls," and "Sail On Sailor" are also included.  For longtime fans it will be easy to recognize that this package reflects the songs that Brian has expressed affection for over the years in countless interviews, and the sound (24-bit HDCD mastering) and some new stereo mixes will maybe be enough to lure fans into putting out once again for the same songs.  But the sticking point for me is the one "new" song that Brian recorded with his touring band to close out the album: "California Feelin'" is a sub-par song that has been floating around on various bootlegs for years, and the new recording (which is a pale shadow of the original version) has obviously been tacked on simply to entice buyers into paying full-price for one new track.  Classics remains a fairly shameless gambit on the part of the record company, and a blot on an otherwise OK album. 



Greatest Hits, Volume 1 
Capitol 72435-21860-2/0 [CD];
Released 1995;  24-bit Remaster released September 1999

Greatest Hits Volume 1 1. Surfin' Safari 2:06
2. 409 2:00
3. Surfin' U.S.A. 2:28
4. Shut Down 1:50
5. Surfer Girl 2:27
6. Little Deuce Coupe 1:49
7. Catch A Wave 2:18
8. Be True To Your School 2:07
9. Fun, Fun, Fun 2:18
10. I Get Around 2:14
11. Dance, Dance, Dance 2:00
12. Do You Wanna Dance? (Mono) 2:19
13. Help Me, Rhonda 2:47
14. California Girls (Mono) 2:45
15. Barbara Ann 2:08
16. Sloop John B (Single Version) 2:56
17. Wouldn't It Be Nice 2:24
18. God Only Knows 2:49
19. Good Vibrations 3:37
20. Kokomo     3:36

REVIEW:  It's hard to argue with the selections on this album; here are the songs which for many are the most familiar, endearing songs attributed to the Beach Boys, the ones which encapsulate their most catchy, popular, "beach party" attitudes that cause people to either love or dismiss them.  Here is "Be True To Your School," "Fun Fun Fun," "I Get Around," "Dance Dance Dance," "Do You Wanna Dance?" Help Me Ronda," "California Girls," and "Surfin' Safari," "Surfer Girl" and "Surfin' U.S.A."  The trouble with a collection like this is that it's a flat-out distortion of what the Beach Boys really sounded like.  Due to compilations like this one, and many others, The Beach Boys are served up to be merely car, surf and California Girls-like slackers, empty and shallow, when the whole truth is that the Beach Boys' truest songs had heart and soul.  You won't find the poignant, heart-rendingly beautiful sadness of "In My Room," "Don't Worry Baby," "The Warmth of the Sun" "Kiss Me, Baby" or countless others among these tracks, (although the producers wisely included the seminal double A-sided single "Wouldn't It Be Nice/God Only Knows" from Pet Sounds).  You will find instead such half-baked "hits" as "409," "Shut Down," "Catch A Wave," and "Barbara Ann."  And it's jarring to hear the modern sludge of "Kokomo" being sat down with its '60's progenitors, where it clearly doesn't belong.

Greatest Hits, Volume 2 
Capitol 72435-20238-2/0 [CD];
Released September, 1999. 

Greatest Hits Volume 2 1. In My Room 2:12
2. The Warmth Of The Sun 2:51
3. Don't Worry Baby 2:51
4. All Summer Long 2:06
5. Wendy 2:25
6. Little Honda 1:51
7. When I Grow Up (To Be A Man) 2:03
8. Please Let Me Wonder 2:46
9. You're So Good To Me 2:16
10. The Little Girl I Once Knew 2:36
11. Caroline, No 2:18
12. Heroes And Villains 3:36
13. Wild Honey 2:38
14. Darlin' 2:12
15. Friends 2:31
16. Do It Again 2:19
17. Bluebirds Over The Mountain 2:51
18. I Can Hear Music 2:38
19. Break Away 2:55
20. Cotton Fields (The Cotton Song) (Single Version) 3:04

