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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Beach Boys: Rarities


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 Then there is a shorter, rawer, lo-fi-er take on 'The Letter' (originally made famous by The Box Tops) — perhaps considered too dark and dis­turbing for official release.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.

5 comments:

  1. Are you sure it's Mike Love handling lead vocals on 'With A Little Help' ? Doesn't sound like him.

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  2. I think it's Carl singing in a lower register than he usually does.
    The Beach Boys have a ton of rarity albums, and nearly all of them are worthwhile in one respect or another. Even if the actual number of completely never-before-released tunes in their vaults is smaller than some think (although nonetheless it still has yet to be fully exahusted). The Beach Boys are one of the most interesting acts to listen to their works in progress so I don't really mind all the alternate versions and different takes of things. And sometimes there are some total gems hiding away just waiting to be found ("Soulful Old Man Sunshine" is one of my favourites for example).

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  3. I actually though the lead focal on "With A Little Help" was Bruce! Got mine yours ago as a Japanese Import.

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  4. Dean "Own the vinyl" LaCapraraFebruary 10, 2012 at 8:34 PM

    Have thoroughly enjoyed the LP version since the late 1980s. Some great alternate/unreleased tracks, eventually added to 2-fers or compilations. "Good Vibrations" here is probably the best version I've come across while the live Dennis number proves they could rock when actually trying. By the way, Mike doesn't sing "...my Friends."
    Could never figure out who's on the cover. Anyone know?

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  5. Lead vocal on WALHFMF is Bruce - they sped up the backing track, Bruce sang the lead vocal over it, they slowed it back, and there you have it, Bruce Johnston sounding completely stoned.
    The album was released on CD in Japan with both sides of "The Beach Boys Medley" 45 added as bonus tracks.
    "Land Ahoy" dates back to 1962 actually, it was recorded during the Surfin' Safari sessions.

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