By Howie Edelson
The Beach Boys.
It just seems to go together.
But make no mistake, this is a band for all seasons and times. They represent a summer that lasts year-‘round, inspiring joy, and hope, and new experience – a forever season where life is fast and vibrant.
The good place. Our best times.
The Beach Boys kick off their 60th anniversary celebrations on June 17th with the deluxe and expanded release of its 2003 Sounds Of Summer: The Very Best Of The Beach Boys collection.
The set — which originally peaked at Number 16 on the Billboard 200 and has sold nearly 4.4 million copies to date — has now been expanded to include two additional discs boasting 50 new tracks — many of which have been completely remixed and/or featured in stereo for the first time.
Additionally, all 30 songs on Disc One of Sounds Of Summer have been mixed in immersive Dolby Atmos. Suddenly, yesterday becomes today with the flick of a switch, a twist of a knob — and now a young set of ears begins to fall in love with the most beautiful noise.
It’s important to note that back in the day, while the group was ironing out its sound and beginning a recording career – they were also hitting the road and making their bones as a live band – with its oldest member, frontman Mike Love, barely 21 and guitarist David Marks only 13. It cannot be overstated that while still incredibly young, The Beach Boys had a clear vision and an unyielding work ethic. During back-breaking drives, they sometimes spent up to 11 hours in a car between gigs to spread the word and build their brand.
The Beach Boys, with Brian Wilson leading the charge, were an unstoppable machine. Between 1962 and 1968, the band issued a total of 26 Top 40 hits, including “Surfin’ U.S.A,” “In My Room,” “Little Deuce Coupe,” “Surfer Girl,” “Don’t Worry Baby,” “Barbara Ann,” and with his primary songwriting partner and cousin Mike Love, co-wrote such instant standards as “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “California Girls,” “Do It Again,” “Dance, Dance, Dance,” “Little Saint Nick,” “When I Grow Up (To Be A Man),” “Wild Honey,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” and “Darlin,’” — not to mention group’s unforgettable chart-toppers, “I Get Around,” “Help Me, Rhonda,” and “Good Vibrations.”
Showcasing the wealth of talent in the band, guitarist Al Jardine got to take the lead on The Beach Boys’ second Number One single — 1965’s Wilson/Love smash hit “Help Me, Rhonda.” Jardine remembered getting the nod to front the tune: “Oh, I was delighted. I was honored. But the pressure (laughs), the pressure on me was enormous! Everybody was there listening. I was really thrilled to have that opportunity.”
Brian Wilson told us that above being a key team player over the decades — Al Jardine possesses one of the most inspiring and dependable voices in popular music: “He’s a great singer, one of my favorite singers, and he’s always good — he never ever screws up. He’s always good.”
By 1966, The Beach Boys were without question, releasing the best sounding records on this side of the Atlantic. As a touring entity, The Beach Boys were performing to tremendous, sell-out crowds across North America, Europe, Japan, and Down Under. Dennis Wilson’s simple directive to his brother and cousin to, quote, “Write about surfin’” had propelled a gang of suburban boys into a global sensation.
Mike Love recently recalled that unlike most Americans, The Beach Boys’ rigorous schedule has always forced him to miss out on relaxing during the summer season:
“We’re so busy during the summer. The Beach Boys get so many offers during the summer that we literally haven’t had a summer off in years. However — it’s always summer somewhere in the world. Sometimes I’ll go to Bali, or Australia, or Costa Rica, or Mexico for Christmas holidays and stuff like that.”
Bruce Johnston, who officially joined The Beach Boys in 1965, explained why he was so desperately needed out on tour with the group: “Brian Wilson had about 10 jobs. He had to write it, arrange it, produce it, do vocal arrangements. . . and it means you have to stay home to do it. So that kind of opened up a door for me to be on the road — and record, I guess.”
Al Jardine recalled returning home from the road and Brian Wilson ushering them back into the studio before they had time to catch their breath: “We’d be all alone, just the five of us in this gigantic cavern of a recording studio called Columbia — Columbia Studios on Sunset Boulevard. I mean. . . It was like being inside of a giant space station (laughs) and you’re trying to sing these tender and beautiful and moving harmonies and stuff. And we did it. Somehow, we pulled it off. But it was strange, like living in a vacuum.”
Sounds Of Summer features a pair of remixed tracks from 1972 – “You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone” and “Marcella,” pointing the way to The Beach Boys’ next archival boxed set celebrating the 50th anniversaries of Carl And The Passions ‘ “So Tough” and Holland – which featured the then-new recruits Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar along with the band’s eternal “Sail On Sailor.”
At the time of Carl And The Passions’ release, Mike Love was satisfied that the group had handed in some of their strongest work: “I’m pleased with almost all the tracks, Brian was there with ‘Marcella’ and ‘Mess Of Help’ with the vocal harmonies. The background track to it almost approaches a (Rolling) Stones kind of feel, with country guitars and violins and stuff. It’s pretty funky.”
The Beach Boys’ ‘70s era is featured on a total of 27 tracks on Sounds Of Summer. Mike Love told us he still has a soft spot for the band’s 1976 Top 10 “comeback” album, 15 Big Ones: “Well, ‘It’s O.K.,’ and ‘Rock And Roll Music’ are both on that one. Yeah, I really thought ‘It’s O.K.’ was underrated. It’s a really cool song. It’s an early-summer kind of song. And ‘Rock And Roll Music’ went to Number Five.”
Sounds Of Summer charts The Beach Boys’ career throughout the decades. Two of the remixed tracks on the set were culled from 1977’s The Beach Boys Love You collection — a particular favorite of Brian Wilson’s: “Yeah, I remember that. We used a (sings bass notes) — a growly kind of sound, right? And we said, ‘We don’t need a bass drum,’ so we decided against it. A lot more freedom. We gave ourselves, like 10, 12 hours a day booked time, y’know? And we took our time — we weren’t in any big rush to go anywhere, so we just took our time and recorded Love You.”
Carl Wilson put it best when he touched on the power The Beach Boys’ music has had on its listeners, explaining, “I think that part of it is spiritual. There’s a part that connects to people on a very deep level. There’s a simplicity, a child-like quality to a lot of the songs that I think touches people in a very subliminal way.”
The Beach Boys’ Sounds Of Summer was built to last and inspire.
A worthy companion for the long ride.