REVIEW:  Delving deeper into the Beach Boys catalog than the previous collection, Volume Two tends to skew the perception of the band almost 180-degrees from Volume One, leaning heavily on lesser-known album tracks and ballads. Taken alone, it tends to give as distorted a view of the Beach Boys as the previous collection, but the quality of songs here is without doubt higher than Volume One.  Here is where you'll find the gorgeous "In My Room," "The Warmth Of The Sun," Don't Worry Baby," "Please Let Me Wonder," and "Caroline, No" along with wrongly forgotten, lower-tier hits like "Little Honda," "The Little Girl I Once Knew," and "You're So Good To Me."  It also dips its finger into the post-1966 years, when the Beach Boys fortunes were on the decline in the U.S. -- "Darlin'," "Bluebirds Over The Mountain," "I Can Hear Music," "Break Away," and "Cottonfields" are probably not known to U.S. audiences, although they were hits overseas.  In fact, of all the songs here, only one cracked the Top Ten: "When I Grow Up To Be A Man" -- but that shouldn't discourage buyers from looking into this CD, since it shows the full scope of genius that the Beach Boys embraced.

Greatest Hits, Volume 3 (Best of the Brother Years) 1970-1986
Capitol 72435-24511-2/8 [CD];
Released February, 2000. 

Greatest Hits Volume 2 1. Add Some Music To Your Day 3:34
2. Susie Cincinnati 2:56
3. This Whole World 1:57
4. Long Promised Road 3:30
5. Disney Girls (1957) 4:07
6. 'Til I Die 2:40
7. Surf's Up 4:13
8. Marcella 3:53
9. Sail On, Sailor 3:19
10. The Trader 5:05
11. California Saga (On My Way To Sunny Californ-i-a) 3:15
12. Rock And Roll Music 2:28
13. It's O.K. 2:08
14. Honkin' Down The Highway 2:47
15. Peggy Sue 2:15
16. Good Timin' 2:12
17. Goin' On 2:59
18. Come Go With Me 2:07
19. Getcha Back 3:02
20. California Dreamin' 3:12

REVIEW:  The most difficult period in the Beach Boys history is chronicled again is this difficult CD.  Having heard the many arguments that went into choosing the tracks for this album, I came away frustrated.  The producers eventually decided to select only charting singles for this collection, but in doing so, they cut out some of the best music the Beach Boys recorded during this time.  Which is not to say that the music on here is bad; "Add Some Music To Your Day," "This Whole World," "Long Promised Road," "Disney Girls (1957)," "Til I Die," "Marcella," Sail On Sailor," and "Surf's Up" make the first half a powerhouse lineup of songs, most of which the public has never heard, and all of which is strangely different and wonderful and deserving of discovery.  The second half of the CD is where it becomes sticky.  In order to pack in the "hits" (which are mostly subpar compositions and covers), the producers hacked out Dennis Wilson's songs entirely, which easily are some of  the best parts of the Beach Boys recordings of the 1970s.  And I don't care how highly "Peggy Sue" "Rock and Roll Music," or "Come Go With Me" charted, they are still clammy covers that pale next to the originals, and they drag this CD down.   However, in many ways, this is a fine collection to own if you're curious about this period in the band's career; the sound is exceptional, the song selection touches on each album, and single mixes were used, which is nice for collectors.  Not as daring a collection as I might have hoped for, but not bad.

Essential Beach Boys: Perfect Harmony
Capitol 21277 [CD];
Released October, 1997. 

Perfect Harmony 1. The Warmth Of The Sun (Mono)       2:50
2. God Only Knows     2:50
3. Hushabye (Vocals)     2:42
4. When I Grow Up (To Be A Man) (Vocals)     2:07
5. Wouldn't It Be Nice (Stack-O-Vocals)     2:35
6. Surfer Girl (Mono)     2:26
7. Sloop John B     2:57
8. In My Room (Demo)     2:34
9. And Your Dream Comes True     1:05
10. Don't Worry Baby (Mono)     2:49
11. I Can Hear Music     2:38
12. California Girls (Stereo)     2:34
13. Do It Again     2:26
14. Our Prayer     1:09
15. Good Vibrations (Mono Version)     3:35

REVIEW:  Out of all of the collections that Capitol Records has churned out, none of them interested or baffled me as much as Perfect Harmony did.  Part of a limited edition series on different artists, this CD chose to emphasize one of the ingredients that made the Beach Boys stand out from all of their contemporaries: their unparalleled harmony singing, which, while a tremendous idea, is flawed in its execution.  The song selection (including "Warmth Of The Sun," "God Only Knows," "And Your Dream Comes True," "Hushabye," "In My Room," and "Our Prayer") is mostly on-target (except for an errant "Do It Again"), and while the overriding theme of the package is commendable, this hadn't enough hits for the casual fan, and yet offered nothing new for hard-core collectors, since all of the material had been previously available.   So it puzzled me who Capitol thought this package would be targeted to?  (Attractive packaging collectors?)  Anyway, like most out-of-print "limited edition" what-nots, I'm certain that Perfect Harmony will someday become a hotly sought-after collector's item, even though it doesn't deserve to be.


