Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Beach Boys Today! & Summer days!!!

Well peoples the initiated do know I've always had a strong liking for the Beach Boys a band who notwithstanding being American -Californian to be exact - developed a strong following in the UK to the point that by the late 1960's they were more popular there than 'at home'!

I was raised on British versions of the "Best of the Beach Boys " compilations in their crazy mixture of mono, true stereo and Duophonic (fake) stereo from an early age and started slowly buying individual albums from my mid teens although at that time a Stones or Beatles album got the nod as I as low on my allowances back then.That had something to do with the patchy nature of some of these early beach boy albums some having obvious filler such as Denny's Drums from "Shut Down Vol:2", Our Favorite Recording Sessions on "All Summer Long" or "Bull session with Big Daddy" on this album, "Today!" but there are too many examples of their song writing abilities, harmonization and Brian Wilson's production abilities not to stay with a few hit bound compilations.In fact this album issued early 1965 is really at the point when the themes became more adult exploring much more about emotions and relationships than the previous album which was still teen fun in the sun songs with cars - a Californian necessity and obsession - and the complex arrangements that blossomed on Pet Sounds began (It has been said much of side two was the dummy run for that album).The hit 45's leap out at you and it's telling that they're all on side one, the cover of Do You Wanna Dance, When I Grow Up (to be a Man) which questions of the interests and obsessions of youth can be maintained in adult life and finally Dance Dance Dance which is as close to the older themes this album gets with its invocation of teen life, coming in from school and blasting out the radio flat out.Guess we've all done that, eh?Side two is where the fun starts, with Brian pouring his heart out writing very grown up songs about love such as "Please Let Me Wonder" and "She Knows Me Too Well".My previous exposure to this album in it's entirety was a UK Duophonic stereo version on album - I should note it was mixed to real stereo but seemingly Brian Wilson objected to this stereo re-mix and had it trashed oblivious to the fact it would be tricked into fake stereo anyway by Capitol sounding less good - and the mono cd which is part of a 2 lp on cd set with Summer Days neither issue of which is entirely satisfactory as sound quality goes.This was re-issued in mono in full by Capitol in the States in 2009 in the "From the vaults" lp re-issue series on 180 gram vinyl from higher than cd resolution files transferred from the analogue tapes and I was able to win a near mint copy very cheaply recently to add to my collection.In my opinion this album hasn't sounded better. Recommended.

Capitol at the same time decided to re-issue this album, Today's follow up in it's "From the vaults" series but goofed with the front and rear jacket art as they used that from the Duophonic version whereas this lp is actually mono and many audio fans run a mile from any kind of fake stereo which is unfortunate cos they see the cover and it like 'Ugh!'
The usual opinion on this this album is it's a a step back from side two of Today returning more to the fun in the sun subject matter of girls, beaches, and summer but this is to ignore the sophistication in the arrangements most noticeably on California Girls, the instrumental Summer Means New Love, the heavy I'm Bugged At My ol' Man' and the acapella And Your Dream Comes True.
In reality Capitol wanted a album for Summer, the Beach boys needed a album to tour behind and Brian Wilson had to rustle up something so while it's true to say the spirit of this album is in the past most noticeably on Amusement Parks USA with the carnival barker interjecting in the song not unlike County Fair from Surfin' Safari, the quality of the arrangements and the playing more than make up for it.
The sound on this lp is probably the best I've heard it as there's plenty of bass and a tendency toward peakiness and over bright strings that can be heard in otherwise great copies such as the UK 1978 mono re-issue are well tamed , allowing the vocals to cut through.
The card insert has colour versions of the rear album photographs that I'm sure were not issued here in the UK at the time.
It just seems a pity care wasn't taken to issue the correct mono front and rear covers of thsi otherwise well worthwhile re-issue.

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