Monday, 16 March 2009

News, Views and Music Issue 25 (Top Five): Beach Boys Tracks Still Not Avaliable On CD!

While we bang on about Record Companies ripping ioff both bands and fans a lot on this site, some have been very impressive indeed. Capitol may have been the most demanding, least loyal company of all in the 1960s, but 30-40 years on the label are looking like one of the nicest, what with their lovingly compiled two-fer-one-with-bonus tracks CDs that are still available at budget price today if you look hard enough. Alas, the Beach Boys’ later companies haven’t been quite so generous and an alarming amount of tracks are yet to get their first CD release. So for this week here is your handy guide to the five biggest Beach Boys rarities not included in any of the Beach Boys’ superlative re-issues series – and we’re not talking alternate mixes or longer fade-outs here but five major additions to the Beach Boys’ catalogue (well, OK, four…):

1) ‘Pamela Jean’/ ‘After The Game’ (released under the pseuodonym ‘The Survivors’, 1964). Despite being the hardest working band in showbusiness, Brian Wilson’s friends and family were told by capitol in early 1964 that they were releasing too many singles, something that might interfere with their strong sales record. Undeterred, Brian Wilson stuck out his new song ‘Pamela Jean’ under a different name, gave the record no publicity whatsoever and, intrigued to see if he really did have the midas touch he kept being told he had, sat back to see what would happen. It sank like a stone. However, the song was recycled as the better known ‘Car Crazy Cutie’ on the ‘Little Deuce Coupe’ album, but strangely this very BeachBoysy song about cars didn’t even begin to match the quality of the original BeachBoysy song about girls. The B-side ‘Playing The Game’ is an instrumental, a fact that probably has most collectors of early Beach Boys running for the hills (their second album had no less than five instrumentals, all of them poor) but its actually one of the most exquisite pre-Smile tracks Brian ever wrote, an orchestral epic that sets the tone for ‘Pet Sounds’ two years down the line. This song has been all but forgotten and it shouldn’t have been – other than a late 70s re-issue (which is in itself a rarity these days) this song has never been heard since the day it came out.           

2) ‘It’s A Beautiful Day’ (film soundtrack 1979). The best Beach Boys release for years and the band leave it off any ‘proper’ albums. How very Beach Boys – and how typical that, after including it on a 2 LP compilation album, it’s the full edit of that song that goes missing come CD re-issue time. A Jardine-Love collaboration, this is about the last time the Beach Boys mined their old fun and sun-loving image and sounded like they meant it. Give the collector a break, stick it on the end of the ‘MIU/LA light’ CD re-issue where it belongs!  

3) ‘Here Comes The Night’ (edited version issued as a single, 1979): OK, so there’s an extended 12-minute version of this track available on the LA light Album, so why would you want to buy an edited 3-minute version? Because this is the version that was the top 40 hit that’s why – the one that, you know, actually did quite well in the charts before some idiot of a music critic decided he didn’t like it and everyone followed suit. In many ways it’s more enjoyable than the album version (and no, not because its nine minutes shorter!) – the mix is punchier, there’s less time waiting for those glorious harmonies to kick in and the song feels like a minor revelation rather than a heavy slog in between the ballads that make up most of the LA Light LP. Again, there’s ten flipping minutes of space on the MIU/LA Light CD, use it!!!

4) ‘Happy Endings’ (duet with Little Richard, spin-off single taken from the film ‘The Telphone’, 1987). A whole missing song and one dominated by Carl Wilson, no less! (Although weirdly he sounds so close to Little Richard on this record it’s hard to tell where the two swap over vocals). A sweet sugary ballad written by Bruce Johnston for a film that died almost as much of a death as the song, this is a curio indeed. For all its faults, though, this song at least sounds like the Beach Boys, which is more than you can say of the ‘Still Cruising’ and ‘Summer in Paradise’ albums. Again, both of those records and the earlier ‘Beach Boys’ have plenty of space intact (‘Cruising’ even features two straight re-issues of 1960s classics out on CD hundreds of times, which must surely count as one of the biggest ways of ripping off the fans to date).    

5) ‘Wipeout’ (duet with the Fat Boys, 1989). OK< so you don’t actually need this one unless you’re a) an early 90s rap lover b) a keen surfer with a sense of irony or c) one of the Fat Boys’ mothers, but it still seems surprising that this hit – which reached #2 in the UK charts, the Beach Boys’ most successful in 20 years – isn’t as yet available on a Beach Boys CD. I(t may be on a Fat Boys CD but something tells me that even if it is I won’t be buying it. Still, if you do happen to find this cheap (mine’s a charity shop copy bought for 50p) it is sort of funny (once, at a push) and the Beach Boys are – for the very last time – dominated by Brian Wilson’s vocals. Unlike most of the band’s 80s and 90s recordings, he actually sounds as if he wants to be there –maybe somebody told Brian he was taking part in a true cover of The Surfari’s classic and didn’t know he was going to be backing singer for two overweight comedians!

 Well, that’s it for another week. And remember, as Philosophy Phil tells us ‘too much haste sets the soles of your shoes on fire’. Unless of course you spot a CSN album in the sales, in which case you can never run fast enough. See you next week!

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