The Beach Boys Instrumental Hits
Toshiba EMI [CD Only];
Released 1994, June 2002

Beach Boys Instrumental Hits 1. Moon Dawg
2. Misirlou
3. Stoked
4. Honky Tonk
5. Surf Jam
6. Let's Go Trippin'
7. The Rocking Surfer
8. Boogie Woodie
9. After The Game
10. Shut Down, Part II
11. Denny's Drums
12. Carl's Big Chance
13. Let's Go Trippin (Live)
14. Summer Means New Love
15. Let's Go Away For Awhile
16. Pet Sounds
17. Fall Breaks Adn Back To Winter (Woody Woodpeckers Symphony)
18. Passing By
19. Diamond Head
20. The Nearest Faraway Place

REVIEW:  Okay, The Beach Boys' Instrumental Hits defies explanation.  First of all, I wasn't even sure where to put it; it's not a greatest hits album, despite what the cover says, and it doesn't really fit on my "various" page, since that's mostly cover versions of Beach Boys hits.  Sigh... oh well, I'll put it here, since it does contain the word "hits" on the cover, despite the fact that the Beach Boys are primarily known as a vocal band, AND that the band never had a certified "hit" with any of their instrumentals!  But someone must be buying this stuff, or why would the Japanese ask thirty-five bucks for it?  Essentially the CD collects in rough chronological order all of the instrumental tracks from the Beach Boys Capitol years, from their barely-competent covers of "Moon-Dawg" and "Let's Go Trippin'," to the more elegant originals like "Pet Sounds" and "The Nearest Faraway Place."  Granted, the listener will hear a marked improvement in musical sophistication as the group evolved over the years, but still -- anyone with a tape deck or CD-burner could do just as well a compilation for a fraction of the cost.  But hey, if you absolutely have to have eeeeverything... (and you can't have too many copies of "Denny's Drums" in my book. heh, heh, heh.) 



The Absolute Best Vol. 1
Capitol CDP C2-96795 [CD];
Released August 13, 1991.


The Absolute Best, Vol. 1 1. Surfin' Safari
2. Surfin' U. S. A.
3. Shut Down
4. Surfer Girl
5. Little Deuce Coupe
6. In My Room
7. Fun, Fun, Fun
8. Don't Worry, Baby
9. Warmth of the Sun, The
10. Be True to Your School
11. I Get Around
12. All Summer Long
13. Little Honda
14. Wendy
15. Girls on the Beach
16. Do You Wanna Dance
17. When I Grow up (To Be a Man)
18. Dance, Dance, Dance
19. 409
20. Help Me, Rhonda

REVIEW:  Released shortly after the celebrated Good Vibrations box set, the two-volume Absolute Best discs put all previous best-of's to shame.  Correct mixes, a plethora of tracks, best-ever sound (at the time - since surpassed), and chronological order to the tracks made these discs the best double-disc representation of their Capitol years to date.  Disc one is pretty standard in its selections, but these are absolutely the best - songs that define The Beach Boys sound and appeal for generations of fans: "Fun, Fun, Fun", "Don't Worry Baby," "The Warmth Of The Sun," "I Get Around," and more made this a generous and reverential break form the previous confusing and slip-shod releases which had marred The Beach Boys' catalog.   These discs were clearly put together by people who understood the myth that had grown up around the Beach Boys' music.  As such, these compilations were like a breath of fresh air to fans who had to weather the embarrassing torrent of worthless collections that had been shoveled out like trash in previous years.  The current crop of greatest hits discs notwithstanding, these two out-of-print discs may be the best place to initiate you or your friends into the music of The Beach Boys.


The Absolute Best Vol. 2

Capitol CDP C2-96796 [CD];
Released August 13, 1991.

