Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Beach Boys Made In California Track Listing Initial Impressions Commentary by Peter Reum


MADE IN CALIFORNIA-The announced tracklisting:

CD 1
1. Home Recordings / "Surfin'" Rehearsal Highlights (2012 Edit - Mono)
2. Surfin' (with Session Intro - Mono)
3. Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring (Demo - Mono)
4. Surfin' Safari (Original Mono Long Version)
5. 409 (Original Mono Long Version)
6. Lonely Sea (Original Mono Mix)
7. Surfin' U.S.A.
8. Shut Down (2003 Stereo Mix)
9. Surfer Girl
10. Little Deuce Coupe
11. Catch A Wave
12. Our Car Club
13. Surfers Rule (with Session Intro)
14. In My Room
15. Back Home
16. Be True To Your School (Mono Single Version)
17. Ballad Of Ole' Betsy
18. Little Saint Nick (Stereo Single Version)
19. Fun, Fun, Fun (Mono Single Version)
20. Little Honda
21. Don't Worry Baby (2009 Stereo Mix)
22. Why Do Fools Fall In Love (2009 Stereo Mix)
23. The Warmth Of The Sun
24. I Get Around (with Session Intro - Mono)
25. Wendy (2007 Stereo Mix)
26. All Summer Long (2007 Stereo Mix)
27. Girls On The Beach
28. Don’t Back Down
29. When I Grow Up (To Be A Man) (2012 Stereo Mix)
30. All Dressed Up For School (Mono)
31. Please Let Me Wonder (2007 Stereo Mix)
32. Kiss Me, Baby (2000 Stereo Mix)
33. In The Back of My Mind (2012 Stereo Mix)
34. Dance, Dance, Dance (2003 Stereo Mix)

General Comments:

It appears to me that the Box compilers, Alan Boyd and Mark Linett, have put together a 50 year overview of The Beach Boys with an emphasis in discs 1 and 2 on Brian's work in the 1961 to 1967 period, and have worked diligently to have all of The Beach Boys represented in the years from 1968 onward. I am very excited to see that there a number of selections included that have been written about by writers through the years, or in some cases, even discussed by group members. The art work for the cds themselves is pulled in some cases from that era's Beach Boys Tour Programs represented from the years covered by the various cds.  That is a clever new approach. It appears to me that the compilers and The Beach Boys themselves have made a strong effort to have Dennis and Carl Wilson's work shared with the listeners to this set, and that is wonderful.

Disc 1 Commentary-The first thing that I noticed is that the 5 song Murry Wilson Beach Boys demo tape that Nik Venet bought outright is the first thing listeners hear. This is important historically because there has been a tendency to discount Murry's contributions to The Beach Boys' early success. If one listens closely to that tape as presented here, it is apparent that The Beach Boys overall talent was very evident. The second thing that is easy to see is that Murry, and perhaps Brian, already had production chops. The next few sides are the second and third Capitol singles. It is hard to discern whether certain tracks not annotated are stereo or mono. This will be revealed in due time. I will generally assume that undesignated tracks are stereo.

The inclusion of nearly half the tracks on the Surfer Girl album is a bow to that lp being Brian's first credited production, and what a strong album it is.  Back Home is a nice addition here, as it has a shuffling pace similar to Little Deuce Coupe, and is a strong track. The single version of Little Saint Nick is stereo, and if so, it will be a great addition. The inclusion of Ballad of Old Betsy and All Dressed Up For School showcases the group's distinctive vocal blend. The tracks from Shut Down Volume 2 are the cream of that album. There are five tracks from All Summer Long, which is the next very strong album that follows the Surfer Girl album. Little Deuce Coupe and Shut Down Volume 2 are not as strong. Beach Boys Today has 6 songs represented, and again, it is a very strong album. Overall, it appears that the compilers took strategic singles and B sides, and tracks from the strongest albums of the early period.

