NOTE: The final
Sea Of Tunes discs can be found here, as well as a new face in the
Beach Boys rarities canon: DVDs are beginning to pop up with rare and
unreleased video from years of television concerts and other
appearances. Many of these are worth checking out, and I
consider to be valuable additions to any fan's
library. These reviews are solely my opinion.
Masters Vol. 18 (1967) The Alternate "Smiley Smile" Album
Of Tunes C 9953 [CD]; Released 1999
takes of "Wonderful"
takes of "Wind Chimes"
takes of "Vegetables"
takes of 'She's Goin' Bald"
takes of "Gettin' Hungry"
takes of "With Me Tonight"
complete track listing: click
This album only reinforces what
I've thought all along about Smiley
Smile; namely, that this is the real
acid-casualty rock album in the Beach Boys canon. You can hear it in
the opening instrumental tracking for "Wonderful" which has brilliant
key changes and progressions; in its original incarnation it had a
sweet flow and wistfulness; but now, in its spare piano form, it feels
stripped of any joy, or feeling whatsoever. It's numb. It's very hard
to hear the Beach Boys in the studio here (at Brian's home) all
sounding completely stoned, lacking any energy in their singing, or
caring how the songs are put together. Mistakes are left in, no
attempts to polish or put any finesse into the music; perhaps they felt
that they were being funny, or avant-garde when they were recording
this, but the only sensation left with the listener is an all-pervasive
stupor. There are some beautiful moments - they spring out at you like
diamonds in the mud: On track twelve, there is an instrumental backing
track that sounds lovely, in a baroque sort of way, and on a vocal
rehearsal fade, the Beach Boys fleetingly recapture their tight,
unmatchable harmonies, but even these tracks are hamstrung by a lack of
focus, and at one disc, this Sea Of Tunes release barely scratches the
surface of documenting these morbidly fascinating sessions.
Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 19
(1967) The Alternate "Wild Honey" Album
Sea Of Tunes C 9954/55 [CD]; Released
takes of "Cool, Cool Water"
takes of "Can't Wait Too Long"
takes of "I Was Made To Love Her"
takes of "Here Comes The Night"
take of "A Thing Or Two"
takes of "The Letter"
takes of "Darlin'"
takes of "Wild Honey"
complete track listing: click here.
This is a fine double-disc
retrospective of the Wild
Honey sessions. The song selection is interesting:
"Cool, Cool Water" (which didn't appear on a Beach Boys album until Sunflower)
starts out the set with the Beach Boys amazing harmonies (and after
listening to the Smiley
Smile sessions, it's good to hear the band
sounding lucid once more), and then continuing on with a few takes of
"Can't Wait Too Long" before Carl takes over with some ragged covers of
"I Was Made To Love Her." What becomes increasingly apparent as the set
moves into disc two is Brian's growing distance from the group,and the
Beach Boys inability to fully compensate yet for his unwillingness to
take the reigns again. Three of the tracks on the CD were worked on,
then laid aside (the other being "The Letter"), which, as far as I
know, hadn't been done with a Beach Boys album before. The second disc
is fine listening as well, with ten takes of "Here Comes The Night,""A
Thing Or Two" getting one track, and finishing with multiple takes for
"The Letter," "Darlin'" and "Wild Honey." An interesting snapshot of a
slowly deteriorating situation.
Masters Vol. 20 (1968-69) "Friends, 20/20 and Odds &
Sea Of Tunes C
9956/57 [CD]; Released 1999
takes of "Friends"
takes of "Do It Again"
takes of "We're Together Again"
takes of "Walk On By"
takes of "I Can Hear Music"
takes of "Unknown Instrumental"
takes of "Time To Get Alone"
take of "Sherry She Needs Me"
takes of "Break Away"
To Betty Joe"
takes of "It's Time"
takes of "America, I Know You"
complete track listing: click
The final discs from Sea of
Tunes (reportedly, all CD's after this one are compilations of
previously released material) find the Beach Boys struggling to hold
together. And although this double-CD is pretty much the
bottom of the barrel from the Sea Of Tunes vaults, there are some
interesting cuts here. Disc One has five tracking sessions of
(the only song represented from that album), seven takes of "Do It
Again" from 20/20,
and two tracks that were worked on, but never completed, apparently due
to Brian's indifference. A gorgeous "We're Together Again"
has five tracks of outtakes, and the stunning "Walk On By" is shelved
after five takes as well. Brian sounds clearly bored here,
and by disc two, his brother Carl has taken over with an authoritative
"I Can Hear Music." Also included are the "rough vocal"
version of "Sherry She Needs Me," the demo version of "Break Away"
(four takes), and then, some true curiosities end the series.