1. California Girls
2. You're So Good to Me
3. Little Girl I Once Knew
4. Barbara Ann
5. Wouldn't It Be Nice
6. You Still Believe in Me
7. Sloop John B
8. God Only Knows
9. Caroline, No
10. Good Vibrations
11. Heroes and Villains
12. Wild Honey
13. Darlin'
14. Friends
15. Do It Again
16. Cabinessence
17. Bluebirds Over the Mountain
18. Cotton Fields (The Cotton Song)
19. Break Away
20. California Dreamin'

REVIEW:  On the Absolute Best second volume, the disc gets more adventuresome in its selections by including several post-"Good Vibrations" songs including "Wild Honey," "Darlin'," "Friends," "Do It Again," "Cabinessense," and "Cotton Fields," while still including a truckload of familiar hits: "California Girls," "Barbara Ann," "Wouldn't It Be Nice," "Sloop John B," "God Only Knows" and "Good Vibrations" are sure to pull in fans of the band's maturing sound of the mid-sixties, while introducing them to a smattering of late-period Capitol-era songs which they might not have been acquainted with. Especially welcome is the eighties cover of The Mama & The Papas "California Dreamin'" which turned out to be one of the most succesful, moody covers The Beach Boys ever made. Although out-of-print, this disc, along with the previous Absolute Best Vol. 1 remain perhaps the best introduction to The Beach Boys ever released, and worth seeking out for new generations of music fans.

Made In U.S.A.
Capitol STBK-12396 [LP], CDP 7 46324 2 [CD];
Released 1986. 


Made In U.S.A. 1. Surfin' Safari
2. 409
3. Surfin' U.S.A
4. Be True To your School
5. Surfer Girl
6. Dance, Dance, Dance
7. Fun, Fun, Fun
8. I Get Around
9. Help Me, Rhonda
10. Don't Worry Baby
11. California Girls
12. When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)
13. Barbara Ann
14. Good Vibrations
15. Heroes And Villains
16. Wouldn't It Be Nice
17. Sloop John B.
18. God Only Knows
19. Caroline, No
20. Do It Again
21. Rock And Roll Music
22. Come Go With Me
23. Getcha Back
24. Rock 'N' Roll To The Rescue
25. California Dreamin'

REVIEW:  Yet another two-LP set, this one compiled and released to mark the Beach Boys' 25th anniversary, and also as a place to bury two minor singles that the Beach Boys had that year, "Rock and Roll To The Rescue" and "California Dreamin'" (the latter can now be found on Greatest Hits Vol. 3).  For a single collection, this one wasn't bad, although it ploughed mostly the same ground as previous collections, it had a somewhat broader scope, including in its 25 tracks four selections from Pet Sounds, one song from the late sixties ("Do It Again") two songs from the seventies ("Rock and Roll Music" and "Come Go With Me") and their one hit single from 1985, "Getcha Back."  It also squeezed in a concise tribute from author David Leaf (although when compressed to CD size, his notes become a  real eye strain).  This album has become yet another "collectors item" (sigh...) since this is the only place to hear the aforementioned "Rock and Roll to the Rescue" which is the sort of programmed, soulless, manufactered "hit" that does absolutely nothing for the Beach Boys' catalog except make me appreciate the classics all the more. 


The Beach Boys: 1962-1967
Time-Life (The Rock "n" Roll Series Vol 3) [LP] ?; Digital Remaster [LP,CD]
Released 1986 

1962-1967 TimeLife 1. FUN, FUN, FUN - 1964
2. 409 - 1962
3. SURFER GIRL - 1963
4. BE TRUE TO YOUR SCHOOL - 1963
5. IN MY ROOM - 1963
6. I GET AROUND - 1964
7. SHUT DOWN - 1963
8. WHEN I GROW UP - 1964
9. LITTLE DEUCE COUPE - 1963
10. WENDY - 1964
11. DON'T WORRY BABY - 1964
12. CALIFORNIA GIRLS - 1965
13. DANCE, DANCE, DANCE - 1964
14. BARBARA ANN - 1966
15. LITTLE GIRL I ONCE KNEW - 1965
16. DO YOU WANNA DANCE - 1965
17. HELP ME RHONDA - 1965
18. GOOD VIBRATIONS - 1966
19. SLOOP JOHN B - 1966
20. WOULDN'T IT BE NICE - 1966
21. GOD ONLY KNOWS - 1966
22. HEROES & VILLAINS - 1967

REVIEW:  Time-Life usually could be counted on to present well-thought-out packages, with excellent remastering and hard-to-find tracks de rigeur on other, similar series.  Unfortunately, here, the Beach Boys are given a retrospective treatment that takes no chances (except in their art department, which chooses to present the Beach Boys with Adonis-like physiques that only Dennis ever posessed - check out the ripped abs on Carl - oh, the HUMANITY!).  A pretty routine 22-track collection of familiar cuts.  Great sound, but skimpy notes, and again, that ludicrous cover make this disc worth passing by.