CD 2
1. Do You Wanna Dance (2012 Stereo Mix)
2. Help Me, Rhonda (Mono Single Version)
3. California Girls (2002 Stereo Mix)
4. Amusement Parks USA (Early Version)
5. Salt Lake City (2001 Stereo Mix)
6. Let Him Run Wild (2007 Stereo Mix)
7. Graduation Day (Session Excerpt and Master Take, 2012 Mix)
8. The Little Girl I Once Knew (Mono)
9. There's No Other (Like My Baby) (2012 “Unplugged” Mix with Party Session Intro)
10. Barbara Ann (2012 Stereo Mix)
11. Radio Spot “Wonderful KYA” (Mono)
12. Sloop John B (1996 Stereo Mix)
13. Wouldn't It Be Nice (2001 Stereo Mix)
14. God Only Knows (1996 Stereo Mix)
15. I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times (1996 Stereo Mix)
16. Caroline No (1996 Stereo Mix)
17. Good Vibrations (Mono)
18. Our Prayer (2012 “Smile Sessions” Stereo Mix)
19. Heroes And Villains: Part 1 (“Smile Sessions” Mix - Mono)
20. Heroes And Villains: Part 2 (“Smile Sessions” Mix - Mono)
21. Vega-Tables (“Smile Sessions” Stereo Mix)
22. Wind Chimes (“Smile Sessions” Stereo Mix)
23. The Elements: Fire (Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow) (“Smile Sessions” Mix - Mono)
24. Cabin Essence (“Smile Sessions” Mix - Mono)
25. Heroes And Villains (2012 Stereo Mix)
26. Wonderful (2012 Stereo Mix)
27. Country Air (2012 Stereo Mix)
28. Wild Honey (2012 Stereo Mix)

Disc 2 Commentary-This era demonstrates the flowering of Brian Wilson's genius, and his rapid growth as a songwriter, arranger, and producer can be readily seen in this cd's selections. It is critical that this disc shows the growth of Brian Wilson. This disc meets that challenge.  What is very clear in any sequence that a Beach Boys set compiler must accomplish is to somehow in a very limited time allotment of a cd or two document the rapid explosion of talent that Brian evinced during the period from early 1962 through June or July of 1967. Beginning with Surfer Girl, through Don't Worry Baby, and on into Today through Smile, there were few, if any musicians who grew as deeply and as quickly. The 1993 Boxed Set utilized the Smile material to help display this growth.

This set has the advantage of having an entire Smile Sessions Set to pull from. The first few tunes here are very well known, and it is important to show successful records in a set spanning 50 years. There are 5 tunes from Summer Days here, and I enjoy Amusement Parks USA more than the average Beach Boys fan. I feel that it is Brian's first attempt at a Heroes and Villains type song. The Little Girl I Once Knew is a foreshadowing of Pet Sounds, and as such, needs to be included. The highlights of the Party album are many, but in the interest of including more Smile, the compilers appear to have wisely chosen to restrict Party tunes to There's No Other and Barbara Ann. Dennis's vocal on You've Got To Hide Your Love Away I would consider a strong track as well. Pet Sounds is amply represented, and the songs chosen are very strong. The seven tracks from Smile (including Good Vibrations) are some of the strongest Brian ever cut. I am tickled to see The Elements (Mrs. O'Leary's Cow) presented here. From 1967, there are several excellent recordings, such as a stereo Heroes and Villains, a stereo Wonderful, presumably from Smiley Smile, and Country Air and Wild Honey in stereo from that album. If one listens to these two discs, and does not grasp the dramatic growth of Brian in the studio and the group's vocal growth, there is little hope in listening to the rest of the set.

CD 3
1. Darlin' (2012 Stereo Mix)
2. Let The Wind Blow (2001 Stereo Mix)
3. Meant For You (Alternate Version)
4. Friends
5. Little Bird
6. Busy Doin' Nothin'
7. Sail Plane Song (2012 Stereo Mix)
8. We're Together Again (2012 Stereo Mix)
9. Radio Spot “Murray The K” (Mono)
10. Do It Again (2012 Stereo Mix)
11. Old Man River (Vocal Section)
12. Be With Me
13. I Can Hear Music
14. Time To Get Alone
15. I Went To Sleep
16. Can’t Wait Too Long (A Cappella)
17. Break Away (Alternate Version)
18. Celebrate The News
19. Cotton Fields (The Cotton Song) (Single Version, 2001 Stereo Mix)
20. Susie Cincinnati (2012 Mix)
21. Good Time
22. Slip On Through
23. Add Some Music To Your Day
24. This Whole World
25. Forever
26. It's About Time
27. Soulful Old Man Sunshine
28. Fallin’ In Love (2009 Stereo Mix)
29. Sound Of Free (Mono Single Version)
30. Til I Die
31. Surf’s Up

