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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Beach Boys: Hawthorne, CA


CD I: 1) Mike Love Introduces "Surfin'"; 2) 3701 West 119th Street, Hawthorne, California: The Surfin' Rehearsal; 3) Happy Birthday Four Freshmen; 4) Mike On Brian's Harmonies; 5) Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring (live rehearsal); 6) Surfin' USA (demo); 7) Surfin' USA (backing track); 8) Carl Wilson Radio Promo; 9) Shut Down (live); 10) Little Deuce Coupe (demo); 11) Murry Wilson Directs A Radio Promo; 12) Fun, Fun, Fun (backing track); 13) Brian's Message To "Rog" (take 22); 14) Dance, Dance, Dance (stereo remix); 15) Kiss Me Baby (a cappella mix); 16) Good To My Baby (backing track); 17) Chuck Britz On Brian In The Studio; 18) Salt Lake City (session highlights); 19) Salt Lake City (stereo remix); 20) Wish That He Could Stay (session excerpt); 21) And Your Dream Comes True (stereo remix); 22) Carol K Session Highlights; 23) The Little Girl I Once Knew (alternate version); 24) Alan And Dennis Introduce "Barbara Ann"; 25) Barbara Ann (session excerpt); 26) Barbara Ann (master take without party over­dubs); 27) Mike On The Everly Brothers; 28) Devoted To You (master take without party overdubs); 29) Dennis Thanks Everybody / In The Back Of My Mind; CD II: 1) Can't Wait Too Long (a cappella mix); 2) Dennis In­tro­du­ces Carl; 3) Good Vibrations (stereo track sections); 4) Good Vibrations (concert rehearsal); 5) Heroes And Villains (stereo single version); 6) Vegetables Promo (instrumental section); 7) Vegetables (stereo extended mix); 8) You're With Me Tonight; 9) Lonely Days; 10) Bruce On "Wild Honey"; 11) Let The Wind Blow (stereo remix); 12) I Went To Sleep (a cappella mix); 13) Time To Get Alone (alternate version); 14) Alan And Brian Talk About Dennis; 15) A Time To Live In Dreams; 16) Be With Me (backing track); 17) Dennis Introduces "Cotton Fields"; 18) Cotton Fields (The Cotton Song) (stereo single version); 19) Alan and Carl on "Break Away"; 20) Break Away (alternate version); 21) Add Some Music To Your Day (a cappella mix); 22) Dennis Wilson; 23) Forever (a cappella mix); 24) Sail On, Sailor (backing track); 25) Old Man River (vocal section); 26) Carl Wilson; 27) The Lord's Prayer (stereo remix); 28) Carl Wilson - Coda.

Do not be fooled by the endless tracklist on this ridiculous piece of crap – a tracklist long enough and descriptive enough to serve as its own review – and, by all means, skip this unless your com­pletism and/or religious adoration knows no limits. Inspired by the success of Endless Harmony, and also, perhaps, by that of the Beatles' Anthology, Capitol ushered out this 2-CD «anthology» of «previously unreleased material», in the finest tradition of screwing with the Beach Boys' stu­dio output, stretching all the way back to 1962.

Beyond the pretty packaging and the nice «historic» run of the recordings, generally arranged in chronological order from 1960 to 1972 (and thus, acknowledging that the Beach Boys as a histo­rically relevant entity virtually ended with «Brian's comeback»), most of the tracks here fall in five different categories, listed in the order of (slowly) decreasing stupidity:

(a) bits of retro-banter à la Beatles' Anthology I (usually consisting of one Beach Boy praising the spiritual gift of another Beach Boy, or, failing that, of the Everly Brothers): could be tolerable if these introductions actually led into anything worthwhile, but the compilers should have rather taken the hint from the Beatles' Anthology II, on which, not coincidentally, all the bits of banter had magically disappeared;

(b) instrumental «backing tracks» for original studio recordings, i. e. more Stack-o-Tracks fun for those who hadn't already had enough; including such really odd choices as Dennis' ʽBe With Meʼ and even ʽSurfin' USAʼ (what's to admire on that one? the stop-and-starts?);