Sunshine Dream
Capitol SVBB 1220 [LP Only];
Released 1980
sunshine dream Record One:
1. I Can Hear Music 2:38
2. Here Today 2:52
3. Darlin' 2:11
4. Caroline, No 2:16
5. Aren't You Glad 2:15
6. Good Vibrations 3:35
7. Wouldn't It Be Nice 2:22
8. Friends 2:32
9. God Only Knows 2:48
10. Vegetables 2:05
11. How She Boogalooed It 1:56
12. There's No Other (Like You Baby) 3:02

Record Two:
1. Heroes And Villains 3:36
2. All I Want To Do 2:02
3. Wild Honey 2:36
4. I'm Waiting For The Day 3:06
5. Cotton Fields 2:18
6. Then I Kissed Her 2:15
7. Sloop John B 2:57
8. Be Here In The Mornin' 2:17
9. Bluebirds Over The Mountain 2:53
10. Keep An Eye On Summer 2:17
11. Do It Again 2:14
12. The Beach Boys Medley 4:09

REVIEW:  One of the odder collections of Beach Boys "hits" that was ever released, the double-LP Sunshine Dream focused its sights on the latter Capitol years tracks which I daresay most casual fans would never have heard.  Veering from excellent choices ("I Can Hear Music," "Darlin'," "Good Vibrations," "Heroes and Villains") to baffling ("How She Boogalood It," "There's No Other (Like You [sp] Baby") the choices are mostly very good, including "Caroline No," multiple selections from Wild Honey, 20/20, Friends and Pet Sounds, and even "The Beach Boys Medley" tacked on as the final track (the success of which was obviously the calling card for this collection).  It's really not a bad group of songs for what was undoubtedly another stab at capturing the post Endless Summer audience - but there are so many tracks here that would be unfamiliar with the casual fan, and such a convergence of styles and sounds that the Beach Boys were attempting during this period of critical and commercial decline, that this album could only serve to make consumers arch their eyebrows and move on.  I mean, what's the rosy, nostalgic "Keep An Eye On Summer" doing cuddling up to the stinging guitars of "Bluebirds Over The Mountains"?  It's sheer, musical psychedelia!  Still, you gotta admire the daring that places both "I'm Waiting For The Day," "Caroline No" and "Sloop John B" on the same platter with "Vegetables."  Another wonderfully warped entry from the marketing chimps at Capitol Records.



Endless Summer 
Capitol SVBB-11307 [LP]; Released 1974
C2-46467 [CD]; Released 1987
DCC 1076 [Gold CD]; Released 1995


1. Surfin' Safari
2. Surfer Girl
3. Catch A Wave
4. The Warmth Of The Sun
5. Surfin' U.S.A.
6. Be True To Your School
7. Little Deuce Coupe
8. In My Room
9. Shut Down
10. Fun, Fun, Fun
11. I Get Around
12. The Girls On The Beach
13. Wendy
14. Let Him Run Wild
15. Don't Worry Baby
16. California Girls
17. Girl Don't Tell Me
18. Help Me, Rhonda
19. You're So Good To Me
20. All Summer Long
21. Good Vibrations

REVIEW:  Endless Summer could arguably be the most important album in the Beach Boys' career.  Not only did it spark a firestorm of interest in the band and it's catalog, it also ignited a reevaluation of the Beach Boys as cultural icons, with their music being recognized as the finest that rock music had to offer.  It many ways, this is a superior collection to the current greatest hits, since it chooses not only chart hits, but popular album cuts as well, incorporating them all together into a whole of effortless appeal.  Although the original effort was yet another slip-shod effort by Capitol Records to repackage the Beach Boys to make yet another buck, (the original sound quality was poor, and the wrong mixes were used for several hits, although the DCC gold disc rectified these flaws) the timing and the sentiment on this double-album clicked with the public psyche in an unpredictable way, and quite frankly, it's by listening to this album (and the subsequent Spirit Of America) that I first fell in love with their music.  So, I have a personal warm space in my heart for Endless Summer.