Disc 3 Commentary-We might term this period as  "Carl takes over." Carl finished The Wild Honey album when Brian flamed out, and then served as mixdown producer for Friends, and helped finish that lp as well. Brian had moments of inspiration, as this disc amply documents. This disc continues songs from the Wild Honey album, begun on the end of Disc 2, and it is easy to see that there has been some work on making at least some Wild Honey songs available in stereo. Of all the albums left in Mono, Wild Honey is the one that is most in need of being available in stereo. The inclusion of some alternate versions of songs like Meant For You is cool. That is one I would not have thought of. The highlights of Friends are here, and Dennis's Little Bird introduces his composing and Stevie Kalinich's lyrics for the first time. Busy Doin' Nothin' and I Went to Sleep are slices of Brian's life before his crash after Old Man River that are wonderful to illustrate where he was living musically in 1968. Time To Get Alone, written during the Smile period, appears here with Carl producing. Sail Plane Song is simply stunning, and it is a welcome addition.

Can't Wait Too Long is simply one of the best things Brian ever recorded, even if it is unfinished. It appears here in it's rightful place as a highlight of the late Sixties Beach Boys scene.  Do It Again is also a most welcome addition in stereo.  After Brian's Breakaway stalled in the US charts, he withdrew to some degree. The contributions of Carl Wilson and Dennis Wilson over the next several years are evident in the next disc and a half. On the last part of disc 3, Dennis is represented by Celebrate The News, Slip On Through, Forever, Fallin' In Love, It's About Time, and thankfully, Sound of Free. This is half of a great Dennis Wilson album that would compete well with Pacific Ocean Blue. Brian's contributions, as few as they are, are also excellent. Add Some Music, This Whole World,  Soulful Old Man Sunshine, Til I Die, and Good Time are all musically inspired. The horn lines for Good Time are incredible. Surfs Up, however Frankenstein a version people think it is, is a powerful reminder that once upon a time, two men created a masterpiece.

CD 4
1. Don’t Go Near The Water
2. Disney Girls (1957)
3. Feel Flows
4. (Wouldn’t It Be Nice To) Live Again
5. Marcella
6. All This Is That
7. Sail On Sailor
8. The Trader
9. California Saga (On My Way To Sunny Californ-I-A)
10. Rock And Roll Music (2012 Mix w/Extra Verse)
11. It's OK (Alternate Mix)
12. Had To Phone Ya
13. Let Us Go On This Way
14. I’ll Bet He’s Nice
15. Solar System
16. The Night Was So Young
17. It's Over Now (Alternate Mix)
18. Come Go With Me
19. California Feelin’
20. Brian’s Back (Alternate Mix)
21. Good Timin'
22. Angel Come Home
23. Baby Blue
24. It's A Beautiful Day (Single Edit) (2012 Mix)
25. Goin’ To The Beach

Disc 4 Commentary-The Seventies were a time when The Beach Boys at first ran away from their history, and then after Endless Summer, turned to embrace the inevitable. Every group member stepped up and contributed, though it would be fair to say that the group's inability to establish a clear identity in this decade hurt them immensely. The Carl production period continued through Surfs Up, Carl and the Passions, and Holland. Contributions from the years 1971 to 1973 were eclectic. Carl's songs on the Surfs Up and Holland albums are quite strong. Dennis's Wouldn't It Be Nice to Live Again has deserved to be heard for 40 years. Bruce's Disney Girls may be one of the most covered tunes in The Beach Boys' oeurve. Marcella and Sail On Sailor became part of The Beach Boys live show for many years. Alan's contributions during this period were strong as well, with California Saga being the "should have been" hit single that wasn't.

After the Great Silence, from 1973 until 1976, Brian was coaxed back. His contributions on 15 Big Ones and Love You were quite childlike, and cemented the whole picture of Brian as eccentric. Asking Brian to contribute was difficult. His avoidance had become ingrained, and the idea of writing songs for cheeseburgers was ridiculous. Despite the collective insanity surrounding 1976-78, the highlights selected from 15 Big Ones and Love You are wonderful. It is great to see It's Over Now, but I miss Still I Dream Of It.  The tunes selected from 15 Big Ones are the hits, and the only other tune I would have included was the duet between Brian and Carl on Just Once In My Life. The tunes selected from Love You are the highlights of the album. Come Go With Me and Brian's Back are nice additions from the MIU period. Dennis's silence on Beach Boys' albums during these two years on 15 Big Ones, Love You, and MIU is deafening. His return to form on LA Light is welcome, and Baby Blue is possibly the best Beach Boys track of the 1976 through 1980 period. The Beach Boys' version of California Feelin' would have been welcome on LA Light. It's A Beautiful Day is simply a great Beach Boys record about LA, and again, is sorely missed on LA Light.