Mike Love (!) produced two tracks from a comedy group called "The
Pickle Brothers" and their songs, "Ode to Betty Joe" and "It's Time"
reveal a dated, ascerbic wit that's worth hearing once.
Finally, one track, entitled "America, I Know You" from the Steve
Kalinich/Brian Wilson collaboration poetry album (which is just as
awful as could be imagined) finishes up this bizarre set.
Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 21
"Today/Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)" [STEREO]
Sea Of Tunes C
9958 [CD]; Released 1999
tracking and vocal session mixes in stereo for both the Today
and Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) albums.
cuts include: "Guess I'm Dumb," "Sandy," "Sloop John B" and "Three
complete track listing: click
The final entry in the Sea Of
Tunes series was a homemade mix of stereo vocal and instrumental tracks
for the Today/Summer
Days (and Summer Nights!!) albums, which Beach
have long lamented as being available only in mono mixes. And
while subsequent releases by Capitol Records have been able
to create some stereo mixes, the sad fact is that over the
years, some of the vocal tracks of the Beach Boys have simply been
lost. So while this bootleg does as admirable job of creating
mixes from the various tracking sessions that they were able to obtain,
some songs simply cannot be created in stereo due to the missing
pieces. "The Little Girl I Once Knew" "Guess I'm Dumb" and
"Salt Lake City" only have stereo backing tracks here (no vocals) while
"Dance Dance Dance" and "I'm So Young" receive stereo mixes of
"alternate" versions. Still, the sound is very good, much
better than other bootleg "stereo" mixes - but just know that what
you're hearing here is not what Brian would have created in the studio,
but the bootleggers attempt at jiggering the various vocal and backing
tracks into an imperfect re-creation. Still fun listening,
and of course, the songs themselves, and the sound quality of the tapes
used, are perfect.
In The Beginning/The Garage
Sea Of Tunes C
0759/60 [CD]; Released June, 2007
recording session with Gary Usher
recorded audio from 1960.
unreleased outtakes from 1963.
complete track listing: click
REVIEW: Disc one, "In The Beginning"
showcases some Gary Usher work featuring crack session players laying
down tracks, starting with the melodic, propulsive "One Way Road To
Love" with a cornball lead singer, and featuring the Beach Boys on
backing vocals. Next comes several takes of songs which were
rumored to appear on Varese Sarabande's Surfin' CD, but
missed the cut: the first, "The Beginning of the End" features Brian on
lead vocal, with his sweet, swooping vocal showing off his surprising
falsetto leaps, and his unique sensitive quality which he uses to
better effect on his own songs. Next comes "Visions" - a
loping, western-style song which pairs Brian's soaring falsetto with
some female backup singers to odd effect. "My Only Alibi" has
Brian again providing backup vocals to this stale, overheated 50s-type
ballad. Gershwin's "Summertime" is next, in a a bluesy-take
which has no discernible Beach Boys involvement. Next comes
"Mother May" is next which has Brian delivering a powerhouse verse, but
the song is undercut by the strange, screaming chorus, which sounds
like a joke. Tack-piano starts off "The Big Beat" which has
smooth Beach Boys
harmonies behind what turned out to be an early version of "Do You
Remember". Brian has the lead on "Marie" a great bluesy stomper which deserves official
release. Also strong is the raucous "Funny Boy"
which is a change of pace for The Honeys. Next comes the
Wilson/Norberg/Kocher penned "Runaway With You"
with more backing vocals by The Honeys. Brian counts down the
"Unknown Instrumental" which has zig-zagging
guitar/sax lines and a hard rocking tempo. The disc closes
out with several Beach Boys-specific tracks,
with several short instrumental flubs of "In My Room", "Hawaii", "Your
Summer Dream", "Good Humor Man" (AKA
"Rocking Surfer" and "Rabbit's Foot" (AKA "Our Car Club") and a vocal
overdub session for "The Surfer Moon."