(c) vocal «a cappella mixes» for other original studio recordings, probably for aspiring boy bands to have something to practice their craft to;

(d) even more of those «stereo remixes» that made our day on Endless Harmony, instead of do­ing it like a man and just remastering all the albums in stereo;

(e) work-in-progress versions. This is probably the most interesting of the five groups, but it is also fairly small and pretty much entirely oriented at historiographers and musicologists, e. g. the 1960 home recording of ʽSurfin' Safariʼ, with just one weak acoustic guitar track accompanying the already well-structured vocal harmonies; Brian (Brian?) teaching the horns to come one after the other on ʽSalt Lake Cityʼ; and the band having silly fun during the recording of ʽVegetablesʼ. The funniest moment is on ʽWith Me Tonightʼ, where, after the introductory harmonies, one of the Boys says, "hey, I've got an idea, let's sing this with a smile" — probably a much-needed in­vocation during the sessions for Wild Honey. But that's just one tiny bit, and you'd have to strain your attention so as not to miss it.

In the end, what remains is a couple of highlights from Party! stripped from their phony-raucous ambience (including ʽBarbara-Annʼ); a one-minute snippet of an abandoned melancholic ballad called ʽLonely Daysʼ; and a two-minute piano and organ demo of Dennis' ʽA Time To Live In Dreamsʼ from 1968, an era in which his individual songwriting style had only just begun to terra­form: pretty, but not as deep and moving as his genuinely accomplished compositions. Slim pick­ings to say the least, and certainly not at all worthy of any sort of hype.

Perhaps Capitol would have made a more understandable and respectable move, had it simply promoted The Beach Boys as «Unquestionably The American Band Of All Time», and, under that pretext, emptied its vaults completely, systematically, and thoroughly, e. g. by having a 4-CD boxset of The Wild Honey Sessions next to the already released Pet Sounds Sessions. That way, it would have been perfectly clear who the intended recipients of this stuff might be – professio­nal Beach-Boy-o-logists, who are numerous enough in the world to justify the commercial side of it – and everything would have made perfect sense. As it is, nothing here makes much sense at all; Beach Boys or no Beach Boys, this is a pathetic thumbs down of a release.

Check "Hawthorne, CA" (CD) on Amazon
Check "Hawthorne, CA" (MP3) on Amazon


  1. This is basically Beach Boys: The Alternate Versions. Totally useless for anyone who's not a super-fan, but super-fans would probably want more detailed anthologies anyway. Still, some of these alternate versions are pretty nice to have (I'm particularly fond of the a capella mix of "Add Some Music"). Nobody needs to buy this comp but it might be worth a download to cherry pick the versions you like best.

    I take it you're skipping the Good Vibrations set? There is a fair amount of worthwhile material there, though it's not very necessary anymore since most of it is now totally redundant thanks to more recent releases (including this one, Endless Summer, bonus tracks on the twofers, The Smile Sessions, upcoming 50th anniversary archive releases).

  2. Yeah, Capitol was REALLY scraping the bottom of the barrel with this one. Even the most obsessive hardcores must have been disappointed. There are a few things that I'm glad to have: the "Party" tracks without the "party" (wish they'd release the whole album this way, particularly "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away"); the stereo remix on the "Cottonfields" single; the more energetic "With Me Tonight", even if it is a fragment; Dennis' "..Dreams" demo (too bad this couldn't have been really done up for a proper release); and the backing track to "Sail On Sailor" (just because it's my favorite Beach Boys song, no other reason). The stereo versions of the "Smiley Smile" and "Wild Honey" tracks are surprisingly unsatisfying. It's as if any punch in the bass frequencies was removed.

    I agree with Ken -- nowadays it's better to just pick the tracks you want to download, because there's way too much filler for anyone but the most obsessive fan. There is some good news, though. Capitol decided to take your suggestion and release all the 1960's albums in mono/stereo "twofers", a la Beatles. I'm looking forward to "Good Vibrations", in particular.