Spirit of America
Capitol 11384 [LP]; C2-46618 [CD]; DCC 1089 [Gold CD];
Released 1975, CD Release 1987, 1996 

Spirit Of America 1. Dance, Dance, Dance       2:03
2. Break Away     2:56
3. A Young Man Is Gone     2:18
4. 409 (Mono)     2:00
. The Little Girl I Once Knew     2:36
6. Spirit Of America     2:20
7. Little Honda (Mono)     1:54
8. Hushabye (Stereo)     2:42
9. Hawaii     2:01
10. Drive-In     1:52
11. Good To My Baby     2:15
12. Tell Me Why     1:46
13. Do You Remember     1:39
14. This Car Of Mine     1:37
15. Please Let Me Wonder     2:46
16. Why Do Fools Fall In Love (Mono)     2:09
17. Custom Machine     1:36
18. Barbara Ann     2:13
19. Salt Lake City     2:00
20. Don't Back Down (Mono)     1:43
21. When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)     2:04
22. Do You Wanna Dance?     2:21
23. Graduation Day (Live)     3:28

REVIEW:  If Endless Summer was the big, bad beach bully of the summer of '74, then Spirit of America was it's scrawnier younger sibling, looking for scraps.  Which isn't to say that I enjoyed it any less than Endless Summer, since in many ways it introduced me to the depth of the Beach Boys catalog; to me, even these weaker numbers were miles beyond anything on the radio then.  And it's not like they're all schlock either: "Dance Dance Dance," "Break Away," "The Little Girl I Once Knew," "Little Honda," "Hushabye," "Hawaii," "Drive-In," "Good To My Baby" "Don't Back Down," "When I Grow Up To Be A Man," and "Do You Wanna Dance" are all to be found in its grooves.  I remember loving the lush harmonies of "Graduation Day" with its funny ending, the chiming guitars of "Salt Lake City," and even the sing-along swagger of "Barbara Ann" were a pleasure to me.  That, and the fact that I had to steal this and Endless Summer from my brother's room to listen to them are an indelible part of my childhood, and I suspect, many others as well.


Ten Years of Harmony 
Epic 37445 [LP] 2 ZK 37445 [CD]; 
Released November, 1981



For complete track listing,
click here.

REVIEW:  Beginning the new decade of the eighties with a look back at the recently past one, Ten Years Of Harmony - a double LP set, was a flawed document of the Beach Boys in the 1970's.  The track selection leans mostly on the released singles, but also throwing in some rare tracks in the form of "San Miguel" (a fine, previously unreleased Dennis Wilson song, currently available on the Good Vibrations box set), the memorable rocker "It's A Beautiful Day" taken from the "Americathon" soundtrack, and a flat version of "Sea Cruise" (which could have stayed in the can).  The producers also fly in "River Song" from Dennis Wilson's acclaimed solo album, Pacific Ocean Blue.  What makes this ironically-titled collection weak is the snubbing of several key tracks from the luminent Sunflower (a major oversight) and the alternately decadent Love You albums, in favor of weaker stuff from MIU and 15 Big Ones


The Best of The Beach Boys (Ten Best Series)
EMI-Capitol Special Markets 19707 [CD]; 1997 

The Beach Boys Little Deuce Coupe - Greatest Car Songs
EMI-Capitol Special Markets 57682 [CD]; 1996

The Beach Boys Greatest Surfing Songs
CEMA Special Markets 57240 [CD]; 1995 
Here they are, the sludge of Capitol's efforts to make a quick buck off of the Beach boys.  Ever since 1966, when the company rush-released the original "Best Of The Beach Boys" (quickly followed by two other collections in two years), Capitol Records strip-mined the band's catalog, rechurning and repackaging the same songs, to a degree that other label artists, such as the Beatles, never had to endure.  At best, albums like these kept the Beach Boys in the public's eye, since there was rarely a time when this music wasn't out there for purchase, but at worst, it also stained the public perception of the artistry of the Beach Boys, wiping out the individual albums that were so good: "Surfer Girl," "All Summer Long," "Today!" "Summer Days (and Summer Nights!)" all got short-shrifted, and several of the fine album cuts that were on them.  But let's face it, the folks who buy these budget CD's aren't so much Beach Boys fans as the curious fringe, looking to have a little Beach Boys in their collections, but ignorant as to the depth of their music.  Of The three discs shown here, "Little Deuce Coupe" works the best, with cars being an overriding theme throughout.  These collections were supposed to have been superceded by the new Greatest Hits 1 & 2, but are still readily available. To order these albums, click on the covers.
Ten Best
greatest car songs
greatest surfing songs