The disc closes out with some vocal tracking sessions for "Little Saint
Nick" from October 20, 1963 with heavily echoed vocals giving the song a Spector-ish sound, all
while the Beach Boys are fighting
a bad case of the giggles.
Disc two, "The Garage Tapes" starts off with perhaps the very earliest
which the as yet unnamed "Beach Boys ever made. It starts out
with the band tackling
their first written song, "Surfin'" and shows much of the complex
dynamic which would
define them throughout their career. Brian's instinctive
producer's touch already is
in place, with him cajoling the band into better work; Mike
condescending tone, layered
with a patina of authority and sarcasm rears its head; and Carl and Al
with their notes, and when Dennis finally makes an appearance on tape,
it's to be reprimanded
by Brian for goofing off. The accapella rehearsals are
succeeded by instrumental accompaniment,
where Brian and Mike threatening to kick Dennis out of the band for his
"hiccups" and his lackadaisical attitude. Next comes an unreleased song:
"Bermuda Shorts" which has a corner
doo-wop sound built upon a cascading harmonic opening tag which carries
the almost rap-like
spoken verse. It's a ragged, tossed-off rehearsal which
indicates that the song didn't catch the imagination of the band, and was quickly discarded.
Brian and Mike bring in a couple
of girls to tackle a first-ever take on "Sloop John B" which shows the
band attempting to create on-the-fly harmonies to the girl's lead, which segues into a
gospel standard "Good News".
It's apparent that several friends have gotten together to experiment
with Brian's recording
equipment, and an impromptu "Hully Gully" breaks down several times due
to Brian still working
out the piano chords. Next comes an alternate take on "Happy
Birthday Dear Freshman", and then
a duet of "Dream" between Mike and one of the girls. Next
comes several short spoken clips
featuring Carl, Brian and Mike, who commandeers the microphone and
insults both Carl and Dennis.
The tape devolves into short snippets of various musical and spoken
a phone conversation between Murray Wilson and some woman about a car
accident, Brian figuring
out vocal parts on the piano and with Mike, an incomprehensible
five-minute-long discussion between
Brian and the girls trying to decide which song to sing, and goofing
off, another nearly interminable
recording of "Spanish Practice" between Brian and a school friend, a
short snippet of Brian's book report (not exactly valedictorian material) and a clip of
Brian playing an
organ with Murray duetting at the piano.
All This Is That
Sea Of Tunes C
0761 [CD]; Released June, 2007
rarities from the years 1967-1980.
vocals only, backing tracks, and alternate mixes.
include: "Won't You Tell Me", "It's A New Day", "Hard Time," "Short
Skirts", "It's Like Heaven", "Our Love," Running Bear", and more.
complete track listing: click
This Is That
collects tracks from late-period Capitol Sessions through 1980, but
instead of the copious amount of session work and vocal overdubs
present on previous releases, this single CD takes much of its content
from a previous bootleg entitled Get The Boot,
and it's more scattershot in both its track lineup and its listening
worth. Pleasant surprises include the Association-like "Won't
Tell Me" from 1969, with its creamy harmonies and lush production work
worth hearing more than once, Blondie Chaplin's "Hard Time" -
reportedly taken from the Holland
sessions, and stereo vocals for two of 15 Big Ones
best tracks: "The Night Was So Young" and "Let Us Go On This Way also
make an appearance. The Beach Boys' rough, ragged singing is
still endearing on these vocal performances. But along with
gems, there's a lot of dross to muck through, including the 'could've
stayed in the vault' Mike Love outtake "Running Bear" - a thudding
Native American story-song, and who exactly has been screaming for the
mono alternate mix of "Shortenin' Bread"? Yeesh!
this insult the injury of this music reportedly being stolen (not
"copied" but the actual dub tape stolen
from a producer's house) and I'm less inclined to view these latest Sea
of Tunes releases charitably. Additionally, in
of mp3 downloading and file-sharing, there's no reason for this music
to be pressed onto CD and sold at $40 a pop except pure greed on the
part of the pirates releasing this stuff. Ah well - for
The Beach Boys Video Hits/History
Video Labs [DVD-R]; Released 2003
on The TAMI Show, Ed Sullivan, Shindig, Ready Steady Go, and more!
