The following are the complete original liner notes for Capitols Beach Boys Rarities album, originally issued in August 1983 and later rereleased (October 14, 1997) on CD in Japan. The only changes that have been made are to correct the lead vocal information for The Letter and the recording date of the 1968 show at the Astoria in Finsbury Park, London.
The Beach Boys Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Mike Love, Alan Jardine and Bruce Johnston rose to fame in 1962. For a decade, they reigned as the major American rock group. During their seven years (1962-1969) with Capitol Records, The Beach Boys hit the Top 40 no less than 27 times. Sixteen of their albums made the Top 100.
Versatility was the groups keynote. Their radio hits ranged from the basic rock-and-roll of Fun, Fun Fun to the psychedelia of Good Vibrations. On albums, The Beach Boys experimented with lush ballads, acappella renderings, rhythm-and-blues and even hard rock. Their efforts always succeeded, never sounding forced, because they made each style their own, never content to simply copy.
Unfortunately, The Beach Boys greatest displays of versatility (and perhaps talent) have remained largely undiscovered. Their most innovative recordings were usually one-of-a-kind, not fitting into any planned mold and therefore left off albums. Typically, these gems surfaced only on obscure singles, promotional albums and foreign releases.
This Rarities package corrects the situation. Included are six of the most desirable and interesting oddities of The Beach Boys career. But, best of all, here are another seven recordings, previously unreleased, discovered deep in Capitols tape vaults.
Theres something on Rarities for everyone. The collector will relish the newly-discovered tracks. The fan will delight in owning recordings that were previously out of reach. The casual record buyer will marvel at the unrealized extent of The Beach Boys talent and versatility.
The first three songs With A Little Help From My Friends, The Letter and I Was Made To Love Her date from the recording of the Wild Honey album in the fall of 1967. When it appeared, Wild Honey was a very fresh-sounding album. Stark and simple, it stood in sharp contrast to the complex psychedelic music popular at the time. Within a year, the other major stars of the rock world would make the same return to basics Bob Dylan with John Wesley Harding, The Rolling Stones with Beggars Banquet and The Beatles with the White Album.
The recording of Wild Honey followed the intense, ground-breaking year-long sessions that produced Good Vibrations, Heroes And Villains and the Smiley Smile album. Chief Beach Boy Brian Wilson had pushed his creative powers to their limit during those sessions. Wild Honey, according to his brother Carl, was simply music for Brian to cool down with. The songs, whether original compositions or covers of other artists hits, were heavily R&B-influenced. Standout tracks on the album included the hit singles Wild Honey and Darlin and the Stevie Wonder cover, I Was Made To Love Her, all featuring gritty Carl Wilson lead vocals. The version of I Was Made To Love Her included on Rarities is longer than the Wild Honey track and includes the unique tag cut prior to the albums release.
The Letter, a cover of The Boxtops classic hit, was dropped from the Wild Honey lineup shortly before the album came out. The song features a Brian Wilson lead vocal, with Mike Love singing the final line of each verse (My baby, she wrote me a letter).
With A Little Help From My Friends probably never was intended for inclusion on Wild Honey. According to Bruce Johnston, who handles the lead vocal, We did it just to see what it would sound like. Outside of several songs on the totally irreverent Beach Boys Party album, it stands as the groups only attempt to cover a Beatles tune.
Youre Welcome was released as the flip side of Heroes And Villains in July 1967. Both songs were recorded during the session for the never-released Smile album, planned as the crowining achievement of The Beach Boys career to that point. Brian Wilsons goal was to take the idiom of pop music a step further than he had with Good Vibrations. During a year of recording, Brian experimented with a variety of approaches to music. Youre Welcome is an excellent example of his work with circular mantra-like chants.
Ultimately, Smile was shelved. In its stead, the less ambitious Smiley Smile was released. Youre Welcome was not included on the album, although Heroes And Villains was.
Another flip side that never made it to an album is The Lords Prayer, released in December 1963, coupled with Little Saint Nick, the groups perennial Christmas single. Not only was it an early example of the groups acappella singing, but The Lords Prayer was the first indication of the groups underlying spirituality. Later songs such as Pet Sounds God Only Knows and 1971s Til I Die showcased that spirituality to greater effect.
Bluebirds Over The Mountain, a remake of a 1958 Ersel Hickey hit, was a chart single for The Beach Boys in 1968 and was included on their 20/20 album. The version appearing on Rarities, however, differs from both of those versions.
When The Beach Boys submitted their original recording of Bluebirds to Capitol, it was suggested that the song needed more punch. In response, the group cut an overdub track that included, among other things, a ping-pong percussion effect, a tambourine and a strummed acoustic guitar. In mastering the single, the overdub track was mixed at a low level with the original recording. However, in Holland, the instructions were misread; the two tracks were mixed at equal volumes. Thus, on the Dutch release, the overdub track dominates.