Greatest Hits (UK)

Capitol ST-21628 [LP]
Released: September 1970
1. Sloop John B
2. California Girls
3. Barbara Ann
4. I Get Around
5. Wild Honey
6. I Can Hear Music
7. Darlin'
8. God Only Knows
9. Do It Again
10. Cottonfields
11. Bluebirds Over The Mountain
12. Then I Kissed Her
13. Help Me Rhonda
14. Break Away
15. Heroes And Villains
16. Good Vibrations

REVIEW:  The Beach Boys' first unique UK Greatest Hits package that wasn't a variation on the previous US releases was this interesting compilation that showed a different, maturing sound of the band, which coincided with their rise in popularity in the UK, while their U.S. fortunes were declining.   Featuring only a handful of their U.S. hits, a significant portion of the track line-up consisted of post-Pet Sounds cuts, and presented the band as a much more varied, contemporary-sounding group than their U.S. image allowed.  "Bluebirds Over The Mountain", "Cottonfields," "Do It Again," "Darlin'," "I Can Hear Music," and "Wild Honey" all get heard here, while the cover photo showed the band in their late-60s "beard" image, more in line with the changing styles of the times.  Add to that - the album contained a generous amount of music in its sixteen tracks, and no wonder the Beach Boys were gaining favor overseas. Capitol should've put this much thought and care into their stateside releases.



Good Vibrations

Capitol ST-442 [LP];
Released: August 1970

1. Good Vibrations
2. I Can Hear Music
3. In My Room
4. Sloop John B
5. Girl From New York City, The
6. Heroes And Villains
7. Surfer Girl
8. I Get Around
9. California Girls
10. Barbara Ann

REVIEW:  After the bombing of The Beach Boys Greatest Hits Vol. 3, Capitol apparently didn't feel like it had anything to lose, and so they began to shovel out "Greatest Hits" compilations on The Beach Boys as if they were going out of style (oh wait, they were).  And, after the pattern set by their previous LPs, this one followed suit - only now Capitol Records didn't have any new material to sell the album to the public with, so they began to simply shuffle the same old deck of cards, with "I Can Hear Music" the most recent offering here, and another odd line-up of tracks, from the psychedelic "Good Vibrations" and "Heroes and Villains" to the early "Surfer Girl" - and again there's a real head-scratcher included, with the relatively unknown album track "The Girl From New York City" thrown into the mix.  This cover is notable as being the first one where Brian isn't featured as part of the band (here replaced by Bruce Johnston).



The Best of the Beach Boys Vol. 3

Capitol 2945 [LP]; August, 1968

Side 1

   1. "God Only Knows" (Brian Wilson/Tony Asher) – 2:49
   2. "Dance, Dance, Dance" (Brian Wilson/Carl Wilson/Mike Love) – 1:59
   3. "409" (Brian Wilson/Mike Love/Gary Usher) – 1:59
   4. "The Little Girl I Once Knew" (Brian Wilson) – 2:36
   5. "Frosty the Snowman" (Steve Nelson/Jack Rollins) – 1:54
   6. "Girl Don't Tell Me" (Brian Wilson/Mike Love) – 2:19

Side 2

   1. "Surfin'" (Brian Wilson/Mike Love) – 2:11
   2. "Heroes and Villains" (Brian Wilson/Van Dyke Parks) – 3:37
   3. "She Knows Me Too Well" (Brian Wilson/Mike Love) – 2:27
   4. "Darlin'" (Brian Wilson/Mike Love) – 2:12

REVIEW:  There's simply no excuse for the shoddy packaging found on Best of the Beach Boys Vol. 3.  By 1968, the Beach Boys were passe with the general public, and their record company just kept pounding nails in their coffin.  Vol. 3 in the original series of Best Of's is decidedly schizophrenic.  It careens all over the map; from the earliest hit ("Surfin") to their then-most-recent ("Darlin"), from their most sublime ("She Knows Me Too Well")  to their most inane ("409"), there is no rhyme or reason to this set.  It might have been programmed by apes... how else can you explain the presence of both "God Only Knows" and "Frosty the Snowman" on a single LP?  Did the album producers use a dartboard to choose?  We may never know.  And the public apparently couldn't muster enough energy to care by this time, since Vol. 3 quickly slipped off the charts and became an instant collectors item.  Other tracks included Dance Dance Dance, The Little Girl I Once Knew, Girl Don't Tell Me, Heroes and Villains, and Good Vibrations.