Well, leave it again to the
bootleggers to get one up on the major leaguers. Fans have
been aching to have a video document of the Beach Boys various
appearances through the years, but due to prohibitive licensing costs,
we've only been able to enjoy various snippets on other
documentaries. But now some enterprising person has slapped
together forty-three (mostly) full-length clips
from the Beach Boys' television and film appearances onto one DVD, and
although the video quality leaves a lot to be
desired, the idea is a beauty. Sequenced chronologically for
the most part, it begins with the black and white TV appearance of the
early band, with David Marks filling in for the absent Al Jardine,
performing "Surfin' Safari" before a screaming crowd, and then segues
choppily from clip to clip, some taken from the Ed Sullivan Show,
others from the much-sought-after TAMI mini-concert. Songs
range through the Capitol years, with just of couple of "promotional"
clip films taken from "Surf's Up" and "Holland." Again, the
video and sound quality ranges from good to poor -- someone really
needs to collect all of these films and give them the remastering and
restoration they deserve -- but for a one-stop collection of what's
available from the Beach Boys early years on video, you really can't
beat this collection. Here's the full track list:
Safari – One Man’s Challenge –
USA – US TV
Things We Did Last Summer – US TV
Get Around – Ed Sullivan Show – Live
- Ed Sullivan Show – Live
My Room – US TV
Monkey’s Uncle – Movie Intro With Annette
Fun Fun – Shindig! – Live Vocals
Tall Texan – Shindig! – Live Vocals
Let Me Wonder – Shindig! – Live Vocals
Me Rhonda – Shindig! – Live Vocals
Dance Dance – Shindig! – Live
St. Nick - Shindig! – Live Vocals
Oo Mow Mow - Shindig! – Live Vocals
B. Goode - Shindig! – Live
USA – TAMI Show – Live
Girl – TAMI Show – Live
Get Around – TAMI Show – Live
Dance Dance – TAMI Show – Live
Get Around – Ready Steady Go – Live
I Grow Up – Ready Steady Go – Live
Girls On The Beach – Movie Intro
The Lonely Sea – Girls On
Honda – Girls On The Beach
Girls – US TV - Live Vocals
Ann – US TV – Live
John B – Promo Film
Vibrations – Promo Film
It Again – Ed Sullivan Show – Live Vocals
Vibrations – Ed Sullivan Show – Live
– Beat Club
Girls – Beat Club
It Again – Beat Club
USA – Beat Club
Over The Mountain – Beat Club
Only Knows – Concert – Live
Can Hear Music – German TV
John B – Concert – Live
– Promo Film
Fields – Promo Film
Cool Water – US TV – Live
On Sailor – Promo Film
Up – Promo Film
Beach Boys Endless
Summer: Best Of The Beach Boys
Labs Presentation 7172 [DVD-R]; Released 2003
live performances by Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys as recorded for
their TV program "Endless Summer"
Concert and 'Campfire' appearances
solo performances by Brian Wilson including "In My Car" and "Love
bootleg video is a real find for fans who are looking for more live
documentation of the Beach Boys. This is a professionally filmed
compilation of clips that were filmed in the late 1980's at Universal
Studios for inclusion in a television series called "Endless Summer"
which featured clips of the Beach Boys in concert, along with other
guest artists such as Stray Cats and Richard Marx. While the company
that created this "best of" also put out each program separately, this
is the only one that Beach Boys fans really need, since it collects all
of the Beach Boys segments and strings them together, creating a
three-part concert: one of the band live in concert before a large
audience; a second segment with the Band performing in a more intimate
"club" setting largely reminiscent of the Band's stint in "The Girls On
The Beach"; and a final "campire" sing-along with the Beach Boys
sharing stories and singing with family members huddled around them.
