BEACH BOYS: RARITIES (1983)
1) With A Little Help From My Friends; 2) The Letter; 3) I Was Made To Love Her; 4) You're Welcome; 5) The Lord's Prayer; 6) Bluebirds Over The Mountain; 7) Celebrate The News; 8) Good Vibrations; 9) Land Ahoy; 10) In My Room; 11) Cotton Fields; 12) All I Want To Do (live); 13) Auld Lang Syne.
Although most of this album, out of print for a long time and never even released on CD, was scattered around as bonus tracks on subsequent CD re-issues, and most of what was not is no big loss for anyone, Rarities is still worth at least a brief mention — as the first archival package in the band's career, consisting entirely of previously unreleased material.
The fact that Capitol waited for more than ten years to release this is telling in itself: the Beach Boys' vaults are not quite as opulent as popular instinct would have us believe. The fact that Capitol had to slap a bikini-clad «tropical beauty» on the front sleeve is even more telling — back in 1983, I bet more people bought this record for the album cover than the actual content. Besides, what could be kinkier than an intense jack-off to the sounds of 'The Lord's Prayer'?
Anyway, both back in the day and today the only curio-reason to own this were/are the first two tracks. Proceedings begin with a nice enough cover of 'With A Little Help From My Friends' that is surprisingly tight and well-rehearsed, almost on the level of the original: I have no idea if the band really had any intentions to include it on the likes of Wild Honey, but I would not be surprised if they did. (And, who knows, someone might even prefer Mike Love's lead vocal to Ringo's, for reasons that do not require explaining.) Then there is a shorter, rawer, lo-fi-er take on 'The Letter' (originally made famous by The Box Tops) — perhaps considered too dark and disturbing for official release.
As for the rest, alternate versions of 'I Was Made To Love Her', 'Bluebirds Over The Mountains', and 'Cotton Fields' do not differ too much from the originals; the working version of 'Good Vibrations' is just one of the million working versions of 'Good Vibrations' circulating around since times immemorial, first on bootlegs, then on boxsets; the German version of 'In My Room' will make sense if you are one of those few Germans who does not understand one word of English; 'Land Ahoy' must date back to something like 1961, with all the inevitable consequences (see my review of Surfin' Safari for details); and accappella versions of 'The Lord's Prayer' and 'Auld Lang Syne' are predictably flawless — but also predictably trite.
Still, all of the tracks are developed enough to ensure thirty minutes of pleasant listening — for me, only spoiled by having to experience them as a poor quality vinyl rip. Of course, it is always possible to substitute those tracks that have been released on CD for the remastered versions, but that sort of alienates the listener from the wonderous tangerine mood of that album cover. The only question is: did they really have to add the ugly leering guy with the awful hair? Just goes to show the difference between tropical life in 1963 and 1983.