CD 5
1. Goin' On
2. Why Don’t They Let Us Fall In Love
3. Da Doo Ron Ron
4. Getcha Back
5. California Dreamin’
6. Kokomo
7. Soul Searchin’
8. You’re Still A Mystery
9. That’s Why God Made The Radio
10. Isn’t It Time (Single Version)


11. Runaway (Chicago 1965 – w/Concert Promo Intro - Mono)
12. You’re So Good To Me (Paris 1966 - Mono)
13. The Letter (Hawaii Rehearsal 1967)
14. Friends (Chicago 1968 - Mono)
15. Little Bird (Chicago 1968 - Mono)
16. All I Want To Do (London 1968)
17. Help Me, Rhonda (New Jersey 1972)
18. Wild Honey (New Jersey 1972)
19. Only With You (New York 1972)
20. It’s About Time (Chicago 1973)
21. I Can Hear Music (Maryland 1975)
22. Vegetables (New York 1993)
23. Wonderful (New York 1993)
24. Sail On Sailor (Louisville 1995)
25. Summer In Paradise (Wembley 1993)

Disc 5 Commentary-After Keepin' the Summer Alive, The Beach Boys as a group became somewhat of a self-parody. Brian was very ill, as was Dennis, and Carl was alienated and pursued a solo career. The group had effectively ignored the need to record, and made a living off of touring. There was a tendency to play for large events, and concerts in DC and other venues like Live Aid were where the general public saw The Beach Boys. James Watt inadvertantly became the groups's best public relations person, affording President Reagan to personally invite The Beach Boys to play on Independence Day. Despite the publicity, tracks from the Beach Boys were catch as catch can, and the odd tune turned up on obscure motion picture soundtracks. Brian was sequestered from his family and The Beach Boys, and appeared only on rare occasions. In the mid Eighties, Steve Levine produced a Beach Boys album. Getcha Back is from that album, and is a tribute to Dennis Wilson, who I could hear singing lead on in my imagination.

Aside from the occasional Brian "therapy production," new music from the Beach Boys in the Eighties was not forthcoming. With Terry Melcher producing, they cut California Dreamin' and Kokomo. The former was a minor hit, and the latter, placed in a Tom Cruise movie called Cocktail, became a worldwide smash. The album that emerged from these sessions was Still Cruisin', and there were a few tracks that whet Beach Boys' fans' appetites.  There were efforts to cut an album without Brian, entitled Summer In Paradise. It failed to chart. In the mid Nineties, there were  negotiations to have Brian produce a Beach Boys album. With Don Was, the group cut two Brian tunes, both diamonds. Soul Searchin' is a showcase for Carl Wilson's marvelous voice, and You're Still A Mystery is the most catchy Beach Boys record since the early Seventies. The group elected to cut country versions of Beach Boys tunes instead, and these two jewels languished for 20 years. In 2012, the surviving Beach Boys, including Bruce Johnston and David Marks made a fine album, and the singles are included here.

The paucity of music from 1980 through 2012 meant there was at least a half a cd to fill. The set compilers elected to fill this space in with roughly 40 minutes of live highlights.Most of this material has been available on bootlegs for years, but it is encouraging to see The Beach Boys realize that their live archive is a source of potential future releases, as their live history is deeper and wider than any rock group. If The Grateful Dead can do it, so can the Beach Boys. I want to encourage the group to see this avenue as a promising way of sharing their music with fans, and also generating unrealized revenue. I would rather buy a legitimate release of live material every time over a bootleg.

CD 6
1. Radio Spot (1966 – Mono)
2. Slip On Through (A Cappella Mix)
3. Don’t Worry Baby (Stereo Session Outtake w/ Alternate Lead Vocal)
4. Pom Pom Play Girl (Vocal Session Highlight)
5. Guess I’m Dumb (Instrumental Track w/Background Vocals)
6. Sherry She Needs Me (1965 Track w/1976 Vocal)
7. Mona Kana (Instrumental Track)
8. This Whole World (A Cappella)
9. Where Is She?
10. Had To Phone Ya (Instrumental Track)
11. Smile Backing Vocals Montage (from “The Smile Sessions”)
12. Good Vibrations (Stereo Track Sections)
13. Be With Me (Demo)
14. I Believe In Miracles (Vocal Section)
15. Why (Instrumental Track)
16. Barnyard Blues
17. Don’t Go Near The Water (Instrumental Track)
18. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling
19. Transcendental Meditation (Instrumental Track)
20. Our Sweet Love (Vocals w/Strings)
21. Back Home (1970 Version)
22. California Feelin’ (Original Demo)
23. California Girls (“Lei’d In Hawaii” Studio Version)
24. Help You, Rhonda (“Lei’d In Hawaii” Studio Version)
25. Surf's Up (1967 Version) (2012 Mix)
26. My Love Lives On
27. Radio Spot (1964 - Mono)
28. Wendy (BBC – Live in the Studio 1964 - Mono)
29. When I Grow Up (To Be A Man) (BBC – Live in the Studio 1964 - Mono)
30. Hushabye (BBC – Live in the Studio 1964 - Mono)
31. Carl Wilson: Coda (2013 Edit)