The first segment runs for about 40 minutes, and is a fine concert with
the surreal experience of seeing Jeff Foskett and Billy Hinche still
playing with Mike and Bruce (they have since left the band to play with
Brian and Al, respectively), plus, this is the time when the
"cheerleaders" were in full force, dancing on stage during nearly every
number - ugh. Also, there is an awkward segment when Brian, who has not
been playing with the group on stage, appears in a separate appearance
to sing "In My Car" and "Love And Mercy" - and unless you were there,
you can't concieve how painful it is to see him in leather pants,
stalking around the stage like a mad svengali. Intercut with his
singing are interview segments where Brian refers to his psychiatrist
Eugene Landy several times, and we see them interacting in the studio
together. The cheerleaders continue their prancing in the outdoor club
segment, with Brian joining the band for three numbers, but the final
segment is the best; with the Beach Boys sitting around a campfire with
their children and wives, reminiscing and singing songs, many of which
they sang during their "Party" recording sessions 20 years earlier. For
a bootleg, the video and sound quality is very good, and this DVD-R is
worth finding for devoted fans.
The Beach Boys 25 Years Together
Bohemia Presentation 7442 [DVD-R]; Released 2003
by: Glen Campbell, Belinda Carlisle, Ray Charles, The Everly Brothers,
The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Gloria Loring, Jeffrey Osborne, Joe Piscopo,
Paul Shaffer, and Three Dog Night.
live performance of unreleased song "The Spirit Of Rock 'N' Roll"
bootleg DVD, this one featuring the
complete 25th anniversary television special the Beach Boys recorded in
1989 (wait, didn't the Beach Boys start in 1961? Oh well,
who's counting?) For this production, the band is shown in
concert on Waikiki beach, with a crowd of only a few hundred in
attendance, apparently all of whom were told to wear bikinis (more on
that later.) This special has it's good and bad points -
first the good: the band looks great, with Brian on stage the entire
time, and Carl in particular in standout mode. In fact, of
all the concerts currently available, this is the one where Carl is
featured most prominently, with a solo song ("Heaven"), a duet with
Gloria Loring ("Friends and Lovers"), and looking happy and more active
than on any other concert I've seen. The location, set list,
and performances I consider to be the most varied I've ever seen
captured on tape. On the down side, there is no shortage of
"cheese" here, with intercut narration provided by Patrick Duffy and
Joe Piscopo, and such low-wattage guest artists like The Fabulous
Thunderbirds ("Rock 'n' Roll Music"), Three Dog Night (only two
dogs duetting on "Darlin'"), and an
uncomfortable-looking Belinda Carlisle, who takes the opportunity to
plug her own single "Band Of Gold." Also the Beach
Boys are forced to narrate themselves, with little spoken
asides (written by a should've-known-better David Leaf) that are
self-congratulatory and cloying. In fact, the whole special
has a smugness about it that is almost laughable, and the sight of Paul
Schaffer having what looks like epileptic fits on the keyboard nearly
sent me to the floor. Redeeming moments: Ray Charles'
so-soulful-it-hurts reading of "Sail On Sailor," and the camera men not
being able to tear their lenses away from the numerous bikini-clad
beauties in the crowd. (Concert?
What concert?) Anyway, I'd like to see this
officially released, but in the meantime, this very good transfer
will do. [Note: also contains japanese subtitles
during the spoken parts, which are also a wee bit distracting.]
and Dean (Jan & Dean Collector's Series, Volume 15)
Splender Of Bohemia Presentations
UPDATE: I've added
New Girl In School
2. Jennie Lee
3. Surfin' Safari
4. Little Old Lady From Pasadena
5. Surf City
6. Shut Down (outtake)
7. Like A Summer Rain
8. Dead Man's Curve
9. Baby Talk
10. Little Deuce Coupe
11. Drag City
12. Fun, Fun, Fun
13. Sidewalk Surfin'
14. Be True To Your School
15. Lightnin' Strikes
16. Walk Away Renee
17. The Letter
19. Seal It With A Kiss
20. Sugar Shack
21. 96 Tears
22. Baby Talk
23. Wild Thing
24. Da Doo Run Run
25. My Boyfriend's Back
REVIEW: In the
early 1980s Mike Love and Dean Torrence
teamed up for several projects, including a radio shack cassette Rock
'n' Roll City, Jan & Dean's Silver
Anniversary album, and the unreleased Dead Man's
Curve LP. Those sessions, along with several
unreleased alternates, appear on this compilation, and like most
bootlegs, have less than stellar sound sources and notes that appear to
have been written by an elementary school student. That being
said, the tracks show Mike and Dean in full retro mode, covering their
own hits in punchy remakes, and the hits of others, all with the polish
and experience which years of studio work had given them.