Available on Rarities, for the first time, are the separate tracks. On the left channel is Bluebirds as originally submitted to Capitol. On the right channel is the overdub track. To reproduce the unique Dutch version, all a listener has to do is switch his stereo system to mono.
Interestingly, Bluebirds was remixed for inclusion on 20/20, with the overdub track incorporated more fully in the mix.
Celebrate The News was one of Dennis Wilsons early songwriting and producing efforts. Throughout the Seventies, Dennis continued to develop his talents, contributing more impressive efforts with each successive Beach Boys album. In 1977, Dennis released the first Beach Boy solo album, Pacific Ocean Blue, earning high praise for his debut effort.
Celebrate The News foreshadows Pacific Ocean Blue, not only in its unconventional structure and sheer sonic power, but also in Dennis choice of collaborators. Celebrate the News was co-written by Gregg Jakobson, with whom Dennis co-produced the later album.
Celebrate The News was released in June 1969 as the flip side of Break Away, The Beach Boys last single for Capitol Records. It has not appeared on an album before.
Good Vibrations was not only The Beach Boys biggest hit, but also the biggest production Brian Wilson ever undertook. Brian started the song in February 1966 during the recording of the Pet Sounds album, but left it off that album. It was not finished to his satisfaction until seven months later. Reportedly, the song required 17 recording sessions, $50,000 and 90 hours of recording tape to finish. Brian experimented with up to 20 different mixes of the song, several of which he came very close to releasing. Included on Rarities is one such version, radically different from the familiar hit in places, complete except for the vocals on the verses.
Land Ahoy is the oldest recording on Rarities, dating from September 1962 during the sessions for The Beach Boys first album, Surfin Safari. Although identical in style to the other songs on the album, Land Ahoy was left in the can, its place taken by the groups first hit, Surfin, which was leased from a local Los Angeles record company.
It has long been rumored that The Beach Boys recorded several songs in German during the early stage of their career, but Rarities offers the first concrete evidence. The German version of In My Room was recorded in March 1964 as part of a strategy to break the group in Europe. However, before the recording could be used, the group saw success overseas with their English language recordings. In My Room, or All Alone as the German literally translates, remained unreleased until now.
Cotton Fields was released as a single in April 1970, nine months after The Beach Boys left Capitol. Alan Jardine produced this version out of dissatisfaction with the version produced by Brian (found on the 20/20 album). Although Brians Cotton Fields technically is a better production, Alans version, with its pedal steel guitar and country vocals, has a greater element of enthusiasm and excitement.
Also released after The Beach Boys left Capitol was the Live In London (or Beach Boys 69) album. Although it appeared in Great Britain in 1970, American release was delayed until 1976. Contrary to common belief, the Live In London album was recorded neither in 1969 nor at the London Palladium. Instead, the album is from a Dec. 8, 1968 show at the Astoria in the Finsbury Park section of London. The album features the entire show performed at the Astoria. The song lineup was the groups standard at the time. However, at the Palladium on the same tour, the group dropped Arent You Glad in favor of a new song, All I Want to Do, which would appear two months later on 20/20. Fortunately, the tape machines were rolling at the Palladium, too, and the live version of All I Want to Do now sees release.
Rarities final track, Auld Lang Syne, can be found on The Beach Boys Christmas Album from 1964, but on that record the song features a narrative voice-over by Dennis, wishing every listener a Merry Christmas. Obscured by his talking is a beautiful acappella rendition of the New Years classic. A pair of Capitol promotional albums featured the unencumbered recording, but only dedicated collectors knew of the gem and where to find it. With its release on Rarities, the world at large can at last hear the song in all its beauty.
Most of the recordings on Rarities are in monaural sound, rather than stereophonic, because that is the way they originally were mixed. The Beach Boys, especially Brian, preferred mono.
I look at sound like a painting, Brian explained once. The balance is conceived in your mind. You finish the sound, dub it down and youve stamped out a picture of your balance with that mono dubdown. But in stereo, you leave the dubdown to the listener to his speaker placement and speaker balance. It just doesnt seem complete to me.
When listening to Rarities, it should not be forgotten that The Beach Boys music always has been fun. They made people smile, whether they were singing about surfing or girls or vegetables. Rarities was assembled with that in mind. The tracks here are not only interesting, but lighthearted and warm. They should reach each listener as an enjoyable experience.
Brad Elliott is the author of Surf s Up! The Beach Boys on Record, published by Surf s Up Books.
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