Disc 6 Commentary-Well, this is the disc the hard core fans will turn to first. After a breathtaking aircheck, we go right into a stripped down Slip On Through. The vocals are a revelation. The alternate Don't Worry Baby is a nice addition. The Pom Pom Play Girl vocals are remarkable for being one of Carl's earliest leads. Guess I'm Dumb is one of Brian's finest productions in or out of The Beach Boys, and this version shows why. The majestic Sheri She Needs Me track deserved a better lead vocal  and set of lyrics, which it got on the Brian Wilson Imagination lp. Mona Kana I believe is Dennis's first session as a producer. He shows enormous promise here if that information is accurate. We have another a capella Sunflower track in This Whole World, and the tag here is heavenly. Where Is She is Brian in waltz time with a wonderful tune that is magic, but sadly, left undeveloped. Had To Phone Ya's instrumental track is lovely, and the finished version makes it hard to suss out. The Smile backing vocals were a brilliant stroke on the Smile Sessions Set. After Good Vibrations, we go through what I think must be a small grouping of Dennis's work. It is great to see his work recognized. The instrumental track for Don't Go Near the Water is quite catchy, and Stephen Foster is swimming around there somewhere. You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' is Brian singing both Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley's parts simultaneously in the same! I am kind of excited to hear the Transcendental Meditation track, as it sounds to my ears like early jazz/rock fusion. The version of Our Sweet Love here is the one Brian did and left unfinished. Carl's work added to this beginning made it the version we know on Sunflower. Alan cut this version of Back Home. It has a more fluid feel to it, and is quite listenable. California Feelin' here is the demo that Brian cut that Timothy White raved about in his landmark article in Crawdaddy. It is a jewel that needed to be heard. The in-the-studio versions of California Girls and Help Me Rhonda here have been circulating for a long time, but it is great to hear them in pristine sound. Surfs Up is a jewel in whatever incarnation it appears. It's appearance on The Smile Sessions made the investment in that set worthwhile for anyone who loves Smile. I am going to be honest here and say I know nothing about Dennis's My Love Lives On. Totally off the radar! After another radio aircheck, the three BBC tunes from 1964 are most welcome. I have had a crappy cassette of them since the early Seventies, but ......these are great! Carl.....we miss you!

Conclusion-This is a set that offers the best balanced view of The Beach Boys as a group of any set that has been assembled. If you can't afford the physical set, pay the lower amount for the download version. I hope that The Beach Boys use this set as a jumping off point for more product either through a download site or on a limited edition basis. People will buy sets of say, limited editions of 2500 to 5000 made, if the group conscientiously approaches that market. Collectors are predictable, if a bit obsessive, myself included!   editation


Disc 6 Commentary-


  1. Thanks for giving your impressions, sir.

    My lone quibble: The first disc I'll listen to features "Wouldn't It Be Nice (To Live Again)." After that, then I'll go for the vaults disc. I've long, long, long desired to hear THAT particular track. :)

    I, too, hope that the group realizes the fan desire (and profitability) of releasing live and unreleased studio materials. The Doors, Phish, The Grateful Dead, Dave Matthews Band, Linkin Park ... All these bands, and more, have given fans live recordings that are of superior quality (while at the same time giving the artists some money back, rather than going straight to bootleggers).

    Keep up the good stuff, sir.

  2. Many thanks for those fine observations and notes Peter, you've whetted my appetite even more!

  3. You put Linkin Park in the same sentence with all of those bands 0_o

  4. Thanks for this, some interesting stuff! At the bottom of the post you mention a download version of the box set. Do you have nay more information about this? I've not seen an mp3/download version anywhere.

  5. Looking forward to this! Thanks for your comments, Peter.

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