Recorded mostly in Mike's Santa Barbara studio, the tracks cover a
gamut of Jan & Dean hits from their earliest (Jennie Lee, Baby
Talk) to their biggest hits (Dead Man's Curve, Little Old Lady From
Pasadena), and one big surprise for me - the inclusion of "Like A
Summer Rain" from Dean's first solo album after Jan's near-fatal wreck Save
For A Rainy Day. Beach Boys remakes are in
abundance too, with Mike singing re-fueled versions of "Shut Down,"
"Little Deuce Coupe," "Fun, Fun, Fun," and "Be True To Your School" -
no big surprises there; but Mike also takes the lead on some Jan
& Dean tracks, singing the main vocals on "New Girl In School"
(which also has a lyrical nod to its earlier incarnation "Gonna Hustle
You", "Little Old Lady From Pasadena," and taking the lead on other
covers as well: "The Letter," "Locomotion," "Da Doo Run Run" and "My
Boyfriend's Back" (with rewritten lyrics) all carry Mike's
distinctive leads. Other band members and friends
help out as well, members of Mike's "Endless Summer" band and Dean's
touring band, the "Bel-Aire Bandits" providing propulsive backing
tracks throughout. Also interesting is the quick spoken word
bridge in "Dead Man's Curve" in which the nurse answering the phone
says: "Dr. Landy's office" - a nod to Brian's psychiatrist.
The sound is pretty muddy throughout, taken from several generations
down tape copies, I would guess, but listenable. I wouldn't
call this essential listening by any means, but as cover versions go,
these are full of energy and drive. I'm surprised Mike hasn't
released these tapes in any official version.
The Beach Boys: Archaeology
Picaresque Records [CD]; Released 2001
box set with sessions for "Heroes and Villians" "Good Vibrations,"
various Smile sessions, and more.
complete track listing: click here.
handsomely-produced 5-CD box set promises
more than it delivers, but manages to contain a
few discoveries. The first three discs are devoted
to Smile outtakes, and like most all other
compilations of this nature, the selection and quality is all over the
place, from "you-are-there" fidelity to "you are sitting in an
adjescent building trying to listen over the sound of traffic"
mud. The first disc is devoted to the sessions for "Heroes
& Villains," with vocal and tracking takes all in clear
sound, including a strange studio "acting" take with Brian
wanting to take some guy's radishes, and being continuously
rebuffed. The rest of the 33-track disc is just various
snippets and bits which the listener may find interesting or not,
depending on your level of fanaticism. The second disc is
more problematic, with clips from "Child Is The Father Of The Man,"
"The Elements," "Cabinessence," Vegetables" and other small bits, all
in noticeably poorer sound (obviously copied from other
bootlegs.) Disc three is devoted mostly to "Good
Vibrations" sessions, again with varying sound, but with some
improvements over past issues, and different takes.
final two discs of the set are all over the
place, snagging various studio, live, and television recordings, and
slapping them together without any particular rhyme or reason, but all
in good fidelity and with varying degrees of interest for
collectors. Again, if you've been collecting Beach Boys
rarities for years, you're going to have to do track-by-track
comparisons to see if there's anything here you don't already
have. Disc one collects "Don't Back Down," "Honda '55,"
"Baker Man," "Their Hearts Were Full of Spring" (live television
performance), "All Summer Long" "Girl Don't Tell Me," and many other
various vocal and instrumental tracking sessions from the Beach Boys
1964-1965 heyday. The second disc continues with various
reductions and takes from Pet Sounds through the end of
their years at Capitol, with takes from "Getting Hungry,"
"Can't Wait Too Long," "Here Comes The Night," ""Time To Get Alone,"
and several takes on "Breakaway."
in all, Archaeology is a
prime example of why I don't collect many bootlegs anymore: most of the
stuff I've heard before, the selection and sequencing are haphazard,
and it's not worth the price tag to get the few new bits and pieces
that are available.