Best of the Beach Boys Vol. 2
Capitol 2706 [LP];
Released July 1967


1. "Barbara Ann" (Fred Fassert) – 2:11
2. "When I Grow Up" (Brian Wilson/Mike Love) – 2:01
3. "Long, Tall Texan" (Henry Strezlecki) – 2:30
4. "Please Let Me Wonder" (Brian Wilson/Mike Love) – 2:45
5. "409" (Brian Wilson/Mike Love/Gary Usher) – 1:59
6. "Let Him Run Wild" (Brian Wilson/Mike Love) – 2:20
7. "Don't Worry Baby" (Brian Wilson/Roger Christian) – 2:47
8. "Surfin' Safari" (Brian Wilson/Mike Love) – 2:05
9. "Little Saint Nick" (Brian Wilson/Mike Love) – 1:59
10. "California Girls" (Brian Wilson/Mike Love) – 2:38
11. "Help Me, Rhonda" (Brian Wilson/Mike Love) – 2:46
12. "I Get Around" (Brian Wilson/Mike Love) – 2:12

REVIEW:  The pillaging continues unabated in this 1967 release that was such a mish-mash of styles and accomplishment that it could only serve to confuse the public as to what the Beach Boys were all about.  At a time when the band was struggling with its public image, Capitol Records "wunderkinds" decided to swing out blindly in hopes of hitting a target.  Coupling gems such as "Please Let Me Wonder," "Let Him Run Wild," "California Girls," and "When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)"  with throwaways like "409," "Little Saint Nick," and (WHAT where they thinking?!?) "Long Tall Texan" the Beach Boys could only appear to be hopelessly dated by the standards of the Summer of Love.  Strangely, the huge hit "Good Vibrations" is absent, the inclusion of which might have pushed this collection a little higher on the charts.  As it was, Best of the Beach Boys Vol. 2 was the highest charting album the Beach Boys would have for several years.


Best of the Beach Boys
Capitol DT- 502545 [LP];
Capitol C2-91318 [CD];
Released July 1966, Re-released 1989

1. "Surfin' USA" (Brian Wilson/Chuck Berry) – 2:28
2. "Catch a Wave" (Brian Wilson/Mike Love) – 2:18
3. "Surfer Girl" (Brian Wilson) – 2:26
4. "Little Deuce Coupe" (Brian Wilson/Roger Christian) – 1:50
5. "In My Room" (Brian Wilson/Gary Usher) – 2:13
6. "Little Honda" (Brian Wilson/Mike Love) – 1:51
7. "Fun, Fun, Fun" (Brian Wilson/Mike Love) – 2:18
8. "The Warmth of the Sun" (Brian Wilson/Mike Love) – 2:50
9. "Louie, Louie" (Richard Berry) – 2:23
10. "Kiss Me, Baby" (Brian Wilson/Mike Love) – 2:35
11. "You're So Good to Me" (Brian Wilson/Mike Love) – 2:13
12. "Wendy" (Brian Wilson/Mike Love) – 2:22

REVIEW:  This is where the whole sordid affair started.  Released eight weeks after Pet Sounds had come out, Best Of The Beach Boys immediately became a best seller, and set the pattern for future releases; a good dollop of hits, a handful of near misses, and at least one head scratcher (Louie, Louie?)  What is so amazing is how long this inferior collection stayed in print.  Not only was it kept in circulation even after the far more complete Endless Summer/Spirit Of America packages had been released, it also made it into CD format! (where it timed in at less than 30 minutes -- how's that for your money!)  I suppose this collection might have some sentimental value, since for many it might have been the only Beach Boys album they owned, but there's really no reason for it to be in print now (and no, it's not in print), with so many collections offering better track selections, better sound, and nary a "Louie, Louie" to be found, this one has wisely been put out to pasture. 

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